“Carp”e Diem!

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The warm waters of spring are bringing fish to the surface at Leafhopper Farm! Two springs ago I released some decorative koi in the pond to see how this water feature supports fish and the results so far look good. These smaller fish on the surface are not the originals I put in, but new offspring. There are at least three generations represented by notably different sized fish. That would correspond with original adult fish introduced, the first year offspring, and this year’s offspring. Of course, it could just be that some fish are getting more to eat than others, but the smallest fish, not easily seen in these pictures, are dark bodied with light gold heads.

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The ducks helped to seal the pond at it’s current level, but it’s still almost five feet below the outflow pipe, so I think more ducks will be needed next winter and now with a laying flock under construction, we should have those birds available during the rainy season. I had to pull the Magpies off the water earlier this spring, as they were turning the water green with too much nitrogen from their poop. There is now an aerator installed to oxygenate the water for a healthier aquatic ecosystem. As you can see by the fish, the water cleared nicely.

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This pond is not for domestic waterfowl, and that’s important to remember. I’m sure by the end of the summer, Kingfisher, Eagle, Heron, and Osprey (to name a few), will feast on these domestic fish. The pond remains deep enough to hide a few and allow the fish to continue their reproduction. Eventually, the koi will breed back into carp, and we’ll have a feast of our own in time. Note that this water is land locked, with no great threat of connecting to a wild source. This is very important if you are going to put fish into your water feature.

If it overflows into a natural body of water, or comes out of one, do not stock it with fish, as they will get into the wild without great care, and even then, flood accidents happen. I know it’s a more extreme example, but farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from pens that were distressed in a storm on Puget Sound last year, threatening wild Pacific salmon populations and creating a movement in legislation to ban the farms from Washington’s waters by 2026.

Carp are already invading wild waters in Washington, along with many other states. The Great Lakes are fighting to keep them out, and all over the country, you can bow hunt carp in any season at any time because they are so destructive. How you ask? Well, they act like vacuum cleaners along the bottom eating anything, including rare species of plants and animals that get sucked up into their mouths.  Plants are especially vulnerable, being unable to get a foothold in the bottom of lakes and streams where these fish veraciously feed.

Goldfish are also carp, so please, the next time you want to go dump “Goldie” into your local lake to let him “be free”, know that you are introducing a very destructive species of fish into a precarious watershed in your region. Smaller fish, like trout, cannot stand against these monstrous eaters. If you have carp in your water, fish them as much as possible and know that though they are bony, the meat is coveted in other countries and could be an enjoyable delicacy for those with a broader pallet.

At Leafhopper Farm, we are using carp as a guide to our water’s health, and these fish can live in very stressful conditions, like late summer drought, which drops our pond to only a few feet of depth, in a pond with no as of yet established major plant life. This is a perfect habitat for carp, and the nutrient rich poop they put down adds to the future fertility of the soil in our pond. When the pond is well sealed and ready to plant, we’ll address the carp issue with some fun fishing and eating, or let the wild birds have their fill.

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