Rainbow Trout can be a fantastic fish to have in your pond. They can grow quite large if they are fed adequately, are tons of fun to catch, and they are also delicious. But not every pond can support trout… determining whether your pond will be a suitable habitat is very important before you decide to stock them.
How do I Know if My Pond Can Support Trout?
Although Rainbow trout are relatively hardy fish, they do need good water quality. A good trout pond will have clear, clean water. If your pond is murky, or always stirred up, trout are probably not the ideal fish for you. It is normal for any pond to get a little stirred up under certain circumstances, such as a heavy rainstorm, but that should not be the abiding state of your pond. Poor water quality can sometimes indicate low oxygen levels, and leads to excessive stress on the fish, which can lead to a “fish kill”.
Trout also need high levels of dissolved oxygen to survive. Since the majority of pond owners don’t have an easy way to test for dissolved oxygen content in their water, it is important to note a few characteristics of a pond with safe oxygen levels.
The first characteristic is temperature. Cold water has a greater ability to retain oxygen than warm water. As temperature rises, oxygen solubility decreases, meaning that there is less oxygen dissolved in the same amount of water. The ideal water temperature for raising trout is between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and it is best if the top 6 inches of your pond rarely goes above 70-75 degrees, although with high oxygen levels trout can survive warmer temperatures.
The second characteristic is water exchange. If your pond has a constant inflow of water, it is more likely that the temperature is well regulated. Water coming in from a stream will have a naturally higher oxygen content as well, as the constant water movement mixes oxygen into the water.
Deeper ponds also tend to be cooler, so the deeper, the better when it comes to holding trout. Many ponds are “marginal trout ponds”, some years they are OK for trout, but in particularly hot summers or low water conditions, trout may die. Each pond owner needs to assess that risk and decide.
If a pond is a marginal pond, stocking trout in the cooler months and fishing them out before the weather get hot is another strategy that many people choose. Trout are fun to catch and excellent for the table, so this may be an approach to consider.
How Can I Maintain Healthy Levels of Oxygen?The best way to ensure proper oxygen levels is aeration. If you can properly aerate your pond, the trout will have a much higher chance of survival. Aeration circulates the water in your pond or lake, oxygenating the water at all depths, allowing the entire water column to support fish life and eliminating the danger of an inversion (sudden mixing) which can cause a fish kill. It should be noted that aeration also tends to warm your pond, so this may work against you if your situation is not ideal for trout.
Another way to help maintain oxygen levels is to allow a healthy amount of plant growth in your pond. Plants produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, so keeping some plant life in your pond can be extremely beneficial.
For more information, or questions specific to your pond, call us toll free at (877) 389-2514, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.