How to Stock a Pond
Article by Victoria Marsala
Most commercial hatcheries suggest many species of fish that a fishpond owner can purchase for stocking into his or her fishpond. A number of these varieties are better suited for the pond location than others, along with some can actually cause tribulations. The objective of this information sheet is to provide information on which fish varieties are recommended for stocking, those varieties that are often stocked but rarely provide the benefit intended, along with those varieties that should not be stocked into a fishpond. Included are those species that are typically obtainable in Ohio for pond stocking. There may be species not on this list that the pond owner is familiar with, but they are rarely available commercially.
Recommended speciesLargemouth BassThis species is the best killer for stocking into ponds to maintain a strong fish society. They have evolved to reproduce and kill successfully in warm, vegetated areas of lakes. While youthful, largemouth bass kill on minute animals but promptly switch to a diet program of fish as well as crayfish.
Stocking 100, 2-4 inch fingerlings for each acre is recommended for a new pond or intended for restocking subsequent to a fish kill. Largemouth bass reproduce fine in ponds, so supplemental stocking is only desired if unnecessary harvest has occurred. In this case, the possessor ought to stock 50, 4-6 inch fish for every acre. An alternative supplemental stocking, albeit more expensive, is to stock twenty, 8-10 inch bass for every acre. This second approach lets the pond to go back to a required condition more speedily.
BluegillBluegills additionally prosper in a good way in shallow, warm, vegetated places of lakes as well as therefore are the most commonly stocked varieties to provide food for largemouth bass. They are productive spawners as well as can hastily become short if ample numbers of bass are not present and/or the fishpond results in being choked with vegetation. Little bluegill swallow tiny pets, whilst adults kill on bugs, fish eggs, petite crayfish, in addition to occasionally small fish.
Stocking 500, 1-3 inch fingerlings for each acre is recommended for a new pond or for restocking after a fish kill. Bluegills reproduce very well in ponds so supplemental stocking is rarely needed. Should supplemental stocking be necessary, the owner should stock 250, 3-5 inch fish per acre to avoid having them eaten by largemouth bass or other predators.
Redear SunfishThis varieties provides an alternative to bluegills. They offer three advantages that cause some fishpond owners to stock them. First, they generally grow larger than bluegills. Second, they are voracious predators of fishpond snails whose abundance can displease some pond owners. Third, they produce fewer adolescent than bluegills plus are not as likely to become little.
Because of their lower reproduction rate, redear sunfish, when stocked alone, rarely provide enough kill to maintain a strong bass population. Therefore, it is recommended that redear sunfish along with bluegills be stocked together. Stocking 250, 1-3 inch redear along with 250 bluegill fingerlings per acre is recommended for a new fishpond or for restocking after a fish kill. Should supplemental stocking be necessary, the owner should stock 250, 3-5 inch fish for every acre to avoid having them eaten by largemouth bass or other predators.
Channel CatfishChannel catfish grow very well in ponds in addition to do not cause problems unless overstocked. They will not reproduce in ponds unless containers are provided for them to spawn in. It is not recommended that containers be provided as that can cause an overpopulation of catfish. New ponds can be stocked with 100, 2-4 inch fingerlings per acre. Existing ponds should be stocked with 100, 4-6 inch fish for every acre to avoid having them eaten by the resident bass population.
Fathead Minnow/Golden ShinerThese are two minnow varieties that, by themselves, do very well in ponds. Their populations decline dramatically in the presence of largemouth bass. Their stocking is recommended in two situations. In a new pond, stocking 1,000 adult minnows or shiners for every acre will provide provisions for stocked bass until bluegills as well as/or redear sunfish can spawn in addition to produce juvenile for bass to consume. The second situation is in ponds where the owner only wants to fish for largemouth bass. Stocking 1,000 adult minnows or shiners for every acre on several occasions throughout the year can result in a quality bass fishery. The pond owner should be careful when purchasing minnows or shiners. Occasionally, fingerling carp plus bullheads will contaminate a load of minnows/shiners. If they reproduce after stocking, severe problems can occur.
Grass CarpThis species is used primarily to control submerged vegetation problems. Grass carp grow along with survive well if the plant varieties in attendance are those they will readily swallow. It is generally recommended that 15-20 per acre be stocked if the fishpond has a severe (> 60% coverage) vegetation problem, 8-12 for every acre if there is 40-60% vegetation coverage, along with 4-6 per acre if coverage is 20-40%. In ponds with little vegetation, it is recommended not to stock grass carp as a lack of chow results in their poor survival.Note: in Ohio, it is only legal to stock sterile, triploid grass carp. It is advisable to verify with your fish provider that the grass carp you purchase are indeed triploids.
Other Commonly Stocked varietiesA variety of other species are stocked into ponds with varying degrees of success. Stocking rates have not been developed for these species. In general, the owner should not stock more than 100 for every acre of any of the following varieties.
Yellow PerchYellow perch is a frequently stocked species into Ohio?s ponds. They tolerate warmer water in addition to prefer vegetated spots, conditions common in Ohio ponds. However, reproduction is highly variable from year to year, along with they eat identical foods that bass along with bluegills gobble.
WalleyeWalleye is a marauder species of large rivers in addition to lakes. They grow poorly along with do not reproduce in ponds. A few stocked walleye may survive plus provide a novelty catch to anglers, but a pond owner should not rely on them to keep a pond in balance.
Northern PikeThis species is a killer inhabiting weedy, shallow areas but do poorly in Ohio ponds because they require cool water in summer. Like walleye, a few stocked pike may survive in addition to provide a novelty catch to anglers, but a pond owner should not rely on them to keep a fishpond in balance.
Black plus White CrappieEach year, many of Ohio?s largest crappies are caught in ponds, so it is understandable that many pond owners want to stock them. However, both crappie species are unpredictable in ponds. In the best case scenario, the stocked crappies grow well but reproduce poorly plus do not overpopulate the fishpond. Frequently, the opposite happens. Reproduction is high as well as small crappies overpopulate. They prey heavily on fry bluegills as well as bass, plus populations of these desirable varieties decline. When stocking crappies, it is recommended that a high adult bass density be maintained to ?crop? off small crappies should they become abundant.
Smallmouth BassAlthough closely related to the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass prefer habitats very different than their cousin. This is a varieties that does best in rivers, streams, and very large lakes with an abundance of rock, gravel, along with sand. While smallmouth bass stocked in ponds may survive as well as provide the occasional novelty catch, they often grow slowly plus do not reproduce. The exception to this would be the deeper, borrow pit ponds around Ohio where the bottom is largely sand as well as gravel. Smallmouth bass do fairly well in these systems.
Rainbow TroutRainbow trout will only survive in Ohio?s ponds from mid-October through April because of their need for cold water. Ohio?s ponds are too warm for their survival for the period of summer. Some pond owners stock them in fall to provide a winter fishery, and hope nearly all are caught by the end of April.
Hybrid Striped BassIt is not recommended that this species be stocked into ponds containing existing largemouth bass populations as severe competition problems will exist. They do well when stocked alone with either fathead minnows or golden shiners. They do not reproduce in ponds, so supplemental stockings are needed if harvest is allowed.
Not RecommendedCommon CarpCarp can very speedily turn a pond a muddy color if allowed to persist at even low densities. Their spawning as well as bottom-feeding activities constantly disturb bottom mud plus keep it suspended throughout the water. No recommended species does well in a muddy fishpond. If a few carp are in a pond, the owner is well-served by maintaining a very high largemouth bass population to ensure enough predation on small carp to keep carp numbers very low.
Yellow, Brown, or Black BullheadWhile channel catfish are acceptable in ponds, these closely related varieties are not. At high densities, they also cause a pond to become muddy. Their very high reproduction rate coupled with their predation on bass as well as bluegill eggs can hastily result in them overpopulating a fishpond.
Green SunfishWhile a cousin to the bluegill along with redear sunfishes, this sunfish species should not be stocked into ponds. They rarely grow more than six inches, but their very large mouth allows them to out-compete other sunfish varieties as well as small largemouth bass. When stocked into a pond, they rapidly become an abundant varieties at the expense of desirable species.
Purchasing ConsiderationsIt is recommended that the pond owner go to a commercial hatchery with the attitude ?these are the varieties I want to stock? rather than asking the question ?which fish varieties should I stock?? The phrase ?buyer beware? certainly applies to fish purchases because it is impossible to return them if the pond owner is not satisfied with that varieties? performance. Plus, if a varieties is stocked as well as it causes problems, it can be expensive to correct the problem.
The pond owner?s fish management goal should be of his or her own choosing, as well as not be influenced by what the hatchery may have to sell. Commercial hatcheries, being a business, need to make money as well as some less-reputable hatcheries will recommend a species just to move the inventory. Fortunately, most Ohio commercial hatcheries realize the success of their business depends on keeping fishpond owners satisfied as well as not selling species that will cause problems.
When to Stock Fish?Fish stocking should always be achieved for the duration of either fall or spring, preferably at what time water temperatures are less than 65 degrees F. Never stock a pond if water temperatures exceed 75 degrees F. Handling stress is abridged inside cooler water but will cause delayed, above what is usual mortality in warm water. Also, the water temperatures in the truck?s hauling container and in the pond should only differ by no more than 5 degrees F at stocking. A larger difference can shock the fish in addition to lead to mortality. Minimum differences are achieved most frequently in spring plus fall. If the temperature difference exceeds 5 degrees F, pond water should be added to the container slowly so that the temperature change does not exceed 2 degrees F for each hour. This requires the deliverer to remain longer than planned (which they don?t like). It is a good idea to take your pond?s water temperature the evening before the delivery along with provide that information to the hatchery selected. They can then load the delivery truck with water that closely matches your fishpond?s temperature.
SummaryYears of research in addition to experience with fish stockings have demonstrated that largemouth bass in addition to bluegills are the two species most suitable for stocking Ohio ponds. Redear sunfish in addition to channel catfish are stocking options that in most instances perform well for the pond owner. Grass carp can be stocked if vegetation control is desired as well as several minnow varieties, when stocked initially, will provide cuisine until the sunfish species begin to reproduce.
Stocking of common carp, bullheads, or green sunfish is to be avoided. All these varieties can lead to considerable degradation of the fishpond plus its fish population. Another source of these species in ponds is the bait bucket. Many bait stores receive their minnows from wild sources as well as often contain small carp, bullheads, or green sunfish. Many fishpond owners prohibit the use of minnows in their ponds for the period of fishing.
A variety of other fish varieties are stocked into ponds, often because pond owners are familiar with them for the duration of fishing trips to Lake Erie or the state?s many large reservoirs. These varieties do poorly in ponds in addition to at best, will provide a novelty catch for the angler. In some cases, they may actually cause problems. White in addition to black crappies are an example of such a varieties.
fishpond owners should be proactive as well as determine in advance the species they want to stock. This avoids ?being talked? into varieties that will provide little return to the owner. Fish stocking should always occur either in spring or fall. Summer stocking can cause considerable stress to fish in addition to ultimately their death. Pay attention to differences in water temperature between truck tanks as well as the pond to be stocked. Minimize those differences.
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