Bait Tank - My bait is dying

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by SeaArk1, May 22, 2006.

  1. SeaArk1

    SeaArk1 New Member

    Sedalia, Missouri
    I have a bait tank with loaded with black perch that we use for catfishing. Well the problem I am having is about every 2-3 days the water foams all up on the top and fish die by the dozens. The tank is about 110-gallon stainless steel tank with a five-gallon bucket wrapped with mattress material for a filter. Have a pump in the bucket that sprays water back in tank. This situation has happened in the past but it is usually a few throughout the week until it gets cleaned again (about once every two weeks). We use city water and put the chlorine remover in while we are filling. This setup usually works pretty flawlessly but in the past couple of weeks something has went wrong. I have cleaned the tank three times in the past week and a half because of all the fish dieing. I am wondering if any of you have had this happen and what I can do or add to the water to stop this. THANKS
  2. SubnetZero

    SubnetZero New Member

    Sherman IL
    Here is some info from the BOC Library, posted by Wolfman (Walter L. Flack)

    Foam: Caused by ammonia and dirty water. Foam on the water cuts down on the oxygen level. Non dairy coffee creamer works well. Using defoamers allows proper oxygen transfer add one or two drops until foam disappears.

  3. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Guthrie, Oklaho
    City water is not too good for catfish...too pure. LOL Actually, you need to put the chlorine remover in about 24 hours before you add fish...I don't know if your offsetting the chlorine sufficiently when you add it as you fill the tank. The composition of water is not as simple as it seems either. The water has to be balanced for the fish...if there is too much fish waste in the tank, the nitrate level will be off, causing a fish funeral. I found out an expensive way that if you fill an aquarium with a rubber lined garden hose, it's the same thing as executing the fish. Something about the lining is bad for the fish. I fill my with a galvanized pail now...takes a lot of trips but I get it done. Once you fill your tank, allow it to set for at least 24 hours in it's operating the pumps etc, just don't put the fish in yet. See if your luch is any better this way.
  4. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Keeping bait in a tank isn't much different than keeping tropical fish in an aquarium.

    Waste products from the fish contain ammonia. Bacteria in the water consume the ammonia and convert it to nitrites, which is less toxic to the fish. Other bacteria in the water eat the nitrites and turn them into nitrates, which aren't dangerous until the level gets high.

    In a healthy aquarium, the bacteria colony is large enough to consume all the fish waste products and you'll eventually see nitrate levels rising. At that point, you do a water change of about 50% or so to get the nitrates back to a safer level and the process starts all over.

    When you get excessive ammonia in the water, it'll kill the fish. So where does excessive ammonia come from? Either from having more fish than the bacteria colony in the water can keep up with, or from disturbing the bacteria enough that they die off and the remaining ones can't keep up.

    In a bait tank, my bet is that you've got way too many fish and you don't change the water often enough. The ammonia level rises and fish die. And -- here's where it all falls apart -- a dead fish puts off huge volumes of ammonia, making the situation worse. You need to be diligent about removing dead fish as soon as you can - don't leave them in there for days at a time.

    Having too many fish and lacking a large enough bacteria colony, the only way you can keep the ammonia levels in check is with massive water changes on a daily (or more frequent) basis. There are also products you can buy that will convert the ammonia into other compounds that are less toxic - look at the local pet store for ammonia-removing products like Ammo-Lock, AmQuel, etc. and use the according to the directions.

    Over time, if you leave the filter media in place, you'll grow a large enough bacteria colony to start to keep up with the ammonia - the bacteria grow on the filter media and on the surfaces of the tank and anything that's in it. So you really shouldn't ever completely empty the tank and scrub it out - you'll kill all those good bacteria. If possible, start with a small population of fish, change the water frequently and add more fish every week or so. Within a month, you should be able to keep a good quantity of fish -- in a 110 gallon tank with good filtration, I'd think you could easily keep 50 small bait fish, maybe up to 100 or so.

    As for the chlorine remover, the chemicals work almost instantly on the water - they convert the chlorine into a harmless salt, so if you're using enough of the remover, your water should be chlorine free within minutes.

    You might want to see about rigging up a "whole house" filter (available at Home-Depot, etc.) with a CARBON filter - buy the appropriate fittings to rigt it up to a garden hose and put it between your water source and the fish tank when you fill, and it will remove most of the chlorine and many other contaminents from the water. Carbon filters don't last forever though so change it every month or so. I use just that kind of filter on my aquariums, adding the chlorine neutralizer directly to the tank as I'm filling and haven't killed a fish in several years. So I know it works.

    One other thing to consider is that aerators that bubble under the water really don't do very much - the exchange of CO2 and oxygen occurs at the surface of the water; the best thing you can do to keep the water oxygen-rich is to keep it agitated and moving so that fresh water is coming to the surface all the time. Use a pump or whatever means you can that keeps the water moving.

    The only real purpose for an aerating stone is to provide the agitation at the surface of the water -- almost no oxygen is absorbed into the water by the bubbles coming from the air stone. Sorry to burst the bubble of those who always thought otherwise... :big_smile:
  5. Iowa_Josh

    Iowa_Josh New Member

    Central Iowa
    Mr. T has done a good job of spelling some facts out for you. Read it twice, etc.

    I would think in 100 gallons you could have 30-40 5" baits for a while, if the filter was cycled first and maybe your filter isn't up to that, I can't judge without seeing it. The bacteria that break down nitrates reproduce slowly. I think it is two weeks or so for them to catch up with added fish load. Put some aquarium salt in the tank. It helps the fish deal with higher nitrites and just helps them out in general when they are stressed. Good luck. Last year I killed 3 batches of bait before I let the tank catch up to me and quit putting way too many fish in it at one time.
  6. jerseycat9

    jerseycat9 New Member

    Oakwood Georgia
    yeah my my grandfather had that problem till he stopped throwin so much bait in the tank he had the same problem you do with the same size tank
  7. comanchero

    comanchero New Member

    I keep a 100 gallon stock tank for my bait tank. The tank is equipped with an AquaClear 110 aquarium powerfilter and two 10" airstones. I have my tank maintenance system streamlined so that I can easily do frequent 50% to 75% water changes, usually every 3 days. I maintain about 50 to 75 or so 7" bullheads at any given time. That is a lot of fish and they create a lot of waste that can build up ammonia and nitrites quickly. The reason I like bullheads is they are tough critters and can stand water that would be toxic to other types of bait fish.

    The problem you are having with the foam indicates an ammonia build-up. It sounds like you want to maintain a large bait fish population. You can do that if you are willing to do the water changes necessary to keep the ammonia below a toxic level for the type of bait fish you want. I not sure what kind of bait you are trying to maintain but some types can die easily unless you can keep very clean water. You may want to look for a hardier type of bait to keep.
  8. jim

    jim New Member

    Jacksonville NC
    One thing that hasen't ben mentioned is temp.Its getting hot now so cooling the water is very important.Since you are adding chlorine remover you might want to add some ice and get the water down to 68-70 deg or so.Cooler water also absorbs more O2.T has given you very good advice as usual and I would highly recommend adding salt or some kind of baitsaver product.Basspro sells Shadsaver which has worked well for me even with white perch.When in doubt change water.:smile2:
  9. photocat

    photocat New Member

    HOCO, Maryland
    like some of the others said it seems like an ammonia build up.... the other thing you may not be thinking about is some sort of fish virus, parasite or some other type of illness that you may not know about... I know out of a couple of the local lakes, i keep pulling bluegills out and they have a little red worm in their eye socket (doesn't seem to effect them much) but its a parasite... I had about 100 killi's from a spot i get them from for bait and they died pretty fast, when i checked them (trying to identify which of them i was catching) i kept having a similar worm trying to leave their body through their anus.... i think in some cases it was 1 out of every 2 had it and others 1 out of every 3 had it... but still conserned me a great deal... so just to be safe, ask your DNR to test 5 of them to see if there is anything unusuall to them in a lab work up...
  10. Buddrice

    Buddrice New Member

    It can't be said any better then this quote from Mr. T and as he said oxygen is created off the movemnt of the surfsce of the water.