Written by James F. Burns
The elements in the pond food chain
What makes up the food chain in a pond ecosystem? It can seem deceptively simple, and at the same time, it is deceptively complicated, but for our purposes in lake management, there is a reasonably simple middle ground that ends in good pond and lake management, and good fishing. There are several elements in the food web for ponds and lakes, and they begin with a simple, single cell plant that exists just about everywhere.
In the life chain, that is, the pond food chain, the beginning is phytoplankton. We could take this back a little further, and say that the pond food chain begins with the presence of phytoplankton, which is seemingly present everywhere, and awaiting water, fertility, and sunlight to become active. Once all the elements are present in sufficient quantities, the process will begin, and continue as long as the elements remain in sufficient quantities to produce algae bloom.
Microinvertebrates, the mini sized creatures that exist in large numbers in pond and lake water, feed on phytoplankton. The more phytoplankton, the more of these little creatures.
These are the little bugs (under .5 millimeters) that exist in and around ponds and lakes, and feed on the microinvertebrates. Once again, the more of the microinvertebrates they have to eat, the higher the numbers.
Small fish exist in ponds, both small fingerlings of the larger species, and smaller species. These small fish eat the bugs that exist in the water, and once again, the more bugs exist, the more these small fish increase in number.
Now we are getting down to the brass tacks. Small fish provide food for larger fish, and the more small fish are available, the larger the large fish will grow.
Finally, if the food chain achieved good results, starting with the phytoplankton, and you are a reasonably good angler, you will have food for your own table!