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What Is the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?

Home, Lawn, and Lake Service in Central Florida

Large pond with lily pads and aquatic weeds - lake and pond management by Sorko Services in Central Florida
In Florida, we are fortunate to have so many beautiful bodies of water all around us. Countless rivers, lakes, and springs throughout the state have caused many to fall in love with the landscape, and the sea brings millions of visitors every year. There are so many bodies of water that there are several different terms which roughly refer to the same thing, like “river,” “stream,” “canal,” and “creek.” Another popular instance of this is “lake” and “pond.” This begs the question, is there an actual difference between the two or is it merely colloquial?

Lakes and Ponds

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what makes a lake a lake and a pond a pond. Here are some of the criteria people throw out for differentiating the two.
  • Size

    Obviously, the first thing you might jump to is size: lakes are bigger and ponds are smaller. This is how many people use these terms. You wouldn’t call the koi pond at the shopping center a koi lake just as you wouldn’t call a retention pond a retention lake. Some governments and municipalities declare that ponds are under 12 acres, others say five, and others believe it is 20. So, there’s no hard and fast size cutoff between lakes and ponds. But in general, ponds are smaller than lakes.
  • Vegetation

    Scientists who study bodies of fresh water have suggested that we differentiate the two by the ability of aquatic plants to grow. Specifically, they suggest that ponds are shallow enough to support rooted aquatic plants, like water lilies, to grow throughout. Lakes must then be deeper than ponds.
  • Light

    Related to the vegetation criterion, some have argued that ponds should be classified as bodies of water where light can reach to the bottom of the water bed. This means that lakes are too deep for sunlight to penetrate all the way down. The technical scientific way of expressing this is that ponds are “photic” and lakes are “aphotic.”
  • Surface Action

    Others still have proposed that lakes are bodies of water in which waves can roll up to the shoreline, whereas ponds are too small to have surface action creating waves large enough to affect the shore. This seems an especially unsatisfactory definition because of its arbitrariness, and seems most related to the size criterion.

Land and Pond Management

Clearly, there isn’t a universally accepted scientific differentiation of lakes and ponds beyond that lakes are generally larger. What this means practically is that, at Sorko Services, we don’t care whether you call the body of water on your property a lake or a pond — we can take care of it for you. Whether the algae is out of control or it is infested with weeds, we can get it back to being healthy again so you can get back to doing the things you love. Call us today to learn more about our aquatic services or to schedule an inspection at 407-878-4492.

What Is the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond? in Central Florida

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