How to Build Freshwater Fish Reef

Written by kristy lewallen
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How to Build Freshwater Fish Reef
Freshwater fish reefs are built to attract fish. (underwater 3 image by Cesar Andrade from

A freshwater fish reef is made up of objects that provide cover, structure and a habitat for spawning. Most lakes and ponds have natural reefs but creating an artificial reef can be done with old Christmas trees, brush or other items that attract freshwater fish. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, before building a freshwater reef in a public lake or pond, you must contact the United States Army Corps of Engineers to get a permit. This process will determine if the artificial reef will be beneficial and not cause harm to the fish, water or environment.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Brush
  • Wire
  • Concrete blocks
  • Real Christmas tree
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Concrete
  • Old tires
  • 100 wooden stakes 4 to 7 feet long, 2 inches wide
  • Plywood 8 feet long, 4 feet wide
  • Hammer
  • Nails

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  1. 1

    Gather brush into a pile that is 5 to 6 feet high and tie them together with sturdy wire. To prevent the brush pile from floating to the top of the water, attach one or two concrete blocks using wire. Sink it in the desired location.

  2. 2

    Attach a concrete block to an artificial Christmas tree using wire to keep it from floating. You can also place the trunk of the tree in a 5-gallon bucket, then fill it with concrete. Mix the concrete according to the instructions on the bag. Let the concrete harden before placing it into the water.

  3. 3

    Pour mixed concrete into the sidewall of a tire and allow it to harden. This will add weight to the tire and prevent it from floating. You can also tie three tires together using wire, to form a pyramid, then add concrete to the sidewall of the bottom tire to weigh it down.

  4. 4

    Drive stakes into the ground underwater to build a freshwater fish reef. Stakes can be placed in a circle, square or rectangle and should be 12 inches apart to allow fish to swim between them. You can only do this when water levels are low and the lake bed is easily accessible. If this is not possible, nail the stakes to a piece of plywood at least 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. Make sure you spread them evenly, allowing 12 inches between them. Float it to where you want it, then place concrete blocks directly on it to sink it.

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