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#563538 01/12/24 05:31 PM
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We are purchasing a parcel of land on Central Florida ranch that's a little over 1k acres. This ranch has about 22 man made ponds. This land is untouched by chemicals but has had cows roaming. Our desire is to also have some cows and chickens on our approximately 10 acre parcel. Some parcels have ponds around the size of one acre. We were told that the existing ponds are part of the surface water management system meant to treat any surface water before it leaves the property. It was recommended to only catch and release from the ponds and that if we wanted to farm fish that we should do so by digging a separate pond or using above ground fish farming systems. We were wondering if with proper aeration and plants, if we could farm fish from it. These ponds already have plenty of fish in them. Just hoping to hear from others about whether or not fishing from this type of pond is doable or not. Thanks in advance for any insight!

Last edited by CrystalW; 01/12/24 05:32 PM.
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Welcome to Pond Boss, Crystal!

There is a LOT of information required to give informed answers to your questions.

Yes, it is definitely possible to build a nice 1-acre pond on a 10-acre parcel in Florida. The climate of Florida is highly productive for many kinds of fish.

If there are no "chemicals" used on the ranch, then you probably COULD catch and eat fish from the other ponds. I do not believe cattle waste (manure and urine) in small amounts are toxic to fish or create problems for human consumption. (Bacteria in the waste IS a potential problem.) The cattle waste does change the chemistry of the ponds, which can lead to some other complications.

(The following is speculation!) There are lots of possible meanings to the phrase "surface water management system". Cattle create waste and tend to create bare dirt when they are kept in high concentrations like a feed lot. Many states require some type of buffer between heavy cattle operations and the streams and lakes of the state. If the surface waters after heavy rains flow into ponds on the property and the overflow then goes to the adjacent streams and lakes, that does serve to catch much of the silt and particulate matter in the local ponds. That may qualify as a "surface water management system".

I think your bigger question will be determining the type of pond that you can build on your property. Most ponds are either groundwater ponds that fill up from the bottom or sides, or surface water ponds that capture rainwater from the course of its flow across the topography of the land. Either type of pond in Florida will probably be in a low spot. Can you see a vague "waterway" running to the nearby ponds, with an elevated mostly straight dam roughly perpendicular to the waterway. That would be a surface pond.

You can probably ask your neighbors about their ponds. Most people that actually manage their ponds are happy to talk about it. Hopefully, they can tell you what type of pond, which type of fish have flourished for them, how low the water level got in the worst drought they have experienced, etc.

You can even do an aquaculture type fish operation in Florida using raceways or tanks. That is MUCH easier in places where your pipes are never exposed to hard freezes!

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Another option might be to make an arrangement with the ranch owner for you to manage a nearby pond. Instead of you spending money to build a pond, you could spend much less money stocking and intensively managing a pond close to your property line.

However, if you are spending the time and money for the pond management, it would be nice to have a restricted use agreement so your family can fish that pond and the ranch owner's grandkids (or something similar). Of course, if your parcel is very remote and hard to get to, you might not even need any type of exclusion agreement. (Just be advised that teenage boys will walk a long way to trespass and fish in a nicely stocked pond if they can avoid consequences.)

Just thinking out loud for some more ideas!

Congrats on your new property, and good luck on your future fish adventures.

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A recommendation to "catch and release only" in most cases will impart an imbalance that requires proper management to correct. Part of proper management is culling certain numbers of certain species which is usually the result of a well planned management program before the pond is stocked.
Edit: That doesn't really answer your question, sorry.. Cattle grazing on areas that allow run-off through/over manure on it's way to pond can/will create a nutrient overload that in most cases proves hard to control.
There are things that can be done to drain away from pond but inflow can be a good thing if clean water.

Last edited by Snipe; 01/12/24 09:57 PM.
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I've been wondering how long does it take after cattle are removed, for the water to get safe for fish?


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Bob, ever pull algae mats up on the bank and pile up somewhere?
I have some mats in a place from 4 years ago that are still obvious, I'm guessing a cow pie holds it nutrient value for a long, long time.

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Our cow's pies disappear during the course of a year. Of course, their nutrients get recycled into more grass and legumes and hence more cow pies.


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Your first plan of action IMO is to fish the ponds with simple methods such as small bobber, a number(#) 6 aberdeen hook and pieces of worms or crickets for bait. You should try and find out what types of fish live in each pond. Keep records of what is caught in each pond. You can take pictures of what fish you do NOT recognize or know their common names and we can help with identifications. There are some simple fish sampling methods that also should be used to get an idea of what fish species are not sampled well by angling.

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You can probably ask your neighbors about their ponds. Most people that actually manage their ponds are happy to talk about it.
Second plan - You an be talk to some of your new neighbors with ponds. Yes - most people that actually own a pond are happy to talk about it.
When talking to locals about pond management be cautious what they tell you. Every pond owner thinks they are an expert. Most times they are not experts but want to be an expert. They know just enough to get you into some sort of difficulty. Every pond even each of those on your property are unique and different, just as all people are different. Ponds are complex ecosystems.

Take what local pond owners say and come back here for second opinions and more advice that is probably more experienced - some of it definitely will be professional and with lots of experience. For instance I have a MS in aquatic biology and have been doing this type of stuff for over 40 years.

Cow manure in it self will not leach toxic substances into the pond any more that bird or critter manure that is deposited into the pond. Cow manure probably does not have more harmful toxins compared to the harmful air pollution chemicals that get deposited into the pond during rain events. Rain strips lots of air borne chemicals out of the air such as acid rain. However the manure has basic nutrients in it that make the pond grow all sorts of more stuff including fish and plants. Manures are common types of fertilizers used for organic crops.

Some fish farming can be done in your existing ponds. However you need to formulate some realistic goals of what is already in the ponds and the depths of each pond. Then decide on what are your goals for farming some fish. Know maximum depth and average depth of each pond. Then you should get some water chemistry tests of the water for concentrations of the basic pond management chemicals. If each pond has fish in it this is a good early sign the water quality is at least good enough to grow fish year round. Often different species of fish are tolerant of different types of water qualities.

Usually fish growing ponds are specially built depending on the goals for the types or species of fish that are going to be raised. You don't just dig a hole.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/13/24 11:23 AM.

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Our pastures out here are normally quite worn down from over grazing. They are also great sources of surface run-off, and if cattle haven't been in them for several years they still contain dried up cow manure from many years ago.
Might be different east or south but if we get a strong rain in these areas, I've seen dried up old cow pies fill a lower elevation holding pool. The result is solid green water as they re-hydrate and break down.
Guess I wasn't considering the area in question.

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Originally Posted by CrystalW
We are purchasing a parcel of land on Central Florida ranch that's a little over 1k acres. This ranch has about 22 man made ponds. This land is untouched by chemicals but has had cows roaming. Our desire is to also have some cows and chickens on our approximately 10 acre parcel. Some parcels have ponds around the size of one acre. We were told that the existing ponds are part of the surface water management system meant to treat any surface water before it leaves the property. It was recommended to only catch and release from the ponds and that if we wanted to farm fish that we should do so by digging a separate pond or using above ground fish farming systems. We were wondering if with proper aeration and plants, if we could farm fish from it. These ponds already have plenty of fish in them. Just hoping to hear from others about whether or not fishing from this type of pond is doable or not. Thanks in advance for any insight!

Hi CrystalW, welcome to the forum.


Ahhh, after reading again, I think you are buying a 10 acre parcel with no pond .... not 1000 acres of various parcels and 22 ponds. You're parcel is part of a subdivision? If you are going to construct a pond above ground, how good is your source of water to fill it? It may be a lot easier and affordable to buy a parcel with a pond ... if that is an option. Are the ponds common property where all members of the subdivision are allowed to fish but are encouraged to catch and release? The biggest obstacle you will face with constructing a pond above ground will keeping it full. It may be possible to catch enough runoff and keep it above ground but this will require that there be sufficient slope to your land (one side of the pond would be ground level and the other sides would be dam). Where will you source the dirt? You would need to bring some from offsite if you cannot dig.

Last edited by jpsdad; 01/15/24 11:04 AM.

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See these about aquaculture/fish farming. Find out about your soils (FL has lots of limestone and potash which can make fantastic fisheries). See 0441 first.

https://srac.tamu.edu/fact-sheets

Last edited by ewest; 01/18/24 01:46 PM.















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Curious, is the original rancher still retaining ownership in the rest of the property or is the whole 1k acres gonna be subdivided? and if so, will you have continued access to all the ponds? and is the owner asking you to catch and release for your health reasons or does he just not want any fish removed?

Reason for asking is, a person could glean a lot of information from checking out the fish populations and their condition in different surface runoff scenarios around the property, I'm sure they vary somewhat, also, if the whole property will be subdivided there probably wont be cattle runoff going into the ponds for long, as soon as the grass isn't being grazed it will get taller which will be a great step in filtering any surface runoff, although there will still be residuals in the ponds for a while Id guess.
Welcome to the Forum and Good Luck on your endeavors!


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If I buy land, I’m not going to pay a lot of attention to the sellers wishes/rules, etc.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
If I buy land, I’m not going to pay a lot of attention to the sellers wishes/rules, etc.

The only time it'd come into play for me is if it was written into the sellers contract.


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