Fish kill in Valley lake caused by algae bloom

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DAYTON, Va. (WHSV) — This past Friday, more than 50 fish were recorded dead by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality at Silver Lake in Dayton.

Wyrick said not to be concerned if you do see a dead fish at Silver Lake, as they are letting the natural food chain pick them up.

The department said what caused the fish to die was something natural called an algae bloom.

Algae blooms tend to happen on warm sunny days where plants in the water pump out a large amount of oxygen, but then at night, as the algae decays, the oxygen levels drastically decrease.

Tara Wyrick, with the Virginia DEQ, said normally fish swim away from these areas in the water, but if they don't, it can cause the fish to die.

"In this case, the fish just got a little too stressed out," Wyrick said. "It mostly affected larger fish that needed a lot more oxygen, there was just so much algae in the water, we saw a large decrease in oxygen."

Some algae blooms can be toxic, when blue-green algae reaches toxic concentrations, like what happened in Chris Greene Lake last year, but this bloom was not toxic.

The DEQ said they recorded about 50 dead Blue Gill Sunfish, about a dozen dead trout, and one dead catfish.

The department said it's not uncommon for fish to die from something natural like an algae bloom, and that the number of fish that died should not greatly impact the lake.

For now, the department has sent off a sample of the algae to a lab at Old Dominion University, to be identified for its species and tested for the actual amount in the water.

Wyrick said there is no risk for human health and that the lake is safe to continue fishing in.