Pond Management

Answers to common questions about managing your own pond or lake.

Since 1990, the primary focus of KDWPT has been to provide technical assistance on managing fish populations in ponds and information on where pond owners can purchase fish.

It is illegal for KDWPT to stock a private pond not open to the public for fishing. The department may stock privately owned ponds leased to the department through the F.I.S.H. program. Click here for more information.

The state does not sell fish. 

A list of Kansas fish growers is available at:  kansasaquaculture.org  for recommendations on stocking fish in your pond, click here.

All vegetation is not bad.

A certain amount is needed for good fish growth and protection. In fact fish will benefit from more vegetation than anglers will typically tolerate.  With that said, aquatic plants can become so abundant that they interfere with fishing, swimming, and boating. To control aquatic plants, it is important to know what type is causing problems.  For Information on plant identification, click here.

To cure the muddy water problem, the source of the turbidity should be identified. 

Often, the problem is a combination of factors.  Muddiness is usually caused by soil type, wind and erosion, or animal activity.  Many treatment methods are only temporary measures, and will probably have to be repeated each year.  Additional information on muddy water is available here.

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams.

They usually are present in low numbers. Blue-green algae can become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scum on the surface of the water.

The best way to avoid the problems associated with cyanobacterial blooms is to prevent blooms from forming. This can be done by reducing the input of nutrients, such as phosphates, into the water source or by aerating the water.

All ponds produce some natural food for fish.

The amount of food produced is a function of the pond's productivity.  Fish populations in most Kansas ponds are not harvested heavily enough to overtax natural food production. Supplemental feeding is thus not usually required, although in special cases feeding can be beneficial.  For more information, click here.

On some occasions in some ponds, noticeable mass mortalities of fish do occur.

Once dead fish are seen, it is usually too late to do anything, but knowing the possible causes can sometimes help the pond owner prevent fish kills from recurring or at least reduce their severity. For additional information on fish kill causes and solutions click here.

The pattern of mortality is usually the best indicator of a fish kill caused by pesticides or other chemicals.

In a chemical poisoning, small fish die sooner than large fish and all species of vertebrates including turtles and frogs are affected.  It is difficult to establish with certainty that fish mortality was related to chemical use. Analysis of water samples is expensive and time consuming, and chemicals will often break down by the time analysis is possible. For additional information on fish kill causes and solutions click here.

Muskrat and Beaver Control in Ponds

Sustained population control is the best damage prevention method available for both muskrat and beaver. Small, stable populations of muskrats and beaver will do little damage. Pond owners should not wait until furbearers become overabundant before initiating control, because by then the damage has been done.

Crayfish in Ponds

When a pond owner discovers that his pond has crayfish, an image of a leaky pond comes to mind, followed by thoughts of how to eradicate them without harming the fish. Without much effort, crayfish can be managed to provide benefits for the pond owner.  Having crayfish in a pond can be beneficial.   Crayfish burrows rarely cause ponds to leak. Controlling crayfish in established ponds is best done by stabilizing the water level.

Turtles in Ponds

Most pond owners and anglers view turtles as a threat to fish communities in ponds. Such is not the case. Turtles are primarily scavengers, feeding on dead or dying fish and other aquatic organisms. They thus serve to clean the pond more than cause harm, and should not be indiscriminately destroyed.

Frogs in Ponds

Frogs seldom are a problem because bass and other predators usually keep populations low. Bullfrog tadpoles can become a problem in channel catfish-only ponds or minnow ponds because they can become abundant. Excessive numbers of tadpoles can be reduced by seining, and the adults can be eliminated by capturing them during the legal frogging season.

First, make sure that the pond is actually leaking. 

In Kansas, evaporation can be expected to range from about 4 feet per year in the eastern part of the state to about 6 feet per year in the west. Almost all ponds will leak to some degree, especially new ponds.  The pond owner can determine his pond?s leakage rate by measuring the water level drop with a marked stick during a period of cold or very humid, calm weather.  Techniques are available to seal the leaky and potentially leaky areas. Most sealing techniques are expensive and require considerable work.  Materials and methods for sealing a leaking pond can be found here.