Pond Boss
I will be building a 700 sqft pond to keep maybe 40-50 large mouth bass for food. I am prepared to feed the fish.

My question is, can a pond this small be naturally sustaining? Meaning, am I required to provide aeriation, water filtration, etc?
RF, my short answer would be no.

That's an awful lot of LMB in a small amount of water, and the water quality alone could make it a ticking time bomb. Very few LMB ponds are self sustaining, so the time, money, and effort to make this work could be much higher than a larger pond.

IIRC, you had talked about building a larger pond on your property, so I might use the 700 SQft pond for forage for that one. Perpetual forage can't be overrated.
Wouldn't some more info be needed, like:

Is there a regular flow of water into the pond?
Is the "crop" to be only in there for so long?

I agree that aeration would be a must.
There is no creek that flows into the pond. But my area gets 50" of rain a year; it has that water coming in, plus I could channel rain water from the property into the pond.

Yes individual fish will be there for so long only, but I am hoping the stock will be there forever by reproducing. I sometimes see unattended ponds with a film of god knows what on top of the water. I wonder if something like that might happen to my pond if I don't maintain it.

This property is 3 hours from where i live, so maintenance is a bit hard. Yes I still intend to build a bigger pond, but I want to test this small one out first (particularly to determine whether I can avoid using liner), before investing in such a large scale project.
"Natural" and "self sustaining" are mostly in the eyes of the beholder.

I can say absolutely that the pond can become natural and self sustaining but in the same sentence say it is highly unlikely that state is what you have envisioned.

"Natural" is for the pond to eventually fill in, become a wetland, and finally dry ground in a few hundred years.

But for the pond to become "natural looking" by whatever your vision of that is will take a considerable effort over time. And yes, at some point it likely will have slime and nasty looking stuff in it. That is part of natures plan but unlikely yours. To keep a pond looking like some envisioned state involves it being a labor of love, in my opinion. But often the pond can become something relatively acceptable with considerable less work.

From what you describe, do a google search for "John Monroe pond boss forum" or something similar. John has purposely "mostly" let his pond evolve naturally. I say mostly because even he has had to do modifications to what naturally evolved to get something he was happy with.

Most people do not really want "natural". They want their own version of what they envision they want nature to be. Getting "natural" is easy. It takes no effort or input on your part because nature will certainly take care of the pond the way it wants it. But that natural state is very likely NOT the way you envision it.

Edit: I guess that was a pretty negative sounding post, but I think it is realistic. On a more positive note, welcome to the world of ponds and it can be a wonderful experience managing one. When we are home there is rarely a day goes by that I am not around our pond for at least a short while, and often for quite a while each day. It is a source of great pleasure for my wife and I.
My thought initially was 50 fish in that size is probably do-able if that's all. But, when you say a breeding stock, with that, you instantly lose control over what other amounts are in the pond. I don't see any way for you to control that in a good way.

Also, I don't think your rainfall amounts would be enough. I think you would want a "regular" flow going in, and preferably some out.

Unless the plan/situation changes, I would agree with FireisHot, and snrub.
700 sqft is basically 26X26ft. Many swim pools are bigger than this. A high and average density for stocking LMB in a natural setting is 100LMB/ac which is 1 bass per 435 sqft. See the problem? What you are proposing could be done as a recirculating aquaculture system IF daily careful water quality monitoring took place. You not being there makes your proposal IMO a 100% failure even if you stocked fingerling bass.

To get the fingerling bass to grow naturally they would need abundant natural foods such as invertebrates first and very soon small fish and then larger fish as the bass grow beyond 6". This extra food adds carrying capacity to the pond and highly stresses a small (tiny in your case) ecosystem and the ability of the fish to stay healthy and grow. Fish predators and water quality would be the demise of the un-monitored fish. What you propose could be feasible and with luck if you stocked 6-10 tilapia in the 700sqft "pond". Other poor water quality tolerant fish are bullheads and green sunfish. The fewer fish you stock the more likely your success will be. In that small of a pond it will be very easy for numerous types of fish predators to clean out your crop. And what they don't eat degraded water quality will kill the rest.

Read and study hard the section in our Archives about Carrying Capacity.
Originally Posted By: RobertFisher
I will be building a 700 sqft pond to keep maybe 40-50 large mouth bass for food. I am prepared to feed the fish.

My question is, can a pond this small be naturally sustaining? Meaning, am I required to provide aeriation, water filtration, etc?

I had one small pond that size that last summer I connected it to the adjacent pond because of the difficulties involved in managing it. I called it my pre-sediment pond and now through a pipe it has been joined to be part of my 1/10th acre sediment pond.

This particular tiny pond had high flow throuh rates of water and was subject to fish kills because of the high rate of water exchange.

Here is a thread I maintain that keeps links to what I call specialty ponds, which includes lots of small ponds. You may be able to glean some insight from the linked threads of other peoples small ponds.

Specialty pond list

Here is one of the links in that thread that may be encouraging.
Tiny ponds

You might want to consider some fish other than LMB.
snrub- was that water flow that created fish kills a constant flow and from the same source, or a periodic and unpredictable amount. Big difference, I think.
Periodic. It is a pond specifically made to trap sediment coming off of agricurtural land and was a termination of a field terrace from that land. So in a big rain event it could get hundreds of times water exchange in a day or two then very little for months.

I put some RES in and BG would swim in during rain events and one year I got quite a bit of RES and hybrid RESxBG recruitment. But in a year with big rains the larger fish would end up belly up leaving only small fry. So because it was inconsistant, I could not keep unwanted fish from swimming upstream during larger rain events, and the final straw of the dying of my brood stock I just joined it together with the adjacent sediment pond with a 6" pipe. Now fish have an escape route and can flow down to a larger 1/10th acre BOW during large rain events and go back and forth as desired. Yet this initial pond is small enough I can clean it out with my backhoe should sediment get built up. I will add a link to the fish kill page here when I find it.
snrub's fish kill in his tiny pre-sediment pond
My "minnow pond" is a 53 ft x 37 ft oval (1,550 sq ft) about four feet deep, built primarily to catch and divert into the main pond a portion of the watershed missed by the main pond, and secondarily, to raise FHM. As far as I can figure, it holds about 18,000 gallons. It is now about 14 months old, and has so far been a great success. I stocked it initially with about 3-1/2 pounds of FHM last March-April, many of them Rosy Reds. By late summer of this past year, there were thousands of offspring swimming around. I would throw them a few handfuls of feed once or twice a day. Being small, and relatively shallow, the water temperature swings much more rapidly than the main pond.

FHM are tough and adapted to live in small bodies like this. Larger game fish are not unless intensely managed. Small ponds can be self sustaining if only stocked with FHM, Gambusia, or maybe goldfish. If you intend to aerate and feed, you might raise 6 to 10 channel catfish.

Hello guys, after acquiring my property I was occupied with a bunch of projects; now I'm picking up where I left off regarding the pond.

I have kind of come to realization that my small test pond will not be a self-sustaining pond that offers endless SMB to eat. I am prepared to get the fingerlings, raise them by feeding them, and restock with new fingerlings when I have taken them. I am also prepared to have water filtration and aeration.

But still, I don't like a pond with rubber liner bottom; it just doesn't feel like a pond to me. But I have to user a liner because my soil is quite loose. So I am thinking about putting soil ABOVE the lining; then perhaps grow vegetation right in that soil. Is this commonly done? Anything I need to pay attention to if I do this?
The latest issue of PBM has an article that states covering the liner with soil is the recommended method of installation. The soil protects the liner from punctures as well as the sunlight.
Originally Posted By: Bill D.
The latest issue of PBM has an article that states covering the liner with soil is the recommended method of installation. The soil protects the liner from punctures as well as the sunlight.

Will any soil do? For example, will some type of dirt keep the water clearer? Or any soil better for growing vegetation? What about using sand?
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