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Fish Stocking Guidelines
for Natural Earthen Bottom Ponds in Michigan
 
 
Are you satisfied with the numbers and size of fish you are catching in your pond?  Are you catching the type of fish you really want?  If not, then your pond fish population may be out of balance.  The relationship between your predator and prey species in your lake or pond, and the overall health of your water can be dramatically improved by taking the following steps. 
 
Step 1. Determine the Size of Your Pond. To determine use the following formulas:
Surface Area (Square Feet) = Pond Length (ft) x Pond Width (ft)
Total Acres = Square Feet of Surface Area/43,560
Example:
225 ft long  x 100 ft wide = 22,500 Sq Ft Surface Area
22,500/43,560 = 0.51 Acres
 
Step 2. Monitor Your Pond!   You are the manager of your pond and need to take proactive action in monitoring and recording the activities in your pond.  This includes:

 

  • Water Quality Testing: Test the levels of Ammonia, Nitrite, pH, Salt and Oxygen Levels on a regular basis.
  • Fish Catch: Record the date, types and size of fish caught. Identifying the current ratio of fish in your pond by species, as well as fish growth over time.
  • Fish Observation: Record the types and sizes of fish swimming in the pond, areas they are regularly seen; and frequency of feeding fish and amounts fed.
  • Weed and Algae Control: On a monthly basis record the types of weeds and algae growing in your pond and the dates types of treatments applied to control weed and algae growth.
  • Water Clarity Records:  Record on a regular basis how well you can see down in your pond.  This is often done by dropping a disc tied to a string down into the pond, and measuring how far you can lower the disc and still see it.
  • Pond Aeration: Type of aeration used, location and hours of operation.

Recording this information will help you identify changes or problem areas before they get out of control.

 
Step 3. Aerate Your Pond.  Aeration is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the health of your pond and pond fish.  Aeration is the process of adding oxygen to your pond water.  This can be accomplished through the use of an aerator fountain; aeration kit - which consist of an air pump, tubing and air stone(s) or air diffuser(s); or by building a waterfall.
The "engine" that drives everything within a body of water is the presence of oxygen in proper levels.  A pond's condition deteriorates when the environment in the bottom of the pond cannot support aquatic life.  The bottom is where the most oxygen is consumed and the farthest from the surface where it is replenished.  Without adequate oxygen at the bottom, beneficial bacteria do not break down the organic waste.  This results in increased layers of sediment (muck) on the bottom of the pond.  Simply put, without oxygen a pond cannot clean itself resulting in murky water, excessive weed growth and major "fish kills". 
So to enhance the health of your pond, be sure to add a pond aerator or fountain aerator.  A variety of aerators can be purchased through the Pond Place.  To determine what size aerator you need, you will need to know the Surface Area and depth of your pond.
See article about Earth Ponds, Aeration, and Bacteria CLICK HERE
 
Step 4. Obtain a Balance Between of Predator, Prey and Forage Species. The following guidelines are helpful for most ponds: 
  • Recommended Predator to Prey Ratio: Typically, a predator to prey ratio of about 4 to 1 is desired.

Predator species include: bass, catfish, trout and walleye.

Prey species include: bluegill, perch and crappies. Note: when prey fish are large in size they also act as predators.

Forage species include: fathead minnows.

  • Recommended Stocking Ratios: Below are fish stocking suggestions for different size ponds recommended by Stoney Creek Fisheries, Grant, MI. These examples assume a maximum stocking rate of 1000 fish/acre for an aerated pond.  If your pond is not aerated, reduce these stocking rates.
Stocking Recommendations:
 

Pond
Size
Species
Size
Number
1/4  
Blue Gill
2" - 4"
250
Acre     
Channel Catfish
4" - 6"
50
 
Perch
4" - 5"
50
 
Bass
3" -5"
25
 
Fathead Minnows      
Gallon        
1

 
 

Pond
Size
Species
Size
Number
1/2      
Blue Gill
2" - 4"
300
Acre
Channel Catfish
4" - 6"
75 
 
Perch
4" - 5"
75 
 
Bass
3" -5"
50 
 
Fathead Minnows      
Gallons      

 
 

Pond
Size     
     Species
Size
Number
1       
Blue Gill
2" - 4"
700
Acre   
Channel Catfish        
4" - 6"
100
 
Perch
4" - 5"
100
 
Bass
3" -5"
100 
 
Fathead Minnows     
Gallon s     

 
 
 
Step 5.  Determine if You Need a Permit to Stock Your Pond.  As a stocker of fish it is your responsibility to determine if your body of water will require a "Public Waters Stocking Permit" from the State of Michigan. For details on the permit process see article on Fish Stocking Permits.  Click link below:
 
 
 
 
The Pond Place of Michigan
3505 W. Highland Rd., Milford, MI
248-889-8400    www.pondplace.com

 

 

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