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Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49405 08/23/04 11:54 AM
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On other posts I've talked about a renovation project in remaking a 50 year-old 1/4 acre pond into a new 2 acre pond. The problem I have encountered in this do-it-yourself project is getting the muck out of the old pond. It seems that without a large track-hoe some of the muck in the middle area will remain.

Okay, is that really all that bad? Is it a fatal problem? This 1/4 acre pond was virtually never fished and we have in the last couple of days taken 10 bass averaging 2 pounds out of it...the old pond still has about one foot of water remaining. The fish are really healthy and interestingly there are no small bass only blue gill and 2 pound bass with one fish pushing 4 pounds. I'm inclined to conclude that the bottom muck isn't all that bad. Other than eventually in another 50 years turning the pond into pasture, is it really all that bad?

The new pond will add water depth of about 6 to 7 feet in the area of the old pond, plenty of water to support a fish population and postpone the pond's demise another 100 years. Why should I spend mega bucks on a track-hoe to get to this inaccessible gem of an old pond with lots of muck?

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49406 08/23/04 02:52 PM
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Meadowlark

In my past experience with the NRCS, it is generally less expensive to add fill to the top of the dam to gain additional storage than to excavate material from the reservoir.

Exceptions: 1)additional permits may be required to add height to the existing fill. 2) feasibility of raising fill; property boundaries, exiting spillway, etc.

Remember: One acre ft. of muck is equivelent to 1613 cubic yards of material! The cost to excavate that much material could approach or exceed $2.50 per cubic yard. (Depends on your location and Contractor)

Example: You would only have to raise YOUR 2 surface acre pond 1/2 ft. to equal that much excavated material. You be the judge.

Options: If your wanting to excavate (track hoe), CONCENTRATE the borrow with the creation of habitat as a goal. ( In Wyoming and Nebraska a minimum 10 ft. of depth is recomended over 1/4 the pond area to minimize winter kill.

Hope this helps with your decision,
Ed

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49407 08/23/04 03:40 PM
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Ed,

Thanks for that reply. There's no question I can raise the dam height myself with little or no added cost...just the fuel and time on the 450c. Fortunately, good clay is in abundance at this site. Based on your info, that's trading against at least $3000 for a track hoe operation. Looks like an easy decision...unless another expert here has a case for removing it, the muck stays and the dam goes a little higher. Thanks.

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49408 08/23/04 03:46 PM
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The biggest problem I know of is livestock getting stuck. A friend of mine lost a draft horse in an old pond that was half dry.

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49409 08/24/04 08:06 AM
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Dave,

I can see where that could be a problem. I got myself stuck in it and had to dig my feet out with a shovel. It is nasty stuff.

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49410 08/26/04 01:25 AM
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There's really no reason to remove muck in water deeper than four feet. If you intend to raise the dam, don't worry about the deepest silt. It won't hurt you. It's been there for years, has decomposed as much as it can, and is basically harmless, except to diminish storage...which brings me back to the first point.


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He can teach to catch fish...
Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49411 08/26/04 08:26 PM
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An additional comment - some here have advocated and disscused the ability of bottom aeration to help improve the community of invertebrates that inhabit the bottom muck. Invertebrates such as worms and insect larvae will literally eat the deatd organic material if oxygen is present at the bottom layer.

With oxygen on the bottom above the muck, the addition of microbes or commercial, bacterial, sludge, blends can speed up the digestion of bottom muck. I am not aware of any scientific studies that prove this, but several on this forum and others outside this forum swear by the benefit of microbe additions to help digest, reduce, and decompose bottom muck when bottom aeration is used to keep oxygen in the bottom zone in order for the decomposing microbes to do their "job".


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Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49412 08/27/04 11:04 AM
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While we're talking about muck, can anyone recommend a good bacteria to eat that muck up? I've got quite a bit that I'd rather have eaten up than excavate out. Thanks for your help!

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49413 08/27/04 07:28 PM
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Since you are in MI give Stoney Creek's (Grant, MI) "Easy Pro Bio-Clean Bacteria a try. Keep in mind that bottom aeration is very impt for any sludge removal results from bacterial additions.


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Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49414 08/30/04 12:34 PM
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Thanks for the reply, Bill. Have you had success with this product?

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49415 08/30/04 05:16 PM
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Here's an idea that the regulars could offer an opinion on; I too have several feet of bottom mud to remove. Could you use a "trash" pump to suction off the bottom muck? A diaphragh pump will basically move anything that fits into the suction hose. The dredged material could be pumped to a temporary storage basin to dry, and could then be moved whenever convenient.

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49416 08/30/04 07:18 PM
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wingsfan -- I have not used microbes but I hear testimony from numerous pondowners that have had good experiences with them and they keep buying them, especially when they find a brand or blend that does the job they are seeking.

Microbe blends can be quite different in what they accomplish. If I had a particular problem that microbes would help with I would not hesitate to try them after doing some intensive homework.

I do not currently have anything that I perceive as a problem with my ponds. I use no chemicals and maintain a natural biological balance that incorporates complete bottom aeration to produce good oxygen levels at all depths.


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Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49417 08/30/04 07:30 PM
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F.P.Lover - I think this should work to pump out bottom sludge. However it could be messy and a lot of work. A man has a business near me that uses airlift technology to remove sludge out of small ponds. He used that technology on National Geographic TV to suck sucken treasure from the ocean bottom. Anything that mechanically removes the sludge will work. The ease of the job and efficiency of the operation are two of the critical points.

To me I think an easier and more efficient method of removing bottom sludge would be draining the pond, drying the basin, and using equipment to remove the sludge. While the pond is empty the basin could be remodeled, deepened and maybe reshaped to produce a better water resource. I did that with my main pond when it was 32 yrs old. I have never regretted that operation; now the pond is better than it ever was. I learned from and improved on the first mistakes.


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Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49418 09/01/04 10:44 AM
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As Bill knows from my earlier posts and e-mails to him, I purchased a piece of property in NW Pa. which has an older 1.75 acre pond on it, that I am trying to add a few more years to before going the "drain and dredge" route. I have added an aerator and cleaned out a lot of the old vegetation which surrounded the pond to help reduce the organic materials going into it. I also took out a lot of decaying old wood. One other piece of my program is to reduce yearly weeds in the pond through grass carp, that were just introduced last summer ('03) and chemical weed control. The grass carp have made some progress this year but I still had to recently treat some shallower areas for weeds. My question is....will keeping aquatic weeds in check, or even pretty much wiping them out help to slow the build up of muck? Or, are weeds in some areas not a big factor in the muck build up equation?

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49419 09/01/04 07:22 PM
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MarkC - I recall that in the past, you sent me some questions by email. I replied to you, but my server could not deliver to your address. It might have been that your email box was full and some had to be deleated before delivery could happen. Anyway I did not ignore your questions I just could not get the message delivered. I did not have a phone number to call and let you know about the problem.
To answer your question, yes anything that you can do to reduce, remove, or eliminate dead organic material from depositing on the bottom will lessen the amount of bottom muck that either accumulates or has to get digested or processed back into the basic chemicals. Aquatic weeds are a big contributor to muck build up due their bulky nature. However aquatic weeds decompose relatively fast if in oxygenated conditions due to their soft water laden texture and lower amounts of cellulose and fiberous material. Tree leaves and terresterial vegetation take relatively more time to decompose than most aquatic plants due to their stiffer, coarser, thicker, texture.

Grass carp quickly speed up the decompostion and breakdown of aquatic vegetation due to partial mastication and digestion as the material passes through the digestive tract. It is very similar to goose manure when it leaves the fish.


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Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49420 09/02/04 06:32 AM
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Bill: Thank you for your reply. I didn't mean to imply that you disregarded any previous e-mails I had sent to you. You have been super with this relatively new pond owner (two years) in promptly giving advice and answering questions. I just meant that you were probably aware of this old pond that I have (because of my past messages to you) and the few extra years I am trying to give it through the help of your excellent suggestions and guidance. The only things I have growing along the edges at this point are some limited amounts of bulrushes, two very small patches of cattails, and some unidentified grasses and flowers. By having this limited vegetation edge, I found my pond has not muddied despite our rains of this summer.

I do have this one type of "grass" that just poppoed up along my shoreline this year and I am concerned with it. It looks like crabgrass, with some purple in its stems, but it appears to be able to grow in water as well as the shore. Any idea what it is?? Thanks again, for your words on my pond weed control efforts. I guess you have to have a few weeds for the fry, miinows, and shade. But, I am really trying to keep them down. Hopefully the grass carp can kick in even stronger next year.

Re: Is bottom muck really that bad?
#49421 09/02/04 08:55 PM
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Okay on the emails. Grass carp will do mnore for you next year.

Marginal grass could be one of numerous species. If it is a terrestrial or wetland species of grass, it will rarely if ever grow much deeper than 6" - 10". It will help stabilize the shore line soils. Some other plant may slowly crowd it out.


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