Fishing is a beloved pastime enjoyed by millions of Americans. While many anglers take great care to ensure the well-being of their catch, not all techniques are based on scientifically-proven methods. Below we will explore the latest advancements in fish care and gain a deeper understanding of how to responsibly enjoy this cherished activity while optimizing your chance of winning as a tournament angler.
UNDERSTANDING FISH CARE
Most people do not have the resources or inclination to thoroughly investigate the complexities of maintaining sufficient oxygen levels in boat livewells. However, understanding this topic is crucial in optimizing tournament fish care as well as assuring the preservation of our fish populations and maintaining the balance of aquatic ecosystems. Many anglers are unaware of the ways in which they can prevent this issue, but research has shown that the key is to provide ample oxygen to the livewell water in a form that can be easily absorbed by the fish's gills. By ensuring that the livewell water is well oxygenated, fish can remain healthy and alive, regardless of the temperature of the lake or livewell.
BENCHMARKING CURRENT FISH CARE SOLUTIONS
A study done by Texas Parks and Wildlife Association demonstrated the ineffectiveness of one of the most popular livewell oxygen systems. The data showed that the system only resulted in a 3.8% increase in oxygen levels over circulation when no fish were present in the livewell. Therefore, it is likely that the oxygen would have been quickly consumed by the fish if they had been present during the testing.
In order to better understand the importance and role of oxygen in livewells, it is helpful to consider the following five scientific aspects of proper fish care.
1. THE CHALLENGE OF PROVIDING USABLE OXYGEN
It is not possible for a person to eat a 20-pound watermelon in one bite; rather, it must be cut into smaller pieces and chewed before it can be fully metabolized, and its nutrients absorbed. Similarly, many livewell systems on boats pump large amounts of water in an agitated, foamy state and provide the illusion of providing oxygen to your fish. However, if the bubbles created are too large, the fish's gills are unable to absorb the oxygen from them. These bubbles are essentially useless to the fish, as they cannot metabolize the oxygen contained within them. In this situation, the fish are left with no choice but to continue to breathe in the water from the livewell, in which usable oxygen is being quickly depleted, therefore leading to suffocation from oxygen deprivation.
2. KEEPING USABLE OXYGEN IN THE WATER
Another simple analogy that helps to understand the importance of oxygen in livewells is the comparison of a beach ball and a ping pong ball in a swimming pool. If one were to try to hold a beach ball underwater, the buoyancy of the ball would create a strong upward force, making it difficult to keep it submerged. On the other hand, a ping pong ball could be held underwater almost indefinitely due to its smaller size and lower buoyancy. This concept is also applicable to oxygen bubbles in water. The physical size of an oxygen bubble determines how quickly it will rise to the surface due to the force of surface tension and the fact that air is lighter than water. In a livewell, if the oxygen bubbles produced by an air bubbler or standard livewell system are too large, they will rise to the surface quickly and will not be easily absorbed by the fish's gills.
3. MISCONCEPTION OF ADDING ICE TO LIVEWELL
Fish are cold-blooded animals, and their metabolism slows down at lower temperatures, which can help them use less oxygen, however the cooling of the water has only a marginal affect. Imagine if you were to place a plastic bag over your head and seal it around your neck. The bag definitely contains some amount of oxygen for you to breath. If you were to then slow your breathing through deep mediation, how long would that extend your ability to breath as the oxygen continues to be consumed via respiration? (Please don’t try this.) Furthermore, it's important to note that, adding too much ice to your livewell might lower the water temperature too much and cause harm the fish. Hence, if you feel that you must add ice, do not cool the water in the livewell down more than 8 to 9 degrees cooler than the water that you will be releasing the fish into.
Many anglers also mistakenly believe that adding ice to their livewells will create oxygen for the fish, but this is also not true. These long-held misunderstandings and misconceptions that many anglers have operated under are scientifically unfounded and profoundly incorrect.
4. THE USE OF LIVEWELL CHEMICALS
It is also common for anglers to use chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, in an attempt to increase oxygen levels in the water of livewells. However, this practice is flawed for several reasons. Firstly, as previously stated, the large air bubbles produced by most livewell systems are not easily absorbed by the fish's gills and therefore provide little benefit. Secondly, the water itself contains molecules of H20, which have two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. The goal is to get the oxygen contained in these molecules into the fish through normal respiration. When chemicals are introduced into the livewell and react with the H20 molecules, they may release some of the oxygen contained within them. However, there is a limited amount of H20 and oxygen in the livewell, and once the chemical reaction is complete, there is no remaining oxygen available. This means that using chemicals to increase oxygen levels is a risky and unreliable practice that may provide a temporary boost but can ultimately lead to brain damage and death in the fish. Secondly, the long-term effects of introducing foreign chemicals into our rivers and lakes could be detrimental to their sustainability, not to mention the danger they pose to the people that may ultimately consume those fish. Instead of relying on chemicals, it is better to use a livewell system that provides a consistent and absorbable source of oxygen.
5. STRESS INCREASES NEED FOR OXYGEN
It is well-established that fish need a consistent and absorbable source of oxygen in order to thrive in a livewell. University studies often suggest that a minimum oxygen concentration of 4 ppm (parts per million) is necessary for a fish to survive, but this level may not be sufficient for a fish that is already stressed from being caught and placed in a confined space. When a fish is stressed, its oxygen intake needs may be higher and a lower concentration of dissolved oxygen (ppm) in the water may not be sufficient to meet its needs. To ensure that a stressed fish receives enough oxygen, it is important to maintain a high concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water. This can be thought of in the same way as an athlete who takes oxygen on the sideline in order to quickly recover and return to peak performance. If the oxygen concentration is not high enough, the fish may experience brain damage or other physiological emergencies that can lead to death.
MAJOR INDUSTRY ADVANCEMENT IN FISH CARE
Johnny Maxwell has dedicated his over 40-year professional career to the mechanical and energy industry, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his work as an inventor. Based in Huntsville, Alabama, a city renowned for its scientific community, Johnny has built a reputation as a leading innovator in his field. In addition to his professional pursuits, Johnny is also an avid fisherman, giving him a unique perspective on the needs of both fish and fishermen. With this combination of technical expertise and practical experience, Johnny along with a team of research scientists and clinical researchers, have been able to address the longstanding issue of fish care and develop a solution that benefits all parties involved.
This solution, known as FishLung® utilizes advanced technology and patented processes to provide a high concentration of usable oxygen to livewell systems, ensuring the health and well-being of the fish while also meeting the needs of tournament fishermen looking to maximize their earning potential and comply with conservation efforts. By supersaturating the water with oxygen and using the smallest possible bubble size, FishLung® ensures that fish are able to absorb the oxygen they need to survive and thrive even in the most stressful situations. Overall, fish preservation efforts are uniquely served by the use of an advanced livewell system like FishLung™, which provide a safe and healthy environment for fish to survive and thrive after being caught and released.
Fishermen and conservationists alike, FishLung® is a game-changing technology that will revolutionize the way we approach fish care in the fishing industry. This breakthrough solution, the result of decades of research and development, raises the bar for fish preservation and ensured the well-being of fish both during and after capture.