Hello. I am new to this forum and have a few questions about establishing a healthy fish population in my very small pond. I bought a large property in the mountains of North Georgia surrounded by the Chattahoochee Nat'l forest. Previous owner appeared to have dug out this 1/8 acre pond right beside the mountain fed creek that flows all year. There is a 2" PVC pipe that runs up the creek and continuously feeds the pond with very cool and very clean water and a 2" PVC pipe outlet at the other end of the pond that lets the overflow water run back into the creek. The water is relatively clear and the pond has no vegetation growing on the bottom. There is some that grows around the banks and a portion of pond surface is shaded with large trees that grow out over the water.
The pond is maybe 6 feet deep and currently has a mating pair of either large mouth of spotted bass about 12" long although I only ever see one swimming around. There are about 5 fingerlings we can see from last year. Not sure about any from this year yet. There are no forage fish we can see in the pond so I guess they are eating only insects, tadpoles and what ever other small things are in there. We also have 3 pretty good sized turtles that live on a far side back under some trees.
I would like to establish either a bass or trout population to use as a food source. I don't know if the summer temperature of the pond will stay low enough for trout so I will monitor temps this year to see. In the mean time I am looking for any suggestions on what I should be doing now and during the summer to prepare for stocking in the fall. Since there are no forage fish, should I try to get some bluegill or other species in there now to try and establish a food source for the predators in the fall and winter?
What about any fertilization? Since there is a constant flow of aerated creek water and there is no surface growth of any vegetation or algae, is there anything I can or should do to help the bass that there now.
That sounds like a cool pond with many possibilities. I'm not much on stocking advise, but certainly check the year's temps out for the use of trout. As for LMB (large mouth bass), they are not typically real successful in a small pond (they tend to overpopulate, overeat the forage, and stunt). Think about CC (channel cat) for a food source. Like trout, they would probably be a put-and-take fish requiring yearly stockings to keep up the population. I did say "probably", I'll leave that discussion for those with the proper experience. HSB and HBG (hybrid striped bass and hybrid bluegill) are a good combination for small ponds as they do not reproduce at the rates of pure strains...HSB rarely breed in a pond, almost never, but running water is one of the requirements along with rocky banks. You may need some RES (redear sunfish) for snail control in necessary.
Fertilization would be a waste of money and effort UNLESS you can stop the inflow and the pond retains it's water level adequately. There's the real question...does the pond hold water without the inflow constantly running. You could put a valve in the inflow and only use it when the water level dips. 2" inflow does not sound like much and some fertilization might not be a waste, but it would be better to keep your fertilized water in the pond. Do you know how much water the in and outflow pipes are producing? A five gallon bucket and a timer would be a quick test to perform. Next question is...is the in and outflow a consistent flow rate year around?
Look into FHM's (Fathead minnows) and some spawning structure (pallets work well). With only a couple bass in there...a few pounds of minnows could start breeding and get out ahead of them given that the water conditions are conducive to there survival and spawning needs. They are not too picky, but too clean of water may not feed them well enough. I'll leave that concern to the experts as my pond is filthy compared to crystal clear waters and they love it.
Much appreciated Noel. My estimate of inflow is from 35 - 50 gallons per minute and it is very consistent all year. A 2" pipe can flow a lot of water with just a little head pressure. The pond doesn't hold water very well if the inflow pipe gets blocked but its possible to regulate the flow rate down if there were some benefit though, I suspect doing that would create an issue with with the pipe being more prone to clogging given how much leaf and sediment debris comes down the creek.
I'll be interested to hear what the experts recommend for the best self sustaining variety of fish I should be able to maintain. I have called one of the local stocking companies and one problem I may have is the minimum quantity order for my small pond. Their min quantity of 3" - 4" coppernose bluegill is 500. Don't think an 1/8 acre can take that many.
I would agree with QA on the Hybrid Striped Bass. With the amount of running water you have, and the clarity of the water, you might get lucky and get them to spawn. Catfish would work well too. Might even consider blue cats, as I think there's a source in Georgia that sells fingerlings. Similar to HSB, if you want catfish to spawn, you need to add structure for them to spawn in. I think people have used old tires, large trash cans and water drums. Good luck.
So is the clarity of the water and high exchange rate from the creek more of a negative on the overall health of the pond or is it just a limiting factor as to what I can do with it?
I'm on a steep learning curve here.
I'll let the experts chime in, but I think it has to do with pH changes if I remember correctly. If fish get accustomed to a certain pH, and your creek floods, causing a drastic water turnover in your pond, some fish might be well-suited for those conditions over other fish. Drastic temperature changes might also be a factor.
I don't believe that would be an issue for me because the creek level is way below the pond level and inflow is always going to be the same constant rate. My 2" inflow pipe goes 100'+ up the creek to get enough elevation.
If you have enough head on the inflow pipe, you might consider adding an up-facing nozzle to create a fountain for visual appeal and even more aeration. If the water stays cold enough, trout would be cool. Adding structure in a pond with few plants might help increase forage survival and reproduction. Branch piles can work and might be a source of nutrients in the water as well. Most suggest sinking these, but I just pile them high enough in shallow water that they don't float away. In my ponds, they rot away over time and must be replaced if aquatic vegetation does not get established for cover. Two-inch line is prone to clogging, so you may want to consider building cages with 1" fencing to decrease clogging of the creek-side of the inlet and the pond-side of the outlet. The more surface area on the cages, the better at keeping the flow. Post some pics!
Good suggestions RAH....Thanks. The 2" pipe does partially clog often but it does give me a reason to walk up the path beside the creek and check things out occasionally. Right now the outflow end of the pipe is about 2-1/2 feet above the water surface so I am getting some additional aeration. I do like the idea of upturning the discharge end to increase this even more.
Seeing the wide variety of what can be done to create habitat structure, I have a lot of surplus scrap material that was left on the property I can use in the pond. Lots of rock & stone, rigid and flex PVC pipe & fittings, plastic landscape netting and an infinite supply of tree branches. The only thing I need to be careful of is to not create something that will look like a junk pile since the water can be very clear at certain times of the year and isn't very deep.
I am personally not a fan of adding non-natural structure to a pond, but did sink a pair of large tractor tires and placed a couple open-ended 55-gallon plastic drums in my newest pond as spawning structure for blue catfish that I hope to add later as the apex predator. Right now, I am trying to get some plant growth going in that pond for the FHM and lake chubsuckers. Even the lotus that I planted 2 years ago is struggling and has yet to bloom. Pure clay bowl right now but it gets some leaves in Fall, so I just need to be patient which is easier with 2 older ponds and a new one that I started on yesterday.
For those who may be interested.....here are a few pics from my pond. There are a two photos showing the inflow pipe above the water and the last one showing a couple of the small bass in the clear water. I did see a few fry at the far end of the pond so there is some spawning going on.
Bruce, I like it and think you will enjoy it very much.
If you go the route of trout ... forgo minnows and add asellus aquaticus and a cool water gammarus. Your pond looks very fertile and also looks like it will have a lot of terrestrial leaf input. These forage will proliferate. keep BG out of it if you want to grow a lot of food fish in that small pond.
Your goal of """recommend for the best self sustaining variety of fish""" has problems for the type of pond you have. 1. Small pond that inherently has a low natural productivity due to sunlight shading, low submerged macrophyte (aquatic plant) growth, clear water, and cold spring water water source 35-50gpm. This type of habitat naturally grows very few pounds of fish per acre. Maybe a 1 to 2 pound harvest per year from 1/10 ac meaning you might eat one or two fish per year when they are warm water fish.
2. Assuming the water remains cool below 70F in summer this slows and significantly reduces productivity, causes slow fish growth and warm water fish grow poorly in this year-round cool water. Warmwater fish grow well at 65-80F.
3. To grow any measurable amount of fish for annual harvest the pond is best suited to growing trout or a cool water species. LM bass area warm water fish. And if fish are not fed in this type of habitat, poundage and growth rate will be disappointing for any type of gainful harvest each year. To grow enough for a few meals per year, IMO you should feed good quality fish food (40%protein) and chose a species that thrives or is well adapted for life in cool water mainly trout. Otherwise you are trying to grow 'cotton in the north' - wrong type of crop in the wrong climate (water temp).
4. Fertilization and or pond dye are not options due to a flow through, short water retention system. You should treat this pond as a form of fish hatchery race-way system.
5. If you do not live at the property your stated goal will be very difficult to fully achieve.
6. If the pond water in mid summer remains lower than 70F, at least in some portion of the pond, trout are your best harvestable crop of choice. If you choose trout, get rid of those bass. They will complicate achieving your goal. They will strongly compete with trout interfering in several ways with your goal of fish management and harvest..
Last edited by Bill Cody; 06/14/2008:00 PM.
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jpsdad.....your recommendations for adding freshwater crustaceans was something new I've never read about but sounds interesting. Did a quick search trying to find how to go about buying these for stocking but didn't come up with a source. Do you have any suggestions for how to find/buy these?
Thanks for the input Bill. I'm coming around to understand the limitations of this small pond and appreciate all the recommendations from the site experts here. I do live full time on the property and would be able to regularly feed the fish I chose to maintain in this pond. My plan is to add habitat and forage in order to improve productivity but i realize it will have some serious limitations given all the issues you and others have mentioned. Previous owner had told me they did harvest some good sized trout at some point but I didn't get a lot of specifics so this may just become an experiment to see what is possible over time.
There is also a second small ~1/10 acre and deeper (maybe 9 ft) man made pond on the property that does not have water in it right now and hasn't been used in a long time. There are quite a few trees growing in and around it that I plan to remove and then feed water from the same creek as the existing pond. I'll start a new thread on that project in the future.
I haven't made any new progress on this project now we are in the high heat of summer but I have been monitoring the water temperature to see if it will support trout if I decide to go that route. With the high inflow rate of creek water the temperature is holding a very steady 70F at about 12" deep near the shore line. I will start making more measurements around the pond and at various depths to check the uniformity of temperature but at 70 I think it should be OK for trout?
Once the summer heat starts to subside I will build a few new habitat areas with the rock and brush piles I have all over the property. Sometime this fall I will need to decide if I'm going with trout or LMB. If trout, I'll have to fish or net out the few LMB that I can clearly see swimming around. Should be too difficult with the clarity of the water especially in the fall.
According to the company that offers stocking services, I will need to order my forage species before winter and get them established for the spring stocking of trout of LMB. This is the plan for now but it is always subject to change for any number of reasons.
Any comments and or suggestions are always welcome.