Tilapia or Threadfin Shad?

Posted by: Fishman Dan

Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/22/17 04:28 PM

If you could only stock one to complement an existing CNBG base, which would you choose?

Pond is about 10-12 acres, located in NE Texas, native and FL LMB, crappie as well...

Just curious what people think. Gets a bit pricey stocking both! frown
Posted by: Zep

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/22/17 06:10 PM

Threadfins won't help on FA...but the threadfins will probably survive a winter or two or three....

I wonder if an "every other year rotation" might work well?
Posted by: highflyer

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/22/17 06:18 PM

Tilapia for me.
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/22/17 07:00 PM

"Gets a bit pricey stocking both!" How bad you want trophy bass? Big ponds cost more money and require more man hours of management.

Reduce your current density of bass by good, dedicated, proper, selective harvest and you will not need more forage. Reduce the number of foxes eating chickens and there will be more chickens for feeding each fox. Then each one will get big and fat. It is a numbers and balance game. Know how to play it to win and reach your goals.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 09:04 AM

I am fairly new at ponds with only a 2.5 yr's of experience. My pond has TFS and Tp during certain times of the year. I spend much of my free time reading. I have read many times, ALL trophy bass ponds have shad. The problem with TFS in our area of E Texas is they will most likely die off every 3 to 5 years due to cold weather events. And it might happen a couple of years back to back. So TFS is a gamble with good results when the gamble works out. Also stocking them might be expensive but if the cost is spread out over 5 years then not so much. Tp is another plus for lmb ponds but they need to be restocked every year, so maybe the cost of stocking may be more expensive in the long run. So for me, for now, I stock both.
Posted by: Snakebite

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 09:27 AM

I would like to see the results of a study showing Tilapia vs TFS which obtain better growth results. That alone would be my determining factor weather to stock which ever species.
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 12:17 PM

They are different tools for owners to consider. A comparison would not work . It is key to learning the plus and minus for each as they apply to your goals and water.
Posted by: Fishman Dan

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 07:34 PM

Thanks for the replies!
I've owned the lake for ten years now. When we bought it, my three girls were young (10, 8, 6) and we were more interested in quantity than quality. The girls would bring friends out and we would always catch a mess of 1-2 pound bass, with the occasional 4-5 pounder mixed in every now and then. Now, the two older daughters are in college and the third will be heading out next year. As such, my focus has switched to trophy bass. I've stocked TFS a few times over the years, and tilapia a couple times as well -- including last year, after I noticed that some TFS had made it through the winter. I suppose I'll try the same thing this year -- see if the TFS make it. It has been pretty mild, with the exception of two cold snaps that lasted a few days each. The last one, a couple weeks ago, caused about 20% of the lake to freeze over about 1/2 inch thick. I guess we'll see...
BTW: I run three feeders for the CNBG and have a VERY healthy population!
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 07:58 PM

Your answer is not in adding more forage fish!! For growing larger bass you need to be removing bass not adding more forage fish.

The 'general' rule for how many bass to remove per acre when large bass are the goal and bass smaller than 14" are predominate, is to start by removing at least 15 lbs to 20lbs of bass per acre for all bass less than 14"-15". KEEP GOOD RECORDS. So you have your work 'cut out' for you this year. 150-200 lbs of LMB is a lot of bass. Who said larger ponds are easy to manage??

Expert advice is then if you find it easy to near the end to take out 150-200 lbs/10 acres it is probably not enough. The you need to work toward 25-30 lbs per acre. AT this point you should start to see the average size of bass caught is getting larger.

Once you start seeing larger bass in the catch, you need to maintain the effort to annually be removing bass less than 12" to amount to at least 10 lbs/acre. You know you are removing enough bass when the largest bass of this year get larger the next year (Catch records verify this). When largest size bass your are seeing limits out at any weight less than 9-10 lbs you are not harvesting enough bass each year.

Selectively removing male bass can be helpful but this is difficult during most of the year. Male bass do not get as big as the females - protect them when you can to have more bigger faster growing potential. You can tell females easily for about three months, look for red swollen urogential opening. You may not get it 100% correct but try to target males vs females during the spring spawn.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 08:22 PM

Originally Posted By: TGW1
...ALL trophy bass ponds have shad. ...


I've seen that as well. Another current thread I've been involved in cautions about making Absolute statements when it comes to pond management so.....I would revise that to say

ALL trophy LMB ponds have shad, except for the ones that don't. smile
Posted by: Fishman Dan

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/23/17 08:26 PM

Thanks, Bill! Should have also mentioned that I've been culling bass (under 14") over the years with a goal of 200 per year. I haven't reached that goal, but I've gotten in the 150-175 range a few times. In 2016 I only culled about 100 pounds, but I've made a New Year's resolution to hit my goal this year and in the future. Each year had produced a new lake record, with the biggest being an 8.5 pounder caught last June. I'm hoping 2017 or 2018 is the year we catch a double digit bass, which led to my original query.
Appreciate the info on telling the males from the females -- I'll give that a shot as well.
Posted by: Dave Davidson1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 07:41 AM

Hey Dan, how is Big Red?
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 09:41 AM

Think I'll chime in on this one.
Here's our experiences, based on 35+ years of using threadfin shad in client lakes and ten years using tilapia, in Texas.
I was hesitant to use tilapia because of what I believed to be true. What I thought was that people would stock them into existing, overcrowded bass lakes. Tilapia would reproduce prolifically, then die off every fall and leave an overcrowded bass lake with more mass, with even less food than when they started. Then, there'd be a mess to clean up in the fall. That's not what happens. We've learned that when we stock ten pounds per surface acre into a bass-crowded lake, we see an increase in survival rates of young of the year bluegills every fall. When we stock 20 pounds per surface acre, we see algae control, and we see increased survival rates of young of the year bluegill, going into the fall. As the water temperature begins to decrease in the fall, tilapia become sluggish and game fish gorge themselves on those tilapia. The few big ones which die are quickly cleaned up by buzzards, and on some client lakes, bald eagles eat them. Stomach contents of bass studied in lakes with tilapia suggest larger bass don't necessarily feed on small tilapia. I believe small tilapia feed the smaller bass and simply by sheer numbers allow bluegill survival rates to rise. This management strategy certainly doesn't preclude bass harvest. That has to happen for long term growth rates.
Threadfin shad live in a totally different niche than tilapia. They live in open water and are filter feeders. They need plankton in order to have reasonable survival rates and to become enough mass to be substantial. Threadfins are primarily preyed on by intermediate-sized bass.
So, I see them as two completely different tools. I've not seen any evidence that threadfins assist in survival rates of young bluegills.
But, every trophy bass lake we manage has threadfin shad.
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 11:41 AM

Here is one study finding to think about. No tilapia in this study as IIRC AL did not allow them.


PRIVATELY-OWNED SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS OF CENTRAL ALABAMA: A SURVEY AND EVALUATION OF MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES AND ENHANCEMENTS
Norman Victor Haley, III

Auburn University

Bluegill
Negative interaction between bluegill and threadfin shad has been a concern when stocking threadfin shad into small impoundments; in particular, the effects of interspecific competition between bluegill and threadfin shad for zooplankton and its potential to reduce bluegill recruitment, adult condition, and density have been of interest (Tharatt 1966; Miller 1971; DeVries and Stein 1990; DeVries et al. 1991). I found that ponds that contained threadfin shad had some of the lowest zooplankton densities when compared to other management strategies. If threadfin shad were negatively affecting bluegill, I would have expected to see length-frequency distributions skewed towards shorter lengths, lower CPUE of stock-size bluegill, lower Wr, higher probability of occurring in quadrant 2 or 4 (i.e. bluegill PSD ≥20), and higher bluegill PSD in ponds where threadfin shad were stocked. Because bluegill size structure, CPUE, Wr, and PSDs, and quadrant probabilities were similar across all fertilized and threadfin shad enhanced ponds, I conclude that threadfin shad did not negatively affect bluegill in fertilized small impoundments.
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 12:18 PM

IMO the study that ewest provided above produced those results because the test ponds were fertilized. Fertilization is very important here. Proper fertilization allows a lot more plankton, sometimes to excess, to be produced which is why fertilizer is used. However, if the study was conducted in unfertilized ponds the outcome would be different and IMO the opposite due to BG and TFS both having to compete for a now limiting, not an excess plankton resource.

For understanding a research study's results it is very important to know all the methods used and the implications of what effects those methods are capable of causing.


Here is my 2 cents on this talking point:
Forage is forage. TFS and another species such as tilapia will diversify the food base. As noted TFS feed in a different niche than the BG and many of the other common forage items. Tilapia are also adaptable to feed on various types of foods. Each type of forage item can serve a purpose which generally enhances the food base as the diversity increases. As the BG and other forage tends to get depleted the TFS are hopefully abundant. TFS can get to 7" and maximum reported is 8". Each of those even at 4.5"-6" make a good meal when a few are eaten each day. Plus TFS are high in food value more than BG. LMB are very adaptable when it comes to feeding so they will easily figure out and switch to the pelagic feeding opportunity. I haven't read Lusks post yet. But your question or my answer may be appropriate for the thread. I will decide when I read Lusk's input. Lusk says he is going to make more time to post on the forum.
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 07:05 PM

Bill I will send you the study.

I agree in principal. This area has some very low productivity ponds. I think a better term than fertilized would be fertile as many normal fertile ponds (no fertilizer) would still do ok and fall under his results. The unfertile ponds studied had poor results for all species. Small ponds have to be fertile to support tshad.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 08:08 PM

Just when I think I am getting my arms around this subject just a little bit, I run across this reprint of a PBM article providing that GSD are the "best" forage in a trophy bass pond and explains why TFS are not.

http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/gizzard_shad.html

I am very confused at this point and very thankful the goal for my pond is not trophy bass. All the inputs seem credible but appear to provide conflicting conclusions.
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 08:22 PM

Seemingly conflicting conclusions because the ecosystem is very complex and interconnected. Every forage species has its pros & cons and how it performs with the other species in the pond/lake. Pond ecosystems are very complex systems. The more species that are present the more complex the pond becomes because everyone and most everything present interacts with each other.

A very similar complexity is all the components of the human body from chemicals, cells, organs to behavior which is why there are so many specialist doctors for humans. One has to carefully analyze or know someone to analyze all the options and the repercussions of using each species in a pond and how everything interacts. In many cases the average pond person and some 'experts' are not well capable of knowing all the consequences of every management action. Usually it amounts to GUESS WORK as in 'practicing' Medicine of using the best guess option.

One of the big negatives that I have seen with the gizzard shad(GSD) is when plankton becomes limiting, the GSD will begin foraging in the sediments for benthic algae, detritus and organic based sediment as food sources. Depending on specifics and morphometry of the pond/like basin, the bottom GSD foraging often leads to turbid water. Muddy, turbid water to the point of it strongly suppressing light penetration for plankton growth. Cloudy water then perpetuates due to bottom foraging shad, lack of plankton to properly feed shad, and this then impacts all the other pond members including the biggest bass in pond food web that directly and indirectly depend on phyto and zooplankton as the basis for productivity.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 09:09 PM

FishmanDan,

I apologize for the slight hijack but maybe it will provide some benefit to you as well.

Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
....One of the big negatives that I have seen with the gizzard shad(GSD) is when plankton becomes limiting, the GSD will begin foraging in the sediments for benthic algae, detritus and organic based sediment as food sources. Depending on specifics and morphometry of the pond/like basin, the bottom GSD foraging often leads to turbid water. Muddy, turbid water to the point of it strongly suppressing light penetration for plankton growth. Cloudy water then perpetuates due to bottom foraging shad, lack of plankton to properly feed shad, and this then impacts all the other pond members including the biggest bass in pond food web that directly and indirectly depend on phyto and zooplankton as the basis for productivity.


As always, thanks for educating me Bill.

Guys, Last questions I promise.

I understand now the GSD stir up the bottom if the plankton becomes limited and the possible downsides of that event. What do the TFS do for chow when the plankton is limited?

From an "appropriate size forage" standpoint, it seems to me it is better to have a double digit bass expend energy to catch 1 large GSD than the energy required to catch several TFS. Is that an incorrect assumption? Is it maybe TFS are easier to catch?

Is there a time when GSD are appropriate in a stocking plan?

Thanks,

Bill D.

Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/24/17 10:32 PM

Gshad are a different story. They effect a system in a much different way. Gshad often will take up a very large part of the biomass 60 to 70 % harming all other species in one fashion or another. They often get to big to be forage. Many threads here on the subject.
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 08:51 AM

Gizzard shad, as adults, mostly forage shallow, muddy lake bottoms. The reason they are called "gizzard shad" is because they have a gizzard. They can break up small mussels, tiny crustaceans and bottom-dwelling insects and worms. They have a subterminal mouth, which is a clue how they behave. Threadfin shad are filter feeders. When they run out of food, they starve. If gizzard shad can access shallow muddy areas, they thrive.

There are many differences between those two species. Although they look similar, they are completely different. Here are a few differences. Understanding those differences help up understand the roles they play in our lakes and ponds.

Threadfin shad:
1) Grow to 7", I've handled millions of them (literally) and have not seen one larger than that.
2) Average lifespan is about 18 months.
3) Because their lifespan is so short, they spawn often, every 45-90 days when the temperature is right.
4) They lay their eggs on grassy substrate, along the shore, starting about an hour before daylight, until shortly after the sun comes up.
5) Threadfins have a huge spawning run in spring, subsequent spawns are made of smaller runs.
6) They are filter feeders, preferring more pelagic waters.
7) Threadfins die when water temperatures drop into the low 40's.
8) Since they prefer mostly open water, and are fairly small, their biggest predator in managed ponds are intermediate-sized largemouth bass. Big bass tend to not pursue threadfins.

Gizzard shad:
1) Grow beyond 17" and can weigh more than two pounds.
2) Average lifespan is 4 years, can live up to 5 or 6.
3) They spawn once yearly, dumping upwards of 250,000 eggs at once into the water column.
4) Young gizzard shad, like many fish, glean their food from the water column, preferring plankton and tiny insects.
5) Grow really fast. I've seen gizzard shad go from egg to 10" in one growing season.
6) I've seen many muddy ponds and lakes where gizzard shad are the cause.
7) With huge numbers and fast growth rates, they can become the dominant species in a pond, if there aren't enough top end predators.
8) This next is an opinion, based on sparse research and many years experience. Gizzard shad, once they reach a certain density, inhibit reproduction, not only of their species, but limit recruitment of other species in that system. I believe (heavy on the word "believe") they give off a pheromone that disrupts spawning. When that happens, nature often makes a correction via a winterkill of aging adult gizzard shad.

General knowledge about each species.
1) When my company manages a lake for trophy bass, we always stock threadfin shad to boost growth of young bass.
2) Once we can estimate that 20-25% of our bass population has reach 2.5 pounds, we'll stock gizzard shad. We don't want gizzard shad to become the dominant species, so we want enough bass large enough to prey on fast growing gizzard shad. Big bass prefer big meals, and gizzard shad provide that.

Those are my shad thoughts for today.
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 12:24 PM

Now that we have some good information about shad (TFS & GSD) this thread is now stored in the archives.
Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 12:32 PM

What Bill said!!
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 01:02 PM

Here is a thread on gizzard shad with tons of links with info.

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=417321&page=1

Adult gizzard shad pic source SDSU- Dave Willis.




Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 06:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
.....
Those are my shad thoughts for today.


Thanks for your shad thoughts Bob! Really helped me "connect the dots" by showing the connections between a lot info that had previously seemed in conflict to me.
Posted by: Zep

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 08:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
Stomach contents of bass studied in lakes with tilapia suggest larger bass don't necessarily feed on small tilapia.


I wonder why that is?
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 09:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Zep
Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
Stomach contents of bass studied in lakes with tilapia suggest larger bass don't necessarily feed on small tilapia.


I wonder why that is?


Maybe the pivotal word is "small" in the statement. I took that to mean big LMB prefer chasing "big" tilapia. I will be interested to see Bob's answer if he sees the post.
Posted by: Zep

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 09:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Bill D.
Maybe the pivotal word is "small" in the statement. I took that to mean big LMB prefer chasing "big" tilapia. I will be interested to see Bob's answer if he sees the post.


Bill do larger bass not necessarily feed on small blue-gill either?

I am just wondering if there is something unique about larger bass eating small tilapia vs larger bass eating other small forage fish?



Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Zep
Originally Posted By: Bill D.
Maybe the pivotal word is "small" in the statement. I took that to mean big LMB prefer chasing "big" tilapia. I will be interested to see Bob's answer if he sees the post.


Bill do larger bass not necessarily feed on small blue-gill either?

I am just wondering if there is something unique about small tilapia vs other small forage fish?


Dang Zep!

You know I seldom know what I'm talking about!

My 1 cent....LMB are opportunistic feeders but they are also "couch potatoes" and lazy. If they can catch a large meal (bigger Tilapia) and go back to just being lazy and watching "Where's Nemo" on their big screen TV, that is what they will prefer to do. If no big meals are available, then they will have to spend time and energy chasing a lot of little meals instead.

I don't want to assume this is what Bob meant by his statement though so let's wait and see if he responds.
Posted by: Fishman Dan

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/25/17 10:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
Hey Dan, how is Big Red?


Big Red is still going strong. That canoe is indestructible! Still gets used quite often...

Hope you're doing well. With the girls getting older, I have a little more time on my hands so I hope to be more active on the forum moving forward.
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/28/17 05:19 PM

Guys,
My experience shows small tilapia stay shallow, feeding on algae and being chased by small fish. In my opinion, small tilapia are eaten by small bass and larger sunfish. Because they add to the food chain, they add synergy to the system. I've proven in quite a few lakes that survival rates of young of the year bluegills going into winter is directly related to stocking tilapia during the prior spring. Each of those situations has way more 2-4" bluegills available, going into winter.
Posted by: Zep

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/28/17 06:36 PM

Thanks Bob....great info.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/28/17 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
Guys,
My experience shows small tilapia stay shallow, feeding on algae and being chased by small fish. In my opinion, small tilapia are eaten by small bass are larger sunfish. Because they add to the food chain, they add synergy to the system. I've proven in quite a few lakes that survival rates of young of the year bluegills going into winter is directly related to stocking tilapia during the prior spring. Each of those situations has way more 2-4" bluegills available, going into winter.


Thanks for the info Bob,

One last question (maybe smile ) , in your experience, do you think the larger adult TP are a significant source of supplemental forage for the larger LMB during the summer?
Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/28/17 08:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
...I've proven in quite a few lakes that survival rates of young of the year bluegills going into winter is directly related to stocking tilapia during the prior spring. Each of those situations has way more 2-4" bluegills available, going into winter.

That's exactly what happened here when I stocked heavier (heavier for me) numbers of larger spring tilapia over the last 2 years. My 2016 CNBG recruitment has easily surpassed any time in the recent past.

I do not stock TFS, so I have no experience as far as either, or, or both. But tilapia do seem to me to be a much better choice when dealing with marginal, or non-fertile water. So just as an observer, TFS seem to require a healthier pond, but tilapia help you get that healthier pond. Tilapia are very spiny, so if I was a LMB, I'd vote for TFS.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 08:20 AM

Fishman Dan, My pond is about one third the size of yours and that might make it more manageable, but I can not say that for sure, it's just what I hear. So, for me and my present goal (goals change in life, just like yours changed). My plans at to keep couch potato bass, where they spend less energy to eat, making them fatter. So I want to fill every nitch in the pond with lmb forage. Lets look at my place. RES hang out in the deeper water or near bottom cover most of the time, and that's is their space. Larger lmb like that type of water, Sometimes. The CNBG hang out in the 5 to 1 foot water depths, mostly around cover. Lmb will move up to shallow water to feed, Sometimes. The TFS hang out in the open water and travel in schools and the midsized lmb(up to 5 lbs) will or might travel in packs and feed on the TFS, Sometimes. Tp will also travel in schools, like TFS and again lmb like that, Sometimes. None of this has been cheap, but it sure has been a learning experience that for the most part I have enjoyed the experience, frustrating and rewarding, Sometimes. I am not sure I will ever take the GShad route in the future, but I might, "It depends"
Posted by: sprkplug

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 08:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
Guys,
My experience shows small tilapia stay shallow, feeding on algae and being chased by small fish. In my opinion, small tilapia are eaten by small bass are larger sunfish. Because they add to the food chain, they add synergy to the system. I've proven in quite a few lakes that survival rates of young of the year bluegills going into winter is directly related to stocking tilapia during the prior spring. Each of those situations has way more 2-4" bluegills available, going into winter.


Right here is why I cannot wrap my mind around the notion that tilapia are a good choice for a trophy BG pond.
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 11:16 AM

Big fish look for big meals . It's about energy use and consumption . Predator fish can tell just how big a meal they can handle and try to max input at the lowest energy output. Studies show that large LMB do not favor either small tilapia or TFS. It's not an efficient use of energy . If forced to chase them around the LMB is going to lose weight . Big LMB like small LMB , bigger BG and bigger tilapia along with other stuff .
Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 12:13 PM

Tony, if you're talking about trophy BG as opposed to trophy LMB, here are my thoughts.

So you stock your BG, and you need to feed them correctly to maximize their growth. Bruce Condello told me that his best BG results were when he diversified their diet. So just for round numbers sake, let's say tilapia spawn once a month, and have 1,000 eggs per spawn. With our 8 month growing period, that's 8,000 eggs per female tilapia per season. A mating set of 4 males and 20 females could then potentially lay 160,000 eggs in a year. My experience here is that at the end of the growing season, there will be zero tilapia except for the original breeders. The BG gorge on the tilapia fry, and coupled with correct fish food, the growth rate is pretty impressive.

We've decided to breed our own CNBG this year in our 1/4 acre pond. We'll hand pick the CNBG based on size and physical traits from our big pond when caught, and breed those as our next generation of CNBG. After 2016, I'm very comfortable saying that a stocking mix of BG, FHM, and breeding sets of tilapia will really push BG growth. Add fish food to that, and the growth rate should really improve. I would think it's a healthier option for the BG as well.

I can't verify this, but I would think the presence of LMB might change the above scenario.

In a pond where LMB are the alpha predator, I think the BG thrive because the tilapia occupy the same pond space as BG, and they're more fusiform. Here at least, LMB always go for GSF and tilapia before BG.

No science here, just my personal observations.
Posted by: sprkplug

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 12:44 PM

Thanks Al. Do you see adequate control of FA with such low stocking numbers of Tilapia, along with the heavy predation of Tilapia fry by BG?

Maybe I'm confused by the dual claim of algae control, and forage for BG. I see how they will help with algae, when stocked in appropriate amounts, and I also understand how you are reaping growth benefits by providing forage for your BG. But how can it work both ways?

Small stocking number equates to adequate forage, but inadequate FA control, while heavy initial stocking controls FA but fosters increased recruitment, possibly leading to inadequate predation of yoy BG.....leading to diminished growth potential due to shortage of food for increasing BG population.

Could one compensate by increasing pellets? And if so, wouldn't the increase in feed, along with the growing biomass, contribute to additional FA growth?

Seems like a vicious cycle?
Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 06:55 PM

Tony, it does seem that way doesn't it?

After 5-6 years of various tilapia stocking rates, I believe tilapia are a bullet, but in the correct stocking rates and sizes, they can become a magic bullet. Over those years I have altered the total pounds added based on my goals. Some years as low as 30# total, but in 2016 I added close to 400# total. That number is not one I'll sustain, but I needed them in volume last year. Plus, I raised the largest percentage of last year's tilapia, but that's a story for another thread.

As far as FA control, DD1 was working with an owner that had an incredible FA problem, and IIRC 60#-70#'s per acre didn't help. 20#-30# an acre seems to be best for me. That number takes pressure off my CNBG, and controls most of my algae as well. For all practical purposes, it's the tilapia base line for my big pond.

I'm about to wade in way above my pay scale, so read this part with a leery eye. Tilapia will do a number on FA, but it's primarily the yoy. In older ponds with an existing population of larger LMB, I think that stocking fewer but larger tilapia is a big help. The total poundage may be the same, but there are fewer but bigger fish. In that scenario, you're trying to help these fish survive predation by smaller LMB and give them the best chance of getting that first spawn done. Again, just from personal observation, but I think that first tilapia spawn is the most important spawn. These are the fish that will hopefully get to that larger 7-8" size, and really help the LMB. The original breeder tilapia will likely double that. Those original yearly stockers are the only dead tilapia I have ever seen at the onset of cold water.

I think you are correct about predation of yoy BG, but in my case, that inadequate predation by LMB is the exact thing I'm looking for. At this point, I'm trying to reestablish the smaller BG, and return BG to a self sustaining LMB forage option. A combination of events caused this problem, but tilapia have taken the pressure off these smaller BG, and the numbers swimming the banks last fall was incredible. Maybe the the trophy BG part just comes from increased numbers, so increased trophy potential. Or, do the increased numbers of larger BG do a number on the smaller yoy BG, and limit their numbers? I just don't know.

Not sure about the feeding part and the FA carousel, because I under feed my CNBG. I fed 1,500# of fish food last year, and although that sounds like a lot, I bet it's less than some feed with much smaller ponds. In my case, it works out to less than 3# a day for each of my feeders for the 9 months I feed in earnest. 6# a day for an 11 acre pond is pretty light. It may sound naive, but I don't want the effort-free food to alter the natural predatory nature of my BG in the event that I cut back feeding, or quit feeding all together.

Tony, I guess the bottom line is that everything's better here when tilapia are added to the mix. They eat algae, decline in cold water and get eaten before they become a biomass problem, take pressure off existing forage, and feed every fish in the pond that can fit them in their mouths. That's a magic bullet to me.

But, as with all things pond related, the trick is knowing your game fish, your existing forage, your water, your goals, etc. Tilapia certainly aren't a band-aide for all pond problems, but if you zero in on what advantages they do give, and that fits your particular pond scenario, they can definitely make things better.

I hope I answered some of your questions, but my answers where just what I've seen and experienced here. Others' perspectives are obviously different than mine, and I hope somebody chimes in if anything I've said is wrong.
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 06:59 PM

Actually, Sparkie, tilapia interrupt the vicious cycle. They consume algae, converting those nutrients into flesh, then consumed by other fish.
I've got one client in particular, who is way over the top when it comes to pushing his lake. I worry about water quality all the time, especially during the hottest months. This lake is collecting way too many nutrients. We monitor water chemistry bi-monthly, and nitrites continue to rise...until we add tilapia. We're trying to wrap our brains around that, too. Here's what I can tell you. In lakes where trophy bass are the primary goal, tilapia increase survival rates of young of the year bluegills. More bluegills feed more bass, escalating growth rates of remaining bluegills. Tilapia play a key role in both bass growth rates (and I'm about 80% convinced that tilapia aren't a primary diet source for bass, but by increasing survival rates of YOY bluegill, tilapia indirectly are responsible for significant food for bass) and bluegill growth rates (bluegill, as YOY survive, add to growth rates of bass, which helps support bigger numbers of big bass, which cull more bluegills of specific size classes). Here's a summary of my opinion about Tony's great question. Tilapia increase survival rates of YOY bluegills, which adds to the food chain of largemouth bass, which adds to growth rates of bass, which increases the sizes of bluegills that bass eat over fall and winter months, which increases overall sizes of surviving bluegills.
Sounds complicated...which it is. But, simply, more food in a different niche adds more food to predators, which increases average size, which increase mouth size, which increases prey size, in a perfect pond world...which doesn't happen.
So, forget about what I just wrote and do what works best for you.
Posted by: sprkplug

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 07:40 PM

Ah, thanks Al and Bob! I hadn't considered the larger predator (LMB) foraging on larger prey (BG) angle.

But.. grin

That sounds great in the much strived for scenario of balance, with LMB as the apex predator. What about a scenario where LMB are the apex predator, but growth of the bass is not desired, such as the case where the goal is low density, trophy BG populations, controlled by a high ratio of stunted, or at least small LMB? In that situation, we sacrifice LMB growth in order to foster bigger BG... we don't want our bass growing any larger than say 12", so we have no need for the additional, larger forage that tilapia might present when they remove pressure from the BG?

Remove pressure from the bluegills....wasn't sure I could use those words together in a sentence, my fingers almost refused to type such a thing! laugh

Thanks guys, I really appreciate the patience shown to a hard-headed, stubborn, none-too-bright, please feature more BG articles for the mag, northern pondmeister.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 08:22 PM

Originally Posted By: FireIsHot
.... but my answers where just what I've seen and experienced here. Others' perspectives are obviously different than mine, and I hope somebody chimes in if anything I've said is wrong.


Al,

IMO great post! I really appreciate when folks take the time to share their personal experiences. I don't see how anyone can say what you've personally seen happening in your individual pond is wrong. IMO the results achieved by introducing a new species to any BOW will vary and always comes down to, the goals trying to be achieved, the unique attributes of each BOW and the current inhabitants.

Just my 1 cent.....

Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 08:25 PM

Tony, one thing I've learned the hard way. We strive for balance. It can't happen. Well...maybe it will happen for a few minutes. Nature won't allow any type of sustainable balance. It's always a see-saw, up and down, ebb and flow. Balance is only some way-out-there theory. Great theory, by the way. Make my living with that theory. Toward your question, we gotta use bad bass...meaning they CAN'T grow. Use males...which is contrary to nature, but totally inbounds with growing huge bluegills without regard to bass growth.
Posted by: sprkplug

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 08:44 PM

I hear you, Bob.

We use male LMB in the sacrificial role. They still grow larger than I would like, but it's the best we can come up with for now.
Posted by: sprkplug

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 09:34 PM

For what it's worth, here's my take Bill.

By stocking male LMB, we control recruitment of the predator. I suppose one could stock single sex fish of another species, but while many will forage on small BG, none will match a LMB for control of BG recruitment.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/29/17 09:41 PM

Sorry Sparkie blush ,

I deleted my post as I decided I was going pretty far off subject and did not want to throw this thread off on an unrelated tangent. Maybe a good topic for a new thread sometime.
Posted by: Dave Davidson1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 07:03 AM

Most balancing theories go out the window when the fish get hook shy.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 09:23 AM

Ok, I can see where Tp reduce nutrients through eating algae and turning excess nutrients in fish flesh, but what about reducing the nitrites? That has to be beneficial to pond owners that to grow larger lmb, (excess forage). How often do excess nitrites come into play in ponds? And will Tp actually improve the water? And at what numbers or lbs of Tp?
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 01:32 PM

Many papers have noted that trying to keep a balanced fishery with BG and LMB (and others as well)is like trying to balance on the edge of a knife blade. Balance is an unnatural state as either overcrowded BG or LMB is the natural position that ponds are in.
Posted by: Bill Cody

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 05:00 PM

It takes a huge fish biomass in a sportfish pond in summer when denitrifying bacteria are flourishing to form high nitrites. It can occur in a very high fish biomass commercial production situation.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 09:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob Lusk
... I worry about water quality all the time, especially during the hottest months. This lake is collecting way too many nutrients. We monitor water chemistry bi-monthly, and nitrites continue to rise...until we add tilapia....


Just a thought..Could it be that hot weather reduces the resident fish's appetites for pellets and the now excess pellets cause the nitrite levels to rise at a rate that the nitrobacter bacteria just can't keep up? Could the Tilapia stocked during this hot time be eating the otherwise wasted pellets and partially reducing the nutrient load to the nitrogen cycle process by turning some of those nutrients into flesh and enabling the nitrobacter bacteria colony to catch up?
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 09:42 PM

Good theory. This particular lake covers around ten acres, average depth is probably 6-7 feet, deepest water is 13. The lake perimeter is 100% riprap, limestone rocks about as big as softballs to volleyballs. The biomass of bass during last summer exceeds 300 pounds per acre, maybe as high as 350. Add another 50 pounds of tilapia per acre during rapid growth periods, plus another 100+ of forage fish, with minimal input of fresh water and we have the makings of a system approaching an aquaculture situation...in a sportfishing pond. When the fish appetites drop during hot weather, he cuts back on the fish food. If there's any wasted food, it can't be much. We added forage fish several times during the year. There were several times when we found small amounts of nitrites. But, they rise and fall, I think mostly because the lake is heavily aerated, and with large amount of rock substrate for periphyton and bacterial colonies.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/30/17 10:18 PM

Thanks for the reply Bob. Interesting problem.
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/31/17 05:19 PM

Here is some info that may be helpful.


Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/31/17 07:50 PM

Eric, thanks for posting that info.

My pond is Experiment 2, and those are about the same results I'm getting with tilapia. They've really helped the bottom of the CNBG chain over the last 2 years. There's nothing better in an old pond than seeing thousands of 2"-3" CNBG swimming around the banks on warm afternoons.
Posted by: Bill D.

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/31/17 08:15 PM

Eric,

What conclusions did the researchers reach based on this data?
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 01/31/17 10:48 PM

It is just the data on what the LMB ate under the study circumstance.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/01/17 06:37 AM

Ewest, thanks for the info, confirms why I add Tp to the pond. Takes pressure off the cnbg, sometimes smile Wish the TFS were added for comparison to the study
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/02/17 02:15 PM

Here is some more info which may be of use.


Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume 114, 1985 - Issue 5

Effects of Cover and Prey Size on Preferences of Juvenile Largemouth Bass for Blue Tilapias and Bluegills in Tanks Harold L. Schramm Jr. and Alexander V. Zale

Abstract

The effects of vegetative cover and relative size of prey were tested on the forage preference of juvenile largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides offered blue tilapias Tilapia aurea and bluegills Lepomis macrochirus in laboratory electivity experiments. When offered forage at or near the maximum consumable size in tanks without vegetative cover, largemouth bass preferred bluegills, but consumed blue tilapias in the presence of vegetation. When offered forage smaller than the maximum consumable size in tanks without vegetation, largemouth bass selected blue tilapias. Differences between the forage species in body morphology and effective use of protective cover apparently caused the changes in prey selection. Our results suggest blue tilapias may be a suitable forage for largemouth bass, but that habitat characteristics and relative size distributions of other available forage may affect their use.




Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume 115, 1986 - Issue 1

Importance of Gizzard Shad in the Diet of Largemouth Bass in Lake Shelbyville, Illinois -
Ted W. Storck



Abstract
Changes in food habits of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides were compared with seasonal and annual changes in size composition of a gizzard shad population Dorosoma cepedianum to better understand the temporal dynamics of this species as prey for largemouth bass. Stomachs of 5,283 largemouth bass were examined during spring, summer, and fall from 1978 to 1981. Gizzard shad was the most important species in the diet of age-I and older largemouth bass in all years. However, the age and size composition, as well as the percentage of the volume contributed by this species to the diet, varied substantially among years and seasonally within each year. Variation of gizzard shad in the diet of yearling and older largemouth bass reflected changes in availability caused by high winter mortality of young-of-the-year gizzard shad in some years as well as by annual variation in the summer growth of this age group. Seasonal gaps in the availability of important size classes of gizzard shad reduced its value as a forage species. Fish contributed a major portion of the diet of young-of-the-year largemouth bass in all years but gizzard shad were important only in 1981. Age-0 gizzard shad grew more slowly in 1981, a larger fraction remained vulnerable to predation, and more were eaten by age-0 largemouth bass than in any other year.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/03/17 07:43 AM

ewest, that information has me thinking that yoy lmb will eat yoy gsd as a favored meal. If that is the case, then TFS should fill the same nitch for that age group. Both types of shad will travel in schools at age 0 and older. Yoy lmb will also travel in schools at year 0 to year 3 or so. I have seen five pound lmb school. Good information.

So, this is a good place for me to ask this. My pond was stocked with 300 4 to 5" TFS in the first stocking of forage fish in the pond. This was done in the fall. I followed up with 10,000 2" that following spring and again the last spring. Stocked in a fertile pond. Pond has lmb and hsb. I will on occasion see a dead floating tfs in the pond, how else would one determine to supplement stock tfs. RW of fish or water temp during the winter, any other way to determine when to restock? will eshock boat catch the tfs?
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/03/17 10:09 AM

I can help here. Electrofishing boat isn't 100% effective to determine survival of threadfin shad after winter, until well past time to re-stock. Electrofishing open, deep water, where threadfins reside during cool months is hit or miss. If you hit, that's great. If you miss, all you know is you missed.
Wr of bass won't tell you.
Consistent water temperature readings can be of help. If water temperature drops below 42, you can pretty well expect threadfins to be gone. When water temps reach lower lethal, threadfins rise, seeking warmth. Birds have a field day, especially terns.
Otherwise, a short term gill net set can help determine. Use small mesh. So can checking stomach contents of bass via lavage.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/03/17 05:58 PM

Thank you Bob. I am not sure if I will restock TFs this year, depends on if we see some colder winter before spring stocking times. I have seen a couple of TFS float up during the warmer months. Would I see them floating if they died from cold water temps? I have not see that during this winter so far. I have also seen them float after a large flock of cormorants were on the pond year before last. I am thinking I would see them float if they died of cold water ?

What about the HSB with Tp and stomach contents of HSB? The Tp I have seen will or can swim in open water in schools and that makes me think the HSB would feed pretty good on smaller Tp. Thoughts
Posted by: Bob Lusk

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/04/17 08:49 AM

You wouldn't necessarily see them floating in winter. They don't have a swim bladder, plus cold water keeps them from bloating fast. That gives time for other creatures to eat them.
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/04/17 08:56 AM

Will, so much for that idea. frown Thanks Mr Lusk
Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 02/05/17 03:54 PM

TFS are excellent forage for HSB. As the water warms look for them schooling at the surface at dawn or dusk.
Posted by: Fishman Dan

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 05/02/17 11:17 PM

Some interesting goings-on at my pond, so I thought I would post an update...

Fishing: Have caught six LMB between 8-9 pounds this year. Lost one that I'm certain was the double-digit fish I've been waiting for : (

Culling: Have already culled 110 pounds of LMB this year.

TFS: Survived the winter and appear to be thriving.

Tilapia: 120 pounds being delivered next week to take some pressure off of the CNBG, because...

Fish Swap: Had Overton Fisheries come up last week to assist in a fish swap with a good friend. They shocked my lake and we took out approx 75 pounds of CNBG (looked like 500-600 fish of all sizes). Transported the fish to my buddy's lake about 45 minutes away. Kept CNBG in tank truck while they shocked his lake. Took out approx 150 pounds of LMB (looked like 75-100 fish), put them in the tank truck, released the CNBG and trucked the LMB back to my place where they were acclimated and released. I have great CNBG genetics that he needed and he has great LMB genetics (originally came from Harrell Arms) that I wanted introduced in my pond. Plus I took advantage of the shocking to cull some small LMB from my lake. Really fun day and I learned a lot from Walt and Clint from Overton!

Surprise: I have gizzard shad in my pond! Couldn't believe it and had never seen one, but there were a pretty decent number of them shocked up. Given the increased number of big LMB in my pond, and the new genetics added (several were already in the 3-4 pound range and these things grow FAST), I was told it shouldn't be a problem, and in fact could help with growing true trophy size bass.

Feeders: Now running three new Texas Hunter feeders and these babies are awesome. Wish I had bought them years ago! Still a ton of CNBG coming to the feeders.

Water Chemistry: Alkalinity and hardness are pretty low, so looking at adding gypsum in the coming year.

Crazy (and expensive) year at the pond so far, but I'm having a blast! Big investment, but hopefully it will pay off...

Posted by: ewest

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 05/03/17 11:36 AM

[quote=Fishman Dan]Water Chemistry: Alkalinity and hardness are pretty low, so looking at adding gypsum in the coming year.

Thanks for the report. Very nice work !!

Do you mean lime in the sentence (red) above?

From SARC fact sheet


gypsum also can be used
to control turbidity but without
the loss of alkalinity. Gypsum
must be added to achieve a concentration
of 100 to 300 mg/L for
effective turbidity control. For
most ponds, gypsum application
rates will range from about 1,000
to 2,000 pounds per acre (Fig. 4).
In hard-water ponds (calcium
hardness greater than 50 mg/L),
the water is nearly saturated with
calcium and gypsum may be ineffective.
In that situation, alum will
be the only effective coagulant.
All the coagulants mentioned can
remove phosphorus from water.
As phosphorus is an essential
plant nutrient, it may be necessary
to fertilize the pond after treating
it for turbidity. On occasion, phytoplankton
and clay can mutually
coagulate, so fertilizing to start a
phytoplankton bloom may also
clear water of suspended clay particles.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Tilapia or Threadfin Shad? - 05/03/17 03:06 PM

Sounds like things are going well for you Fishman Dan. Congrats!

Nice when a plan works out.