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From the Dock – August 2012

When I joined Texoma Hatchery’s team, Bob and Chad were swamped with field service.  Bob assigned me to answering office inquiries, qualifying customer requests, and referring them to the appropriate staff member.

During one of my first projects, a caller advised his pond was full of vegetation and wanted it treated chemically. I promptly called Bob to relay the message.  He said, “Vegetation is a “symptom” of an underlying problem.  What’s the problem?”

My rookie reply, “Excess vegetation”.

Bob chuckled, “But there’s a reason for the excess vegetation. It must have sunlight, nutrients and certain temperatures to thrive. Let’s go see”.  He turned that field excursion into a teachable moment that sent my learning curve spiraling off the chart.

Sure enough, Bob found the water abnormally clear.  Sunlight was reaching the bottom to stimulate plant growth.  As suspected, clear water and direct sunlight were the true culprits. Excess vegetation merely was the byproduct or “symptom” of those conditions.

The solution was timely fertilization to establish a plankton bloom in the upper portion of the water column.  Bob explained the plankton layer acts as a sun block to limit light reaching plants.  It also provides a valuable, natural food chain for newly hatched fish.

After eliminating the vegetation’s problematic energy source, we treated select zones to bolster desired fish habitat.  Bass gained more areas to feed.  Certain cover was left as safe havens for baitfish to survive predation and provide future generations of forage.  Had Bob only sprayed the area without analyzing it, we would have returned every 30-days to retreat new growth. Instead of a frustrated customer, we made a long-time friend who referred several neighbors for pond management improvements.

Do you have a “symptom” of above average algae or pond scum?  The actual problem is high nutrient levels.  It can require treating algae week after week with expensive chemicals.  If you can’t eliminate nutrient inflow, the best fix is perhaps a combination of bottom aeration, microbes, and tilapia.  Constant circulation to the surface releases negative matter and continually cleanses water.  Fish have improved water quality top to bottom.

Did your pond originally have good clarity, but now stays murky?  Before applying gypsum or aluminum sulfate to clear it, let’s make sure something else didn’t spawn the “symptom” that led to poor clarity.  Maybe bottom-feeding fish such as carp or catfish migrated in during flooding and now stir up bottom sediment?  Are livestock wading in the pond? Don’t prematurely pursue corrective action until you’re sure what’s causing the problem.

In such cases, Bob and Chad collect a water sample to see if rogue particles settle out or remain suspended?  If they settle and the sample clears, something like fish, livestock, or wave action is physically stirring sediment. If not, it’s a soil condition and will require treatment to coagulate suspended clay particles and sink them to the bottom.

Whether the issue is excess vegetation, murky water, or stunted fish, Bob and Chad first consider what created visible “symptoms”. After identifying the source, they implement effective methods for long-term management of the base problem.

Before you misappropriate funds treating a “symptom” instead of the real condition, consider a consultation.

Thanks for your business,

Bob Lusk – Chad Fikes – Walter Bassano

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