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Pond Maintenance Principles Aquatic Plants and Algae Water Quality Fisheries Miscellaneous Problems Structural Maintenance Aquatic Plants and Algae Aquatic Plant and Algae Control Physical/Mechanical Control Biological Control Chemical Control Physical/Mechanical Control

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pond maintenance principles
Pond Maintenance Principles
  • Aquatic Plants and Algae
  • Water Quality
  • Fisheries
  • Miscellaneous Problems
  • Structural Maintenance
aquatic plant and algae control
Aquatic Plant and Algae Control
  • Physical/Mechanical Control
  • Biological Control
  • Chemical Control
physical mechanical control
Physical/Mechanical Control
  • frequently overlooked!
  • cutting, raking, mowing, digging, pulling
    • most effective for small quantities near shore
    • usually need to repeat several times per year
    • need to harvest plants and algae if possible
    • mechanical harvesters for larger lakes ($$)
  • drawdown
    • best during freezing temperatures
  • aeration
    • most effective on algae
biological control
Biological Control
  • triploid grass carp (white amur)
  • prefer submerged aquatic plants
      • pondweeds, naiads, elodea, coontail, muskgrass
      • little control of algae and other plants
  • thrive in warm water (68°F+)
  • can reach 25 pounds or more
  • may cause discoloration of water by waste
  • sterile fish must be stocked
  • permit required (1 to 15 per acre)
  • koi, carp not recommended
chemical control
Chemical Control
  • widely used (and abused!!)
  • must carefully calculate pond area or volume
  • identify target plant/algae
  • select appropriate herbicide
  • obtain state permit
  • read and follow label carefully!
  • treat < 50% of pond area or spot treat
  • start in shallowest part of pond
  • may cause fish kills in sensitive species
for use in pa waters a chemical must be
For use in PA waters, a chemical must be:
  • EPA registered as a pesticide
  • PA Dept. Agriculture listed
  • Labeled for aquatic use
permit to apply a herbicide
Permit to Apply a Herbicide
  • joint PAFBC and DEP permit
  • name and location of water body
  • use of water
  • species of fish present
  • total and treated area of water
  • average depth of water body
  • name of plant (or fish) to be controlled
  • commercial and manufacture’s name of chemical
  • dosage of chemical to be applied (label)
  • number of treatments to be made in year
  • output of water body
  • required for private or public waters
  • effective for current calendar year
chemical control identify your problem
Chemical Control – Identify Your Problem
  • Algae
  • Submerged Aquatic Plants
  • Emergent Plants
  • Floating Plants
algae control
Algae Control
  • Copper Compounds
    • very effective at 0.25 to 0.5 ppm
    • disrupts cell membrane
    • more toxic in soft and acidic water
    • may kill sensitive fish (trout, catfish, carp)
  • Dyes
    • block sunlight (blue/yellow dyes)
    • preventative
    • safe for fish but “artificial” appearance

Floating-leaf Pondweed

Curly-leaf Pondweed

Large-leaf Pondweed

Thin-leaf Pondweed

submerged plant control
Submerged Plant Control
  • Hydrothol 191 (monopotassium endothall)
  • Aquathol-K (dipotassium endothall)
    • contact stops photosynthesis, can’t eat fish-3 days
  • Weedtrine-D (diquat dibromide)
  • Reward (diquat dibromide)
    • absorbed and stops photosynthesis, degrades fast
  • Sonar SRP (fluridone)
    • absorbed by leaves and roots, inhibits carotene
  • Komeen (elemental copper)
    • inhibits cell growth
emergent plant control
Emergent Plant Control
  • Rodeo (glyphosate)
    • moves through plant from contact to roots
    • eventually causes death of plant
  • Weedtrine (2,4-D)
    • plant cells divide rapidly exhausting food source
    • roots lose ability to take up nutrients
    • death from several disturbances of plant



floating plant control
Floating Plant Control
  • Rodeo (glyphosate)
    • moves through plant from contact to roots
    • eventually causes death of plant
  • AquaKleen/Aquacide/Navigate (2,4-D)
    • plant cells divide rapidly exhausting food source
    • roots lose ability to take up nutrients
    • death from several disturbances of plant
  • Sonar A.S. (fluridone)
    • absorbed by leaves and roots, inhibits carotene
chemical control summary
Chemical Control - Summary
  • Algae
    • copper compounds or dyes
  • Submerged Aquatic Plants
    • endothall, diquat, fluridone, copper?
  • Emergent Plants
    • glyphosate, 2,4-D
  • Floating Plants
    • glyphosate, 2,4-D, fluridone



trade name vs active ingredient
Trade Name vs. Active Ingredient
  • 2,4-D
    • AquaKleen, Aquacide, Navigate, Weedtrine II
  • Glyphosate
    • Rodeo
  • Fluridone
    • Sonar, Sonar AS
  • Elemental Copper
    • Cutrine Plus, Earthtec, K-Tea, Lescocide-Plus
  • Diquat
    • Reward, Weedtrine
pond water quality34
Pond Water Quality
  • controlled by:
    • source of water (spring, stream, surface runoff)
    • geology, soils
    • land-use and other nearby activities **
  • water quality requirements depend on pond use
    • human or animal drinking water
    • swimming
    • fishing
    • aesthetics
ponds for drinking water
Ponds for Drinking Water
  • not a common source of drinking water in PA
  • all ponds will require treatment for drinking
  • coliform bacteria occur in all ponds
    • from soil, septic system, animal waste, wildlife
    • some bacteria may cause gastrointestinal illnesses
    • disinfection is necessary
how common are the problems
How Common are the Problems?

(Hill et al. 1962)

unless treated with copper herbicides

ponds for drinking water38
Ponds for Drinking Water
  • protozoans
    • giardia, cryptosporidium
  • nitrate
    • from fertilizers, manure, septic systems
    • drinking water standard = 10 mg/L as NO3-N
  • pesticides
    • highest during or shortly after application due to drift or surface runoff
  • blue green algae
    • treat with algacide but follow label directions
aesthetic drinking water problems
Aesthetic Drinking Water Problems
  • odor and taste
    • usually due to decay of organic material
  • muddy water
    • find source, chemical additions, or filtration
  • metals (iron, manganese)
  • pH
    • recommend 6.5 to 8.5 (low more common than high)
    • low pH may cause corrosive water
  • hardness
    • calcium and magnesium (especially high pH ponds)
ponds for animal watering
Ponds for Animal Watering
  • similar problems but less stringent standards
  • nitrate-N should be less than 100 mg/L
  • fecal coliform bacteria
    • <10 per 100 ml for adults, absent for calves
  • blue-green algae - toxins
  • pH should be 5.1 to 9.0 for dairy cows
  • watch use of aquatic herbicides (copper)
  • iron and manganese - taste problem
  • sulfate < 250 mg/L (mining)
pond water quality for fish
Pond Water Quality for Fish
  • temperature
    • all fish have temperature preferences and lethal thresholds
    • Difficult to control - match fish to temperature regime
    • used to determine fish spawning times
  • dissolved oxygen
    • normal = 10-15 mg/L
    • warmwater fish like D.O. > 3 mg/L
    • coldwater fish like D.O. > 5 mg/L
    • depletion caused by decay of organic matter
    • most common cause of fish kills in ponds
pond water quality for fish42
Pond Water Quality for Fish
  • pH
    • can be treated with occasional chemical additions
    • warmwater fish (pH 6 to 9), coldwater (pH 5 to 9)
    • low pH may cause stunted growth of fish
  • aquatic herbicides
    • can be toxic to fish (especially young fish)
    • obtain a permit and read the label carefully
  • herbicide runoff
    • some very toxic to fish
    • especially high following first rain after application
pond water quality for swimming
Pond Water Quality for Swimming
  • coliform bacteria
    • 2000 total coliform bacteria per 100 ml of water
    • 200 fecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml
  • odor
  • turbidity
  • swimmers itch
    • free swimming parasite
    • controlled with copper sulfate
water quality for aquatic herbicides
Water Quality for Aquatic Herbicides
  • hardness
    • affects dose of some chemicals
  • temperature
    • some labels recommend temperature
    • 60 to 75 F
    • can be used to predict fish spawning
pond water quality for aesthetics
Pond Water Quality for Aesthetics
  • odor
    • occurs in about 5% of ponds usually during summer
    • increases with depth water taken from
    • usually from anaerobic decay of plants, algae
  • muddy water
    • most common problem, especially in new ponds
    • other causes - muskrats, crayfish, fish, livestock, waterfowl, zooplankton and wind action
    • control - remove the source?
    • If control is not possible, chemicals may work (ground limestone, hydrated lime, gypsum, alum)
water testing options
Water Testing Options
  • use DEP certified labs
  • drinking (human or animal)
    • coliform bacteria, pH, nitrate, hardness, pesticides?
  • swimming
    • fecal and total coliform bacteria
  • fishing
    • temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, pesticides?
  • aquatic herbicides
    • hardness, temperature
what can you do
What Can You Do?
  • strictly limit activities on pond watershed
    • maintain vegetated buffer strip around pond
    • limit fertilizer, manure and pesticide use near pond
    • properly site and maintain septic systems
  • use diversion ditches and land grading to divert contaminated surface water
  • use aquatic herbicides with care
  • aeration may be helpful in some cases
  • water treatment works in some cases
  • get water tested
water quality summary
Water Quality - Summary
  • Use of water critical!
  • Temperature
    • affects spawning and provides clue of when newly hatched fish are present
    • vital for trout
    • important for use of chemicals (60°F - 75°F)
  • Dissolved Oxygen
    • critical for fish survival
    • normal = 10-15 mg/L, fish require 3 to 5 mg/L
    • low DO - fish gulp at surface, snails/crayfish leave water
water quality summary49
Water Quality - Summary
  • pH
    • less important than DO
    • optimum = 6.5 to 8.5, fish survive in 5 to 9
    • low pH linked to stunted growth of fish
  • Nutrients
    • cause plant and algae growth
  • Hardness
    • influences effectiveness of herbicides
  • Agricultural Chemicals
    • drift or runoff of especially insecticides a problem
    • proper timing of spraying and buffer strips help
nutrient management
Nutrient Management
  • N and P cause increased plant and algae growth
  • Sources
    • runoff from barnyards, cropland, feedlots
    • sewage systems
    • managed turf (golf courses, developments)
  • Control (BMP’s) - impact will not be immediate!
    • redirect runoff
    • reduce fertilizer use
    • buffer strips (tall grass or forests)
    • maintain on-lot septic systems
bass bluegill ponds
Bass-Bluegill Ponds
  • most common and most successful option
  • thrive in warmer water (77 - 86° F)
  • dissolved oxygen > 3 mg/L, pH 6 to 9
  • stocking (per acre)
    • 100 largemouth fingerlings (2 year old)
    • 400 bluegill fingerlings (1 year old)
    • stock in the fall
  • requires management!
i have lots of small bluegill and just a few large bass
“I have lots of small bluegill and just a few large bass”

cause: bass over-harvest, bluegill under-harvest

  • large bass were continually removed allowing more bluegill to survive which in turn eat bass eggs and fry until they become limited by food


  • encourage bluegill harvest and limit bass harvest
    • limit bass harvest to fish > 15 inches
    • harvest 15 bluegill per bass (6 pounds bluegill per pound bass)
    • stock 50-100 bass fingerlings per year until better
other options
Other Options
  • bass only
    • 150-200 fall fingerlings
    • add 8-10 adults bass in spring before spawn
    • great for lots of 9-12 inch bass
  • bass/shiner
    • summer stocking 100 bass, 400 golden shiners
    • faster bass growth, aquatic plants helpful
  • bass/catfish
    • 500 catfish, 1,000 fathead minnows in Feb-Mar
    • 100 bass fingerlings added in May-July
other fish species
Other Fish Species
  • shiners - need to be continually stocked
  • perch - prolific, spawn before bass, ice fishing!
  • pike, muskie, walleye - not for ponds
  • channel catfish – spawning and survival unpredictable
  • sunfish - lower winter survival, slower growing
  • bullhead catfish -prone to stunting and overcrowding, may muddy the water
  • crappie - some success in PA
trout in ponds
Trout in Ponds
  • not well suited to most PA ponds
  • like cold water with dissolved oxygen > 5 mg/L and pH of 5 to 9
  • cannot compete with warmwater fish
  • “put and take” option
    • stock catchable size trout in spring
    • fish them out before water warms (June)
kinds of trout
Kinds of Trout
  • brook trout
    • like colder water (50-60°F)
    • easier to catch, better eating?
  • rainbow trout
    • better fighting fish
    • moderately easy to catch
  • brown trout
    • can withstand warmer water
    • much harder to catch
permanent trout ponds
Permanent Trout Ponds
  • need the right kind of pond
    • reliable source of cool water
    • shaded, 10 to 15 feet of depth
  • stock only trout!
  • stock 600 fall fingerlings or 2,000 spring
  • natural losses of nearly 100% in three years
  • stock fall fingerlings every two years
  • will not reproduce
miscellaneous topics
Miscellaneous Topics
  • supplemental feeding
  • liming/fertilization
  • pond regulations
  • adding fish structure
fish kills in ponds
Fish Kills in Ponds
  • oxygen depletion
    • most common cause
    • typically from decay of organic material
  • pesticides
    • runoff or drift from fields after rain
    • improper treatment with aquatic herbicide
  • cotton wool disease
    • occurs in spring around spawning time
    • soil bacteria infects bluegill, bullhead, crappie
  • winter kill
    • shallow ponds with persistent ice and snow cover
pond leaks
Pond Leaks
  • Avoid with proper design and construction!
  • Sealing products
    • Bentonite (one pound/ft2)
      • disc into soil 3 or 4 inches, swells when wet
      • better for coarse textured soils
    • Sodium polyphosphate (0.05 lbs./ft2)
      • white granular form, mix to 8” then compact
      • breaks soil into fine particles
    • blanket of clay
      • 6 inches in depth and compact, refill pond quickly
  • build dens in banks 6-18” below surface
  • burrow extends upward into bank
  • may cause leaks and collapse in poorly designed ponds
  • riprapping shoreline with large gravel from one foot above to 3 feet below water surface
  • may be killed for property destruction in PA
muddy water
Muddy Water
  • common especially in new ponds (exposed soil)
  • other reasons - muskrats, crayfish, fish, livestock, waterfowl, zooplankton, wind action, etc.
  • control - remove cause?
  • precipitating by chemical addition (per acre)
    • 1,000 lbs. ground agricultural limestone
    • 740 lbs. hydrated lime
    • 1,000 lbs. agricultural gypsum (not as good)
    • 250 lbs. aluminum sulfate (alum)
    • 2 lbs. copper sulfate (zooplankton)
swimmer s itch
Swimmer’s Itch
  • not common but occasionally found in PA
  • free-swimming parasite that burrows under skin and causes itch and rash
  • develops mostly in snails in pond
  • must control snails
    • redear sunfish (shellcrackers)
    • Copper sulfate at 4 mg/L will kill snails but also kills fish
ducks and geese
Ducks and Geese
  • provide viewing pleasure

and control some plants

  • coliform bacteria from waste can be a problem for swimming
  • try to maintain <2 ducks/geese per acre
  • eliminate if using for water supply
  • migrational stops generally not a problem
  • flat, dark-colored, parasite
  • attach to swimmers, fish, birds
  • harmless but frightening and detract from swimming use
  • need 5 mg/L of copper sulfate treatment
  • this treatment will kill fish!
  • partial treatment (< 20% of pond area) of swimming area best but temporary
pond maintenance
Pond Maintenance
  • Conduct a routine inspection of the pond
  • Check dam structure
    • Ensure complete grass cover
    • Fix any erosion
    • Cut grass and keep weeds, brush, and trees from growing on the dam
    • Check for signs of minor leaks before they get big!
  • Remove floating debris
  • Check overflow inlet and outlet for debris
  • Check for and repair erosion on spillway
  • Inspect and repair any fences around pond
  • Maintain roads for vehicle access (fire)