Resource managers hypothesize that occasional fish kills during summer-early fall in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, may be linked to unfavorable water quality conditions created by massive algal blooms. In a preliminary effort to address this concern, short-term (96-h-long) laboratory tests were conducted with larval and juvenile Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) suckers to determine the upper median lethal concentrations (LC50s; also referred to as median tolerance limits) for pH, un-ionized ammonia, and water temperature, and the lower LC50s for dissolved oxygen. The mean LC50s varied among species and life stages as follows: for pH, 10.30-10.39; for un-ionized ammonia, 0.48-1.06 mg litre-1; for temperature, 30.35-31.82??C; and for dissolved oxygen, 1.34-2.10 mg litre-1. Comparisons of 95% confidence limits indicated that, on average, the 96-h LC50s were not significantly different from those computed for shorter exposure times (i.e., 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h). According to two-way analysis of variance, LC50s for the four water quality variables did not vary significantly (p > 0.05) between fish species. However, LC50s for pH (exposure times of 24 h and 48 h) and dissolved oxygen (exposure times of 48 h, 72 h, and 96 h) differed significantly (p ??? 0.05) between life stages, whereas LC50s for un-ionized ammonia and water temperature did not exhibit significant differences. In general, larvae were more sensitive than juveniles to high pH and low dissolved oxygen concentrations. When compared to ambient water quality conditions in Upper Klamath Lake, our results strongly suggest that near-anoxic conditions associated with the senescence phase of algal blooms are most likely to cause high mortalities of larval and juvenile suckers.
Additional publication details
Lethal levels of selected water quality variables to larval and juvenile Lost River and shortnose suckers