Pond Preparation for Freshwater Fish Farming

Fish is a nutritious food item containing a good amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients. It is consumed by the people of India and World on a daily basis. With an increase in demands, the price of fish and fish products are also increasing day by day. So, commercial fish production has established itself as a profit-oriented business. Freshwater fish farming is one of the important fish production systems. It indicates raising and rearing fish in a freshwater system like tanks, ponds and other enclosures in a commercial manner for the purpose of food production. Before starting the fish production, the preparation of the pond is a crucial step which affects the production directly. In this article, we will discuss briefly the pond preparation procedure and how it can help the fish farmers towards better production.

Importance of pond preparation in fish farming

The most important component of the fish farming business is to prepare a pond in a proper way. Without the construction of a well-prepared pond, it is not possible to start or run any fish farming business. The importance of pond preparation is given below.

  • Aquatic plants and animals which are harmful to fish are controlled

  • Cannibalistic and unwanted fishes are removed

  • A healthy environment of the pond is preserved

  • Optimum pH for fish production is maintained

  • Availability of the feed for the cultured fish is ensured

Types of ponds used in fish farming

Within freshwater fish culture unit, different kinds of pond components are used; they are nursery, rearing, production, segregation and breeding/spawning pool.

The percentage of area covered by these different pond types are given below:

Nursery pond: 3%

Rearing pond: 11%

Production pond: 60%

Segregation pond: 1%

Breeding pond: 25%

Nature of different ponds

Nursery ponds: Shallow

Rearing ponds: Moderately deep

Production ponds: Moderately deep

Segregation pond: Moderately deep

Breeding ponds: Moderately deep

Water level (for larger production ponds): 2-3 meters

Preparation of pond

1. Preliminary or preparation stage

Soil sampling: Before starting other procedures, the soil should be tested. Samples are collected from the bottom of the pond and dike. Generally, pH and organic matter contents are analyzed. pH is important to determine the amount of lime to be treated later. Soil sampling is very important, especially for the new ponds.

Demudding: One of the most important steps of pond preparation is to “de-mud” the pond, which we wish to prepare. “De-mud” basically is the process of removing mud from the pond which we wish to use. The main purpose of demudding is to make it more suitable for fish farming. Demudding can be done just by removing the mud from the pond, which is the easiest way. Instead of demudding directly, we can go for deepening of our pond which is the best option for larger fishes.

Pond drying: The bottom of the pond is dried to remove the unwanted fish species. Drying is done until the soil cracks. Drying also ensures the oxidization of harmful substances and mineralization of organic matters.

Make the dike of the pond taller:   The most common problem of the rainy season for most of the ponds is that flood can carry away fishes of the pond. So, if the pond is located in an area which is closer to the river or stream, then taller embankment or dike is a must. It should be at least 2 to 3 ft higher than the highest level of water in the pond. This can be done very easily and automatically during the time of digging or demudding. Sand removed during de-mudding/digging can be used to make dikes taller. Otherwise, sandbags can be used to make the dikes/embankments taller.

Efficient inlet and outlet system: Efficient inlet and outlet system is very much important for the proper working of the pond system. This mostly comes in the form of a pipe through which water can enter and exit from the system. The inlet system of the pond should be placed slightly higher than the outlet system to ensure maximum water flow.

Proper inlet and outlet system prevent overflow of the pond by taking care of heavy rainfall/slight flood. This is very much helpful for the proper maintenance of water quality.

2. Treatment stage

Controlling harmful aquatic plants and animals:  Aquatic weeds and insects both are very much harmful to fish farming ponds as weeds consume almost all nutrients and reduce the amount of oxygen. Their growth should be controlled efficiently so that they cannot create any problem in the pond.

Removing cannibalistic and unwanted fishes: Removal of cannibalistic and unwanted fishes is very much important step in pond preparation. Shol, gozar, boal, taki, etc. are cannibalistic fish and mola, dhela, chanda, pumpti etc. are unwanted fish. They can be removed by drying the pond or by using poison in the pond. Rotenone powder is the best option for this purpose.

Conditioning the pond: Conditioning is done by application of a layer of lime or calcium hydroxide which is spread over the bottom of the pond for two weeks.  It is usually applied during or after the pond drying stage. This removes the acidity of the soil, facilitates biogeochemical cycles and prevents unwanted species.

Liming can be done in three different ways:

  • By broadcast over a dried pond which includes the dike walls.

  • By mixing with water and spraying over the pond and

  • By liming the water flowing into the pond.

Manuring: After 15 days of liming, manuring or fertilization is done in order to facilitate the growth of fish food organisms. Manure can be of organic or chemical nature. The application rate of raw cow dung for stocking pond is 2-3 tonnes/ha. The application rate of poultry manure is 5000 kg/ha. Use of chemical fertilizer depends upon the concentration of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil and varies accordingly. The standard combination of NPK is 18:10:4 for freshwater ponds.


Fish pond preparation is the basic and first step in freshwater fish farming. Pond preparation is to be done intensively to enhance the fish production of the pond. Without proper preparation of the pond bottom if we start the fish culture technique it will create a huge problem and production will be of poor quality. In the case of the pond preparation process, good management practices are the basic solution for obtaining better fish yield. Sustainable methods should always be chosen to make pond preparation more suitable for environment-friendly fish farming technique.

Author Details

Satarupa Ghosh 1, Prasanna Pal 2, and Soumili Das 3

1 Ph.D. Scholar, Aquatic Environment Management Department, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata, West Bengal-700037, India

2 Ph.D. Scholar, Animal Physiology Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana- 132001, India

3 Ph.D. Scholar, Fishery Extension Department, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata, West Bengal-700037, India

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