Best Fish To Stock A Pond In Texas – Spring is a good time to start the process of stocking new ponds with fish, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.
College Station, AgriLife Extension Aquaculture Specialist earned a Ph.D. Many landowners believe that adding fish to their ponds results in healthy, sustainable fish populations, Todd Sink said. But a planned approach lays the foundation for successful establishment and fishing opportunities, starting with a good environment and a strong food chain.
Best Fish To Stock A Pond In Texas
A planned method takes time (up to three years) before a sport fish such as sea bass can be harvested, Sink said. But like most things in life, good things come to those who wait.
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“Everybody wants to rebuild the pool, but to do it right you have to focus on the long game,” he said. “Misstocking fish or harvesting fish in the wrong order can accelerate this process, leading to unstable populations and poor fisheries that will require years of intensive management to resolve.”
Creating a pond environment is the first and most critical step in protecting the food chain, from phytoplankton to larval fish, says Sink.
“Take water samples and determine pool chemistry,” says Sink. This is especially important in East Texas because the soil is generally acidic, leading to alkaline, low-acid water.
“Water testing catches problems and allows you to fix fish before stocking, and is useful in determining lime and fertilizer rates to optimize fish production,” he said.
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Landowners should strive to create an alkalinity level between 50-150 parts per million and a pH of 6-9, Sink says. This provides an optimal environment for the fish and the pond’s food chain.
Crushed agricultural limestone, slaked lime, quicklime or slaked lime can be added to low-alkalinity or low-pH ponds to create a more productive environment for pre-farming fish and their food, he said. Aquatic lime, quicklime, or slaked lime should not be added to ponds with fish, as rapid changes in pH can cause fish mortality.
Landowners with fish in their ponds can add crushed agricultural limestone or lime to restore the alkalinity or pH without creating unfavorable conditions for the fish population. These products cause gradual changes in pH.
Sink also recommends a fertilization program if landowners want to maximize fish production from their ponds. Most ponds enjoy 5-8 pounds of liquid or powdered phosphorus per square meter.
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“This creates a bloom of phytoplankton, which creates food for minnows, crabs, insects and other organisms at the bottom of the sporefish food chain, as well as for sporefish larvae,” he said. “Ponds don’t produce much food when fertilized.”
He said he could produce four to six times more fish without the recommended fertilization program. Fertilization can also prevent the formation of poorly rooted plants by blocking sunlight at the bottom of the pond.
Fertilization begins in the spring when the water temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees, Sink said. Most phytoplankton freeze below 60°C, so fertilization is ineffective at low temperatures.
“The most ideal aquatic plants are dormant at water temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius,” he said. Fertilizers above 65 degrees help root plants and cause serious pond disturbances.
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If fertilization doesn’t start in the spring, it can start at any time, Sink said. Make sure the water temperature is above 60 degrees. and treating rooted submersible plants with an approved aquatic herbicide prior to fertilization.
Fertilization should ideally begin 10 to 14 days after young fish are first stocked, Sink said. This develops a strong food chain and increases the chances of good fish populations.
Sink says the biggest mistake pond owners make is stocking all the goldfish at once. It is recommended to add 5-15 pounds of red manure per acre after the phytoplankton bloom. Minnows are easy prey and spawn several times in early summer. They make a good food source for the larger fish and catfish that are added later.
In the fall, Zink recommends adding 500 blueberry per acre, or 400 blueberry per acre and 100 sunflower per acre if not fertilized. If fertilizing, add 1,000 blue leaves or 800 blue leaves and 200 red snapper per acre.
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They’re significantly larger than the blue ones, and they don’t compete for food, Reeder said. However, in order to maintain a healthy population of ponds, there must be plenty of blue color. The reproduction rate of small sunflowers is insufficient.
“By keeping both species together, you end up with more forage fish in the pond because landowners aren’t competing for the same resources,” he said. “These bass have more baitfish and more species to catch in the fishery.”
Landowners should resist the temptation to add bluegills or sunflowers, as well as catfish and/or catfish, to their ponds, Sink said.
“At that point, discomfort starts to set in and they might think a few bass wouldn’t hurt,” Sink said. “But adding catfish or fish means the bait fish will be eaten before they have a chance to grow. This throws off the balance as there are too many predators and too few bait fish. “As a result, bass and catfish decline.”
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It should be introduced as a supplement in May or June, Bass said. Catfish should be ready for stocking in July or August.
He said that for every 10 sunfish kept in the ponds, one larval fish should be kept. So for 500 fish stocked per acre, zinc adds 50 cents.
Creating a pond environment that creates a pond environment takes time, effort, and money, but it’s worth it if the goal is to create a great fishing spot.
He said 50 channel or bluefish can be stocked per hectare. With a proper fertilization and feeding program, 100 catfish per hectare can be added. Supplemental feed should be given two or three times a week. Catfish can be added at any time after the catfish have been saved.
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Pond owners should not keep catfish unless they plan to harvest 2 pounds or more, he said. The limited forage in the pond is large catfish prey, reducing food for preferred species such as roach.
“If a pond owner sells 100 2-inch channel catfish, the pond will have 200 to 300 kilograms of catfish in two years,” he said. “This accounts for more than one-third of the carrying capacity of most 1-acre ponds. This 300-pound fish eats large amounts of forage fish, sea bass, and large commercial shrimp. So you have to ask which is more important, the extra 300kg of sea bass and wild duck or the 300kg of catfish? “If the answer is a cat, go sell the cat.”
Pond owners should begin producing quality fish within three years of properly stocking the ponds. But they speed up the process by adding more minnows, blues and reds in the first two years.
But well owners said the process could be expedited by a year. March through May, only ripe 6-inch blueberries and red sunflowers. These fish spawn within the first year and can be kept in May or June with 2-3 inch smallmouth bass.
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“The number of dead fish is still the same, and you’re going to be ready to reproduce with a bigger sunfish,” he said. “It’s costly because buying mature fish can cost three times as much as the initial stock.”
If the fish aren’t killed, he says, there’s never a need to stock up on more stock because the stock often fills the ponds.
“When fishing starts to decline in a pond, people think the answer is to stock more fish, especially in stock,” he said. “But you have to think of a pond as a container with a limited amount of food that can be produced. Too many mouths to feed reduces the amount of food per fish, thereby reducing growth. If you don’t have fish in your pond. Be as fast or as big as you want, the answer is to stock up on more fish. . Focus mainly on predatory fish such as bass and catfish. If you remove the mouth that needs to be fed, there will be more food. The rest of the fish and they will grow faster.”
Pond management is different from managing large reservoirs or rivers because it is based on a catch-and-eat plan, Sink said. Catch-and-release designs commonly used in large reservoirs and rivers can overwhelm fish in small bodies of water.
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He said the key to stocking healthy fish stocks and raising large fish is to harvest corn from the third year onward. Most ponds require a 6- to 10-inch harvest of at least 10 pounds of larvae per acre to maintain a healthy food chain.
In the event of a target cup round, Sink said the pool owner would have to collect £25.