Fish Pond Management | Pond & Lake Stewards: Grow Fish Instead of Algae

With your fish pond management build a wild fish habitat, enjoy natural fish propagation, and eliminate harmful algae blooms in the lake or pond in your care.

BioHaven Floating Islands restore lakes and ponds to a healthy, thriving state, increasing biodiversity and bringing back the value of lakeshore living. Want to grow fish instead of algae in your pond? Read on. . .

Make your pond water healthy for human enjoyment — be a water steward

Increase fish population with biomimicry.

Mimicking nature’s own solution, BioHavens are beautiful and functional wetlands that cycle valuable but misplaced nutrients into beneficial plants and fish instead of algae. BioHaven floating island products facilitate oxygenation and homogenization of water and boost the growth of periphyton to provide natural food for small fish. Our floating man-made islands provide safe havens for all manner of fish.  So you can grow fish instead of algae.

In every application, BioHaven floating islands function to mitigate harmful algae blooms (HABs), and to manage green and smelly waterways without chemicals.

Originally, Fish Fry Lake was a nutrient-rich, pea-soup green mosquito factory. You would not let your dog drink from the edge. The place stank. Today Fish Fry Lake (FFL) is the most productive wild fishery per acre foot of water in Montana. There’s no waterway in the state over 50 acre feet that even produces half the fish volume Fish Fry does. And water quality in FFL is far better today then when we started, even though the inflow water is just as nutrient polluted as when we started.

BioHaven Floating Islands are Versatile

  • BioHaven Floating Islands can be grouped together or launched singly to add beauty and wetland function to any pond or lake
  • BioHavens can be customized to create any desired habitat for aquatic life, pollinators, birds, wildlife or plants
  • Islands can serve as a swimming platform or kayak dock
  • They can function as both Fish Aggregation Device (a place to grow fish!) and fishing platform
  • BioHavens protect shorelines from the wave impact of boating and other water sports
  • A BioHaven can be solar powered to generate local energy or power water circulation (like a solar-powered NanoHaven)
  • Grow Fish Instead of Algae

    Growing Fish Instead of Algae

    BioHaven Floating Islands are artificial floating islands that mimic natural floating wetlands to provide “real estate” for the microscopic life forms that clean up water and resurrect the food web. As soon as a planted island is placed in a waterbody, biofilm starts to grow around and through it, reaching every fiber and crevice within the island.  As the plants and roots grow, they are also covered with biofilm, turning into a natural cleaning system. Water clarity improves. Nutrients are recycled into periphyton, which turns into food for fish that is constantly being harvested and renewed. The net result is less algae, a natural wild fish habitat, and more fish.

    Perhaps you’ve dreamed of turning your algae-ridden water into a prolific fishing pond? Our very own Fish Fry Lake was full of algae, smelly, and in terrible shape before being planted with BioHaven Floating Islands. Now, it is home to world-class fishing in Montana! Floating Islands can do the same for your lake.


    • BioHaven Floating Islands add riparian edge to ponds and lakes, providing secure habitats for birds, insects, frogs and other species under threat from human activities around water
    • BioHavens provide water quality benefits by harnessing natural processes, not chemicals, to re-cycle excess nutrients into more beneficial and productive life forms
    • BioHavens dampen the effects of damaging wave action, protecting shorelines from erosion and loss of sensitive lifeforms
    • They enhance fish productivity and provide a platform to catch them from
    • They improve water clarity and bring back the pleasure of lakeside living

  • BioHavens in Municipal Pond Applications
    • BioHaven Floating Islands are a natural, research-backed solution for HAB Management & Mitigation
    • Adding BioHaven Floating Islands adds beauty and a eye-catching feature to any body of water
    • BioHaven Floating Islands are completely customizable to your size, shape, and buoyancy requirements
    • Can be designed to create habitat for fish, amphibians, ducks and other waterfowl
    • Islands can serve as a swimming platform, kayak dock, fish aggregator and fishing platform for parks and recreation
    • Added to an urban pond, a floating island can bring many community benefits, including a central location for family outings
    • A BioHaven can be solar powered to generate local energy or power water circulation

  • BioHavens in Private Pond Applications

    BioHaven Floating Islands provide “real estate” for the microscopic life forms that clean up water and resurrect the food web. As soon as a planted island is placed in a waterbody, biofilm starts to grow around and through it, reaching every fiber and crevice within the island.  As the plants and roots grow, they are also covered with biofilm, turning into a natural cleaning system. Water clarity improves. Nutrients are recycled into biofilm, which turns into food for fish that is constantly being harvested and renewed. The net result is less algae and more fish. Fish Fry Lake was algae ridden and in terrible shape before being planted with BioHaven Floating Islands. Now, it is home to world-class fishing in Montana! Floating Islands can do the same for your lake.


    • Private pond and lake owners can enjoy their property’s water again by naturally eliminating odor and dangerous toxicity
    • BioHaven Floating Islands are a natural, research-backed solution for HAB Management & Mitigation
    • Adding BioHaven Floating Islands adds beauty and a eye-catching feature to a private property body of water
    • BioHaven Floating Islands are completely customizable to your size, shape, and buoyancy requirements
    • Can be designed to create habitat for fish, amphibians, ducks and other waterfowl and as a pollinator island for your garden and organic agriculture
    • Islands can serve as a swimming platform, kayak dock, fish aggregator and fishing platform
    • A BioHaven can be solar powered to generate localized energy source
    • Private pond and lake owners can generate revenue from building a destination fishery
    • Revenue can also be generated from minnow production.

    BioHavens are ideal for recreational ponds, where they can be placed with or without anchors. Here are the Dos and Dont’s of Waterway Stewardship.

  • Additional Benefits of BioHaven Floating Islands

  • Testimonials

    “I could have taken all that money I spent over the years on chemicals, and simply invested in a BioHaven solution which is a much more natural way to transition water. Water stewardship is an important role and I’m proud that I have been able to make a positive difference.”

    Chuck Gainan
    Land Owner
    Boyd, MT

    “Bruce and the team at Floating Island International are demonstrating resource recovery in a remarkable way at Fish Fry Lake, where what used to be dead water flowing into the Yellowstone River is now an incredible and productive fishery. Now the lake produces healthy fish that my grandchildren can catch instead of carpets of algae. This could be the model for urban lakes across the country and help sustain the health of our critically important streams and rivers.”

    Mike Penfold
    State of Montana
    N Dakota, S Dakota and Alaska BLM Director
    Retired

  • View BioHaven Products
  • Using a BioHaven Floating Island

    Planting a Floating Island (The DIY Manual) These instructions are for our traditional empty pocket/no plug floating islands, and islands with solar, nanobubble, or biochar applications may have different instructions. Users of these products should reach out to their Island Masters.

    Components

    1. The BioHaven Floating Island ships as a single unit, shrink-wrapped.
    2. Multiple islands in the same order may be palletized.
    3. Each island contains two anchor points.

    Customer to Supply

    • Visqueen for placing island on prior to launch.
    • Anchors – 130lbs. total anchor weight for a BioHaven-L and 60lbs total anchor weight for a BioHaven-S. Avoid cinder blocks where there is a pond liner in place as they can damage the smooth surface.
    • Plastic-coated chain for attaching island to anchors (3/16-inch) – Length: depth of water plus 20% (to allow for high-water event) plus 5 ft. for looping round anchor).
    • 2 secure clips – one clip for each end of the anchor cable.
    • Plants or seeds – 24 per small island, 60 per large island.
    • Potting soil. Coco-peat can be used. Avoid using heavy soil with a clay or sand base. If planting bare-root plugs use potting soil and no peat as peat may burn the roots.

    Delivery
    • Single islands can be lifted by two people. The Biohaven-L weighs 260 lbs, the BioHaven-S weighs 100 lbs.
    • Personnel required to handle and launch island: 1 or 2 people.
    • The customer is required to carry out a delivery inspection and sign-off (or exception) to validate the warranty.

    Site Preparation
    1. Identify a level site from where you can launch the island.
    2. Lay out the Visqueen right next to water’s edge, allowing it to drape slightly into the water.
    3. Assemble anchor(s), cable, soil, plants / seeds and tools.
    4. Sink tether stakes (rebar or bollards) if planning to tether the islands.

    Step 1: Island Preparation
    1. Place the island face-up on the Visqueen, with the planting pockets on top, close to water’s edge.
    2. Lift the island slightly so you can access the anchor eyebolt ring and attach your anchor chain, stretching it out so that it extends beyond the island. Do both sides.
    3. Attach the other end to your anchor (if using cinder blocks, pass the chain through the blocks and secure the end back to the chain to form a loop).
    4. BioHavens can be anchored individually or can be joined together to form a cluster.
    5. If you are joining several islands together, see instructions below.

    Step 2: Installing a cluster of islands
    1. If space permits, place all the islands you are going to launch on a tarp close to the shoreline, in the order they will be once in the water.
    2. Depending on how many islands you have, use the following joining methods: a) Link the outer islands in a circle. b) Link interior islands to the outer islands with chain using the outer island’s eyebolt or its attachment chain.  c) PVC pipes can be used to keep the islands apart and stop them bumping into each other. d) Anchor the cluster at three points (at least). e) You can position and anchor each island individually without joining them together, making sure you allow enough space between them to stop the anchor chains getting tangled up in windy conditions.
    3. If you do not have space to lay out the whole island array on shore, you will need to launch them one-by-one, making sure you attach the next island while still on shore before pushing each one into the water.

    Step 3: Planting
    Note: the key to successful planting is making sure there are no air gaps in the soil. It is important to pack down the soil tightly at each stage.
    1. Fill the planting hole about halfway with peat / soil mixture and tamp it down firmly.
    2. Water the planting pockets using a hose or watering can.
    3. Place the plants root-down in the planting pockets. Make sure the root is pointing downwards.
    4. You can keep the plant in the soil it comes with, or remove to fit.
    5. Add more soil and tamp it down firmly until the soil is just above the top of the planting pocket.
    6. Water the plants thoroughly. If the soil mix sinks more than a half-inch below the planting pocket, add some more.
    7. If using, install waterfowl fencing and netting.

    Step 4: Launch
    1. Place anchor on top of the island.
    2. Carefully push the island or island cluster into the water.
    3. Thoroughly soak the plants (again) and ensure the top of the planting pockets are wet and stay wet.
    4. Maneuver / tow into position then drop the anchor(s) slowly into the water.

    Step 5: Post-launch
    1. Check that planting pockets are wet to the top.
    2. In the first 2 weeks, carry out frequent checks to ensure the plants are growing, the anchor is holding and there are no unexpected issues with the island.
    3. Once a month or so after this, check the island periodically and remove any undesired plants (weeds) that may be growing on the island.

    Options

    Tethering:

    If your island has tether points rather than anchor points, use these instructions in place of the anchoring instructions. Tethers have the ring on top of the island, beside the planting holes; anchors have the rings under the island.

    1. During site preparation, put the tether points in place. These can be on shore, below the water level or tie-offs to a buoy or other stable fixture.
    2. Measure out the length of your tether rope and add 2 feet to allow for tying off at both ends.
    3. Before adding plants, secure the tether to the ring on top of the island with a clip or knot. Keep the other end on shore (tie it loosely to something, eg a brick, to keep it from sliding into the water).
    4. Repeat if using two tethers.

    Planting with sod:

    1. When planting an island with sod, spread a light layer of soil mixture (approximately 1” thick) across the top of the island.
    2. Remove as much of the mud as possible from the sod roots.
    3. Lay sod on the island, cutting to fit, until the entire top is covered. Allow the sod to overlap edges so that the sod covers half of the side of the islands. Sod should be even with the waterline when launched.
    4. Pin the sod into position with landscape pins – about 2 pins per square foot.
    5. If planting plants along with sod, place landscape flags in the sod above the planting holes so that the holes can be located for planting the plants. Remove the landscape flags one at a time as you cut through the sod to expose the hole.

    Here’s an example of planting a floating island…

    Placement and Anchoring

    BioHavens are ideal for recreational lakes and ponds, where they can be placed with or without anchors.

    • In larger lakes, ideal placement is in a bay so that the island can be sheltered from winds and enjoyed from shore
    • In large, open waterbodies, an engineer’s report on anchor design will be required to assess the wind and wave impacts
    • The flexible island material has no hard edges and can easily be marked with reflector posts or discs to signal its presence to water users.

  • Case Studies and Research
    • Nutrient removal and algae control project in an urban lake in China

      a large square section of young floating islands on the edge of a lake where boats navigate in the background

      Yingri Lake, Jinan, China

      The purpose of this island was to eliminate summer algae blooms by reducing the nutrient loading in this urban lake. The results were an impressive reduction in carbon, Nitrate and Phosphorus which successfully stopped the algal bloom from happening.

    • From Phosphorus to Fish – stewarding Fish Fry Lake for optimum water quality enhancement

      a man holding up string of fish with both hands

      Shepherd, Montana

      This is a report covering the first year where fish harvest was intentionally used as a means to remove phosphorus from the nutrient-rich water of Fish Fry Lake, in the agricultural area of Eastern Montana. Fish growth rates, as a result of the BioHaven substrate, were found to be well above average, and the pounds of phosphorus removed were carefully documented. The stewardship and measurement program described here is ongoing.


    • Chuck’s Pond – An Application Story

      Chuck’s pond wasn’t always the beautiful water feature it is today…. Read the story of successful garden center owner, Chuck Gainan, and how he went the long way round to achieving his goal…

Fix Your Pond. Fish Your Pond.

Wondering how to make your pond into a good place to fish? How to clean your pond? How to fish in your lake? We hope that this section of the Floating Island International site will answer all of your questions about how adding a floating island naturally improves your experience with wild pond management, building a place to fish, growing fish in a wild pond, increasing fish populations in your pond or lake, managing pond fertility, and managing a pond for high fish production.

Fishing is good for the Earth, and making water fishable, designing a wild fishery, building the best fishing hole, attracting fish to your pond, and implementing a fish management program is an amazing way to contribute to the sustainability of the planet. Sure, we may like to go fishing and catch some bass, bluegill, sunfish and perch in a wild pond. And we all hate when fish survival in the lake is poor, when we wake up to a fishkill or a harmful algae bloom. So wild fish pond management to turn algae into fish, grow largemouth bass in our lakes, is not just fun and games — fishing helps waterbodies, fishing reduces greenhouse gas emissions, fishing transitions out nutrients. Improving fishing in your pond is Earth Stewardship!

fish managers can increase fish production and manage eutrophication

naturally grow fish like this school of minnows under a floating island

giant fish string shows harvest of fish grown at the floating island lake

at Fish Fry Lake we harvest fish and maintain healthy water

bruce fighting a big fish that grew up in Fish Fry Lake

harvesting fish to cycle nutrients clean pond water

grow fish like these minnows being scooped by handful from a bucket

harvest fathead minnows grown to manage pond nutrients

bruce kania fishing for perch as part of fish pond management




Float Fish Aggregator Islands. Feed Fish for Free. Grow Big Fish. Harvest. Enjoy!

For a waterway to be in ideal condition, nutrients coming in must match nutrients going out. In fact, lakes and ponds really never achieve this perfect balance, but as pondmeisters know, if your pond gets too unbalanced in favor of nutrients coming in, then disaster looms! This is especially true if the nutrients enter in the form of mineral-based fertilizer.

Pondmeisters love fish. We want clean, healthy water, but fish are a main target—particularly big, sporty fish and all the fun that comes with them. But, here’s a “what if…” What if we could have crystal clear water you could drink out of hand, and nice fish with nearly every cast? What if we could have both? Wouldn’t that be just AWESOME?!

How do you make sure the food web is functioning well? There are hundreds of internet pages dealing with pond management and stewardship. But for now, let’s look at this idea: we must harvest in order to have more harvest. It’s really that simple. We humans are a vital part of the food web, and if we don’t accept responsibility that comes with our place near the top of the food web—in other words, if we don’t steward and also harvest—the whole thing can come crashing down! This is absolutely what happens today, with fertilizer in such abundance. For right now, let’s look at the HARVEST side of this conundrum.

Harvesting Fish to Restore the Food Web

Here at Shepherd, Montana, we measure a lot of stuff, including our harvest. Our water is heavily influenced by phosphorus due to nearby corn farming practices and irrigation. Water migrates through our property from nearby agricultural interests. Floating islands launched on Fish Fry Lake filter the water, improving clarity. We bump up aeration/circulation in the lake with two floating streambed embodiments of floating islands. We are also recently incorporating nanobubbler technology. This allows for optimal cycling of nutrients through the islands, and it also allows for sufficient dissolved oxygen to keep warm water fish, like yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish alive. In 2016, we had an average harvest of 1,400 pounds of fish a year. We initially focused on yellow perch, which translates to one pound of phosphorus per 105 pounds of perch. This translates to fish being our best means by which to harvest phosphorus—In 2016, this was about 12 pounds per year.

While we know of no other waterway in Montana that approaches our harvest per acre- foot of water, we’d like to keep pushing the envelope. Northern yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish dominate today, and largemouth bass are coming on strong. They are helping us put size on the prolific bluegill too. On the opposite side of the size spectrum, we have a 5,000 square foot pond above Fish Fry (aptly named MINNOW POND) that generates between seventy and ninety thousand minnows per year. This translates to nearly three additional pounds of phosphorus prevented from entering Fish Fry. These guys make life bearable here in mosquito season, as they are terrific mosquito and midge larvae predators.