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Hello everyone,
I’ve been lurking in the weeds and formulating my new pond plan for the last year, based on lots advice from a lot of you, much appreciated! Guess I’m just looking for reassurance that I don’t have any major pitfalls in my plan below. Read lots of good info in JoshMI’s recent post below, but didn’t want to hijack his thread: https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=552943&nt=3&page=1

PLAN:
0.8 acre groundwater pond in central Michigan LP (see attached recent and construction pictures)
Newly dug this winter, currently 9-10’ average depth (almost full pool I’d guess), 13-14’ hole in a corner. 3:1 sloped sides except for more gradual swimming corner, pond is almost entirely sand. Based on neighboring ponds, don’t expect water level to decrease more than 1-2’ during summer.

Goal 1) YP for table fare and ice fishing, SMB for kids to catch on open water
Goal 2) Swimming corner that is relatively free of underwater taller weeds (may not be possible but..)
Goal 3) Perform pond experiments

Stocking plan:
Spring ’24:
5 # FHM, 5 # SFS - adding pallets, horizontal 4” PVC sections, and Christmas trees for spawning structure
RES...? (I’m driving to OH to get SFS (3 hrs away), thought I’d try putting in some small RES since they sell them, see if they make it. MI DNR report I read on the forum indicated my location is borderline ok based on # of frost free days). If they don't make it, maybe I'll try catching some MI wild RES in the future per other discussion in Josh's post.

Fall ’24:
150 4-5” YP
50 5-7” YP (or whatever a larger size is available, to see if I can get any to spawn in Spring '25)
75 4-5” SMB
Papershell crayfish - 300 ct box from Smith Creek, will add rock piles (waiting til fall so I can try to establish vegetation this summer)

Vegetation/Structure:

Entire pond currently bare sand.
Add American Eelgrass – Provide cover for YOY fish, maybe inhibit some of the other unwanted taller weeds
Add Pickerelweed – Along shore
Add various artificial structure, yearly Christmas trees plantings for YP spawning, pull them after they get in rough shape

Aeration:

Plan to get recommended aeration in the future, currently don’t have electricity on property though. (TBD)

Side notes:
Plan to get pellet trained YP and SMB from Ron Crismon, plan to supplemental pellet feed them.
I haven’t taken water samples yet but plan to. Visibility isn’t more than 2-3’ I’d estimate, plan to measure this too.

My apologies - I know I have lots of different topics above, just want to make sure I’m heading in the right direction overall since a lot needs to happen this first season. Thanks!
-Travis

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I seen some cautions on adding Crays until the fish in the pond can eat them. Other than that....looks like you have a pretty solid plan...

I'll bet one of the more experienced fellas will update if more is needed.

GL on the new pond and experiments!

Last edited by Boondoggle; 03/20/24 06:31 PM.

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The YP-SMB stocking plan is sound. Where in OH are you planning to get the SFS?? If you get them in May, 2-3 lbs would be enough to produce a big population during summer off 2024. Think about contacting canyoncreek to get 100-200 SFS instead of driving clear to Ohio. If he feeds his SFS ground pellets enough of the SFS could be caught for your needs using a lift or drop net. SFS are very prolific in a new pond without a full complement of predators. The SFS will need good amounts of habitat to survive predation pressure when the smallies are larger than 12".

A third minnow that would work well for you is the bluntnose minnow(BNM). They can be sourced from small local streams in MI using minnow traps. Look for a PM.


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Hi Bill – canyoncreek is actually the one who gave me the idea for the SFS. Last we talked, he didn’t know how efficient he’d be in getting a meaningful number collected yet. Then I found Go Fish Farm in Stryker, OH, which is the place I contacted about the SFS. My kids are always up for a road trip, so just figured I’d head down there and grab some experimental RES while I was at it. Maybe I could get some SFS from some streams as well.
As for the BNM, I’ve read they also would be a good fit. I need to get a lot better at identifying my minnows first, maybe there’s an app for that now 😊 I did just buy a minnow trap, would be fun to take the kids along. Although being located in the thumb of Michigan, there aren’t many clear "steams" close by - mostly just drainage ditches.

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First, don't add any craws until mid to late part of second year after stocking SMB, your plants will disappear faster than you can plant them.
Second, a 5" YP female will blow ribbons, you don't need bigger fish to start the pond.

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Good to know, thanks. Yeah I figure the vegetation is definitely more important than the crayfish right now, wasn’t sure how long I should wait after planting it to add the crayfish. And it’s been so long since I’ve caught a perch ice fishing, couldn’t remember how small they were to still have eggs. Hopefully that will change now that I’ve got my own fishing hole starting!

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I have seen YP that have been on good food since hatching be 8" in length at 1 year old.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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thanks for stopping by and posting pictures and an update on your pond. There are not enough northern pond owners posting here and northern ponds are very different than southern US ponds. We need to learn as much as we can from each other. Also there are not many blank slate ponds like yours to learn from.

You are spot on in getting your forage base started and your structure/vegetation started to let the smallest fish get started and have a refuge.

I surely will be working on some type of enclosure with a attraction of some type (food, flowing water, temperature controlled water) to get the SFS to congregate and see if we can better net them at will in the future.

I'm also going to try some additional spawning structure ideas for the SFS to see if we can really ramp up minnow production. I'm seeing less reproduction last summer which may be simply due to not enough spawning structures and also need for more complex artificial hiding places for the young fish after they hatch. I can't rely on natural vegetation so will have to come up with more artificial structures.

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If you regularly feed the spotfins(SFS) ground or crushed fish pellets your production of them will increase significantly just as it does with feeding the sport fish. SFS readily accept fish food that has the right sizes of particles. If one wants more minnows / shiners to survive then increase dense cover habitat and reduce number of predators. One can't expect to grow lots of chickens in a pen if you have some foxes in the pen eating them. It is a predator - prey arrangement with a balance needed for both to thrive together. One needs to imitate the balance of nature and natural co-existing populations.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/22/24 10:54 AM.

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Thanks Bill! I now have a local source for Optimal a few miles south of my work location which is great. I'll get out my blender and make some smaller particle sizes and feed more regularly. Working on plan for structure so that even with the fox in the henhouse they won't be able to find the hens.

Right now I'm running pretty low on predators in my pond. My YP numbers are quite low as the original stockers are gone and their progeny are also thinning out. I bucket stocked a few pumpkinseed but rarely see them and they did not pull off a spawn last summer. From 1000 or more I'm down to about 10 large koi/goldfish hybrids. My pond will soon be a forage only pond which is fine for me for now till I can get my numbers back up.

Then I can stock some larger YP and maybe a few SMB as my new experiment.

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I think your koi/goldfish hybrids could be hindering the recruitment of your fish. Having 10+ koi/goldfish are probably making your water cloudy and allowing too much suspended sediment to settle on developing fish eggs and reducing hatching success. What is the average measured water clarity with a homemade Secchi disk or similar white object? Another problem could be the koi/goldfish could be eating freshly hatched larvae while they lie on underwater surfaces before swim up.

I have a couple ways to make smaller food sizes for the minnows/shiners. Add just enough water for several hours to make the pellets softer and easy to grind. Then feed the moist ground food in 1-2 days or freeze it then use it in small batches. The other way I do it is air dry the moist food and store it as dry food for up to several months.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
... spotfins(SFS) ...
Thank God you let that acronym out of the bag, Bill. I've been wearing out keyboards trying to find out about San Francisco Sunfish (which, while nonexistent, WOULD go well in a pond with Sacramento Perch).


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I believe Optimal already makes the small pellets


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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Purina Aquamax 400 pellets are pretty small.


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AquaMax Fish Food - 400 as 5D04 is 3/32" as 45% protein. AM 500 as 5D05 is 1/16" as 50% protein. These two feeds will be more expensive than AM 600 as 5D06 with 41% protein.
For feeding minnow/shiners I found it best for my usage is to just use what I am usually feeding the other fish and just somehow grind it. It does not take a lot of ground pellets to every day or two to feed minnows. Minnows will not get much to eat in a mixed fish sizes fishery while waiting for larger pellets to soak and soften so they can pick apart large soft pellets. IMO best way to feed minnows/shiners is find a way to grind your regular fish food. I have even looked into using a coffee bean grinder for the large pellets, but never tried it. Don't let your wife catch you using her coffee bean grinder to grind your fish good.


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Bill, you also run worms through a blender to feed train redears.

One's best path depends on what side of the time/money curve you're on. And whether you have your own blender/coffee grinder.


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Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
Bill, you also run worms through a blender to feed train redears.

One's best path depends on what side of the time/money curve you're on. And whether you have your own blender/coffee grinder.

....and whether or not your wife knows what you use the coffee grinder/blender for....


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"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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I have put optimal through one of these smaller three blade Ninja bullet blenders. I'm tell you, you need to have ear protection on when that thing is grinding the noise is so tremendous. The work load on the little motor is a lot and it heats up to the point that it shuts itself off due to thermal overload.

I think Bill is correct that a 2 hour soak to soften, and then maybe a partial dry and grind might work better. If I had to do that every day I would definitely see the advantage of buying a 50 pound bag of the correct sized feed.

To answer the question about the goldfish, fortunately we have had no turbidity issues, either from having a few goldfish or from having a pair of pekin ducks. Water has been clear until our first bloom starts. I think mostly we justdon't have enough properly fertilized eggs and then we have large SFS and a few large GSH left plus the goldfish that are eating the little ones due to lack of cover.

Working on those priorities as well as would love to create a SFS brooding pond even if I have to repurpose a small stock tank or swimming pool to do it.

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Originally Posted by canyoncreek
Working on those priorities as well as would love to create a SFS brooding pond even if I have to repurpose a small stock tank or swimming pool to do it.

In my area, I can rent a mini-excavator for a day for the price of a small stock tank. If you have a suitable location, you might be able to build a much larger brooding pond to your exact specs for the price of a rental plus some liner material.

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Thanks for the idea. I have been toying with the idea of adding a little waterfall feature on one side of the pond. I have power and a water hydrant there if needed but could also pump and recirculate from the pond. I have a natural slope from the driveway down into the pond on that side. I could use some landscape rocks to get another couple feet of elevation up by the driveway, then use liner to make a small pool at the top, then a stair step pattern down to either a lower pool or just a cascade into the pond. The top pond or the series of two ponds would be enough to allow for at least some minnow reproduction.

I have a very small JD diesel 4x4 tractor with front end loader (X748 with 45 loader) I'm told if I add a piranha or similar cutting bar on the edge of the bucket it will do fairly well in shaving off dirt and doing some digging into the side of the sloped area which may be all I need.

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Awesome.

If you have enough elevation difference you may not even need to seine your brooding pond.

Just build a sump and a drain that will run to your main pond. When the fish are the right size, dip out a few good broodstock fish to re-start the project and let the rest flow down to the main pond.

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thanks for the suggestion that is a great idea. What do you mean by a sump? Just a recessed hole with a drain at the bottom? Probably could use a premade plastic sump pump crock that they pour concrete around in your basement?

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I meant just a deep hole (lined or unlined) right at your drain outlet.

It serves two purposes. You can draw down your water and concentrate all of your fish in the sump. That way it is easy for you to pick good broodstock to save, sample the sizes of your fish, select for males or females, etc.

The other purpose is to collect the junk that will get in your pond specifically to pi$$ you off and clog your drain. With a sump installed, you can start flowing some water and most of the leaves, pine needles, etc. will collect in the sump and you can more easily scoop them out to keep your drain running and clean the bottom of your pond.

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Pond Update:

The Good News - I've now got SFS, FHM, BNM, and a few papershell crayfish introduced into my pond. Average depth is now about 10', with the exception of a deeper hole in one corner. The SFS appear to be spawning nicely on the CD stack spawning devices per the idea Mr. Cody provided me (see pic).

The Bad News - Just as I got done putting in the FHM and some pallets, I noticed something larger than a minnow in the corner of my eye. I came back a couple weeks later and my kids and I caught 19 small fish (GSF I think). One of them was full of eggs with one of my minnows inside. I was not a happy camper. (See fish pics).

Am I SOL from the start having GSF already? I can't believe anything survived our pond dig, but I guess that's my fault for not taking more precautions. I really don't want to have to rotenone the pond since I've got about 12 hours of driving and additional time/moneuy invested in getting my forage base started. With my goal of a YP/SMB pond, is there any benefit to maybe adding some larger SMB earlier than I intended to try to inhibit the GSF population? Or will that just wreck my YP plans?

Even though we caught 19 GSF, it took us an hour. I'd say every 5 min or so we'd catch one, most of them were small. And by catch I mean one bit the hook, not that they kept biting the whole time and we just couldn't hook them. We had a small hook so we hardly lost any that nibbled.

One more question, are all the fish in the attached pictures actually GSF? I need to get better at panfish identification...

Thanks!

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Look into Z- traps. You can buy them or make them. I plan on making a few. Snipe, told me about them. Good way to catch the green sunfish.

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