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Does a pond need fish?

 
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Hey all! We are turning our low spot (which is a pond anyway in monsoon season) into a year-round pond and I was wondering if it is possible to create a balanced system without adding in fish? We will be planting lotus and some other water plants for eating. Can we use cow manure as fertilizer if needed for the plants?

Thanks!
Jo
 
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Frogs!  They don't need much room.  When they get too big, they hop away to go eat bugs in your garden.  Otherwise, the tadpoles will obviously reach a balance with whatever plants are available to eat.  Throw in some duckweed until everything gets established.
 
Joellen Anderson
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Hey! Great We already get frogs in that spot in monsoons, so it shouldn't be an issue. Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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One thing I'd be concerned about is mosquitoes. Without various predators to eat their larvae, mosquitoes will start breeding in water. The most effective predators of mosquito larvae are fish (gambusia sp.).
 
pollinator
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You need something that will eat mosquito larvae. When we installed our pond we had a mosquito explosion. We added some goldfish and they ate every larvae within a week.
 
Joellen Anderson
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Hmm and we will have a huge problem with mosquitoes. Do frogs eat their larvae too?
 
Michael Cox
pollinator
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Not sure. They certainly weren't keeping up in our case, but that might have been because the pond was new and the ecosystem wasn't established. You want tiny fish for keeping mosquitoes down; no need for anything large.
 
chip sanft
pollinator
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Gambusia ("mosquitofish") are tiny and hardy. They're like wild guppies.
 
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We've lived with two different ponds, each for ten to fifteen years or so...they were old, probably built forty to fifty years ago.  Both had no fish and no mosquitoes.  They both  had a healthy frog population and huge amounts of dragon flies (whose larva, I understand, eat mosquito larva).  The second pond also had snapping turtles and some kind of reed on one edge.  It went completely dry only once in the fifteen years we were there and came back just as mosquito free.  The year we moved away, lily pads showed up and no one has a clue how they ended up there.  The first pond had herons visit frequently.  

We never got around to doing anything with either pond, always low on our priorities, so I can't say how to end up mosquito free...it wasn't anything we did
I think if ponds are allowed to develop their own ecosystem naturally this is where one would end up though.  

Neither pond was ever used by livestock that I know of.

I remember carefully looking for mosquito larva at each pond and being surprised that there was none.....


EDIT...and as Mary says in the post below, BATS and BIRDS!  We've always had a healthy bat population and a variety of birds. I think both might be as important as  everything else.
 
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We had a pond dug on a previous property. The frogs and snapping turtles moved in about day one. We bought fish (bass and bluegill) to stock it. They (fish) and the turtles ate them fairly quickly until we were down to a handful and finally one. The pond was spring-fed and the overflow went into the stream. We never had mosquitoes but that might have been due to the bats in the evening and barn swallows in the day. We are always careful about standing water that could become host to mosquito larvae.
 
Joellen Anderson
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Thanks everyone for all the great information! We have lots of frogs, bats, and birds in Himachal, so I have high hopes that mosquitoes won't be an issue (they are in our cow troughs, but the frogs don't get in there and it is hardly a healthy ecosystem)! I will try without fish and see what happens.

Thank you again!
 
gardener
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Guppies (at least in my area) find their way Into ponds on their own. Im not sure how, maybe eggs stick to birds and they spread them?

My pond is fed from a seasonal creek/spring. It flowed all year but just dried this weekend. Crawdads, guppies, snakes, frogs, and turtles are in the pond now. It was cool to find a new species in the pond.

I'm not truly balanced yet. Still getting algae blooms. This is the third year.
 
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