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Joined: Dec 2021
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Dyates Offline OP
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Hi all, my name is Dan. My wife and I recently purchased a new property and home with a private 1 acre pond. The previous owner maintained the pond very well. However, they paid a company over $4K per year to come out and make sure the pond was good…. I have a masters degree in fish and wildlife management so I feel like the management is something I can learn and handle myself. Most of my work revolves around endangered species and some wetlands so I am not well versed when it comes to pond management. That being said, I am open to challenges. The previous owner mentioned that they paid the company to come out every other week between April - September. They said the company would apply dyes and some herbicides occasionally. The pond is fed by runoff so they did mention that it has had high nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the past. The fish population seems great. It has bass, blue gill, and catfish in it. Good sized fish. The pond does have a fountain for aeration.

We are wanting to maintain that fish population as well as maintain aquatic weeds and algae issues. We will use the pond for fishing and occasional swimming in the summer.

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RAH Offline
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I maintain my own ponds, but my primary goal is wildlife value. We have good fishing and we used the oldest of our ponds for swimming with friends and family when our children were living at home. With your situation, it is likely that switching from a "groomed" pond to a "natural" pond would require an adjustment period where the aquatic plant population would need to adjust to the increase in nutrients such that the algae would be kept in check. However, you may simply have too much of a nutrient load coming in to make this transition even if that were your goal. Best of luck. There are some very knowledgeable folks here that can help with a "groomed" pond if that is your goal.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by RAH; 12/07/21 06:57 AM.
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Hello and welcome to the forum!!
I'm from MI so tend to think about ponds with the 'northern weather' slant. I'm told that the weather and conditions in southern Illinois are day and night different from northern Illinois. Take that into account.

Can you get depth readings through the pond? This will be really important as depth and degree of 'muck' on the bottom says a lot about nutrient load at present and also about what your management strategy might be. I assume ice over and winter kill is a less an issue for you?

I would also consider viewing the fountain as something that is nice to look at but is not improving your water quality in the middle and lower zone of the pond. It stirs surface water and adds some surface aeration. Research and consider adding bottom placed aeration. Again, your needs are different depending on your depth and where the cold/warm and normal oxygen/low oxygen separation takes place in your pond. However there are so many benefits for bottom aeration even just to help keep the bacteria active on the organic material on the bottom and to help lower your 'sludge' load. This is easiest when there is access to power near the pond but lots of ways to pipe air longer distance or some have adopted solar and that is a neat option too.

If legal, consider adding tilapia. They won't overwinter where you are but are a very useful bonus fish for controlling algae and if they can pull off at least one hatch of young in your longer warm water season, provide some forage for your other fish. They are fun to watch and a few on this forum have even figure out how to catch them for the dinner table.

Outside of mapping and plumbing the depths, the next step is to evaluate your fish populations. How many predators? How much forage size young fish or minnows available for those hungry catfish and bass to eat? Will you add supplemental feed (pellets)?

I'm a big fan of the various native shiners that probably are in the streams in your area. If you get a reproducing population of common, or emerald, or spotfin shiners that really goes a long way to feed the bass and perhaps some YP if you go that route. I have golden shiners because they were easier to source from a fish truck or bait shop but if I could do it again I would not have gone that route. I now have only very large non-reproducing adult golden shiners that eat the desirable YP fry before they get a chance to grow up and it is difficult for me to find predators that eat the large golden shiners.

RAH (if my memory is correct) or another member in your area has Lake Chubsuckers in a pond. You may connect with this member and see about starting them in your pond. They are a great forage fish option as well without worry about over-populating or eating all your desirable young game fish.

So these are all the things you start to think about.

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Originally Posted by Dyates
I have a masters degree in fish and wildlife management so I feel like the management is something I can learn and handle myself

Dan,

Hopefully you are not over-qualified!

There are lots of self-taught people on the forum from diverse backgrounds that manage beautiful and productive ponds.

I would ask the previous owners if they kept the records of the work performed by the management company. If so, then ask to get a copy for your files. You should then have an idea of the scope and timing of the most likely issues for your pond.

I AM NOT an expert. However, I think if you keep records of your fish catches and monitor your vegetation, then you will identify any potential problems early!

Search on Pond Boss for solutions, or start a new thread, and I suspect you will have no problems maintaining an awesome pond.

Congrats on your new pond, and welcome to Pond Boss!

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RAH Offline
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Yes, I stocked LCS in my SMB/YP pond and they spawned, but I have not really monitored them (or any other fish) in that pond for a couple years. Previously, some of the YP and LCS got washed out the exit pipe during heavy rains. I also had YP ribbons visible on branch piles before that. I know the SMB spawned as well because my neighbor caught some little ones. He did catch a nice SMB this past spring, so I guess they are continuing to grow. The pond in the pictures is my LMB/BG pond. I added a few of the LCS that washed out the pipe into my 3rd pond, but again I don't know how they have done. There are very few plants growing in this pond, so I have not added predators yet. Need to cut down and add some dead spruce trees as cover. I added a few to the YP pond to help provide more sites for ribbons.


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