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Four Tips to Establish a Healthy Pond

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By Purina Animal Nutrition

To raise healthy game fish you need to provide the right environment for them to thrive.

There are four key elements which are considered ideal for a productive and healthy pond that is convenient to maintain. Use these as standards when constructing a new pond, or as guidelines to make improvements to your existing pond.

1. Pond Location

Check the location of your pond. It should be adjacent to a source of clean, clear water. Soil in this area should be at least 30% clay so it will hold water. The watershed should be large enough to keep the pond full - typically 10-30 times the size of the pond. If the watershed is too large, or too close to fertilized cropland or livestock pastures, consider building a ditch around part of the pond to divert some of the water.

2. Pond Structure

Next, look at the banks of your pond. The slope of the above-water banks should be 3:1 or 4:1 to make maintenance easier and to help prevent soil erosion. The minimum pond depth for underwater weed control is 3 feet; information on minimum depth to prevent winterkill in your area is available from local extension agents. Depth should be determined by comparing rainfall evaporation in your area. Maximum depth is what is reasonable for your pond’s location and, of course, your budget.

3. Pond Drainage

Install a drainpipe that drains the pond from the bottom to make management and maintenance easier. For example, drawing down the water level for three consecutive winters can reduce as much as 90% of undesirable submerged vegetation. Also, the number and size of harvestable game fish usually increases following drawdowns.

In order to protect the nutrient quality of your pond water, it is always better to divert excess water around rather than through your pond. You may also consider adding an emergency drainway in case of heavy rains; do consult your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for information and regulations in your area.

4. Pond Water Quality

There are five main factors that determine the overall quality of water in a given pond. These include:

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