Pond/lake build


Okay everyone... This is rather interesting news I received today. My Grandpa (who is 83 years old) is wanting to put in a pond or small lake in the back yard of his property. He is on 2 acres of land and it is wide open grass with trees lining the edges of the property. The open area is about an acre and he was thinking about making a pond or small lake back there to increase the property value because he is going to be selling the property in 2-3 years. I told him I would do some research and see what I can come up with.

He doesn't want a koi pond.
He wants it to be native fish that he stocks just like the DNR would stock a lake with fingerlings.
He wants Bluegill and Crappie, Large and/or Small mouth Bass, and bullheads.
The shape will be round but not a circle.
He said something like 80' long 30'-50' wide and max depth of about 6-8 feet. It would be a curved shape like a sideways (.
He wants to be a self contained ecosystem that can take care of itself once established and stocked with fish and plants (lilly pads, water lettuce, etc).
He's wanting this to be able to be used as a fishing pond in a number of years when fish are grown and reproducing.
Other details are he is in Wisconsin so it does get cold and ice over in the winter, which is why he wants native fish that are 'built' to deal with it without needing human help to survive.
Money is not really an object for him and this build.
He is going have it professionally dug up and landscaped by a contractor.
He will plant some bushes and trees around parts of it to give some natural shade.

Now am I ready to listen to any and all ideas/advice on this topic (other than saying not to do it because he is set on doing this or something like this). All legal issues are worked out on his end with digging, building and stocking native fish permits. The DNR even said that since it is a private pond/lake, any state fishing regulations would not be in effect on this pond/lake.

Here is what he is looking for help with:
Stocking numbers of the bluegill, crappie, bass, bullheads, and minnows (or any other fish)?
Will the bass and bullheads control the panfish population enough so they don't get crazy?
Will a large population of minnows reproduce and serve as a food source for the panfish and even for the bass/bullhead?
The bullhead he wants in there to clean the bottom of any dead fish and also as a population control. Will that be enough or should there be more or different cleaner/scavenger fish? I think it would be too small for channel catfish and there wouldnt be enough water movement for them either.
He may put in a water fall or fountain that will be turned on in the non-ice seasons.
How can he prevent the bass and bullhead population from getting too big, other than fishing them out or is that the only way?
Anything else I may be over looking?

Thanks guys!! He wants to get it all planned out and set up to start construction next spring.






Sounds like a great idea! Only thing I can think to mention out of my own experience is to make sure the pond isn't dug straight down. If there's no room to give the edges a gradual slope then dig steps or shelves into the sides. That will give someplace to put plants and also make it easier for creatures to get out should they fall in.


Unnecessary wall of text commencing!

I know this thread is a bit old, but as an avid bass fisherman (also from Wisconsin) I feel compelled to throw in my two cents and say that, based on the size (and most importantly, the depth) of what you're going for, smallmouth bass are more or less not an option and would be a wasted effort. 6-8 feet deep would be more than enough for smallmouth to thrive if we were talking about a stream or river, but in a pond the temperature would simply get way to high for them during the summer. It's possible that they could survive, but they would likely be unhealthy and would almost definitely not grow very large. On top of that, they could never have a self-sustaining population because the correct spawning conditions would be nearly impossible in a shallow pond. This is why smallmouth are rarely found in the type of shallow, landlocked ponds and lakes where largemouth would absolutely thrive.

I'd be somewhat iffy about stocking crappie as well, but they would probably do alright given an area a bit deeper than what you have planned. They would also require a good population of small baitfish, since that's what the vast majority of their natural diet is, and in a lot of cases, they'll feed almost exclusively on minnows and fry.

Bullheads, largemouth and bluegills will do great in a pond like this, but be careful not to overstock on bluegills, or you will end up with an overpopulation, which will not only leave them stunted, but will probably hurt the bass too, since the fry will have a very hard time competing. Its a tough balance to get right.

As for scavengers, bullheads will do well in pretty much any body of water you put them in, but they probably won't do much to control the bluegill population. I agree with you about channel cats, the pond would be too much on the small side for them to do very well. If you really want something besides bullheads, or possibly in place of bullheads as a scavenger, turtles would definitely be something to look into.

Your point about native fish being built to survive the winters up here is absolutely right, BUT in a body of water this small and shallow, you WILL have get fish kills every few winters that will force you to have to restock. Even in the southern part of the state where I live, the shallower lakes (15' max or less) usually have major fish kills every few years. If you don't want that to happen, you'll need some kind of aeration to keep at least small areas from freezing over. Without that, such a small pond just flat out won't have enough oxygenation to support all of your fish, especially through colder winters when the surface stays iced over longest. Having plenty of plants will help with this too, (and are how fish are able to survive winters in shallow lakes) but you can't solely rely on them to keep the pond oxygenated through the winter every year. Fish kills generally happen when there is heavy snow that doesn't get a chance to melt away at all, causing the plants to not get enough sunlight, which then causes the plants to stop photosynthesizing and die off or go dormant. As you can imagine, when this happens, they are no longer producing oxygen, and the fish slowly suffocate.

These are all just things to keep in mind before you make any final decisions on what you're going to do. I'm not an expert on any of this, and I'll never claim to be, and I've never done a project like this myself (although I have known and learned from people who have done very similar things, both successfully and not), so make sure you do plenty of research on your own (and after you do that, go do some more research) so that you're absolutely sure about what you're doing. Whatever you guys decide to do go with, I hope it goes well. I know a project like this can eat of a lot of time, money and hard work, but done right and when managed well can end up being hugely successful and produce some of the best fishing you could ever want. Good luck, and I hope you post some updates once you get things going, I'm interested to see how it works out.


I would think the turtles and frogs would come on their own once the pond is built. It sounds like a wonderful project. Alison


Well, I'm glad to see some replies on this thread after so long with none. A lot has happened since I first posted this asking for help and ideas. Heres of list of things that have changed or been decided on.
1. It will be much larger than originally planned. He decided if he was going to do this, he would make it worth doing. Therefore it is now going to be roughly 100 yards long and 40 yards wide. He is also going to have a varying depth. The deepest part he is hoping to be able to go as far as 25 feet, but he won't know for sure on that until he can get surveyor out in spring. If its an average of 10 feet deep, were looking at about 2-2.5 million gallons; depending on shape and depth, could be more or less.
2. The bright side change number 1 is that he has pine trees surrounding the property on the sides and the back. This new size would be big enough for these trees to provide lots of shade, much more than a few new bushes or trees would. This will hopefully reduce the amount of algae that would build up.
3. The edges of the pond will be gradually sloped. At least one area (thinking the back side) will have large rocks on the shoreline, with a steeper drop off. The side that is closest to the house, will be gradual slope with a beach-like area. One side will have a concrete retaining wall. This is where a small pier will be.
4. He will definitely have a large fountain in the pond. Still got to figure out how or if it could run year round without freezing and damaging the equipment.
5. He is thinking about making a small island with a bridge access. This would house the plumbing for the fountain.
6. For fish, he is going with sunfish, blue gill, rock bass, largemouth bass, bull heads, suckers, creek chubs or darters, lots of forage minnows for baitfish/food, and possibly a few grass pickerel if he can get a cattail permit. Lots of plants will be added to the bottom, along with plenty of driftwood (of all sizes), rocks and rock piles, and open areas.

Still very much in planning stages. Long ways to go yet. Keep ideas coming or correct anything that you see is wrong or bad idea. Thanks!


It sounds like it's coming together really well. Adding pickerels sound like a great idea, it's good to have more than one predator species if possible. Another thing you might want to consider adding is crayfish. They're a great source of food, especially for the bullheads and rock bass, and their main diet is dead fish and plants, so they're very beneficial. The variety of structure you're going with sounds really good too, especially if you want self-sustaining populations, since most of the fish you plan to stock require different environments to spawn successfully.

After a bit of research, I found there are other ways to prevent fish kills besides aeration, in case that turns out not to be practical for you. Here's one good link I found. It's not super in-depth, but has some good information. I'd recommend searching for other solutions as well, because this is probably the single most important thing to keep in mind if you want a reliable, self-sustaining fish population.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/search/site/a fact 0008


well just your luck I have worked on projects like this your suggestions for fish are great and your filter e.t.c placement is fine put you could consider crayfish (I have freshwater crabs in my pond for my turtles ) I think I saw u wanted turtles right idk i'm skimming trough lol ! I am experienced in pond and in reptiles and amphibians also on the plants lily pads may be risky because bullheads may uproot them any problems contact me in the wall in my profile


I talked to him yesterday and he told me that he contacted a company that does this type of thing as their business. Its more of a landscaping company but they do this stuff too and have people on staff that know about all the fish, inverts, reptiles, amphibians and plants that would be feasible for his pond. They came out to his house, did measurements and scanned for water, sewer, electrical lines and everything is clear where the pond will be. He gave them a lot of the ideas we came up with on here and they are taking it and running with it. They are making renderings and estimates for the project and will even be able to show him a 3D animated view of what it would look like underwater and above (very excited for that, hope I get to see it!). They also said that the pond has to mature for a year before he can fully stock it with the predator fish. So he will be starting with the smallest fish like minnows, panfish and other small ones so the first generation can grow and be ready to spawn once before he introduces the predator fish. I thought that was interesting but it makes sense.

So yeah, I guess this thread is basically over. Thanks for the help and ideas from everyone. I will create a new thread if this one is closed when the time comes that he starts construction on this project.


You should think about adding a aerator to prevent large winter kills.

Ayushman Singh

Add an awesome waterfall big one about 5 feet high yes 5 feet with curves statues etc post some pics and do make a waterfall please it feels like an awesome idea I'm so excited after hearing make a steped pond forsure

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