The Pond Food Chain :: Bob Lusk Outdoors

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The Pond Food Chain

The pond food chain is one of the most important things to remember, when managing your pond. Learn tips on how to make sure yours is balanced, and find out easy ways to balance it from the Pond Boss, Bob Lusk.

Welcome! Here we are at beautiful Richmond Mill Lake, home of the Kingfisher Society. Gorgeous day here in North Carolina.

Today, we’re going to talk about the food chain. You know, as goes the food chain, so goes your game fish. If you don’t have the right kind of food sources for your fish, they’re just not going to grow.

You know, the food chain is a really complex web. It’s almost like a pyramid. Starting at the bottom, the nutrients that are dissolved into the water feed the microscopic plants and animals that we call plankton, which in turn feed the little insects, which feed the bigger insects, which feed the little fish, on up the line until we get to your fish those Largemouth Bass, hybrid stripers, whatever it is that you’re growing in your pond this big. You know,  if you don’t have the right food chain, you’re not going to grow the kinds of fish that you want. So pay close attention to that food chain.

Now, we’re going to take a minute and see if we can catch a few little creatures in this lake and identify them and let you see what kind of a food web goes on here in Richmond Mill Lake.

You can buy a small seine. From time to time, it’s a wise idea to go on through and check the shoreline of your pond. A good time to do that is in late May or June, depending on where you are in the country. After your fish have spawned, it’s real quick, real easy. Pull it out, take a look at the fish, identify them. So we’re going to take a few minutes and see if we can’t catch a few fish and bugs and show them to you.

This is a grass shrimp, it feeds on tiny aquatic plants and in turn it feeds little bitty fish. That is a great site, for a food chain in a natural lake. We’ve found some young Bluegills, three to four inches long. Those creatures may only be eight months old. They’re backbone of the food chain for those Largemouth Bass, that are eighteen, sixteen, fifteen inches long.

And remember, the food chain can consist of little bitty plankton to tiny little aquatic insects, that fit in the palm of your hand, all the way up to the little bitty fish and the bigger fish, and what does that mean to you? If you’re taking care of your food chain, it will take care of you. The big fish will have plenty to eat, the small fish will have what they need, and the whole system works.

On a larger scale, it’s amazing what happens, when you take a pond or a lake, you improve the food chain through the habitat, and what happens above the waterline, you start to get more birds, you start to see beavers swimming across the lake.

The whole wildlife system just begins to develop and evolve, oftentimes  just by what you do under the water. So if your pond is like 80% of the ponds I see, where the Bass are overcrowded and overeating their food chain, you can do a couple of things. You can either call some of those Bass, or you can feed the fish that are there. You could feed the Bluegill. Personally, I like to do both, and bridge the gap in the food chain. One of the best ways to bridge the gap is to feed a quality feed like AquaMax made by Purina Mills.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come upon a pond site, where people aren’t feeding the right kinds of feed, and since we’re working on the food chain today, we want to pick the right food to feed those Bluegills. Now Bluegills can’t eat those big chunks that you might feed to a different fish, so here’s what the AquaMax looks like, and let me tell you a little bit about it.

See those little pellets? See all that rich golden brown color? That stuff is full of protein. This is AquaMax. It’s designed specifically for Bluegill Sunfish and other fish that feed on it, even minnows. That’s an outstanding feed. They convert it highly, it’s just like beefsteak. This is t-bone for Bluegills.

So, when you’re getting ready to feed your fish. Pick the right feed. This is perfect. Feed at the same place, at the same time, every day that you can. If you can’t be there, not a bad idea to get an automatic feeder and let the work do it for you.

How does that impact you? If you see that your Bass are underweight, start taking some out. If you see that your Bluegill aren’t reproducing as they should, go to your local Purina Mills dealer, buy AquaMax, start feeding on a regular consistent basis, and you’ll see those Bluegills come up and just ravage that chow. They’ll gain more weight, they’ll gather more eggs, they’ll have more babies, the babies turn into fish food for your Bass. And that’s a great way to manage an out of balance food chain.

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