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Establishing mayflies in pond
#529526 01/08/21 08:43 PM
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I manage a natural spring-fed pond in Tennessee that is very stained from tannins. It is very diverse and consists of gamefish particularly Bass and bluegill, forage fish Shad, golden shiners, fathead minnows, silversides, naturalized fish like Pygmy sunfish, mosquitofish, and Topminnows, shrimp, crayfish, mussels, and thousands of different snail and aquatic plant species. The fish I would expect have plenty to eat, but I have been wanting to establish mayflies in the pond. All of our big local lakes have mayflies in the late spring that the fish absolutely love to devour. Is there any place that I can buy larvae for mayflies or a way I can naturally establish them in the pond?

Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529533 01/09/21 05:23 AM
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If your pond is compatible with mayflies (there are thousands of species in the order Ephemeroptera ), then they will very likely establish themselves on their own. https://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US9127678 I worked with the lead author in the past but not in this area of study. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ray-layton-ba031610/

Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
RAH #529537 01/09/21 08:04 AM
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Thank you!

Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529539 01/09/21 08:49 AM
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TNPondBoss,

There are widespread small varieties (talking like size 26) that will very likely populate your pond. These are important especially to juvenile fish. There are also some very large varieties (e.g. hexagenia) that probably will not populate your pond on their own. These are notable sources of food for adult panfish and even some predators like SMB.

As RAH mentioned, mayflies require specific habitat and so the diversity of mayflies your pond will support depends of the diversity of habitat. To get hex's established you must have some clear bottom that will allow the nymphs to build stable burrows. They feed on the detritrus of organic matter that "rains" through the water column. In lakes, most frequently they occur in low light depths where plants do not get established. Most ponds can provide this habitat for only a short period of time in their early life. Deeper ponds are a better bet on getting them established for a longer period of time. A silty bottom is what they prefer.

If you want to try to establish hexagenia, the eggs are relatively easy to collect. When they are hatching, after dark ... park your vehicle near the shore and shine the headlights over the water. The day old mayflies that are mated will be drawn to the light. Below the headlights place a large tub of water. What mayflies don't end up on the surface of the tub's water you can easily grip by their closed wings and place them there. They will deposit eggs in the tub and after 2 to 4 hours you would have a sufficient number of eggs to have a hatch the following year in your pond. If you have good habitat the hatch will be good and probably improve until they are fully established. They are organisms that can improve water quality while also providing food to your fish. If you think you have good habitat for them I would encourage you to try to establish them.

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Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
jpsdad #529551 01/09/21 04:04 PM
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Thanks for the info jpsdad! This spring i will definitely try out this method. The pond is very sandy and silty and is around 15-18 feet deep so I believe they should live if I can get them established. Thank you so much for the info I will be trying this out!

Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529559 01/09/21 06:07 PM
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You're most welcome. Thank you for your question. I have long wanted to share this collection method but you are the first person that I am aware of to express an interest establishing mayflies. I have a lot of great memories of hexgenia hatches in a municipal lake where I once kept a lot and dock. They are very good bait for crappie and we would use light to draw both hexes and crappie to the dock. Was a blast and a good way to stock the freezer with filets. These experiences led to an interest into the culture and collection of them.

Here is the reference from where I learned of this collection method..

Last edited by jpsdad; 01/10/21 07:22 AM.
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Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529581 01/11/21 07:59 AM
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If this thread is revived around the time of the hatch that would help all of us. Does the hatch stagger and end up being a few weeks later as you go north?

What triggers eggs, photoperiod? air temp? water temp?

If folks in IN, OH, or MI see mayflies hatching take a moment and post to remind us and I'll go out and start looking. I'd love to establish a better population. It seems I saw only a few on the water after dark last spring.

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Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529582 01/11/21 08:35 AM
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Canyon, they hatch through the summer with several peaks. In northern OK we began seeing them in June and saw them all summer with noticeable peaks in abundance. If you have a nearby lake with a hex hatch, drop by the boat launch every few days starting in June and when you see them attracted to the lighting at the ramp ... you can set up to gather them.

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Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
TNPondBoss #529587 01/11/21 02:36 PM
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jpsdad, I will surely do.

So the ones at my pond will already be putting their eggs back in my pond? So I want to bring my pond water in a tote to another lake/pond, have the eggs from the adults from this BOW go into the tote to lay eggs, and then elease my pond water plus eggs from the tote back in my pond.

Will keeping lighting on at my pond at night help attract more mayflies or do they not move around that far from one puddle to another?

Last edited by canyoncreek; 01/11/21 03:17 PM.
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Re: Establishing mayflies in pond
canyoncreek #529597 01/11/21 08:15 PM
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I would bring water but be careful of any regs for the state. You might season your tap water for this purpose. Whatever mayflies you have, most will put eggs back into your pond ... except for those that fly to your neighbors lights ... lol! This attraction to lights ... don't know what it is but a friend of mine thinks that they cue on the moons reflection to find water to lay eggs in. I don't know and I just can't venture a guess. Each Momma Hexagenia can produce around 8000 eggs, and so enough will succeed to lay eggs to have a crop the following year. I wonder if it would be a good idea to hang light over the pond's surface to get them into the water?

So you will be collecting just the eggs at the lake. As they accumulate in your tub, you can remove the spinners (spent mayflies) as they will have already released eggs. You can speed up their egg laying by getting them out or sorts in the surface film. As soon as the begin to struggle, they will release eggs. When you get back home just distribute the eggs into your pond. As long as you have a good bottom for them to burrow in that is free of plants they should grow and produce a hatch next year.

Mayflies tend to lay in the water they hatched from. Storms and high winds can move them around. They are drawn by light away from water too. So its certainly possible you will receive mated mayflies that lay in your pond. Usually these are the generalist mayflies that are small and live in small creeks and small bodies of water. Just keep in mind, they live for just a day after mating and this is their window for laying eggs. The link above is for hexes specifically but the techniques may be useful for other mayflies too.

Last edited by jpsdad; 01/11/21 08:20 PM.
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