Pond Boss
Posted By: JMayer 120 GPM stream fed pond - stocking question - 05/13/20 07:54 PM
Hi everyone.

I had a few questions regarding stocking of a stream fed pond that is on my land.

The pond is located in central Ohio. It is roughly 1/2 surface acre and has a varying depth of 1' to 2 1/2', very shallow. The bottom of the pond is mostly muck (I have fallen in and have gone up to my waist). The water temperature is a cool 60 degrees in summer. The water also does not freeze over entirely during winter due to the high water flow. Currently there are carp, maybe 15 large ones (3ft), and a numerous amount of smaller goldfish like carp. There is quite a bit of structure throughout the sides and many over hanging trees for shade (hence all the dead leaves turning into muck at the bottom).

I was hoping to maybe put some different species of fish in here. I would love to put some kind of trout or perch or just some simple bluegill that the kiddos can catch.

Are there any suggestions from you folk about what species might be able to thrive in this kind of environment? I know the depth is probably an issue and may get an excavator to dig out some of the pond.

Other than that, there is diverse wildlife in and around the pond.

Thanks for the help and expertise!

In my opinion you have a glorified wetland. If you want a decent fishery get rid of the carp and goldfish. They will degrade the water quality ruin conditions for most of the other sport fish species especially trout. Bite the bullet, drain it, clean out all the muck and black slop. Then restart with a clean pond pond basin and fresh conditions. As long as all the muck is in there and carp to stir the bottom the pond will never reach even close to its potential.
Thanks Mr. Cody.

This was the kind of information I was looking for.

I really have no experience in draining and cleaning out the muck. I have looked into different outfits but they all are asking 40k+ to do this kind of operation. Could you point to any resources about how to go about doing this? A buddy of mine is good with an excavator and I would trust him to do it but I don't know anything about how to drain, how deep to go (I am guessing down to clay?), etc.

I appreciate your insight into this little problem of mine.

I guess I should probably get a subscription to Pond Boss Magazine to help with the miscellaneous problems I will face with a new pond.
Originally Posted by JMayer
I really have no experience in draining and cleaning out the muck. I have looked into different outfits but they all are asking 40k+ to do this kind of operation. Could you point to any resources about how to go about doing this?

There are some missing pieces but if you would fill those in I could offer some suggestions. First, is a dam constructed or is this a natural pool in a stream bed? What are the dimensions? What is the gradient of stream? Does the stream have a clay or stone bottom? Is the source of flow from many very small springs upstream or is there a strong spring supplying the stream very close by? Does the flow get very large in rain events? I get the impression that this lies in a forested area and the muck is sourced to terrestrial leaf inputs. Also any additional information that these questions make you think of, add that too.

Thanks for your reply!

There is no dam. This is a natural pool from a spring. The main spring flows south to north from the neighbors property, under the road, and onto my land.
The dimensions are roughly 200' square with a nice tapered outflow stream that goes into a large pipe, flows under my land a bit, pops out at a place where a large waterwheel used to be (Our house used to be an old Mill). goes back under ground, under a small side road and pops out in a stream onto a neighbors property.
The gradient is pretty flat. The inlet and outlet are roughly the same depth. Once the water hits the area where the old waterwheel was located it drops 5 foot and proceeds out to the stream.
I believe the bottom is clay. Closer to the outlet where the pond tapers down, there is a clay bed, no muck in the 20ft outlet stream.
There is a very strong spring upstream on the neighbors property. She has a pond, roughly same depth as mine, which flows under the road and into my pond. I suspect the entire area (thousands of acres) is atop a vast underwater system. Many neighbors have spring fed ponds. The street was actually named for the many springs in the area.
The flow mainly stays the same during heavy rain. The water does not raise significantly. The water will raise significantly, within hours, if a grate is placed over our outflow and leaves/debris inhibit the water flow.
The banks are surrounded by trees on three sides. The side not covered by trees is the side closest to our house and outflow. The pond gets significant leaf debris and yes this is the source of the muck. Standing in the outlet stream where there is a clay bed I am fine. But when walking out just a 6 or 7 feet from the bank I will go up to my waste in muck easily.

I guess I really don't know how to drain a section to excavate when I've got over 100 gallons per minute flowing into the the pond.

Again thanks for your time and expertise!

You've mentioned that the water flows up and out the ground even going below the surface on your own property to come out in another place on an adjoining property. Because of this, I am inclined to think its pretty rocky around there, and especially under the ground a short distance. The preponderance of springs in your area tells me the same.

So I wonder why there is a pool there at all. If I were to guess, I would say that the reason is that in the past this was a very permeable spot where to water flowed, at least part of it, into the ground. This flow, I propose, had the effect of washing away the looser portions of the soil and caused a sink-hole of sorts ... right there. So what does that mean? Well for one thing it may mean that the muck is actually what is helping to keep the pool at full pool.

At this point it is difficult to say whether you could remove all of the muck and still have a pool that holds water. If so there may be ways to substitute the muck with another sealant. River silt, the kind that forms visible particles that or of the order of size 80 sand might be ideal but it would depend on the size of the fractures that carry water away. You might use soil on your property but for it to work it must form a bridge. On the other hand, you may find that you can take all the muck out and that these fractures are already stably bridged and the pool holds sufficient water with the influx of the spring.

So how to get the muck out. IMO, the benefit you have is that there is a good flow of water. Because of this you can dredge the muck and if you have time to spend with it you could do this yourself. I would use something like 4" Poly tubing of sufficient length to access all parts of the pond and enough extra to get the outlet to a lower elevation. The greater the elevation difference the better this will work. Charge the tube with water by completely submerging it (start one end into the water and continue until complete. You need some way to prevent air coming in when you lift the outlet of the charged siphon from water (like a full opening ball valve ,.. the valve must be open while charging the tube). If you take this to a lower elevation and open the valve, the water will flow on its own. Because the muck is soft, it will be drawn into the siphon and discharged at a lower elevation. Think about where it is going and how it will affect you and neighbors. It may be that a smaller tube would be better (for example 3") in that it may be possible to set it up so that it is moving only as much or less than spring produces (which would mean that your dredge is ready and waiting whenever you have time). there are probably ways to improve this like a pump and jet to stir things up.

If you can get your pool whipped into a something that will be a good home for fish I have some other ideas I think could help.
You should talk to a good dirt construction person for opinions; get several. Some Soil & Water Conservation District agencies will help advise with this info. A soil scientist may be helpful to talk to. Do your homework well before pulling the trigger. As an economical option consider down sizing the pond size but with a deeper cleaned out basin. The spring flow may have to be diverted while the new pond basin is created.
Thank you all for your replies.

I will have to do some more research. There really is no place on my property to place the massive amounts of muck. I would like to keep it since I think it could be turned into some good soil once it dries but I doubt I, nor my neighbors would be able to handle the smell until it dries. The only alternative is having it hauled away, which would be costly.

I took a kayak out on the pond for the first time this spring and there are tons of small fish. Most of these are carp like. However I did see some bluegill like fish (round bodies rather than the slim longer small carp). I also see a bunch of fish jumping on the surface. Do small carp jump? There are also some very large monsters 30+ lbs by my estimates. I haven't really seen the carp muddying up the waters though.

If I would forgo the dredging or decreasing the size, would getting rid of the carp allow for some other species to be introduced even though the water wouldn't be very deep? Or will the problem of leaf debris only get worse as time goes on? It stays under 65 degrees even in the summer and never fully freezes over during winter.

JMayer, just a quick point on the muck from the bottom of the pond....

The jury is out, so to speak, on whether or not that muck is of good value as soil, if I recall correctly.

You may be able to get some reduction in the organic muck by either adding aeration or muck-reducing bacteria or microbes. Regarding the bacteria or microbes, a concern could be if you have too much flow-through water. I'm not sure that's the case though.
Originally Posted by JMayer
If I would forgo the dredging or decreasing the size, would getting rid of the carp allow for some other species to be introduced even though the water wouldn't be very deep? Or will the problem of leaf debris only get worse as time goes on? It stays under 65 degrees even in the summer and never fully freezes over during winter.


If I were to do it that way, I would first off remove any trees near the pond that have leaves that are heavy in tannin. That would be any Oaks for sure. Century old boles of American chestnut are still remarkably good wood because of tannin. Somehow tannin inhibits decay probably due to anti-fungal properties. Trees with leaves that decay readily are trees like ash, mulberry, poplar, maple, elm and I think some of these could remain. Just a little annually timed plastic fence erected around it could work to help to prevent a large portion of them going in. Still may be chore keeping up with leaves but did I hear you say "kids" and "little fishermen"?

I had hoped I you might say that there was some meadow on your own property that is lower in elevation than your pond. say an acre or so where you could spread muck. Even if you only deposited 2" a year, I do think you would make ground. If you could get rid of the muck it would help the pond grow a wider variety of foods for fish. Even so, when you think about it, your pond is like a trout hatchery raceway. So I do think you could raise trout and feed them without issues. You need to get rid of the carp as they will compete for food, space, and oxygen.

Maybe one of these days you could draw up some elevations of the pond and a contour of your property where some other ideas might be passed around by members, If it were me I might adapt the outlet to take water from deeper in the pond and might adapt the pipe or the outflow to be diverted to any meadow that lies below that if the pond bottom is agitated it might carry the muck solids away. Keep us posted on what you do. There is potential and it's a very unique and interesting opportunity.
120 Gallons per minute? I would look into a small hydro electric generator. Yes the debris in the water will be a challenge but that is a lot of water & energy!
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