Earthen Pond Management in Fish Farming
What you need to know:
Terrain: Fish ponds should be constructed in areas with a slope of not more than 1 per cent and near a steady water source. This helps to use gravity in inflow and draining of the ponds. Higher inclinations increases the cost of construction and predisposes the ponds to collapse of dykes.
Draining the pond is a routine management practice intended to help in preventing overflowing, harvesting, eradicating predators, de-silting, and improving the bottom conditions of the pond. The drainage should be from where the pond is deepest.
Tilapia fingerings are omnivorous, feeding mainly on tiny water organisms as well as dead organic matter (detritus) and as they increase in size, they become entirely herbivorous and feed on small water plants. Similarly, at young stages the catfish and common carp fingerings are omnivorous and as they increase in size, they become predatory.
Read also: Aquaculture methods: good fish,Bad fish
Tips on Earthen Pond Management
There are several tips to manage your earthen pond for maximum profiting. Similarly, manage ponds from external predators and fish parasite are major was for maximum fish growth. Below are some tips to boost your fish farming business.
Firstly, some ponds benefit from the occasional addition of lime. Likewise, Ponds with very soft, acidic water (less than 20 parts per million total alkalinity) will not be very productive.
Similarly, Liming your pond enhances pond fertilization. Ponds with acidic waters (water having a low pH value) are common in many areas of North Carolina. Fishing will be poor if the pH is below 6.0. A pH value between 6.5 and 9.0 is perfect for fish ponds.
Furthermore, water pH and alkalinity measurement with inexpensive water testing kits available from most swimming pool supply stores, is a means to cut cost.
The soil analysis you receive will indicate how much lime your pond needs. As a general rule, about one ton of agricultural lime per acre is required to raise the pH one point.
Furthermore, distributed lime evenly over entire pond. A common method for applying lime is to shovel it or wash it from a plywood platform while moving around the pond in a boat. Late fall or early winter is the best time to apply lime.
Likewise, a typical pond requires retreatment with lime every 3 to 4 years, although ponds with high rates of inflow and outflow require more frequent applications.
New ponds are easiest to lime while they are still empty. Before the pond is filled collect soil samples for analysis following the procedure described above. Lime, if required, can be spread over the bottom of the pond and disked in before the land is flooded.
Read also: Fertilizer for fish ponds: tips for fertilizing a pond with fish in it
Calcium Hydroxide Not Recommended
Don’t use Hydrated or builder’s lime (calcium hydroxide) because, it is caustic and has the potential to increase pH too quickly. This can result to high mortality in fish.
Oftentimes, if fish are not present or if agricultural lime is not readily available, applied hydrated lime carefully at the rate of 50 pounds per surface acre. Similarly, if you use hydrated lime, retreat ever few months.
A typical pond supports 100 to 150 pounds of fish per acre. Fertilization can double or triple this production by stimulating the growth of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton), which comprise the base of the food chain. These organisms are fed upon by insects and small fish, which provide forage for larger game fish.
Similarly, Pond fertilization can, however, have negative side effects. Excessive fertilization can create noxious algal blooms. In addition, the decomposition of dead algae during summer months can cause low oxygen levels, which may cause fish kills during extended periods of cloudy weather.
Fertilization is an advanced pond management option that definitely is not recommended for everyone. Ponds that are naturally fertile, have high flow rates. Furthermore, don’t fertilize heavy fishing pressure. Similarly, Fertilization can increase productivity, but it takes time and money. Furthermore, most be done rightly.
Is Fertilization Beneficial?
As a general guide, you can determine whether fertilization may be beneficial by the water clarity. If a light-colored or shiny object, such as your hand or a small (6-inch) pie tin or lid can be seen clearly 18 inches under water, fertilizing is an option.
Guide To Fertilization
Before beginning a fertilization program, measure the pH and hardness of the water, or have the pond mud analyzed, as described above. Ponds with alkalinity below 20 parts per million usually don’t respond to fertilization, and need to be limed first.
Apply lime at least 2 weeks (preferably several months) before fertilization. For many ponds, liming as necessary may support adequate pond productivity without fertilization.
How Over Do I Fertilize My Pond?
Once begun, continuously fertilize your pond yearly. Discontinuing fertilization will affect fish populations by reducing the food supply and will encourage the growth of filamentous algae and other undesirable aquatic vegetation. It is better not to fertilize at all than to do so in a random manner.
Do not fertilize ponds that have extensive shallow areas. Do not apply fertilizer to ponds with weeds already present, as the fertilizer will promote weed growth and compound the problem.
When should i fertilize?
Begin fertilization in spring when water temperatures reach 60°F. Because ponds differ greatly, the number of applications of fertilizer needed per year cannot be predicted.
Usually two to three applications, spaced two weeks apart, are required for a plankton bloom (greenish color) to develop. After the initial application, apply additional fertilizer whenever water clarity exceeds 18 inches to maintain a bloom until late summer or fall.
Fertilization may not be effective in ponds with high flow rates, muddy water, or stained water. If a bloom does not develop after the third application, consult a biologist.
What kinds of fertilizers are available?
Several types of liquid, soluble powder, and granular pond fertilizers are available. Most agricultural fertilizers do not have the best combination of nutrients for ponds.
They include components that are unnecessary and may stimulate an undesirable type of algae. Use the following types of fertilizers and application them with this rates:
Read also: Benefits of integrated fish farming systems
Types of Application Rate
- water soluble powder (10-52-4, 12-49-6) 4 pounds per acre
- liquid (10-34-0) 1 gallon per acre
- granular (20-20-5) 40 pounds per surface acre
Generally, water soluble powder and liquid fertilizers are the easiest to apply and most economical. Soluble powder fertilizer requires the least labor because it goes into solution immediately and can be applied directly to the pond without mixing with water first.
Because liquid fertilizer is heavier than water, it should always be mixed with water (one part of fertilizer to five parts of water) before application.
It is best to siphon or pour diluted liquid fertilizer from a container while moving over the pond in a boat. If this method cannot be used, the diluted fertilizer can be sprayed or splashed around the edge of the pond, although this sometimes encourages the growth of undesirable algae and weeds. Do not use liquid fertilizers having a petroleum base.
Supplemental feeding can be used to increase the growth of fish and harvesting rates of ponds. Feeding is not necessary for most ponds, as an adequate quantity of natural food organisms (insects, worms, and crustaceans) are present to support fish populations.
In small, infertile ponds, supplemental feeding may be preferable to fertilization for increasing productivity. Feeding is not recommended for fertilized ponds.
Bluegills and channel catfish will readily take feed, whereas bass usually do not. However, some commercial hatcheries sell “trained” bass cultured to consume artificial feed.
Feed only between spring and fall when the water temperature exceeds 65°F. Stop feeding if the water temperature is greater than 90oF, as fish will generally not feed at higher temperatures. It is best to place the feed in the pond daily at several locations.
Feed only the amount that the fish consume in about 10 to 15 minutes and no more than 10 pounds per acre per day. Excessive feeding can cause fish kills because the decomposition of uneaten feed depletes the oxygen supply. Discontinue feeding if the fish stop accepting the feed. Automatic and demand feeders are commercially available.
Be sure to continue a feeding program once you have started it. If feeding is discontinued while the fish are still accepting feed, there are more fish than the natural food supply can support, resulting in stunted fish of poor quality. Occasional feeding will do little to increase fish growth
Several commercial feed preparations are available in either floating or sinking varieties. Although more expensive, floating feed makes it possible to observe the extent and duration of feeding. Floating feed are placed in floating plastic rings that prevent the pellets from washing ashore. Don’t use Moldy feed, because, some contain fish toxic
Various devices are used in ponds to concentrate fish and improve fishing. Best results are obtained in ponds that are devoid of natural cover such as stumps, tree tops, and aquatic vegetation. The devices should be located within casting distance of the shoreline or piers. Floats are used to mark the location of the devices.
Furthermore, Use any available woody material to make a brush pile. Again, the more vertical the pile, the better. Cedar and discarded Christmas trees can be set into cement blocks, secured with polypropylene rope, and set upright on the pond bottom. Several trees located together work better than single trees. Similarly, replaced Brush piles every few years.
Furthermore, drive any type of wooden stakes into the pond bottom or nailed to a weighted frame and sunk. Place stakes 6 to 8 inches apart. Likewise, cover bed area with about 200 square feet.
The stakes should extend from the shoreline into water that is from 6 to 8 feet deep. The tops of the stakes should extend out of the water so they can be located easily. Pieces of plastic pipe are used in place of stakes.
Tires are used to construct a satisfactory permanent structure. Likewise, prepare it properly. First slit them to allow them to sink and prevent them from floating around the pond. Then tie them together with polypropylene rope to keep them in position. Adding one or two cement blocks to the bundle will help stabilize it.
The higher the structure is above the bottom of the pond, the more cover it will afford. Oftentimes, Pyramid-shaped bundles are used. Tires tossed in a pond at random will either wash ashore or silt in and provide no fishery benefits. Furthermore, cover tires with brush to further increase their attractiveness to fish.
Read also: Seven secrets of catfish farmers
Water Management in Earthen Pond during Dry Season
The fact that catfishes do well in earthen pond during wet season is not contestable. Many factors are responsible for excellent performance of catfishes at this period of the year.
Apart from the availability of sufficient surface water to refresh the polluted ponds, ground water has a way of replenishing the stagnant ponds. This means that water plays a vital role in ensuring that catfishes perform well.
What do we do when water is not available in sufficient quantity due to seasonal changes? As a matter of fact, water management can be a very difficult task in dry season.
Water in earthen pond may not be as fresh as most farmers have during the wet season, especially when the source of the water to the farm is seasonal. Below are some of the tips you can use to manage your water for maximum performance in dry season.
1. Control Stocking: The first step at ensuring good water quality during dry season is to reduce the number of fishes put into the pond. Meanwhile, the stocking capacity of pond can be reduced or increased based available water.
It will not be a bad idea to reduce slightly the number of fishes usually stocked in a pond. This will ensure that oxygen and other beneficiary plant in the pond are not used up on time, and it will also reduce the level of pollution that can cause mortality.
Since poor water management has been linked with increased rate of mortality. Therefore, if your pond carriage capacity in raining season is 3,000 juveniles, it will be a wise decision to reduce your stock to 2,000 or at most 2,200 juveniles.
2. Control Feeding: Locally pelletized sinking feed can be a major source of pollution to your ponds if you as a farmer are yet to understand the dynamism of catfish feeding. Overfeeding, apart from being an economic waste, can cause a lot of problem to good water management practice during dry season.
Therefore the best practice is to monitor your feeding during this period of no rain. To get rid of any doubt as regards overfeeding, you can reduce the quantity of normal feed given to your fishes by at least 10 percent.
3. Control Choice of Ingredients: Farmers should be in control of ingredients used in formulation of their sinking feed at the period of water shortage. The reason for this is that certain ingredients can change water color and quality when dissolved in water.
Avoid too much of oily feed at this period of the year. I will also suggest that farmers should limit or avoid the use of blood meal when there is not enough water to refresh your polluted pond. For those using pelletized sinking feed, make sure that your pellets are firm and well dried before use.
If possible, I will suggest that farmers use floating feed machine to pelletize their locally formulated feed in other to be in control of their feeding.
4. Control Loss of Water: Maximizing the use of available water during dry season is the key to effective and efficient water management. Drain pipes should be handled with utmost care in order not to lose available water.
Evaporation control can also be put in place by planting Banana trees around your ponds. Also, waste water from ponds can be recycled through natural sedimentation in an empty pond and reused after some days.
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