Nebraska Pond Management - Second Edition

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Page 59 of 95

58 • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission T here are many problems that can reduce a pond's potential to produce a desired fishery. Most can be prevented with proper pond construction, habitat development around the pond, and fish stocking, followed by proper management and maintenance. It is easier and less costly to prevent problems, rather than treat them later. But in some cases, such as decades-old ponds built with fishing as an afterthought, that is not possible. Many pond problems are related to water quality. Whether the water is too green, too brown, or polluted, most water quality problems can be prevented by keeping sediment, nutrients, and pollutants out of ponds. Undesirable fish species, such as carp, bullheads, and gizzard shad, also need to be kept out of ponds since they can negatively affect water clarity and limit a pond's ability to produce sport fish. The following information will explain the conditions that can lead to various pond problems, how to help prevent them, and how to resolve existing problems. Water Clarity The clarity of a pond is primarily determined by the abundance of individual, free-floating microscopic plants (phytoplankton/algae) and animals (zooplankton), organic materials, and suspended soil particles. If water is enriched with phosphorous, nitrogen, or animal wastes, a large algae bloom can occur, turning the pond green. See page 63 for vegetation control methods. If the pond was recently green in color, but quickly turned brown, the algae have died and are now decomposing. High populations of zooplankton or certain algae species can also give the water a brown color. A tannic acid buildup, resulting from the breakdown of accumulated organic materials from a marsh or wetland areas or from tree leaves in the pond, can stain pond water and give it the color of tea. When a pond contains non-transparent muddy water, it is the result of tiny particles of soil, especially clay soil, suspended in the water. Muddy water detracts from a pond's appearance and reduces its ability to produce food, especially for small fish, by shading the microscopic plant life on which the food chain is based. It also reduces the ability of sight-feeding fish, such as largemouth bass and bluegills, to capture prey. Extended periods of high turbidity can eliminate both submergent and emergent aquatic vegetation that provide important habitat for fish and other wildlife. Muddy water also has lower oxygen levels due to reduced photosynthesis. Sediment in the water can smother fish eggs and bottom- dwelling organisms. Although most ponds will be muddy following major inflow events caused by heavy rains in the watershed, the suspended sediment in good ponds should settle out within a week. Water in new ponds may be muddy until pond banks become vegetated; therefore, it is very important to establish and maintain vegetative cover around the pond as soon as construction is completed. 58 • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission POND MAINTENANCE RESOLVING COMMON POND PROBLEMS Extended periods of muddy water detracts from a pond's appearance, reduces food production for fish, eliminates aquatic vegetation and reduces oxygen.

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