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Advice for stocking a Nebraska/Iowa native 50gal pond

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#1 maehoosadie

  • NANFA Guest
  • Omaha, NE

Posted 29 April 2024 - 03:16 PM

Hi there!


Last year I installed a 50 gallon preformed pond liner into my yard. It's currently maintained with an 87 GPH solar pump in a filter box w/ battery backup. I haven't tested the water yet, but I believe the pond has a pretty decent bio filter established. I have a small selection of plants in the pond, like a hardy lily, arrowhead, soft rush, dwarf cattail, dwarf horsetail, zephyr lily, Lousiana iris, coontail, duckweed, and fairy moss. I'm starting to replace the nonnative plants with native ones as I am able. I'm also working on modifying the plant footprint and substrate. The end goal is to cover the liner with Rock on a Roll, add black gravel and slate, add some hides (in addition to the driftwood log already present), and elevate some plant pots/change the filtration system to a bag w/ bioballs to open up more 'floor space'. I also imagine the pond will have more shade in the coming years as the nearby serviceberry sapling grows up a bit.


I'm hoping to add some native fishes to the pond. Based on info from NE Game & Parks Commission, this is the list I had in mind:

  • 2 - Iowa darter
  • 2 - Johnny darter
  • 2 - Blackside darter
  • 5 - Emerald shiner
  • 2 - Central stoneroller
  • 2 - Blacknose dace
  • 5 - Fathead minnow
  • 5 - Bluntnose minnow

I would love to have some plains topminnow or northern plains killifish, but I'm not able to do my own collection at this point so I need to select things that I can get from breeders.


I have several uncertainties that I need to clear up before I feel comfortable stocking my pond. I really appreciate any insight or advice you can offer!


  • Does 25 fish in a 50gal pond seem reasonable? Does this seem like a good number of each species? If it's too many, how would you balance?
  • How much water movement will these fish need? I know the Iowa and Johnny darters can handle swamp-like conditions, and maybe the minnows as well. I'm a little less confident about the blacknose dace and blackside darter in particular. I have the ability to upgrade to a 400 GPH pump, possibly using flow nozzles, in addition to the current pump (perhaps rerouted to a spitter), or I can add a solar aeration stone. This YouTube video shows the current pump conditions of the pond.
  • Could all of these fish successfully overwinter in a max. depth of 30 in?

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