California Streaming: Pond Stars Get Stocking

Building ponds is a wild job that requires the combined expertise of construction, landscaping, and biology. Boss, Greg Wittstock, scientist, Ed Beaulieu, and foreman, Brian Helfrich, are the Pond Stars. The team travels the United States creating working ecosystems that add beauty and bring wildlife into backyards and public areas all across America. On this week’s episode, the Pond Stars build a backyard trout stream and pond for Bart Strittmatter in the San Gabriel Mountains of California. The task is not without challenges, especially stocking the pond:

Building the perfect trout stream

Bart Strittmatter wants a running stream brimming with trout for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy. The Pond Stars work on constructing a 26 by 16-foot pond that will connect an 11 by 11-foot shallow pool through a narrow channel. This thick water will allow the trout to jump between the two, replicating what they do in nature. And from there, an impressive 30-foot stream and waterfall system will cascade down the hillside, churning the water and creating an oxygen-rich environment.

The team uses three different types of rock to reflect the geological diversity of the mountain. The aesthetics are only one aspect of the project, however. The guys also have to continue to consider the health of the fish. They dig a deeper pond to keep the water cooler, which is very important for trout species. The colder the water is, the higher the actual dissolved oxygen content, which is good for the fish. The deeper the pond is, the safer the fish will be. There are sure to be natural predators hoping for a snack; and depth as well as places to hide will protect the fish.

Protecting wild trout

All of these considerations are very similar to what biologists look at when working to restore habitats and protect California’s diminishing trout species. Many of the state’s native fish are in danger of extinction. According to California Trout, a nonprofit organization working to restore habit and save native species:

  • If present trends continue, 65% of native salmon, steelhead, and trout species will be extinct this century
  • 65% of the species headed towards extinction are found only in California
  • Of the state’s 9 living native inland fish, 78% are in danger of extinction

The coastal rainbow trout that Pond Stars add to their project are native and actually a species that is doing well in California. Originally, they were found in nearly all coastal streams from San Diego north throughout the state. They are one of the most studied species of California fish and have been widely introduced into suitable waters.  While the coastal rainbow trout are thriving,  increased competition with humans for resources, poor water quality, water mismanagement, barriers and water diversions, global warming and rising water temperatures are effecting other species.

Strittmatter’s backyard stream may not have an impact on native trout species, but it might do something just as important: teach the young members of his family to appreciate and admire these beautiful fish. Perhaps they will even grow up to be interested in their conservation. The kids are sure to be entranced by the beautiful trout stream the Pond Stars create, which mimics the natural ones in the surrounding area.

Tune in to Pond Stars: California Dreaming Tuesday September at 10P


  1. Juan Carlos
    Miami, FL
    September 16, 2014, 10:06 am


    I live in Miami, Fl and have a small pond in my back yard. Always wanted to increase its size and capacity to add more fishes to the pond.
    Wondering if your new program will consider taking a look at my pond for a possibility to create a new and much better pond.

    Thank you

  2. Celina
    Chehalis, WA.
    September 16, 2014, 10:32 pm

    The best new show on TV hooray for you guys!
    Do you build ponds that don’t use electricity or power equipment? Natural?
    Biological filters, gravity and solar powered with a return system that uses siphon systems instead of pumps, that’s my ultimate goal. Will you do a show featuring alternate methods like this?

  3. Anne Rinehart
    Fairfield, Ohio
    September 29, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Thank you fir helping us save our koi’s life this morning! Unbeknownst to us, our koi, Mobby (named for the famous whale since he’s one if 2 koi that live with 6 goldfish) jumped out if our little backyard pond while my husband was changing the filter. Gizmo, our 14 yr old blue tick/beagle dog stood guard over Mobby as he lay on the lawn. We don’t know how long Mobby was there. But we noticed Giz was just standing there and looking at us. I was devastated when I saw Mobby, motionless in the grass. But his gills moved. So my husband gently picked Uo Mobby and began therapeutically gliding Mobby forward & backward in the pond water. We saw this done on Pond Stars last week. The episode was of a team of men building a brown trout paradise in a backyard. Some of the trout(they wound up getting rainbow trout) had been revived on the show.
    Mobby jerked but when released he floated upside down. I could see his gills working, so remembering that the guys on the show explained the higher water oxygen level by the waterfalls I took snobby to our water flu and continued gliding him in the bubbly water under the fall. Much to our joy he responded after a couple if minutes. Once I released him he floated upside down for a second, but then righted himself and swam on his own. Out other koi (Willy, again with the famous whales!) was behind and below Mobby, seeming to push Mobby forward to keep him moving. Willy kept after Mobby, chasing him in this way for several minutes until finally Mobby seemed to have had enough if it and swing around to chase Willy.
    No by owes his life to Gizmo for noticing him and to Nat Geo and the guys who revived the rainbow trout! We would never have known what to do for Mobby if we hadn’t learned the technique used on your show.
    Thank you! We love the show! Come meet Mobby any time!!
    Anne & Scott Rinehart, Gizmo, Mobby & Willy

    • Meg Gleason
      September 30, 2014, 11:08 am

      Wow, thanks for sharing your story! So glad that Mobby is OK!