How Are Fish Affected by Water Pollution?

How Are Fish Affected by Water Pollution?

Fishing is a beloved pastime of many Hoosiers, with 663,000 Indiana residents considering themselves anglers. Not surprising when you consider our state is home to many lakes and rivers rich with bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, and other desirable fish – but when these waterways become polluted, the fish population can suffer harm.

Water Pollution Harms Fish Population

Water pollution harms fish populations in various ways.

  • When nutrients wash into waterways through storm runoff, they deplete oxygen in the water that fish need to survive. Nitrogen and phosphorus typically enter streams and lakes from fertilizers, dog waste, and other sources. Over time, these nutrients build up in the water and promote algae and water plant growth, and as they decay, they lower oxygen levels in the water. Algal blooms can be harmful to fish as they feed upon algae, toxins accumulate within the fish, and when a predator fish consumes that fish, they too are consuming higher toxin levels.
  • Pesticides and heavy metals that enter waterways can also harm or kill fish. Synthetic pesticides used for weed and bug control are toxic in even small amounts. Heavy metals created when fossil fuels are burned enter the atmosphere, eventually making their way into bodies of water. Exposure to heavy metals can impair a fish’s ability to smell, disrupting its ability to locate food and protect itself from predatory animals and fish.

Protect Fish Populations from Water Pollution

Hoosier anglers can play a role in keeping our fish populations protected from water pollution by incorporating these best practices during your next fishing trip:

  • Maintain your boat to keep it from leaking oil or gasoline when you take it out on the water.
  • Drain your boat when leaving a body of water. This way, you won’t transport polluted water from one lake to the next.
  • Clean up after yourself, and collect any litter you see during your trip.
  • Do not throw fish waste back into the waterway. Fish waste can be incorporated back into the ecosystem on land, but throwing waste into the water can cause contamination.

Indiana American Water is committed to keeping Hoosier water quality at its highest level. Water quality is not only important for humans, but for our fish populations, too. By investing in the necessary infrastructure and supporting innovative water treatment solutions, we’re focused on protecting all humans and wildlife across the state.