The pond

By Tom Read

Here's the pond as it looked yesterday  morning, under a cloudy sky. The water is about 15 feet deep and quite clear, even though it looks a little green in this photo. We're hoping to see a lot more insect and other pond life when the weather warms up in a few months.

Here's the pond as it looked yesterday morning, under a cloudy sky. The water is about 15 feet deep and quite clear, even though it looks a little green in this photo. We're hoping to see a lot more insect and other pond life when the weather warms up in a few months.

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.

–Tom

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2 Responses to “The pond”


  1. 1 David Parkinson March 28, 2009 at 08:57

    Fascinating. I read a lot about small-scale aquaculture, but I don’t know many people actually doing it.

    When do you get to start eating the trout? 🙂

  2. 2 Tom Read March 29, 2009 at 18:00

    Hello David,

    It’s all an experiment; we don’t know whether the trout will survive, let alone thrive to the point where we can harvest a few now and then. We’re committed to NOT feeding any “fish food,” so the trout will have to make it on whatever natural food lives in the pond.

    Trout reproduction is an open question. There’s not much water flow from the springs feeding this pond and except for a little crushed limestone in the shallows the bottom is mostly mud at this point, so we’ll have to give more thought as to how to improve spawning conditions.

    Also, we’re not providing extra oxygen (some people aerate their ponds with pumps). Thus, the carrying capacity of this pond for a top-level predator like cutthroat trout is probably going to be quite limited.

    Anyway, the process of ecological aquaculture really is fascinating to observe. We’re certainly open to suggestions if anyone out there has experience in this area.

    –Tom


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