BASS FISHING TOURNAMENT MORTALITY- Low O2

WEBPAGE UPDATED                               Wednesday  March 11, 2020

The Oxygen Edge™, the 1st livewell oxygen-injection system that ensures continuous safe livewell oxygenation all day in the hottest summer temperatures in overstocked livewells and bait tanks.  Pure 100% compressed oxygen guarantees the best summer tournament bass care possible in bass boat livewells, live release boats and tournament holding tanks all day by simply preventing suffocation during transports.

The Oxygen Edge™ was the 1st commercial livewell life support oxygen system used for all Catch and Release tournament fish, freshwater and marine species (Bonefish, speckled trout, redfish, flounder and more). You administer the correct dose of oxygen for 1.0 lb. of fish to a whapping 250 lb. stocking densities with the custom built oxygen regulator engineered for salty marine environments. More fish in the livewell always require a larger dose of  oxygen. It is always better to dissolve  too much oxygen vs. not enough oxygen in any livewell/bait tank water, especially in the hot summer months.

Too much oxygen will certainly not poison live fish or live bait during live transports. You have probably heard and read on internet fishing forums, social media, fishing articles, advertisement and blogs that “too much oxygen” will poison and kill you’re fish and live bait in livewells and bait tanks. That is a very popular fishing forum myth and misinformation and false dock side bro-science. The correct dose of oxygen for live fish transports, 1 fish or 1,000 live fish being transported is always 100% DO Saturation or greater, 140 % DO Super-saturation.

Do not be confused between too much dissolved oxygen vs. too much dissolved ambient air or Nitrogen gas dissolved in livewell water (Nitrogen gas super-saturation) caused by excessive mechanical aeration or defective water pumps entraining air into the inlet side of the water pump impellers  (a venturi). The fact is that too much aeration, ambient air, 79% Nitrogen gas will and does kill fish. Supersaturated dissolved Nitrogen (ambient air) in livewell water causes a pathological disorder medically known as exophthalmia, commonly called “pop-eye,” Nitrogen gas embolism or Nitrogen gas poisoning.

How Do You Know When Aerators Are Causing Nitrogen Gas Super-saturation in Livewell/bait Tanks Water?

Supersaturation of dissolved nitrogen gas in the water can be seen as tiny micro-bubbles attached on the walls of livewells, fish scales, tiny hairs on your hands/arms when your hand is submerged in livewell water. This type Nitrogen gas superstation will poison and kill your live bait and fish in livewells.

* “Pop-Eye”…  Keep this in mind when you are using those high volume aerators and water pumps especially all livewell venturi that entrains ambient air into the inlet side of any water pump impellers used to entrain air and make millions of micro-fine air bubbles that are so tiny they cannot escale the water column and make the water look milky or cloudy. 

DO NOT BE CONFUSED BETWEEN OXYGEN AND NITROGEN Gas  CONCENTRATIONS AND PARTIAL PRESSURES AT AMBIENT CONDITIONS

                  OXYGEN AND NITROGEN GAS CONCENTRATIONS

Ambient air is always a mixture of several different gases;  Ambient air is always 79% Nitrogen and slightly less than 21% Oxygen gas at sea level or at the peak of Mt. Everest. The gas concentration of oxygen and Nitrogen in ambient air is the same at the summit of Mt. Everest 29,029 ft. altitude as at sea level.

                   OXYGEN AND NITROGEN GAS PARTIAL PRESSURES

The partial pressure of pure 100% compressed welding at sea level is 760 mm/hg (torr).The normal gas partial pressure of oxygen in ambient air at sea level is 159.0 mm/hg  (torr) and the partial pressure of oxygen at the  summit of Mt. Everest is 53.0 mm/hg (torr).

                    AIR AND OXYGEN ARE 2 VERY DIFFERENT GASES

             AIR-INFUSER or OXYGEN-INFUSER – a slick play on words

WATER PUMP/AIR VENTIRI TYPE LIVEWELL/BAIT TANK AERATORS dissolve great volumes Nitrogen gas and very small volumes Oxygen gas into livewell water… for every 5 liters of ambient air dissolved in livewell water a whopping 4/5ths of those micro-bubbles are pure Nitrogen gas and only 1/5th of those tiny micro-bubbles are Oxygen gas. That is a tremendous volume of total dissolved Nitrogen gas (an inert filler gas) in aerated livewell water in 1-8-12-20 hours.

HOW DOES THAT REALL WORK?

Ambient air entrained on the inlet side of livewell water pump impellers via venturI device is no different than a defective water pump leaking and sucking in air proximal to the pump’s impellers. Air sucked into the inlet side of the water pump causes gas super-saturation on the outlet side of the pump and livewell water. This is a common cause for abnormally high dissolved Nitrogen super-saturation.

In some cases this is caused with intention and forethought. This sort of pump  defect, intentional or unintentional, can and does develop dangerously high dissolved nitrogen gas concentrations quickly when ambient air is entrained into the water pump’s inlet side proximal to the water pump impellers. The air/water mixture is pressurized going through the pump impellers. The pressurized air/water mix is then fractured into millions of tiny micro-fine Nitrogen bubbles that are so small they cannot escape the livewell water column and make the water look milky or cloudy.

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    This is a major selling point for some livewell/bait tank aerators

A COMMON ADVERTISEMENT FOUND ON THE INTERNET

Keep Alive Bullet KA1100 pump: Air is infused with the water at the pump impeller. Should maintain 40 – 50 # of bait depending on species. The micro-fine bubbles produced, are sent gently out of the pump and into the livewell. The millions of micro-fine bubbles are so small that they remain suspended in the water. KeepAlive® Infusors will virtually disappear in a mass of micro-fine bubbles when used in salt water.   https://www.ebay.com/itm/Keep-alive-KEEPALIVE-AERATOR-1100-GPH-new-/264299173122?_trksid=p2349526.m4383.l4275.c10#viTabs_0

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Tournament anglers trying to avoid that “dead fish penalty.” You can also provide the best tournament bass care possible on your bass boat all day and if bass conservation is also importance to you, you need a livewell oxygen-injection system to provide the absolute BEST BASS CARE POSSIBLE during live transports. Some tournament directors do provide the best bass care water quality possible using pure 100% compressed oxygen for all summer tournaments in weigh-in holding tanks, plastic fish bags, tournament live release boat haul tanks. They will also be testing the DO in these fish tanks every 15 minutes and recording those DO test results. But many more fishing tournament directors do not/will not/chose not to  provide the best bass care (water quality) possible and they use mechanical aeration only-no oxygen.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO CHOSED TO PROVIDE THE BEST FISH CARE POSSIBLE — THAT’S EASY TO SEE WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR Look close and you will not see any big green compressed O2 tanks used anywhere around holding tanks or live release boat transport tanks.

THE BEST BASS CARE POSSIBLE – Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Freshwater Fisheries ShareLunker Program in Athens, Texas transports only (1) live 13 lb. trophy bass hundreds of miles across Texas. Fishery biologist at Athens never use mechanical aerators to insure safe dependable oxygenation in their haul tank, they always use 100% pure oxygen administered with oxygen-injection technology.

Tournament fishermen who choose their summer tournament fish care wisely and responsibly have a far greater likelihood of success and winning, while those fishermen who choose foolishly and irresponsibly have a far greater likelihood of the “dead fish punishment” and tournament failure.  Tournament success and failure usually exhibits by winning or losing, directly affecting pride, personal and family income.

A SCIENCE FACT: Every summer, tournament fishermen worry about the “dead fish punishment rule” often caused by low dissolved oxygen (livewell hypoxia), a unique summer time problem. They also worry about battery drain, water pump and aerator failure, Hypoxia/suffocation (the all day transport in their bass boat livewell)  which is most serious fish stressor and the number 1 cause of acute and delayed summer bass tournament mortality. RE: Sustained livewell suffocation (low oxygen) in bass boat livewells 6-8 hours in summer tournaments.  VisitOxygenation of Livewells to Improve Survival of Tournament-Caught Bass by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers and Jason Driscoll TPWP, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication 6/2011 http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/didyouknow/inland/livewells.phtml

A TOURNAMENT FISHING FACT: In a summer tournament 1 bass dies in your livewell albeit your boat livewells were certified a “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL” by a tournament official; that “dead fish punishment” is expensive,  heart breaking when money, prizes and fame is lost because your livewell was really not functional and 1 fish died before the weigh-in… you often become an instant loser when/if 1 fish dies in your boat livewell!

This defines a “functional livewell”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livewell

 KEEPING BASS ALIVE

OXYGENATED LIVE WELLS INCREASE SURVIVAL OF TOURNAMENT RELEASED BASS

American Fisheries Society Interactive Black Bass Management Workshop held February 10, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas

The purpose of this AFS workshop, “Anglers and Biologist Working Together To Make Fishing Better For You.”

In open forum, a panel of prominent state fishery experts representing Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina all were asked two questions regarding what they and their State Fish Hatchery Directors considered a safe oxygenation range for live black bass transports. Their post release survival rates are excellent. So what do they do that is so different than tournament bass fishermen and tournament directors when they transport live black bass in order to ensure a safe, healthy transport environment for live captive bass and maximum post release survival?

What’s really so different about how the experts transport live bass vs. how tournament bass fishermen and tournament directors transport live captive bass?

The difference is vast: the State Fishery experts provide the best bass transport care possible, administering pure oxygen continuously during the entire time live bass are being transported.

Bass tournament fishermen and tournament directors that are not willing to provide the best bass care possible only provide mechanical aeration (air) for the catch which is less than the best bass care possible as defined by these State Fishery experts.

The Panel of State Fishery Experts Queried:

Phil Durocher, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Director Inland Fisheries

Fred Harris, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Tim Morrison, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Mark Oliver, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Q. What type aeration system do you use when you transport live black bass to ensure safe dissolved oxygen saturations in transport tank water and prevent hypoxia?

A: We DO NOT EVER use any mechanical aeration devices or air to ensure safe oxygenation during live bass transports anytime. We use only pure oxygen, (LOX) liquid oxygen or compressed oxygen for all live fish transports exclusively.

Q. When your hatchery staff is transporting mature live bass with pure oxygen, what do you consider safe oxygen saturation range and what are your oxygen requirements for all your live bass transports?

A: We require a minimum dissolved oxygen DO saturation of 100% to 15 ppm DO supersaturation to be maintained continuously while the bass are in captivity being transported through final release.

All these fishery experts require the continuous administration of pure oxygen for all live bass transports to prevent hypoxia and deadly cascading effects anaerobic metabolism. Conscientious live bass transporters are very concerned about post release survival and secondary disease caused by prolonged hypoxic transports because unlike the average tournament bass fisherman, their job and paycheck depends on their success. Their bass don’t die in the transport tank and thrive after final release.

These State Fishery experts do provide the best bass transport care possible and back it up with their live transport procedures, oxygenation standards and daily live haul protocol.

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In-Fisherman

OXYGEN AND FISH CARE

Bait Care & Tournament Survival

archived in In-Fisherman.com/print/3596

BY STEVE QUINN

Without enough oxygen, life ends. Just ask the minnows panting in your bait bucket or those belly-up bass in bass boat livewells in the summer and floating in the marina and lake after a summer tournament. Our own need for oxygen is extremely stressful if we go without oxygen for even a minute. Since fish extract oxygen from water, though, it’s hard for us to appreciate how much oxygen they need.

In Fisherman Graph

THE SCIENCE

Gene Gilliland, a fishery biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, has conducted studies of bass tournament mortality for over a decade. He’s worked with angler groups to determine causes of mortality and to teach methods to increase survival of released fish.

“I checked oxygen levels of tournament boats as they returned to the dock,” Gilliland says. “Many livewells had less than 4 parts per million dissolved oxygen. Though most bass were alive, high stress levels caused excessive delayed mortality in the days after the competition. I then questioned anglers on their use of salt, livewell additives, ice, and the operation of their aeration systems.

“Most anglers mistakenly believed that running their aerators on the automatic timer was sufficient for as many bass as they could catch,” he says. “They often told me that they didn’t know how much air bass needed. Obviously, livewell design, size, and efficiency varies. Human variables and weather conditions, particularly water temperature, affect water quality and fish mortality. If the lake is over 75 degrees, it’s impossible to keep the dissolved oxygen level in your livewell much over 5 or 6 ppm, even with no fish in it.”

When you consider that levels below 5 ppm are stressful and that walleyes require nearly three times as much oxygen as bass, it becomes evident why fish are so hard to keep alive with standard equipment. Part of the problem with aeration is that air is only 21 percent oxygen. Fish need oxygen, not the extra nitrogen and trace gases that make up our atmosphere. The answer is injecting pure oxygen into livewells or bait tanks.

David Kinser of Anahuac, Texas, has developed oxygenation systems for tournament boats, boat bait wells, and dockside bait tanks. His systems supercharge water with oxygen, boosting dissolved oxygen over 20 ppm, even in water over 80 degrees. These systems are popular with freshwater and saltwater anglers.

Kingfish and striper tournament boats are increasingly equipped with oxygenation systems. Not only don’t baitfish die, but they’re unusually more active on the hook and they draw more strikes. Short-term oxygen supersaturation hasn’t been shown to harm fish, as some observers had feared. Instead, it seems to suppress the stress response that occurs in captive fish.

Gene Gilliland and other researchers have tested the system in bass tournament conditions in Oklahoma and have found it capable of reducing mortality in summer to below 10 percent; continuous aeration resulted in mortality over 20 percent; and the use of ice and salt resulted in 18 percent mortality. Gilliland says, “Adding oxygen to the livewell is the best option for keeping bass healthy in summer.”

                                                  THE SYSTEM

Oxygenation systems involve a cylinder of medical or welding-grade oxygen and flow regulators to maintain adequate oxygen levels. Tubing and finely porous airstones or micro-pore tubing provide flow into the livewell or bait tank. The cost of an oxygen system ranges from about $350 for a boat unit to $600 or more for a larger bait tank unit.

Once installed, cost of running pure oxygen is just a couple cents per hour, as the small onboard tank will provide supersaturated oxygen for several days and can be refilled from a larger tank at home, or at a welding shop, fire station, or hospital. Kinser also has built systems that release pure oxygen into lakes during summer stratification, attracting large schools of baitfish and predators to the oxygen-saturated water.

Pure oxygen demands caution. While it doesn’t burn, oxygen does intensify fire. As a result, onboard tanks should be mounted securely and away from sources of fuel or vapors such as the bilge. Gilliland mounted his tank in the small compartment under the driver’s seat, running the tube rearward into the livewell of his Champion boat.

For more information about Kinser’s oxygenation system, contact David Kinser, Oxygenation Systems of Texas, PO Box 383, Anahuac, TX77514, 409/267-6458, www.oxyedge-chum.com.

PRINTED FROM IN-FISHERMAN.COM

COPYRIGHT © 2011 INTERMEDIA   OUTDOORS

We thank the author for permission to reprint.

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When pure oxygen is not provided during live transports, intentionally withheld in bass boat livewells all day by anglers and or tournament directors in summer weigh-in holding tanks and live release boat livewells, be assured the quality of live bass care they are willing to provide is certainly LESS THAN THE BEST BASS CARE POSSIBLE.

That’s easy to recognize when you know what to look for. Look for the compressed oxygen tanks.  It’s very easy to see which anglers and which tournament directors are not willing to provide the best tournament bass care possible, they will be using air with  mechanical aerators and water pumps in their bass boat livewells, release boat livewells and weigh-in holding tanks in summer bass tournaments.

Gilliand's Ultimate Fish Care System
Gilliand’s Ultimate Fish Care System

(Systems providing pure oxygen advance tournament fish care technology to State-of-the-Art)  A turn-on-and-forget livewell oxygenation system that works exceptionally well in the summer.  Gilliland’s Ultimate Fish Care System

"Fish Friendly" Weigh-In Setup
“Fish Friendly” Weigh-In Setup

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation fishery biologist and B.A.S.S. Federation angler, Gene Gilliland has researched tournament-related delayed mortality for several years (B.A.S.S. Times, Feb. 1993 and July 1998 & Bassmaster Magazine, July/August 2000).  Gilliland found that good weigh-in technique was not enough, especially in hot weather.   “All that first-aid at weigh-in won’t help fish that have been mistreated in the boat all day,” he says.

He noted that most tournament anglers assume their boat’s live well system will do an adequate job of keeping their catch alive.   “Maybe so in the spring, but it takes a great deal more than that to keep fish healthy during summer tournaments.  Better management of live well water quality is essential,” says Gilliland.  “With a little extra effort, anglers can reduce delayed mortality to less than 25%.”

Unfortunately, that extra effort is the snag.  Why?  To most tournament anglers who have weighed-in, loaded their boats and gone home, delayed mortality is out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Gilliland observed, “They don’t see dead fish, don’t realize there is a problem, so they don’t see the need to do anything differently.”  

Gilliland knew the best livewell oxygen injection system would be one that was truly “set-it-and-forget-it”, one that always ensured DO saturations 100% or greater in any summer tournament boat livewells regardless of the number and total weight of bass in the livewell (high stocking density).

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 KEEPING BASS ALIVE – THE LIVEWELL OXYGEN RESEARCH 1998

Gene Gilliland contacted Oxygenation Systems of Texas, makers of The Oxygen Edge™, and offered to give it an unbiased scientific evaluation under extreme summer conditions, when acute and delayed tournament bass mortality is most severe.

This was the research and preparation for a new tournament bass care booklet to be published by B.A.S.S./ESPN in the 21st century entitled… “KEEPING BASS ALIVE.”

Oxygenation vs Aeration Test Results
Oxygenation vs Aeration Test Results

The tests were conducted at a lake in Southern Oklahoma during the blistering summer of 1998.  Air temperatures ranged from 78 degrees each morning to as much as 108 degrees in the afternoon.  Tournament conditions were simulated using Gilliland’s personal bass boat, with The Oxygen Edge™ system aboard. Kinser provided oxygen safety instructions and oxygen system operational instructions for Gilliland. Bass were caught and placed in the boat’s live well for each 8-hour trial period with either continuous flow-through aeration or pure oxygen injected into livewell water. After each trial, the fish were kept for six days for serial observations in special holding nets designed for tournament mortality research.

THE EPA STANDARD ENVIRONMENTAL DO CONSIDERED “SAFE” IS  5 PPM: 5 PPM DO is the EPA standard environmental water DO  standard considered by the EPA to be minimally safe dissolved oxygen levels for non-stressed fish living undisturbed in their normal steady state environments, with no unnatural captivity stress or live transport conditions present. In 1998 biologists consider oxygen levels below 3 parts per million (ppm) as lethal in the steady state environment

STATE AND FEDERAL FISH HATCHERIES TRANSPORT LIVE FISH “MINIMAL SAFE” IS 100% DO SATURATION or GREATER: But, hooking, fighting, landing and handling tournament caught bass on a hot summer day, captivity and transport in a small overstocked bass boat livewell with unsafe low livewell DO saturations all day causes profound fish stress which neither normal or steady state for the captive fish being transported.

Live fish transport water quality DO standards are very different than the steady state EPA environmental DO water quality standards for lake /river  environments.

Considering that tournament-caught fish caught in hot summer tournaments are highly stressed and severely hypoxic after hooking, landing, handling and holding in small boat live wells 7-8 hours, the sustained physiological oxygen debt explains the high summer livewell kills and excessive delayed mortality. High tournament mortality problems are normal and should be expected every summer.

Chronic sustained low oxygen livewell stress negatively affects the immune system resulting in excessive tournament delayed mortality. Bacterial and viral micro organisms are prolific in summer livewell water, infections waiting for opportune times of additional fish stressors. Oxygen levels in the [control] boat live well during the aeration-only trials ranged from 7 ppm down to a near-lethal 4 ppm.

Flow Through Aeration Does Not Provide Enough Oxygen
Flow Through Aeration Does Not Provide Enough Oxygen

Gilliland stressed, “minimum [livewell] oxygen levels are what is really important, rather than average or peak levels.  A high value and a low value may average out to something in between, but if it [hypoxia] persisted long enough, that low oxygen level may have killed the fish!”  

Compressed Oxygen Absolutely Prevents Tournament Fish Suffocation in All Bass Boat Live Wells Every Summer
Compressed Oxygen Absolutely Prevents Tournament Fish Suffocation in All Bass Boat Live Wells Every Summer

During The Oxygen Edge™ trials, the oxygen levels peaked at over 22 ppm >100% DO Saturation, with minimums of no less than 8 ppm, 100% DO Saturation even when oxygen-poor lake water < 80% DO Saturation was added to flush waste ammonia and carbon dioxide from the live wells containing limits of bass.

The results of the livewell oxygenation experiments were very encouraging.  As was the case in Gilliland’s previous research, mortality of bass that were held in live wells using aeration-only was around 22% kill.  Recirculating and aerating ice-cooled water and adding salt reduced the mortality to 18% kill.

Delayed mortality of bass held in the oxygenated live well was 93% survival and only 7% kill.  Gilliland emphasized that mortality values would vary slightly from test to test, location to location.

 Average Delayed Mortality of Bass Following Eight Summer Tournaments: Live Well Aeration, Ice, Salt & Recirculation vs. Simply Adding Compressed Oxygen Only into Live Well Water.
Average Delayed Mortality of Bass Following Eight Summer Tournaments: Live Well Aeration, Ice, Salt & Recirculation vs. Simply Adding Compressed Oxygen Only into Live Well Water.

The point is that adding oxygen significantly improved survival and significantly reduced the mortality rate of bass compared to other recommended methods.  Twenty percent more healthy bass were returned to the lake when oxygen was bubbled into the live well.”  

Adding pure oxygen with a system like The Oxygen Edge™, cooling the water slightly, adding non-iodized salt and live well conditioners like Catch-and-Release™ are currently the state-of-the-art.  That’s the best an angler can do.   Using this system, anglers can reduce the mortality associated with summer tournaments to the levels typically seen in springtime events (on average, less than 10%).  Gilliland feels that such levels are probably not harming bass populations and a significant reduction in the summer would go a long way towards eliminating the negative image that tournament-related fish kills give bass tournaments.

“However,” Gilliland notes, “oxygenation systems are the BEST option tournament anglers have for keeping their catch healthy in the summer.”   “For only a few hundred dollars, how can any tournament angler justify not using something that will conserve our bass fishing resources for the future and reduce the negative perceptions that others have of the sport?

For more information on live well operation and weigh-in procedures contact Gilliland at the Oklahoma Fishery Research Lab, 500 E. Constellation, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-7288   mailto:ggillokla@aol.com  

We thank Gene Gilliland for permission to reprint.

Gene Gilliland is currently B.A.S.S. Conservation Director effective January 1, 2014.