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How Do I Balance My Fish Population? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

Diana - Aurora, OR

A balanced fish population is key for creating a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Getting a handle on your current pond inhabitants is a great 1st step to achieving balance.

Start by sampling the current fish population using a fish live trap or fishing pole to catch and record the number, size & species of fish in your pond. You may notice, for example, that you are catching a large number of small predator fish like bass but very few prey fish like bluegill, perch or sunfish. This could signal an unbalanced ratio of predator fish to prey fish.

After analyzing your catch, determine the types of fish that are needed to rebalance the population. The ideal stocking ratio is 3 prey fish to each predator. If you are experiencing an abundance of small predators then stock up on prey fish or vice versa if you are catching an excessive amount of small prey fish. As your pond begins to balance you should notice an overall increase in the size and health of your fish along with an even yield of both predators & prey when trapping or fishing.

It is important to provide adequate habitat for young fish to develop and grow before being consumed by larger established fish populations. Fish Attractor Spheres are an ideal addition to any pond with fish. Smaller fish can hide in the narrower spaces closer to the sphere, large fish can navigate only the outermost regions of the attractor and minnows can hide within the open holes at the end of each pvc “arm”.

When adding your new fish to the pond, try to introduce feeder minnows at one side to preoccupy predator fish while your new fish are being added at the other end of the pond. This will give them more time to acclimate to the pond and find a place to hide. Feeder minnows can be added each season as they reproduce quickly and provide a naturally replenishing food source for your large fish.

Tomahawk Live Traps

Can fish get sunburned? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Can fish get sunburned?

Q: Can fish get sunburned?
Dustin – Jacksonville, FL

At some point in everyone’s childhood, a kindhearted teacher, seeking to encourage unrestrained curiosity, makes this simple pronouncement: “there’s no such thing as a silly question.” As adults, we know that silly questions do, in fact, exist. As a result, we tend to stop asking questions like “can fish get sunburned?” It’s just too silly to even consider. Sunburned fish? Ha! Hilarious! Except for one small detail: fish can get sunburned. The moral of the story? Your teacher was right. Keep on asking – and we’ll keep right on answering.

As it turns out, Koi fish in backyard ponds and water gardens are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Combine a shallow body of water, limited shade, and long hours of hot, summer sun, and Koi fish suffer from the aquatic equivalent of sunburn.

Like all other fish, Koi fish rely on a natural protective layer – otherwise known as a “slime coat” – that fends off everything from disease to injury. When Koi fish are exposed to too much direct sunlight, their slime coats are compromised, and sickness and lethargy follow quickly. Left unresolved, long-term exposure to sunlight will actually cause a Koi’s untimely demise. Fortunately, it’s a simple problem to fix – and we have the right supplies to do it.

To prevent aquatic “sunburn,” we strongly recommend the use of our Koi Shelter, which allows fish to take refuge from the sun before it causes damage. Like the Koi Shelter, our Aquatic Plants also provide excellent natural protection – along with the added benefit of aesthetic beauty. In addition to those solutions, creative pondkeepers also use rocks to create protective underwater caves, where fish can take a break from the sun’s rays.

Once you’ve taken care to provide adequate shelter for your Koi, the next critical step is to help your fish to restore its slime coat. For a simple solution, we recommend adding an appropriate quantity of salt to the pond. In cases where fish seem particularly lethargic, we strongly encourage the use of Fish Stress Reducer Plus to resolve the problem quickly – and bring your Koi back to health in short order.

Keep up the questions. We take them all very seriously.

Pond Talk: Have you ever seen a fish get sunburn?

Koi Shelter

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?
Jan – Raleigh, NC

Pond owners looking to replenish their fish populations this season should grab their buckets and nets; spring is here and it is the perfect time to stock your pond with new game fish.

Spring and fall are the best times to add new fish to your pond as the temperatures are not as harsh making it easier for you to transport your newcomers and acclimate them to their new home. You can still introduce fish into your pond during the summer months but you will want to take extra precautions to make sure you can quickly transport the fish to your pond and take a little extra time during the acclimation process.

Deciding how many fish to add to your pond will predominately depend on the surface area of the water body. You can take a look at a few examples of stocking rates on our website. You will want to stick to a ratio of 3 prey fish (sunfish, bluegill, or perch) to 1 predator fish (bass) when choosing species to promote a healthy and balance fish population. Click over to our Fish Stocking Blog for some more information.

You can purchase fish from your local fish hatchery or catch and transport fish from a friend’s pond. Wherever the source, inspect the fish for signs of illness or disease before adding them to your pond. Our local customers can take advantage of The Pond Guy semi-annual Fish Day which takes place on the 7th of May. Fish day is a great opportunity to meet with other pond owners, speak with the friendly and knowledgeable The Pond Guy staff, and browse our wide selection of pond products from Pond Dye to 10’ Windmills. Customers can place orders online or over the phone until May 7th which will be available for payment and pick-up on the 8th between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be a wide selection of both predator and prey fish available for purchase including Hybrid Bluegill, Perch, Catfish and Bass. Walk-ins are welcome but selection will be limited by availability.

Make sure there is adequate habitat for your smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover but you can introduce man made habitats to protect your fish without dealing with weeds and plants. Check out our Fish Habitat blog for some more insight into creating comfortable living spaces for your fish.

Pond Talk: What fish have you found in your pond?

Fish Trap

Is It Possible to Have a Weed-Free Pond & Still Have a Good Fish Population? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Porcupine Fish Attractor

Q: I would like to kill off the weeds in my pond but I am nervous that the smaller fish will not have any place to hide from the bigger fish. Is it possible to have a weed free pond and still have a good fish population?
- Scott of Texas

A: Absolutely. In most cases, artificial habitat is more productive than the real thing. For example the porcupine fish attractor (pictured left) is a simple way to create a working ecosystem within your pond or lake. Due to their unique design they create a natural habitat allowing multiple places for small fish to hide. The porcupine fish attractor is made of a custom green thin wall PVC. The green color allows the habitat to blend into the pond and the diameter of the PVC provides a safe place for minnows to spawn. Another important advantages are the sustainability of the PVC material. PVC will not decompose, cause any water quality issues, and will not snag a fisherman’s hook.

Note: For those of us northerners that enjoy ice fishing, now is the time to make your own fishing hole. Simply place the porcupine fish attractor where only you can find it and you’ll be sure to be filling your buckets come this winter!You can also build your own structure out of PVC or create a structure with rocks and boulders or other materials. If possible stay away from materials that can rot and put unnecessary debris and nutrients into your pond. Read more about creating fish habitat here.

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