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#539691 09/10/21 03:31 PM
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Does anybody have any suggestions for somebody to dig a pond deeper? I’m located in central Ohio.

There’s a few other things to fix around it but it’s about less than half an acre maybe only 6 to 7 feet deep right now.

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Drain the water down to concentrate the fish in the (now) deepest part of the pond. Dig the rest of the pond deeper according to your plans. Keep the pump going so you are digging in relatively dry ground vs. a soup bowl. Dig the area 1'-2' deeper than you want.

Dig a trench to let the fish and water go to the now deeper part of the pond, Now dig out the sediment/muck that is in the previous deepest part of the pond (now the shallowest part). Doing so will wash dirt/soil/muck to the now deepest part of the pond, but not more than a few feet at the most. (that's the reason for digging it deeper than you really wanted the finished pond to be).

Pray for rain to fill it back up.

While the water levels are low, put cover in the pond to help the fish population once it fills back up with water. Easier to do when on bare ground than from a boat.


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esshup #539738 09/12/21 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by esshup
Drain the water down to concentrate the fish in the (now) deepest part of the pond.

I am thinking of doing the same to my pond. My concern, is there a time frame this needs to be done in, or something else like aeration, to avoid any type of fish kill, since you are now highly concentrating the fish into a much smaller body of water? Is it better to do this in the colder months (cold being relative, since I am on the Texas Gulf coast area, haha!).

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Originally Posted by BranClanFarm
Originally Posted by esshup
Drain the water down to concentrate the fish in the (now) deepest part of the pond.

I am thinking of doing the same to my pond. My concern, is there a time frame this needs to be done in, or something else like aeration, to avoid any type of fish kill, since you are now highly concentrating the fish into a much smaller body of water? Is it better to do this in the colder months (cold being relative, since I am on the Texas Gulf coast area, haha!).


Better to do it during the winter where you are, that is also somewhat closer to the dry season than now, is it not?

To aerate a shallow area, it's better to use an agitator than a bottom diffusion aeration system. A paddlewheel, a volcano type agitator, etc.


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Looking at doing something similar to my pond this fall, except the fish are already dead and most of the water is all gone. My question is, underneath the foot and a half of muck there seems to be a solid bottom, has anyone done something like this and been able to take the excavator down into the pond area to move a lot of extra dirt out? I'd like to go 10' deeper and I can't reach the middle from the edges of the pond, so I'd like to take the excavator down in the pond to do the job right, but I don't want to lose the machine in the mire either... I know every area is probably different, so maybe it's an unfair question, but I was just looking for a little confidence at trying it, or a flag off to save me from a day of trying to get the excavator unstuck... Thanks J

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Skunked, I had my pond muck dug out several years ago. It was originally 10 foot deep and had mucked-in to only have 2 foot of water. The water level was up at the drain, but the muck had gotten 8 foot deep leaving only 2 foot of water above it. First, the dam had a ditch cut through it with a mini-excavator to drain most of the water. Then, he came back and cut that ditch even deeper. It was too dangerous to dig the drain ditch to the proper depth to begin with as the rushing water was eroding the ditch once it started flowing out. The second dig allowed him to dig deeper than the uppermost level of the muck. This allowed the remaining standing water to escape and allowed the water saturated muck to mostly de-water and run out. The pond was left like this for several months and the muck turned from a total soupy mess to having a dry and cracked surface that was 12-18 thick with damp muck beneath it. A track loader was used to remove the muck. He started at the edges and got down to the original clay bottom. This gave the tracks something to bite into as he worked into and out of the pond with the muck. Once the pond was dug out, the breech was back filled a layer at a time with good clay.

Some have had success by using pumps, but my pond gets way too much watershed and needed the breech in the dam to allow that run-off to continually run out and not over take the pumps and fill the pond back up.

The above is a good approach, but keep in mind that I did not make my pond deeper than it was originally. If you decide to go deeper than original, you will have to evaluate the clay content as you dig. If you break into gravel or sandy veins or rock shelves...you may have to layer good clay back in once the desired depth is achieved.

I have to ask where most of the water went? If the pond is leaking currently...that's something you'll have to address as well.


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I’m in similar situations, I do have a leak somewhere and likely going to have to use some soilfloc but I definitely need it deeper first. Here’s to hoping that there isn’t gravel 3-4 feet deeper.

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The area my pond is in has a natural water table that is not too deep, so I have dug a pond down below (on most years) the natural water level. For the last 15 or so years the pond has always stayed full enough to keep fish alive and doing well. This year we are experiencing a really bad drought, perhaps the driest year on record. Anyway this has dropped the water table and given me a chance to do some pond maintenance. I don't expect that sandy or gravel layers will hurt my pond since I naturally plan on more water to in flow than out flow. The current water level is about the same as the bottom of my current pond, so I hope to go deeper allowing the water table to fill the void we create (probably fill in a couple days)... This will be my new sustainable reserve level that will keep fish alive on bad years like this one. I know once I start the dig we will have to keep moving to stay ahead of the water seeping into the new pond, but I'm hoping to at least get enough area so I won't have to do a complete restart of the pond again.

What slope is good going from shallower ledges around the pond edge to the deepest spots should we shoot for? My pond isn't very big, so I will likely have to have a pretty abrupt transition from shallow areas to the deep spots. I'd like to get 10' deeper in my deep spots, that will make the overflow about 6' higher than that for a total of 16' deep during spring runoff... Is a 1 to 1 foot transition too steep? 1 to 1.5' slope would probably be better, but may limit the size of the reserve pond... But then again I hope not to see this dry of a year again very soon...

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SkunkedAgain,

I wanted to leave some vertical clay banks in my (proposed) pond to enhance the structure, and some comments said that was possible for good solid clay.

In deep water, I don't see any reason to slope the banks with an excavator. I would dig deep and vertical where possible, since you are going to be fighting for solid ground on excavator placement and you will probably not be able to sit exactly where you want.

Your materials will probably control your slope. Wet sand will just keep flowing into your low spots. A clay-silt-sand mixture could probably stay in place with a 1:1 slope and a little compaction - if you were constructing your pond when it was dry. Solid clay could be sloped vertically. You obviously have a very wide range of possible outcomes.

I think your pond (and the soil and muck in the pond) is only going to allow for steep slopes in some spots. I would get my depth there, and maybe fight just enough in the other spots to determine what is feasible for the areas that will not hold a steep slope.

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SkunkedAgain, in sandy soil you can't make the slope steeper than 3:1 or it will slough off to the deeper water over time.

If you want to walk down to the water when it's low, or mow that area that was the pond bottom, anything steeper than 4:1 makes things interesting. Walking on steeper than 4:1 isn't bad, but standing on it for any length of time sure is tiring.


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Very good information, thank you both very much. Since I don't have clay, it's more of a sandy loamy soil, so it looks like I'll need to go with a flatter slope or just plan on things adjusting to a flatter slope over time. Maybe I should remove as much soil as I can from the middle and let the water and gravity work out the edge slope since it isn't the best soil for compacting. I just don't want too steep of drop off in case someone falls in sometime, I want them to be able to get out okay. I'm hoping the weather doesn't turn wet too soon so I can still get it dug out in October when I have the machinery lined up... Wish I was digging today, but oh well... Later J

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Originally Posted by SkunkedAgain
Very good information, thank you both very much. Since I don't have clay, it's more of a sandy loamy soil, so it looks like I'll need to go with a flatter slope or just plan on things adjusting to a flatter slope over time. Maybe I should remove as much soil as I can from the middle and let the water and gravity work out the edge slope since it isn't the best soil for compacting. I just don't want too steep of drop off in case someone falls in sometime, I want them to be able to get out okay. I'm hoping the weather doesn't turn wet too soon so I can still get it dug out in October when I have the machinery lined up... Wish I was digging today, but oh well... Later J
I kinda like your idea, as I understand it none of these slopes will be exposed and most of the time will be in the bottom deeper areas of the pond, and with ground water pond you are not worried about compaction, Id take an excavator and just remove a bunch of dirt quickly out of the bottom while I could and let nature do your sloping, if it sloughs off to 1-1 3-1 or even 4-1 so be it,
Excavators are reasonably hard to get stuck as they have the ability to pull themselves out most of the time, although when they do get stuck to the point of not being able to get out it will take a good bit to get it out, dont ask me how I know. I have found out over the years that unless you do have another big piece of equipment on site with heavy enough cables you are time and money ahead to call the man with a big wrecker and have him snatch it out of there and you are ready to go back to work rather then breaking a bunch of chains and ruining a bunch more and spending half a day and asking several guys to help. Good Luck!


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
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Originally Posted by SkunkedAgain
Very good information, thank you both very much. Since I don't have clay, it's more of a sandy loamy soil, so it looks like I'll need to go with a flatter slope or just plan on things adjusting to a flatter slope over time. Maybe I should remove as much soil as I can from the middle and let the water and gravity work out the edge slope since it isn't the best soil for compacting. I just don't want too steep of drop off in case someone falls in sometime, I want them to be able to get out okay. I'm hoping the weather doesn't turn wet too soon so I can still get it dug out in October when I have the machinery lined up... Wish I was digging today, but oh well... Later J

Having dealt with sandy soils in ponds for a long time now, what I have learned is to do the sloping with the excavator/dozer. In theory it will work letting nature do it, but in reality what happens is there is a steep drop off at the water edge of 1'-2' then it gradually tapers. Waves will keep working at the steep edge, any rooted vegetation will hold the surface dirt to a thickness of 8"-10", you will most likely get an undercut under that and a steep drop for the first 1'-2' of water depth. Then when the water recedes, you have to jump down to where the water level is.

When I renovated my pond that is what I had because they dug the pond deeper with a drag line. The banks are staying at the slope that I put them, and it's been 11 years since it was renovated. My water level will fluctuate up to 7' vertical. (It used to be 4' vertical but last Fall/Winter changed that.)


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Thanks for both of your comments on this I think I'll try to gradual slope near the edges and then taper off faster to the deeper areas and hopefully I won't have the step function where it's underwater... Thanks again for these thoughts... J

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I've had a bunch of new vegetation start around the pond edges this summer with the water being down so low, and I think it will be good cover for raising minnows, so I'm thinking of leaving that areas untouched in my pond excavation effort. Had my tractor down in the pond the other day and under the 1-2' of muck there is a good solid bottom, so I'm hoping the excavator will be able to work well without any big problems... I figure if a wheeled tractor can move around there without getting too stuck, then the tracks should hold up really well... I've got a lot of muck and dirt to move, it's going to be a busy day... Going to try to move the dirt with a big front end loader, and hope I can keep up with the excavator... Moving the fill about a block average, so not very far... Any last things I need to plan for? Thanks J

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A city block to me is 660 feet. I don't think the front end loader will be able to keep up with the excavator unless the bucket on the excavator is small.

I would remove all the muck that will be under water at full pool. The plants will grow


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esshup #540403 10/07/21 02:42 PM
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esshup, if I may ask, why does your pond fluctuate 7', is it a water table pond? Mine fluctuates like that too, but we go months without substantial rain, and seepage and evaporation and wicking and deer and......

Tony K #540435 10/08/21 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Tony K
esshup, if I may ask, why does your pond fluctuate 7', is it a water table pond? Mine fluctuates like that too, but we go months without substantial rain, and seepage and evaporation and wicking and deer and......

Correct, it's a water table pond in sandy soil.


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Thanks for the insight on moving the dirt, I probably will be behind all day, but we got 3" of rain last week and that's about 1/4 of our yearly rainfall so now I've got a few inches of water back in the pond, so the project just got tougher... I appreciate the tips about working in these conditions and we'll try and see what we can accomplish... Too bad the rain didn't wait just a little longer... but things can't ever be too easy can they??? Thanks again for all the helps... Later J

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they delivered the equipment a day early so I've been checking it out, 5' bucket on the excavator and the loader will probably take 2 yards per scoop, if I can keep from getting stuck this should go pretty fast... I think stuck will be the problem... Later J

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Pic or it didn't happen. LOL


The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=504716#Post504716
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I'll see what I can figure out on the pictures... It turned into kind of a circus, the bottom was too soft, we tried to sit the excavator sideways to the pond on the slope, but the lower track would sink in and almost tip the excavator over, so we ended up tearing out my fence so we could point the tracks down the slope in several different areas, then we dug out two areas to about 10' deep at full pool, it will be much better than what I've had, but probably only increased the depth in about 1/8th of the pond... not a big improvement, but it's a lot better than what I had, at least now I have an area that is filling with water instead of drying out to parched mud... Guess my hope is if a drought ever hits this bad again, hopefully a few fish will survive in those two areas so I don't have to start over completely again next time.

Now my questions start for how long does the raw pond have to sit before it could support fathead minnows? I know the plant life won't really show up until next spring, but wondered if the bugs will get going fast enough that I could start some fatheads before winter sets in? I'd love to have them ready to go to spawning next spring when the temps get right... Hopefully my pond will recover to the point of runoff next spring... May not happen with the extreme lack of ground water we are currently in, but seems like the rains are returning, so I'm hoping things will swing back to a more normal moisture situation...

Water seeping into the pond is nice and clear so far, I was afraid it might be pretty muddy with all the recent machine work, but so far it's pretty clear... More rain on the way, so I'm hoping that will fill things to where the original bottom level is reached, that will make at least 5-6' of water in the deep spots.. Anyway I guess I'm crazy, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with this new life for the pond...

One last thing, I ended up finding a big 4' clay layer under my current pond floor, so we left some vertical edges at the outer edge of the hoes reach and tapered the nearside at around 1 to 2 slope, I know the muck will melt into the deep trench over time, but I'm in hopes I'll still have a bit of a ledge there with the clay so I have a deep area to help the fish have a place to go for cooler temps in the summer and a difference in terrain to give them a choice for something other than shallow mud bottom... Anyway it was a long busy day, but now I'm off to a new possibility anyway... Later J


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