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Fungus on Fish

Kirkliston, May 27, 1882


SIR, - This subject has within the last year or two received a considerable share of attention in the columns of the Scotsman, and I observe it is again being ventilated by some of your correspondents. Whatever may be the cause of fungus on fish - and as you know many theories have been stated - there is no doubt that wherever impurity is there will you find diseased fish. This fact may account for the cases observed by your correspondents, neither of the ponds mentioned being particularly adapted for the rearing of healthy fish. While I am on the subject, perhaps you will allow me to refer to the shameful way in which some rivers are polluted.

About fifteen years ago, the Almond running past this village was a capital trouting stream, and the little burns running into it swarmed with minnows, and not infrequently beautiful trout were "guddled" from below the overhanging "divots." Many a pleasant summer evening was spent on the Almond banks in pursuit of "the contemplative man's recreation." But the aspect of things changed. It was found that shale abounded at several places near the river, or at all events, near the burns flowing into it. Oil works sprang up, and proved a source of profit to the proprietors. There could, of course be no objection to this, but the effect on the Almond was most disastrous.

The water was frequently, indeed commonly, observed to have a coating of oil, and soon the fish floated back downwards, or swam gasping towards any spot where a little fresh water flowed into the river, where they were netted in dozens by the boys. Though then a mere schoolboy, I was an ardent angler and look back with satisfaction to the observations that I was oven then able to make; and to show that the occurrences of fungus is no new thing, allow me, to state that at that time minnows, in all the stages of the disease, were constantly observed among their healthier neighbours, and in the burn passing the free Church Manse we killed many trout with white (diseased) heads as they struggled over the shallow streams.

It may be thankfully acknowledged that the Almond is now regaining in some slight degree its former glory, but the slimy bottom still betrays the presence of impurity. It is pretty broadly hinted that , even after all the protests you have published against river pollution , the oilworks people take a mean advantage of a "spate" to empty their death-dealing refuse into the river. It is to be hoped that the space which you so considerately devote to this subject may not be so devoted in vain, but that one of the many causes of disease in fish - namely, river pollution - may for ever cease. We inhabit a beautiful country, and it were a pity that its delightful streams should be converted into veritable conduits for the conveyance to the sea of the refuse of public works.

I am, &c. JOHN BELL.


The Scotsman, 29th May 1882

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