Anthony Di Iulio and his team at American Underwater Services often work on HOA ponds and other neighborhood bodies of water. They have recently been asked if they can turn a regular local pond into a fishpond. Here’s their suggestion:
A local pond in the community adds tremendous value to the lives of residents. It offers a great view, acts as an emergency stormwater retention device, and increases the value of nearby homes.
HOA managers will sometimes encounter residents who ask them to turn the plain, boring old pond into one filled with game fish. This is a little easier said than done, as you really can’t run out to the live fish store, buy some trout or bass and throw them into the water hole.
Fish require a delicate balance of water parameters and temperatures to live happy and healthy lives. We’re going to show you five tips on things you should look out for if you’re considering turning your HOA pond into a fishpond.
Match Pond with Fish
For the best chances of success, you should match the fish you want to stock with the parameters of the pond. For example, trout prefer colder water (54 degrees) that’s oxygen-enriched and has a gravel or rocky bottom. If your pond resides in an area that experiences constant high temperatures, the trout probably will not survive.
Bass and sunfish (crappie, panfish, etc.) tend to do best in warmer ponds. In fact, water above 70 degrees causes bass to become extremely aggressive, which makes for some exciting fishing. Bass tend to require bigger ponds where they can retreat into the depths if they don’t feel like hanging out in the warmer water.
You should monitor the water parameters of your recently stocked ponds every week for up to a year. Fish can quickly die if the nitrite or nitrate levels are too high. This is caused by both natural and man-made processes. If your pond doesn’t have the natural means to process all of the fish waste, nitrite and nitrate levels can rise dangerously high.
You can buy an inexpensive test kit at your local garden supply shop or on Amazon. Simply take one of the test tubes and scoop out some pond water, then dip the included paper strip inside. In a matter of minutes, a color-coded chart will tell you if your water parameters are safe for the fish.
There’s a limit on how many (and what kinds) of fish you can stock in a pond of a certain size. If you have too many fish, their combined oxygen requirements, coupled with their waste production, will eventually lead to a massive die-off.
The general rule of thumb is that for a one-acre pond, you should have no more than 100 bass, 500 bluegills, and 100 channel catfish if you don’t plan on feeding the fish. If you do plan on feeding them, the numbers can roughly double.
You’ll also need to take into consideration fishing pressure. How many fish will anglers remove in a given month? Is the fish population self-sustaining? A knowledgeable fishery in your area can help you determine the answers to the above questions.
Predatory vs. Non-Predatory Fish
Many species of fish are predatory. Bass are one such species that can quickly decimate the trout population if there aren’t other fish to prey upon. This is why many HOA pond managers will include abundant bluegill to fatten up the food chain.
Bluegill are the backbone of any cold or warm water pond. Their juveniles also won’t compete with bass or trout for food. Threadfin shad are another popular prey species that will help sustain the predatory fish throughout the year.
Much like human beings, fish need oxygen to survive. This requires the water of the pond to be agitated somehow. Many HOA pond managers will install an aeration system that works year-round to help keep the fish alive and well.
Solar fountain pumps are especially popular, as they don’t require an electrical hookup. Simply install the pump and place the solar panel in a safe area that receives daily direct sunlight. They tend to work best in small to medium-sized ponds as they won’t produce as much oxygen as one that’s connected to a direct power source.
If you’re considering converting your pond into a fishpond, one of the best places to start is to have them dredged. Most ponds contain hundreds or even thousands of pounds of rotting organic material at the bottom, which can be detrimental to the health and well-being of fish.
At American Underwater Services, we specialize in dredging HOA ponds. Even though we’re based out of Fort Worth, Texas, we can travel to any state to help you create the perfect fishpond by dredging the bottom. Give us a call today at (817) 377-8512 to learn more about the HOA pond dredging services that we offer.