recently I discovered a small pond out in the forest behind be. The pond seems to have no signs of fish life but has many frogs, tons of swarming insects, a few turtles, and lots of algae and plant life, a little too much. Also, the pond looks like to have had beaver which aren't around anymore. I want to revive the pond to bring back fish and have a healthy ecosystem, also so I can go fishing out in my forest. Any idea how to revive this pond?
If there are frogs and turtles the pond isn't dead it is just not as productive as it could be.
First thing to determine is the minimum and maximum depths so you can decide what types of fish can live in such a pond.
The algae can bring O2 to the party and what types of plant life is there, bull rushes and or cattails are good cover for fish as are lily pads (to a certain extent)
The easiest fish for most folks to start out with are the "bait" fish like shad and minnows, bait stores usually have these and they are nice and cheap to purchase.
These guys will keep the mosquito population down and start to bring back a pond to manageable fairly quickly if you add enough of them.
They are also great fish food for almost any species you might decide to stock later on.
Since I don't know where you are on the planet, I can't give you any depth suggestions but most "pan" fish can live in water less than 15 feet deep.
Black bass can also live in such water depth (or lack of it) but they require good oxygenation as do crappie.
Give me some more information and I can be of a lot more help to your restoration project.
I live in New England and the pond is around 12 yards by 3 yards. I have yet to discover the depths but I will go out and check when it stops raining, but I am very sure that it is less than 10ft deep. The pond has a sort of grass in the water near the banks similar to cattails but isn't as tall and doesn't have the distinct flower head. The pond also has lilypads, algae/plant (not sure) which grows underwater and floats up to the surface but never goes above the surface (picture of algae/plant below, that is not exactly it I just found a picture online that looked close to it). Also would I have to restock the pond every season as some lakes/ponds do?
I think it's important to know why it doesn't support fish currently. My best guess is that it's sometimes encounters an oxygen crash, because of the amount of decaying algae and other plant material. Frogs can breathe air and can make use of water that goes through huge swings in dissolved oxygen. Fish cannot do this. So, if you're looking to stock the pond, I think it would be wise to take oxygen readings just before dawn on several occasions. This is when levels are likely to become critically low. If the oxygen does crash, then the pond may need to have lots of slop removed from the bottom.
A friend of mine has a similar pond, and it looks like the water source is seepage from a swampy area (which I suspect might be a silted up natural spring). There is no visible water flow in or out.
Strangely enough, it is the winter time where things die and it gets stinky. It probably has to do with the ground freezing, which stops what little water flow there is.
I too aren't sure how to address this. I suspect that my best option is to dig around in the swampy area and see if I can find the theoretical spring. Then I can address the flow rate.
It looks like the beavers which lived there had clogged all openings for water to come through, but there aren't any definite streams it seems that the water comes out from the ground and the source of the water comes from a giant swamp, which is similar to Nick's friend's pond. A lady which I met at the pond told me that there once were fish in the pond a few years back but are gone now. And the pond water rises a lot in winter around 3 feet.
The stink in the winter can be explained by an inversion of the water. During the warm season, the pond water can be very stratified, with warm water on top and cold in the bottom. If there's lots of decaying material on the bottom, that can become a dead zone, containing anaerobic bacteria which stink. The layers don't mix because warm water is more buoyant . As cold weather sets in, the water on top becomes colder than the water at depth and it sinks, which causes the water at depth to be displaced. There are often fish kills associated with the time of inversion. This can happen because of stirred up toxins or just because it causes an oxygen crash. The deep water that is stirred up can be quite smelly. A bad smell is almost always indicative of anaerobic conditions.
12 yards by 3 yards is pretty small. Micro small. It's very likely that a pond like that dries out in the heat of the late summer/fall, which would account for the lack of fish. I might be tempted to call it a wetland rather than a pond. Throughout the midwest, there used to be millions of what people called "pot holes". As the land was turned into farmland, those pot holes were filled and smoothed over so that farmers wouldn't have to drive around them. As you drove across Nebraska, Western Minnesota, and the Dakotas, they were in every farm field—but not any more. It's a pity, as those millions of pot holes were a nursery for North Americas water foul.
It seems that you've got yourself a pot hole—a small naturally occurring wetland that might be the reminants of a beaver colony years ago.
If I wanted to breath new life into it, I'd start with an excavator and significantly expand it, if at all possible. Dig out the muck and pull back the biomass from the edges. But building ponds requires some engineering know-how or you can create the seeds of a disaster pretty quickly. As soon as you start building any sort of dam to hold water from moving down hill, you need to know what you are doing. But if you can just dig it out a bit and expand the foot print, it'll hold more water and will ultimately hold more life.
The first rule of permaculture is "observe and interact". I'd visit it regularly for a full calendar year before I'd do anything. See it in all seasons. Observe which was the water flows from to fill the pond, and which way it flows when the pond if filled. That'll give you a good sense for the potential for a small dam which would be necessary to raise the overall height of the water level.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
I did some research on the pond and found out that the old house next to it was actually used for fire training. My theory is that the pond used to have fish and then when they started fire training the chemicals leaked into the pond and killed the fish. Also, I do not think it can be a "pothole" as Marco described, because it is currently summer and the driest month of the year only has 9 days left, and the pond looks fine.
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