History of Zumberge Pond

Where the fish came from, how many and what species

By Jess Hodge | 4/19/17 9:12pm

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Students gather around the Zumberge pond and enjoy the mild weather on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Zumberge Pond. Nearly every student at Grand Valley State University walks near it, sits on the steps next to it or takes a nap in the hammocks beside it. However, most students do not know the history behind the pond, and its inhabitants.

Some students have speculated there may not be any fish, or there might only be a few. Rumors have circled that the fish die off each winter and the university has to constantly replace them. 

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Students gather around the Zumberge pond and enjoy the mild weather on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Ken Stanton, the landscape operations supervisor for GVSU’s Facilities Services, said there are plenty of fish in the pond which are there as a result of construction about 10 years ago and have been there ever since. Inside the pond swim around 650 fish. There are largemouth bass, bluegills and a few perch as well.

Stanton said it all started with a building addition to Kirkhof Center. As a result on the construction, there was some run off that muddied up the water. That, in turn, started to kill the fish in the pond. Soon, a team had to go into the pond and scoop the dead, floating fish out of the pond.

“It killed off the fish (because) it took the oxygen supply out of the water,” Stanton said. “There was probably 50 or so fish dying off because of that.”

Stanton said they waited until the project was complete and then they contacted a company in Grant, Michigan that does work with ponds.

They concluded it would take about 650 fish to restock the pond, even though a pond of that size could hold up to 1,000 fish.

In addition to the bass, bluegills and perch, minnows were also purchased as a foraging food for the fish.

“We don’t feed them, it’s all natural, as far as them (finding food),” Stanton said. The only treatment for the pond is a weed treatment, Stanton said, to keep the weeds from overgrowing.

Not only did GVSU provide new fish, but it also provided new technology to help the fish survive the harsh Michigan winters and the sizzling summers.

There are aerators that keep weeds down and provide additional oxygen for the fish. They are taken out when fall season rolls around.

For winter, there were bubblers installed. These are closer to sidewalk and they bubble water and produce oxygen and prevent that portion of the pond from freezing over.

“It’s been pretty successful,” Stanton said. “It’s been nice to see and know that we were successful in our endeavor.”

Stanton did warn students they are not allowed to fish from the pond. Although there are fish, fishing is strictly prohibited and students are subject to punishment if they are found fishing. 

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