Golden Alga Management and Research
Investigating Fish Kills
When a fish kill is reported, TPWD biologists visit the site to assess the situation. They note numbers and types of dead fish and the extent of the affected area, and collect water samples to be tested for golden alga and its toxins. If golden alga is confirmed as the cause, information is posted on Bloom Reports and the Harmful Algal Blooms Facebook page. As a bloom progresses, biologists monitor the situation and share updated reports. Kills are classified as mild, moderate, or severe:
- Mild - dead fish are few, scattered in localized areas, and limited to nongame species. Less than 1/3 of the water body has been affected.
- Moderate - dead fish are common throughout the affected area and may include game species, but most fish affected are nongame species (> 90% of total fish). More than 1/3 of the water body has been affected.
- Severe - dead fish are abundant and game species are common (> 10% of total fish). More than 1/3 of the water body has been affected.
TPWD's Golden Alga Task Force formed in 2001 after the devastating fish kill at the Dundee State Fish Hatchery. After months of synthesizing available information and conducting various research studies, the task force developed strategies for controlling the alga to allow successful culture of fish. One very effective method for small-scale operations is to treat incoming water with ozone gas. Ozone systems are now in use at TPWD's Dundee and Possum Kingdom hatcheries, which lie in watersheds that are vulnerable to alga blooms. Hatchery managers may want to review the documents below for findings on this and other management options.
- Management of Prymnesium
parvum at Texas State Fish Hatcheries - Part 1 | Part 2
Management Data Series No. 236 (2005)
This document contains some of the written reports prepared by members of the task force on research findings, review summaries and management plans.
- A Biosecurity Manual for Inland Fisheries Hatcheries
Management Data Series No. 276 (2013)
Outlines protocols for preventing transfer of all nuisance aquatic species
- Evaluation of Two Ammonium Sulfate Application Strategies to Control Prymnesium parvum in Striped Bass Fingerling Production Ponds
Management Data Series No. 266 (2011)
- Refining Ammonia Treatments for Prymnesium Parvum Control in Striped Bass Fingerling Production Ponds
Management Data Series No. 269 (2012)
- Use of Aluminum Sulfate to Reduce High pH in Fingerling Striped Bass Production Ponds Fertilized with Nitrogen and Phosphorus to Control Prymnesium Parvum
Management Data Series No. 274 (2012)
- Solar Powered Water Circulation for Controlling Prymnesium parvum in Hatchery Ponds
Management Data Series No. 261 (2010)
- Nutrient Manipulation to Control the Toxic Alga Prymnesium parvum
Management Data Series No. 260 (2010)
Small Lakes and Ponds
To date, there is no feasible way eliminate golden alga or control blooms in large reservoirs and complex river systems. However, some treatments and management techniques have proved successful in small lakes and ponds. This document is provided to help cities, water utilities, river authorities, and others evaluate options for addressing toxic events in small water bodies:
for Golden Alga Management: Options for Ponds and
Small Reservoirs in Texas (PDF 422.9 KB)
For cities, water utilities, river authorities and other managers of small impoundments in public water
- Management options for private pond owners from AgriLife Extension
Activities of the Golden Alga Task Force
2001 - The task force convened a workshop with local and state agencies, university researchers, elected officials, and community leaders to identify research needs and develop an action plan. Results of the workshop were incorporated into a Report to the Texas Legislature (PDF 723.1 KB) in January 2002.
2003 - A workshop in Fort Worth brought together resource managers, water authorities, interested stakeholders, and scientific experts from the United States and Europe to discuss the current state of knowledge on golden alga and identify information gaps that needed to be filled in order to develop cost-effective management strategies. Results of the workshop provided a framework that was used to guide a competitive research program supported through federal funding.
2003–2007 - With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Legislature, scientists conducted a number of research projects addressing priority needs for the understanding and management of golden alga in Texas.
2009 - The task force organized an International Golden Alga Symposium to review results of sponsored research and to focus efforts on transitioning the results of this research to inform management and conservation decisions. Papers presented at the symposium were included as a featured collection in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Abstracts can be found on the journal's website. Full-text articles are available by paid subscription, or upon request from TPWD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Researchers in Texas and elsewhere have made significant efforts to understand golden alga. However, knowledge gaps remain that limit our ability to develop reliable and cost-effective controls for golden alga blooms in rivers and reservoir systems. TPWD will continue to track new scientific developments in the harmful algal blooms research community and will assess the implications of any new information on the management and control of golden alga blooms in Texas.
- Report Kills - If you see a fish kill or suspect golden alga, contact one of TPWD's 24-hour communications centers at 512-389-4848 (Austin) or 281-842-8100 (La Porte).
- Get the Facts - TPWD has collaborated with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other entities to produce a golden alga information card. Download a PDF from the TCEQ website or request a free hard copy from TPWD at email@example.com.