We have a small pond (about 2 acres) in our neighborhood with some nice size bass and catfish. Is it safe to eat the fish from the pond? Is there a way to test the fish or the water?
Tarrant County Texas
This is an impossible question for any fisheries or aquaculture to answer without more information. Texas has over 1.1 million ponds, and I do not know what town or what community you live in, I have no water analysis, no pond history, no chemical use records, and no watershed information, so I have nothing that we can work from to make an assessment for this pond. My general rule is that when in doubt or you simply do not know, do not eat the fish. Remember, it is your health and it is better to be safe. It may be best to just enjoy the good fishing and leave the fish for everyone to enjoy. One thing you can do is check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to see if your community pond is enrolled in the Neighborhood Fishin' Program (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/urban_catfish.phtml) If it is, the fish should be safe to eat or Texas Parks and Wildlife will post a consumption advisory. If it is not in the Neighborhood Fishin' Program, contact your community's parks or public services department, and see if they have information on water and fish consumption for your community pond. You can have the water tested for basic water chemistry and heavy metals for $35 by sending a water sample to the Texas A&M Soils, Water, and Forage testing lab (http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/). However, this testing will only tell you of any heavy metal toxicities and if the water quality is suitable for the fish in the pond. Testing for compounds that would present the most danger to you, such as hydrocarbons and pesticides, is very expensive and each compound test can run anywhere from $225 all the way up to $1000. You may have to test for many compounds, so the cost can really add up. There is no lab in Texas that tests for chemical residues in fish, but some do for water. The closest lab that does these tests for fish is the Ag Chemistry Department at LSU.