Since I have an animal science degree, I like to think the pond is the pasture and fish are the livestock.
That is, the pond must grow enough forage/food for the fish. The more fish you harvest from the pond, the more forages the pond must grow.
Just like in a pasture situation, there are good forages and there are weeds (plants we don’t want in the pond).
There are plenty of good pond plants that fish use for food and shelter. There also are a few invasive plants, so learning how to identify those "weeds" is important.
After properly identifying the weed, learn how to treat it. In many cases, herbicides are unnecessary. Very often, grass carp or simply adding a pond dye will take care of minor issues.
Fish, like livestock, produce fertilizer for plants in the pond. If you have a light harvest of fish from the pond, you probably don’t need to fertilize the pond. If you plan to harvest fish regularly, you may decide to fertilize the pond.
If you decide to fertilize this year, continue fertilizing it in the future as the fish population will come to depend on regular fertilization. Don't fertilize ponds if commercial fish feed is used, in muddy or weedy ponds, or in ponds where fish populations are out of balance.
Fish stocking rates depend on which kind of pond you want. If you want a crystal clear, plant-free pond, don't have any fish.
Bass/bluegill ponds seem to be pretty popular here. However, consider this: Bass will eat smaller fish. That is why we generally suggest stocking the pond with bluegill and catfish in the fall and stocking bass the following spring.
Triploid grass carp — which can be used to control certain pond weeds — can only be bought with a Triploid Grass Carp Permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Find the application at www.myfwc.com and search for grass carp.
WHAT: Pond Management Workshop
WHEN: 6-8 p.m. June 30
WHERE: University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Science's Okaloosa County Extension Office, 3098 Airport Road in Crestview.
CONTACT: 689-5850, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the University of Florida's Extension office in Crestview.