The first step is to imagine your pond as one big, watery garden. Just like tomato plants, the fish in your pond need nutrients to grow big and, well, juicy. If your pond is low in nitrogen and phosphorous, or the pH is out of balance, then you will have trouble growing fish. For an in-depth perspective on this subject, check out my article with Dr. Wes Neal in the May 2017 issue of Pond Boss.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to the basics in this column. Simply put, your pond will grow more and bigger fish if you keep the pH under control and provide adequate amounts of limiting nutrients; most commonly nitrogen and phosphorous. When talking about pH, we need to bring one more word into our vocabulary: alkalinity. Alkalinity is the measure of amount of negatively charged ions in the water. When alkalinity is low, the pH of the water swings widely from acidic to basic and is stressful on fish, which means they grow slowly. But not to worry, this problem can be corrected the same way your neighbor buffers their garden – add lime. Not just any lime, but agricultural lime, at a rate of about 2-3 tons per acre.
Stay tuned for the next part in this series as we discuss the second part of the garden equation -fertilizing.