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#545355 03/18/22 01:03 PM
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I am back and hope I am not exhausting anyone with questions. Adding all the cover I can find, and now I am second guessing whether or not to use the dead pin oak branches since reading about tannins. I see lots of Xmas trees being used, but I don’t have many of those. Mostly tulip and oaks with the occasional downed hemlock.

Should I be cutting down live trees?
Are 6”+ diameter dead wood ok? Without leaves.
Any species of tree I should avoid?

Appreciate the feedback!

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The poison is always in the dose!

I think you got some previous advice that some oak structure was NOT harmful to the fish in those poster's ponds. It is difficult to know where "some" oaks plus a few more becomes toxic.

Spitball ideas:

Do you have excess watershed (and water) for your pond? If so, you could let it fill to cover the oak branches for a few weeks, and then drain the pond before your next big rain in the forecast. I suspect one or two "soak and drains" before stocking MIGHT remove a significant amount of your tannins.

It is obviously easier to put in all of your structure before the pond fills. However, could you put in all of your deep and/or complex structure now? You could then add more oak tree structure in 1-2 years after the first load of tannins has dissipated. Either shallow structure during a drought or when you deliberately pull down the water level, or deep structure that you just lash together and then weight and sink in place.

As to your other questions, yes, the oak leaves also contain tannins. Definitely build your structures with leafless oak wood.

I believe air-dried deadfalls will have less tannin than fresh-cut, but I also believe the tannins are still preserved below the surface. (I know the oak flooring guys say you can bring up some old tannins if you sand deeply enough. I am definitely NOT an expert on this topic.) However, I believe any deadfall oaks that have been rain saturated and dried several times should have reduced tannins compared to fresh cut trees.

I would certainly use any hemlock trees that are deadfalls, or volunteers that you want to clear. They are conifers (no tannins) and provide good "fluffy" cover in the first few years that your forage fish will use for hiding places.

Good luck on your big "structure" project.

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Rough rule of thumb. Green Oak = no Dead Oak (say at least a year) = OK. Black Walnut = no

This December, a day or 3 before Christmas go to your local Lowes/Menards/Home Depot and talk to the manager in the garden section. Ask him if they will be throwing away any unsold Christmas Trees on Dec 26th. You usually can get all you can carry (and then some) the day after Christmas, but make sure you get there on that day to pick them up. You don't want to burn that bridge.

This is one of 3 loads from three years ago. The trailer is 8' wide x 12' long. I think I was able to fit 100 trees on the trailer per load.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Get a big spool of paracord and some cinderblocks. 1 block will be enough weight to keep 6 submerged, I used para cord around the trunk and tied to cinderblocks, making many brush piles in the ponds.

You want approximately 20% - 25% of the surface area in the pond in cover for the fish.


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+100 on esshup's trailer load of 100 Christmas trees!

I hope they also gave him a big 25% off coupon for his next purchase at that store.

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I have worried a lot about the oaks and tannins in the water, my pond filled up way faster then I had expected and flooded tons of fresh oak brush piles and tree tops from logging in the water, also a lot of standing oak timber which is probably not quite as bad because only the bottom part is in the water, tho some of the standing timber is in 20+ ft of water, but so far so good, I have had a slight brownish tint to the water but the fish are doing amazing, growing fast and fat, and some beautiful vibrant colors even with the water being slightly tinted.


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
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gehajake, when the water runs into my pond from the forest, the amount of tannin that also enters the pond is amazing. I can go from 8'-9' clarity that I have now to about 24" clarity just from the brownish tint.

A customer had the top of an Oak Tree get broken off during a bad storm and fall into a 1/10th acre pond. After 3-4 days the water stank to high heaven and it was a black color with some film on top of it. I yanked out the tree top (this was in June so it was full of leaves) and I think he dodged a bullet because I didn't see any fish floating. Only fish in there were FHM and PS.


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I’m the guy that killed everything in a new 3 acre pond. When the pond was built, about 30+ years ago, I had the big oaks put in the bottom/middle of the pond for structure. It rained a LOT and the bowl of the pond filled. That’s rare in West Texas. I stocked crawdads, bluegills and fathead minnows. Then the water turned black. Crawdads started crawling up onto the bank. No fish came to feed. I got some bluegills from another pond, put them in the inside part of a minnow bucket, and floated them. They all died in a short time.

I found that oaks, regardless of the variety, have a chemical called tanins. I talked to a couple of guys named Lusk and Otto who had just started doing a magazine named Pond Boss. They knew about the oak problem.

I pumped it dry. That took awhile. Awhile is an understatement because I got some pretty good rains. It took all of a Texas summer to pump and dry everything out. When it FINALLY rained again, I tested with some minnows in a minnow bucket. They lived so I began to restock.

To me, oak is only good for burning and whittling.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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IDK how my pond lives with all the oaks.... Weird.


Im going to ask a lot of questions, but only because I'm clueless


5-20 Acres in Florida. Bass/Tilapia/Bowfin/Gator
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I used to fish a forest pond where the oak trees were thick right up to the edge of the water. We would catch lots of stunted 10" LMB, but once got a 4 pounder.

The water was ALWAYS stained dark brown (but clear). I would even occasionally "catch" oak leaves on the weight of a Texas-rigged plastic worm.

I believe that oak branches and leaves release tannins and other compounds that create both tannic acid and humic acid in ponds. This is generally pretty subtle and complex chemistry.

I suspect that the soil mineralogy in some ponds effects the water chemistry enough to render a high tannin input harmless. In other ponds, the soils lead to a different water chemistry that does not neutralize the toxicity of the tannins. I believe that may be one factor that contributes to the wide distribution of outcomes among the Pond Boss crowd.

"Err on the side of caution" is probably the best advice when dealing with oak wood in the pond. The only time I would be comfortable with significant oak wood in the water of a newly built pond, would be if several neighbors with nearly identical conditions had already gotten away with it!

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The wooded areas in my part of Misery are thick with various species of oak and hickory.

Pretty much any BOW that's located in a wooded holler gets a massive load of dead leaves every year in the fall,
along with the occasional live or dead tree that falls in due to weather or decay.

I've got a feeling the only right answer to this debate is "it depends".

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Have lots of oaks with no issue - but it depends. You can offset any tannic acid with lime.
















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Oaks growing around the pond don’t bother my ponds. That’s all I have and I there are plenty of all sizes. It’s using them for structure that killed everything and made me buy a big gas powered pump.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Originally Posted by ewest
Have lots of oaks with no issue - but it depends. You can offset any tannic acid with lime.

Does the tannic acid itself cause the toxicity to fish, or does it alter some other pond chemistry balance or attribute that then becomes harmful to the fish?

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Rod, dunno for sure but I’m pretty sure it poisons the water. I experimented by putting a large piece of freshly cut oak in a big bath tub that I had been using to water cows and horses. I added some fatheads and small bluegills. But, not enough fish to get an O2 shortage. They were all dead in less than a week. The water had definitely changed color.

I cleaned the tub and did it again without the oak. No problems.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Thanks all that responded! Fish farm said to avoid Oak, pine (no Xmas trees), maple. I had already put a bunch of big really dead oak branches that were solid, not rotten in the water and my ph is ok. Will let you know how it goes

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I have no issues with Christmas trees. Make sure all the plastic is off of them. I leave them on the shore until the Spring and then put them in the pond. Maybe because they are pretty well dried out and the needles are off?


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