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Advice from the UGA Extension: Fish pond management

Ponds are by far one of our most common questions here in Emanuel County. Like most things, fish ponds require proper management if you want to realize their full potential.

There are a few things that can be done to improve the quality of your pond:

• Fertilizing gives the water a slight green color that helps to shade out rooted aquatic weeds. This must be started, however, in early spring. Fertilizing a pond for the first time will also fertilize aquatic weeds, sometimes making the problem worse. A water test is needed to determine the proper fertilization requirements for your pond. You can bring a sample of the pond water to your local Extension office and get it tested to determine what nutrients are needed, and which ones to stay away from.

• It is important to note that fertilizing a pond will increase the total pounds of fish the pond can produce. It will not make the individual fish in the pond any bigger. The size of fish in a pond is often determined by fishing pressure and the relative numbers of bass and bream in the pond.

• Gas bubbles are also commonly seen rising from the pond water. This is an ordinary process, and should raise no concern. Carbon dioxide, Methane, and other natural gases are produced in a pond as organic matter breaks down. To reduce the amount of gas release, keep you pond free of grass clippings, fallen leaves, dying weeds, and other organic materials.

• Oxygen depletion usually becomes an issue in the summer. It is caused by the abundant use of aquatic weed killers. Heavy thunderstorms with strong winds can also cause oxygen depletion in a pond because the water turns over. The wind moves water, with a relatively low oxygen content, from the bottom of the pond to the surface. In these situations, there will frequently be a dramatic change in the water color and you may detect a putrid odor. Fish will be found near the surface early in the morning gasping for air. Providing aeration to the pond can correct this problem.

For more information about managing your pond, contact the Extension office.

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