The addition of lime increases fish production in soft (low total hardness) waters. Many ponds in the southeastern United States have very soft water and will not develop satisfactory plankton blooms unless lime is periodically added. Agricultural (dolomitic) lime is the best choice for sport fishing ponds. Check ponds for lime deficiency every three to five years.
Lime has several desirable effects on water quality. Addition of lime stabilizes the pH of bottom mud and increases the availability of phosphorus. It increases the production of aquatic insects in mud, providing more food for small fishes. Liming increases the availability of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. The overall effect of liming is to increases phytoplankton production which results in increased fish production.
Many ponds in Georgia have very soft water, with a total hardness less than 10ppm (parts per million). Often, these ponds must be limed before a satisfactory bloom will develop. In ponds with a total hardness over 20 ppm, adding lime may have little effect on fish production.
It is necessary to measure total hardness (CaCo3) to determine pond lime requirements. Alkalinity is actually a better indicator of lime requirements. However, in the southeastern United States most ponds have hardness and alkalinity values of similar magnitude (and hardness is much easier to measure). If total hardness is less than 10 ppm, the addition of at least two to four tons of agricultural lime per surface acre usually will bring total hardness to acceptable levels. For best results spread the lime over the entire pond rather than dumping it at one location. For larger ponds or ponds that have inaccessible banks, spread the lime from a boat.
Although lime can be applied at any time, it takes about two months for agricultural lime to go into solution. For best results, lime ponds in fall or winter. This will allow total hardness to reach appropriate levels by the time fertilization begins in the spring. In new ponds, lime can be spread prior to filling.
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