Have you ever wondered, “What exactly is a fisheries biologist?” or “What does a fisheries biologist do on a daily basis?”. The answer to the latter can vary from day to day, depending on what time of year it is. Let’s take a look at their background and what tasks and responsibilities Pond King fisheries biologists have at different times throughout the year.
So, what exactly is a Fisheries Biologist?
A fisheries biologist is someone who has received a bachelor degree in fisheries sciences or related field, accompanied with ample field experience in fisheries management techniques. A fisheries biologist’s field experience varies, but often consists of field research projects, lake and river sampling with electrofishing/nets/traps, data collection/analysis, and fish identification/collection – aka, “The Fish Guy (or Gal)”
And what exactly does a fisheries biologist do?
Here at Pond King, a fisheries biologist has many tasks and responsibilities revolving mostly around private ponds and fisheries. During our busiest times of the year - the Spring and Fall seasons (optimal times for pond management because it’s not too hot and not too cold) – you’ll find them out and about taking care of several important pond management aspects, but the three main ones are: fish stocking, electrofishing surveys, and lake fertilization.
Fish deliveries take up a majority of a biologist’s time during what we call “Fish Days” - the months of March through June and September through November. For an on-site fish stocking our biologists will load up and transport the fish to your property on a truck with specially designed fish-hauling tanks. Once they arrive at the property the biologist will begin to acclimate the fish to your pond's water for several minutes. When they have been acclimated to the water properly the biologist will release the fish into the pond. Fish deliveries take place if the customer’s order is too large to pick up from our location (they don’t have enough room to fit all the bagged fish in their personal vehicle) or if they live too far away from our location to safely get them to the pond without a proper aeration system. If you have any questions about what species of fish to stock or if you are within our delivery area, you’ll find lots of helpful information on our website. You can also check out this blog on Fish Stocking.
Another major service fisheries biologists provide during the peak season is performing electrofishing surveys. Fisheries biologists perform these surveys using an electrofishing boat, which creates an electrical field in the water and stuns the fish. The temporarily stunned fish float to the surface allowing the biologist to net them up and record their lengths and weights. Once our biologists have completed the survey and return to the office, they enter all of the data collected into a spreadsheet for analyzing and reporting. When they have analyzed all of the data, they write up a report that includes all of their results, findings, and recommendations. The recommendations include an outline of what the pond owner should do over the next couple of seasons in order to reach their pond management goals. If you have questions or want to learn more, or schedule a survey for your pond, please feel free to call the office or email email@example.com.
Lake fertilizer applications typically occur during the Spring and are recommended to customers with ponds greater than 2 acres. Smaller ponds can naturally get a bloom as a result of nutrient loading from runoff of the pond’s watershed. Prior to fertilizing a lake, the biologist must first ensure alkalinity is within the proper range to buffer any rapid pH change. Once confirmed with a water sample and titration, powdered or liquid fertilizer can be applied to the lake at rates dependent on total hardness of the water. Applications are made by mixing fertilizer in a tank and poured into the prop wash as a grid is driven through the lake to ensure equal distribution.
Okay, so we know what keeps you busy during “Fish Days”. What about during the off-season…what happens then?
A fisheries biologist’s job doesn’t end when “Fish Days” are over. During their “off-season” (Summer and Winter) they still manage to stay quite busy, but it looks a little different.
During the Summer months the main responsibilities they have revolve around ongoing pond maintenance. Since we offer monthly service contracts, our biologists are responsible for visiting those clients and taking care of any pond maintenance required to help keep the pond healthy and in-check. These tasks may include:
- Treating Vegetation
- Filling Fish Feeders
- Fountain/Aerator Maintenance
Since pond activity slows down during the Winter months (fish are less active, so they’re not feeding, vegetation has died off so there’s no need to treat it, and fountains are usually turned off) the Winter season becomes a perfect time for pond owners to be thinking about artificial habitat installation. During this time you’ll see our Fisheries Biologists helping out in the shop to get the habitat ready for an upcoming installation, and then traveling down the road with a trailer full of Honey Holes ready to find their new home! The biologist will have worked with the pond owner and developed a plan for type, quantity and location of this new artificial habitat, based on the pond owner’s goals and budget. When the biologist arrives on site, they’ll confirm the details of the locations with the pond owner, and get the habitat installed in the pond. Sometimes this is a newly dug pond, so the habitat is placed on/staked to the ground, and sometimes the pond is already filled with water, so it requires a boat for installation. Either way, the fisheries biologist will make sure the habitat is placed in the perfect location for creating that perfect Honey Hole. Curious on how much habitat you might need for your pond? Check out this blog.
If there’s a rainy day at the office, or a little downtime during the off-season, the fisheries biologists are also responsible for helping with content for blog posts, like the one you’re reading right now. They want to make sure to share as much knowledge as they can to help pond owners enjoy more time “Down at the Pond”.
As you can see, when you’re a fisheries biologist at Pond King, there’s hardly ever a “boring day at the office”. Our biologists love their jobs and everything that it entails. If you have questions about any of the services that we provide, give us a call and we’re happy to help!
Until next time….we’ll see y’all down at the pond!