Ponds offer the homeowner many amenities such as fishing, swimming, wildlife habitat, beautification, erosion control, irrigation, and water sources for livestock. But like the old saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” and ponds cannot exist without the homeowner’s attention. Careful consideration of your pond will ensure that it provides you with many years of enjoyment.
A great resource for anyone with a pond, or anyone contemplating a new pond, is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife’s Ohio Pond Management Handbook. This reference covers construction, stocking, best management practices, aquatic vegetation, fish health, problems and solutions, and wildlife habitat. You can download a copy at http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/fish%20management/Pub432.pdf.
Fall is a popular time for stocking ponds. Knowing what type of fishing you desire, combined with the current condition of the pond, can assist with successful stocking and provide years of quality fishing. Pond fish usually include species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and catfish.
In addition to species for the dedicated angler, grass carp (also known as triploid white amur) can be purchased for biological control of pond vegetation. Before making such a purchase, we suggest you carefully consider the following:
• Do you have a problem with an overabundance of pond vegetation? Each person’s interpretation of what is “too much” is different. Some aquatic vegetation is essential for pond wildlife.
• If you feel the vegetation is interfering with your use of the pond, do you know what kind of vegetation is present? If not, you may take samples to the Ohio State University Extension office at 149 N. Sandusky St. in Delaware, for identification.
• According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, grass carp are, “unfortunately, like some young children,” eating what they want to eat, not necessarily what we want them to eat. They generally only consume submerged vegetation that has soft/tender, nonfibrous stems and leaves. Because of this, grass carp are not usually an effective solution to control pond algae. If you purchase grass carp, will they eat your particular problem pond weed or weeds?
• Grass carp are native to Asia, not to the United States. Purchase certified triploid (have an extra set of chromosomes) grass carp from a licensed fish propagator. Triploid grass carp are a sterile form of the species.
• Does your pond need a barrier or containment device on the outlets to prevent the escape of your grass carp? Although they are unable to reproduce, these fish live for years, can grow to lengths of five feet and weigh more than 80 pounds. If they escape from your pond, they could endanger desirable vegetative habitat in the streams and rivers downstream from your pond.
• Never release unwanted grass carp into natural waterbodies.
Whether you have a pond or are interested in building one, a list of informative publications about ponds, can be found on the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District’s website at soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us. This includes the Ohio Pond Management Handbook and Ohio Sea Grant’s fact sheet entitled, “Be a Responsible Grass Carp Owner.” You can also find details about our annual fish fingerling sale going on now.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us.