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So this is just throw around some ideas. We all know that a pond whose watershed is nutrient poor needs nutrients and that simply adding essential nutrients and preparing its chemistry (primarily liming) can double,triple, or even quadruple the production of fish in a pond of otherwise poor fertility. Under such a regimen, one basically changes the trophic status of the pond.

Ponds tend to accumulate nutrients naturally and so even a poor pond could (conceivably) reach the trophic status of a fertile pond given sufficient time. In as much as this is true, fertilization is a way to speed up a pond's trophic development to produce the desired production of fish at a much earlier pond age. So an area of interest for me is to understand how trophic status can be determined accurately. Another area of interest I have is the phosphorus reservoir needed to maintain a given weight of fish. IOWs if the goal is 300 #s of fish per acre and this dry weight of fish contains 2% or 1.2 lbs of phosphorous ... what minimum weight of phosphorus is needed to support the food chain that the 300#'s of fish need. Is it 5 times, 10 times, or 50 times, or even possibly more? To be sure, I have not been able to find references which can help with determining this minimum need. Clearly, there is probably is a minimum where below this native concentration ... even under optimum conditions ... the production of primary food is too low to support the goal weight.

By and large, going all the way back to Swingle, the procedure was to maintain bloom but since then we are finding that bloom clarity isn't always a good indicator of the weight of fish a pond can support or even its present primary production. When the clarity is low, the standing weight of the phytoplankton is high which means a lot of phytoplankton was produced but the condition isn't necessarily an indicator that daily primary production remains high. For example, it may represent a condition where there is insufficient phytoplankton grazing and where light and carbon are limiting factors. Furthermore, the quality of phytoplankton as food can be adversely affected by these limitations as well. This may in part explain why doubling the phytoplankton standing weight does not generally lead to a doubling of fish carrying capacity. Many authors have noted this, but many oligotrophic waters produce more fish than their clarity would otherwise suggest they could. In these waters there must be much more production of primary foods than any measure of secchi could adequately indicate. This may suggest that leaner systems (lower in nutrients) may be significantly more efficient at producing food with lower standing weights of primary producers. So a number of factors may contribute to this. Here are a few possibilities.

1. Less competition for sunlight, carbon, and oxygen (for respiration and cell division). Individually phytoplankton cells are able to produce more food internally and thus be able to replicate themselves at greater rates (individually producing more offspring than they can individually when standing weights are high). I have mentioned this before ... PRODUCTION IS MORTALITY ... and so conditions where mortality is high lead to higher rates of reproduction and more frequent and rapid cycling of nutrients. Keep in mind, nutrients can be used over and over again it is only sunlight that must be used in the present or be lost.

2. Improved water quality. This may help grazer's achieve higher standing weights. In theory, shouldn't grazers increase proportionately with the available food (standing weight of phytoplankton)? If they did, wouldn't the phytoplankton be adequately grazed? If you saw a pasture rank with tall grass, what would be your first thought be? Perhaps,"Ah it doesn't have sufficient grazing"?. Rank water ... in my way of thinking ... is water that isn't sufficiently grazed. A fair proportion of the production is going to sink to the bottom as food for bacteria instead of for free swimming zooplankton. There may be a point at which standing weights of phytoplankton become a deleterious influence for zooplankton (just as it can be for fish). One reference I read stated that the metabolic requirements for oxygen is much higher for zooplankton than it is for fish (on a biomass basis). The author suggested the need originates from higher rates of growth and reproduction. If this is so, then zooplankton may be be first to succumb when standing weights of vegetation become excessive.

I very much like feed as a way to introduce nutrients into nutrient poor water. The consumption produces immediate gain while the defecated feed is recycled into the ponds nutrient store producing many times it weight in primary production. Most of this primary production can be credited to sunlight and the minerals in feed that are defecated by the fish. In poor water, this production greatly enhances the food production of the whole pond. On the other hand, in very rich water it has little effect at all (at least for fish like CC, BG, and LMB). TP can gain a substantial amount on phytoplankton but they are exception to the rule. At high density and under intensive feeding, most fish only grow as fast as the feed will grow them and most all the primary production is ungrazed and is not utilized. IOWs there are limits to how productive a natural system can be for game fish when it is pushed beyond it's coping point. Beyond this point, the pond no longer hits on all cylinders, cascading effects diminish the food chain and the community is broken. Our fish become dependent on feed and everything we must do to keep feeding them.

When we try to maintain fish standing weights that are greatly above a natural systems ability to support them ... we create conditions that can actually limit natural production of foods for our fish. So if we can find ways to maximize natural productivity (particularly at the secondary trophic levels) then we have a very optimized, healthy, system with acceptable water quality. To me, this seems a very good goal to have for recreational fisheries. That said, I recognize that there are other ways to do this. For example, we could feed all the gain our fish achieve while only controlling nutrients when they threaten the lives of our fish.

A system that depends entirely on the sun but has sufficient nutrients to support a healthy population of fish and other creatures is not able to attain the standing weights of fish that are achievable with feed. The alternate good side to this equation (if fewer fish seems a really bad thing) is that the standing weights of vegetation will not be as high either. They will instead be balanced. The production of vegetation both phytoplankton and macrophytes will be just what it takes to support the community and nothing more.


Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Water quality is the first step, but not the only step. Fish habitat and cover is another critical part of the puzzle, and so is fish harvest. I can show you ponds that according to water chemistry have everything needed to be a trophy fishery, but are bathtubs when it comes to fish habitat and don't have the fish harvest that they should have. They struggle to grow fish with good RW's even with supplemental feeding programs. Some fish are over 100 RW, but those are the smaller fish. once the bass get past 12" the RW's suffer.

Granted this next example is only one pond, so sample size is poor, but this pond has ample fish habitat from shallow water to the deepest water and the water quality is there. The panfish population is going gangbusters, and the owner is great about keeping harvest records AND he is not shy about harvesting what is needed to be harvested. We are working on adding better SMB genetics this year to get them to grow better. This is NOT a LMB pond. He is feeding the fish Optimal Bluegill/Bass food. There is a reproducing population of Golden Shiners in the pond. The HSB are growing fast, doubling in size from the previous year. Yellow Perch are showing growth of 2" per year, some are at the 14" mark now - we culled about 100 last winter between 9"-11", returning the bigger ones to the pond. Bluegill (which weren't in the stocking plan but must have been mixed in with the RES that were stocked) are now starting to surpass the HBG for size/weight - 10" and a pound. Some of the Hybrid Crappie are 14" after being stocked 2 years ago as 3.5"- 4" fish. Some are still in the 9"-10" range though, so there were some definite shooters in the bunch.


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I've got a grass carp permit but haven't stocked them yet. As is common, my BOW grows too much bushy pondweed for my liking.

Just wondering to what extent grass carp chowing down on the pondweed helps liberate nutrients into the water. Some ponds I've fished got significantly murkier after grass carp were stocked.


7ac, 2015 CNBG, RES, FHM; 2016 TP, FLMB. 2017 NLMB & GSH,L. 2018 TP & 70 HSB, PK. 2019 TP, RBT,. 2020 TFS,TP, 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT, -206. 2021 TFS,TP, GSH, -310




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esshup,

This pond sounds like it completed its 2nd year from stocking. Brush/cover can make significant contributions to production. On its own, it can increase production double or more with otherwise equal water. I'll restate that. It can double the amount of food a pond's food chain produces with no additional nutrients. Most authors attribute this to the widely held perspective that increased attachment surface is responsible for producing substantially more food. So this seems a good way to control nutrient input while expanding the food production of nutrient limited pond.


Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Originally Posted by anthropic
I've got a grass carp permit but haven't stocked them yet. As is common, my BOW grows too much bushy pondweed for my liking.

Just wondering to what extent grass carp chowing down on the pondweed helps liberate nutrients into the water. Some ponds I've fished got significantly murkier after grass carp were stocked.

It just seems this must help. To be sure, what leaves the hind end must be dead and available for recycling by bacteria and zooplankton. Couple this the influence of TP and the effect is probably stimulated further.


Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Originally Posted by jpsdad
esshup,

This pond sounds like it completed its 2nd year from stocking. Brush/cover can make significant contributions to production. On its own, it can increase production double or more with otherwise equal water. I'll restate that. It can double the amount of food a pond's food chain produces with no additional nutrients. Most authors attribute this to the widely held perspective that increased attachment surface is responsible for producing substantially more food. So this seems a good way to control nutrient input while expanding the food production of nutrient limited pond.

5th year, well actually 4rd year from stocking panfish. First year was just forage fish, stocked in the Fall. Spring next year was Redear Sunfish, Hybrid Bluegills (1"-2.5" actually were more like 1"-1.5") and Yellow Perch (2"-4"). Couldn't source SMB that Fall so SMB were stocked a year behind the panfish (Hartley's). Following year HSB were stocked in the Spring and HBC were stocked that summer.

This pond has habitat from shallow to deep water, and gets runoff from corn/soybean ag fields via the tile system. Rock piles, whole trees, brush piles, rip rap along the majority of the bank, etc. Pond sides are 3:1, not a lot of spawning area, but enough that the BG/HBG find a way. Lots of brush in there for the YP to utilize as spawning habitat, in the late Spring, there is a good grassy area that floods and the GSH utilize that for spawning habitat.


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esshup,

You mentioned the pond receives water from tiling. Have you ever tested the water coming in for nutrients like P? In know sediments carry substantial nutrients when they wash out of fields but does water filtered by the soil have a similar issue? I would think the water from the tiles is usually clear but ... maybe not? Does timing influence things? For example late winter as compared late summer.

There are a pair of ponds nearby that I enjoy with my kids a lot. Like anthropic's water ... these ponds produce more BPW than would be ideal. But since September began it has dwindled producing a very good bloom. That bloom has subsequently subsided and a person can see right down to the bottom. Saw quite a number of fair sized LMB and larger BG but what seems to be in much shorter supply are the BG YOY. I bring these ponds up because filtration is an issue in our area and these ponds along with many others are fed water. I am unsure of the source, for example, whether they have set sumps in the nearby creek or if the water is potable water from the city distribution system. I'd like to think they are not using potable water. My sense is that the accumulation of nutrients in these ponds arise from frequent top offs of new water from the system they use to fill the ponds (although I also observed a fertilizer broadcast for the benefit of the surrounding turf a couple of years ago of a pelleted fertilizer). But anyways the accumulation of nutrients are evident in denser growth of submerged weeds each year.

One of the things I notice is that before a filling is complete there is a noticeable uptick in bloom that persists for a while subsequent to the water addition. It makes sense that nutrients may be coming from the water influx but I wonder if it can account for all of it. Another possibility that has occurred to me is that the relatively cold water entering the pond(s) is sinking to the deepest portions turning over the pond a bit allowing oxygen to reach decaying organics lifted from the bottom. What are your thoughts? Could a mild turnover of sorts stimulate the cycling of nutrients? I would mention that in this pond, the growth of BPW could impact the oxygen richness of the benthos and my sense is that it is affected enough to inhibit good nutrient cycling when the BPW is very high in standing weight. Each year now it is able to grow to the surface in many parts of the pond. To this end I do wonder if the BPW is harming the potential of these ponds to grow food naturally in the forms that BG need to mark really good growth. The lower pond particularly once produced 9" + BG but its been a while since I have seen one that large.


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j[psdad:

Never tested the water from the tiles. If there is a heavy rain at first it is a bit turbid but then it clears up. Heavy clay soils at the pond area. The pond has a 28' deep hole, and it is aerated. The pond owner isn't worried about the nutrients too much, the pond has been there for a LONG time, but it was completely drained and renovated over a 3 year period before it was restocked. If needed there will be a well in place next year to give the pond a good flushing. Pond has approximately 56 ac/ft water in it.

Yes the mild turnover could bring nutrients to the top where it feeds the phytoplankton that is in the sun, causing them to multiply.


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Here are some interesting graphs and tables I put together from this paper.

log-log plot of standing weight (kg/hectare) vs secchi depth(m)

[Linked Image]

linear axis plot of standing weight (lbs/acre) vs secchi depth (ft) to demonstrate variability of standing weight :

[Linked Image]

Table of functions defining the boundaries of the data:

[Linked Image]

Last edited by jpsdad; 10/31/21 02:18 PM.

Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Charts are great ! I liken a pond to an engine (sun is fuel , nutrients (represented by secchi readings / plankton) and water quality. You can add to the nutrients (or have naturally high rate due to soil) and run the engine at high rate which produces more and more -- until it wears out or breaks. Then you have water quality issues , fish kills , stinky water quality etc. The trick is to get the most out of the engine (get where you are headed/ reach goals) over time without creating a broken down engine.

One thing to note is many of the Fla lakes have great water quality as the soil is very good underlaid by limestone and phosphate. Some of those lakes have tremendous productive ability with minimal water quality issues. The study map shows this and many of the locations were in the central phosphate belt.

A good quote on the process from the study;
There are many quantitative studies that support the expectation that an increase in productivity at the base of food chains
in a lake should translate into an increase in the abundance of
fish at higher trophic levels. Oglesby (1977) found high correlations between fish yields in lakes and summer phytoplankton
standing crops as measured by chlorophyll A and also between
fish yield and annual primary productivity.

Last edited by ewest; 11/01/21 09:05 AM.















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I like your analogy to an engine Eric. Two things in the graph stood out to me. One was the slope of the regression. If it had been a slope of -1.0, we could say that halving the secchi depth (essentially doubling the plankton) would double the standing weight. But the slope is shallower and this tells us that when we double the primary production ... we get less than double the standing weight. Speaking to your point of a well tuned engine perhaps we can say the lesser production allows the fish to breathe easier smile ? I don't know maybe in terms of efficiency its like the porting the heads of a stock 283. I've probably offered a bad example because the efficiency improves the less we ask from our water. Probably the better way to say it is that putting more fuel through the ports may result in more carbon deposition where the engine producing more horsepower might not breath as efficiently as one producing less.

The other thing that spoke to me was just how variable the data was. Perhaps none of the water was phosphorus limited but more than half of the lakes had secchi >36". Some had secchi depth >16 ft. For any given sechi depth the range of standing weights range ~ 9 times the minimum. This contrasts with each of the functions (min - mean - max). For example, if a pond is hitting all cylinders at 16 ft secchi depth we should expect it to be limited to around 147 lbs/acre. If one were to push it 8 times harder through fertilization (2 ft sechi) he might likely get around 390 lbs/acre. An improvement of 2.65 times. So there is as much room to improve a mean condition to the max condition as there is from pushing the water 8 fold with fertilization. For example the mean SW at 16 ft secchi depth is 47 lbs. Managing to maximize production with the same fertility could add 100 lbs. But all other things being equal ... 8 tupling the algal biomass to 2 ft secchi can only be expected to increase standing weight by 76 lbs. So perhaps this in part speaks to what esshup earlier said about brush and cover. I can see other things affecting the variability as well. For example, when macrophytes produce most of the primary production ... probably little of it feeds fish. Removing them might significantly improve the production of food for fish. The fish mix also. When fish that are present have shorter food chains the assemblage may weigh more. Some of the low SW lakes may have had stunted LMB populations that prevented prey species from obtaining their SW potential.

I was very encouraged by the range of data in that the max function which bounds the data appears to be a legitimate goal weight to work with for ponds maintaining some time weighted secchi depth through the growing season. I was further encouraged that the standing weights achievable with 6 to 4 ft secchi depth was something I would be able to work with.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/01/21 05:12 PM.

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It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers



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