By Tom Read
We live in a coastal rainforest region blessed with abundant fresh water. Texada Island alone has at least 19 lakes full of fish, frogs, fresh-water shrimp and many species of insects. This 100-square-mile island also enjoys several year-round creeks, including one that, at this time of year, noisily cascades past our house. Surrounded by such aquatic riches, why did Linda and I decide about a year ago to build a pond on our property?
Reason #1: to try an experiment in raising cutthroat trout, a native local species, and one of our favourite fish to eat. Neither of us is particularly skilled at catching fish in the wilds; we figured having the fish in a pond with an accessible walkway partially around it would tilt the odds in our favour. Our overall concept of a fish pond, however, is to make it as close to natural as possible, so we’re trying an ecological aquaculture approach.
Our friend and neighbor Sheldon, one of Texada’s foremost experts on local fish, has guided and helped us in this endeavour. Thanks to his knowledge, we have stocked the new spring-fed pond with small numbers of local insects, shrimp and other species that, as they multiply, should create an inviting environment for trout within a year or two.
We’ve also added a few buckets of crushed limestone and lots of Alder leaves to raise the water’s pH level and to provide food for the shrimp, respectively. Some local frogs have already invited themselves into the pond, a welcome sign of life in this new body of water. Aside from planting a little dwarf white clover on the walkway, we are letting nature take its course regarding plant life. Already, we see several native water plants taking hold around the pond’s edges.
Reason #2: even in a climate with an average of 39” a year of rainfall, it helps to have a backup source of water for emergencies. If we need to irrigate our still-expanding garden, we can gently tap the pond instead of relying solely on our shallow well.
Reason #3: the pond is beautiful and fascinating and if the weather gets really hot, it’s got deep, clear, cool water for swimming. This pond attracts bees, dragonflies, and birds, along with the aforementioned frogs, all of whom are fun to watch. Just gazing upon the pond at any time of year makes me feel good.
In sum, the pond adds resilience and joy to our lives as it merges with native fauna and flora. I think that’s plenty of justification for its existence here on our island of abundant forest and water.