Fish farmers prepare for coldest night of season

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Lakeland fish breeder Mike Drawdy hopes his preparation for cold temperatures pays off on what could be the coldest night of this winter season.

 “We start preparations back in October preparing for winter,” said Drawdy. “These fish come from different parts of the world where they're not used to this kind of temperature.”

He pumps warmer water in their tanks to keep them from getting too cold, which can cause stress, sickness, and potentially death.

Plastic also covers the greenhouses to keep them warmer inside.

“They like it at 80, 82 degrees. They are OK when it drops to the low 70s. Anything below 70 in the water is very stressful for them,” he said.

Outside, where they are less protected, plastic sheets have been laid over the 20 acres of ponds.  It’s all that separates the warm-water fish from the potentially freezing air.

“We cover the outdoor ponds too because we can't pump as much water in those as we can the inside so the plastic is the only protection they have,” Drawdy said.

Drawdy says a few weeks ago the brief cold snap cost him 30-40 percent of his stock.

In 2010, it was even worse, several days in a row of frigid temps claimed 90 percent of it.

He hopes to fare better this time around.

“A lot of work goes into making sure they’re not exposed to the environment,” Drawdy said.