Fathead Minnow Spawning

Posted by: beehiveUT

Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 02:12 PM

I've done plenty of reading on structures and the areas that fathead minnows will choose to spawn. One thing I'm curious about though is when placing structures how far off the bottom do fatheads prefer they be for spawning?

I will be using structures similar to these...

Fathead Spawning Structures

Another question is what sort of items can I use to created the upside down spawning situations that fatheads seem to like. Just turn a shallow bowl upside down on a stake? Gold pans? Looking for something cheap.

My structures will be placed in less than 4' of water near other artificial structure that will provide habitat for the FHM to hide out.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 02:37 PM

I've only been through one spawning season with FHM and am not an expert. The experts will be along with specifics. But I will pass along what I think will be helpful.

Keep in mind the early spawns will be in the warmest water. The first warm water you will have in your pond will be in shallow water. Thus the early spawners will be in fairly shallow water, assuming bird predation is not keeping them out of the shallows.

I have read of FHM using a Red Solo Cup to spawn in. They like to spawn over head so they need structure with an underside. One guy that raised them commercially said he floated waxed card board (cardboard boxes like butchered meat would come in) on the surface and that was the best FHM spawning material he ever found. So we are talking ultra shallow in this instance. But they also spawn deeper.

I'm thinking in my reading 1-3 feet but the experts should have more specific details.

The structure I made used various boards I had laying around with one or two inch wood slat spacers between them and stacked as many boards as I had placed so the stack would be in the 2-3' depth. In shallow water I used old plastic waterers for turkeys and drilled a lot of holes in them with a step drill and placed them in shallow water. Also they are territorial. They will run away other minnows and fish from their spawning area best they can. In other words they will not be "group" spawning an inch or two apart. What I have read is 24" area they try to protect.

Here is a video that will give you an idea of how they spawn. It is the video I kept in my mind as I created spawning habitat for them.

Fatheads breeding like crazy

A little supplemental feeding will increase spawn. At least that is what I was told by the guy that sold them to me, and they reproduced great for me.
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 02:50 PM

Hi Beehive

FHM are prolific spawners and will use the underside of literally anything to attach eggs. Vegetation and any structure [trees, stumps, pvc, rock, ect.] present in the pond allows them plenty of opportunities to spawn. I also placed shallow tires [1-3'] in my trophy panfish fishery and the FHM are ubiquitous. You can add structure specifically targeted towards FHM spawning, but my experience dictates it's not necessary provided the BOW is devoid of predatory species - they will do just fine if you allow them a few months to reproduce and have some vegetation, rock, tires...but if you're looking for projects, adding specific structure certainly won't hurt.

Snrub is correct - think shallow 1-3' depths, they are territorial, and feeding helps increase reproduction. Well done, rub!
Posted by: Jakeroo

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 03:01 PM

Last year I relied on natural habitat in our pond for the Fatheads to breed on. They did very well using what they could find. There were plenty of flooded logs, stumps and brush available to the 3 or 4 lbs that I put in to use for romantic encounters. By the fall they were everywhere. This year I am going to add some structure for them. I am saving milk jugs that I am going to tie together every couple of feet to make a string with. I am thinking I will partially fill them with water to keep a portion of the jug underwater. I am also looking for wax coated cardboard. I have heard you can just float it and recover the trash at the end of the breading season. Just some thoughts.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 03:14 PM

I also saved two liter pop (soda for you'all in the south) bottles. Used a 1 3/8" step drill to drill multiple holes in sides and ends, then removed cap. Then took a knife and slit a 4" long slice in the side (not connecting with any of the previous drilled holes. Through this "slot" I could stuff a 2 or 3" rock through and the rock will not come out and is also big enough it will not come out any of the drilled holes. Then at the edge of the bank, give a calculated toss into desired water depth, and presto, you have recycled small fish habitat, FHM or whatever wishes to enjoy.

The bottles are visible until enough algae grows on them, then they are hardly noticeable.

Gator-Aide bottles work good also and they are more substantial than the pop bottles. Other bottles would work also.

I started doing this, with no good way to weight them. Put gravel in them and if they landed wrong, the gravel would run out the holes. The holes are needed for water flow. Don't want stagnant water in there or no fish will use it. Then I thought about the slot method. Larger rock goes in but does not come back out. Worked great.

Step drill These things are invaluable for drilling holes in plastic pipe, etc. for making fish habitat. Get one if you need big holes through thin stuff.
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 04:00 PM

LOL...some projects are brewing I see. Long Winter...
Posted by: FireIsHot

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 06:15 PM

Snrub, that music made the video.

I've had very good luck with hardy water lillies and plastic pallets floated with pool noodles for spawning areas.
Posted by: CJBS2003

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 07:24 PM

It's my opinion that spending a lot of effort on creating FHM spawning sites is a waste of energy and time in most circumstances... Unless you have an unusual pond stocking scenario, FHM are eradicated in short order after stocking reproducing predators. They did not evolve to live in habitat where predators are found. So they are easy pickings. Spending time on placing spawning structure is mute. FHM are resourceful and will have plenty of places to spawn in a normal pond without any extra effort. Just my 2 cents.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 08:32 PM

I think you are probably right.

That is what I have been told many times so it is probably right.

I have a neighbor that put FHM in a pond with established bass that shoould have been wiped out. Because of grass and weeds along the shore line they were not. He has maintained a population of FHM in his pond with LMB present. This is what I am trying to re-create, sufficient cover so a population can be maintained.

My pond is too new to have any significant natural cover, so all I can really try for is artificial cover till the natural cover devleops.

I'll probably fail.

But only one way to find out.

I'll report back in a couple more years on how it worked out. But I suspect you are right.

The small BG should enjoy it. Till enough natural cover develops, then again it will probably be moot.

Wasted energy is just another description for having fun. Most of the fun I have is wasted time and energy.
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 08:33 PM

Travis...I was trying to gently convey that point also - but maybe they have ponds where FHM will develop a self sustaining population? I guess a panfish pond has a shot at that.

A very easy solution for FHM spawning is using scrap pieces of PVC if your pond is devoid of vegetation or other spawning surfaces/edges. In my BG/YP pond I have a resident population of BNM and FHM and they use the pvc scraps from 2"-8" very well in addition to the few tires I have placed. Just lay them perpendicular to the shore in 1-3' depths. Free and easy installation - just toss them in and they sink.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 08:48 PM

Did that too. As well as attach a bunch of it to the various wooden structures.

My wife would probably agree with Travis. Wasted time and energy. Of course she knits, which I think is a tremendous waste of time. And some people fish when they could use fish traps or more efficient methods of harvest like shocking. Come to think of it, my entire pond is designed to waste my time and energy. sick

Weird thing is, I like it. laugh
Posted by: CJBS2003

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 09:21 PM

I am very curious about the pond with LMB that are reproducing that also has a self sustaining FHM population. I guess if LMB are not over populated and the pond has extensive shallow weedy areas, it is possible.

I doubt adding spawning areas would lead to this.

If you enjoy doing it, do it. In the end, pond management is about enjoying it. If you are not enjoying being a pond owner, by be one?
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/12/14 09:36 PM

I'll have to ask the guy again about it when we get back in that part of the world. He works at a place we buy welding supplies and had commented about our pond when building it. It had filled about half way and we got to talking about stocking and I told him that we had already added the BG and FHM.

During the conversation I mentioned the guy that sold me the fish had said the FHM would be gone in a couple of years, but under the right conditions with enough cover he had seen ponds maintain FHM populations. Then this guy told me that he had put FHM in his pond a few years back that already had a fish population and he had been able to keep a population of FHM. He could see them in the grass and weeds along the shore line as him and his wife walked around the pond for exercise.

They had noticed LMB would follow them around the pond. As they observed the LMB after a while they figured out that them walking around would scare the FHM and frogs out of hiding and the Bass were following the source of the food production. The LMB learned to associate people walking around the pond with a meal.

It will be a while, but when I get a chance will see if I can find out more about the pond and the conditions. Thousands of miles away from there right now and will not be back for a while yet.

It was that conversation as well as what my fish guy said (Wallace Fish Farms - Charles Wallace) about ponds with adequate cover that led me to create quite a bit of habitat for FHM. But later when Charles brought out the LMB and CC he still did not give me much hope of my efforts paying off. So it is still doubtful from about everyone that I can maintain a population of FHM. Doesn't mean I can't try. I have done things before people said I couldn't do. I'm kind of stuborn that way. One of the reasons I could semi-retire at 55 was at least partially because I did what some people told me I couldn't do.
Posted by: snrub

by the way................... - 02/12/14 10:33 PM

All the habitat I tried to create for FHM spawning and cover was done after hearing an off hand comment from my fish guy that he had seen some ponds with adequate cover maintain a population of FHM AND I had accidentally had a conversation with a pond owner that had stocked FHM in a pond with existing LMB population and had maintained a population of FHM.

My fish guy had not told me I could create enough cover for FHM. In fact after finding out later that I had tried to create enough cover, he had doubts I would be successful. I had not bothered to call him and inquire about doing it. It was my own initiative (likely naive) that I decided to try and create enough cover to maintain a FHM population in my own pond.

I had not discovered PBF yet. I had not bothered to further inquire about it from my fish guy. I just did lots of reading on the internet (how I eventually discovered PBF and PBM) about ponds and fish cover and habitat and decided to try. Did lots of reading about FHM's. Gave me something to do with my new pond along with the "normal" structure projects before and while it was filling.

Had I discovered PBM or called my fish guy to get his advice BEFORE deciding to create FHM cover, I likely would have never tried. Because everyone would have told me it most likely would be a waste of time and effort. But, due to lack of knowledge and anything better to do (at least better that was interesting enough for me to peruse at the time), I did it.

So it is something that is supposed to fail, at least according to conventional wisdom. It probably will fail. But if it does not, maybe we all can learn something from it. Even if it does fail, we will have learned something. That everybody was right in that it is difficult to provide enough cover for FHM to exist in the same pond as LMB.

So my pond is an experiment with FHM, one experiment that likely will fail. But either way, we have the opportunity to learn from it on my dime of time and energy. That is the way I see it. And like any other hobby, the time and energy will only be wasted if I did not enjoy what I was doing. But I sure did not do it to make money or because I hated doing it. So I must have enjoyed it. In fact, I'm pretty certain I did enjoy it.
Posted by: CJBS2003

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 12:18 AM

I am just curious if the little fish swimming around that your neighbor thinks are FHM aren't really YOY BG. So many people see little fish and think they are "minnows".

If you create habitat that is so thick to protect FHM, it will also over protect BG and other panfish. This may cause them to overpopulate and stunt as well.

FHM evolved to live in poor water quality conditions. Such as bodies of water that are shallow and prone to winter killing. They are capable of tolerating the low DO levels, however predators like bass aren't. They certainly can and will live in high water quality bodies of water, but these places can support predators and that is their demise.
Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 07:11 AM

I suspect you are right and my FHM specific habitat will turn into small BG habitat, which was my fallback plan.

Sorry if I came across a little protective of my FHM's

You mess with my FHM's man, you mess with me. Don't mess with my FHM's.

mad smirk laugh smirk laugh laugh crazy
Posted by: Shorty

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 08:52 AM

Are you aware that RES will mess with your FHM's? laugh

My five indoor RES ate 25-30 two inch fathead minnows last night. grin
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 10:25 AM

Rub

Sorry if you took offense to our input - I assure you we're merely trying to provide the benefit of our collective experience using FHM as a forage item to temper your expectations. Their role in a fishery serves as a good kickstart for predator fish - but beyond that establishing a self sustaining population is rarely documented. There exist alternate forage sources once the FHM has been extirpated, however - and some fisheries might actually sustain a population of FHM depending on the species and population density of the predators in the fishery. I don't know your goals for this fishery so I couldn't venture to guess if your FHM project will meet your expectations.

Your spawning habitat efforts are great - the forum was merely suggesting your creative efforts might be for naught which is our collective duty as a forum of mentors. Most guys, like myself, rely on that direction which only 1000's of years of fishery/pond management can provide and makes this forum truly unique and invaluable.

Certainly creating different types of spawning structure is a worthwhile endeavor and I'm personally interested in your results - it will add to the library of knowledge for the forum.

Lastly - I enjoyed the experience you related about LMB following someone walking on the shoreline...it makes sense now that I think about it. Smart fish - indirectly using humans as a quail dog!
Posted by: ewest

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 10:38 AM

In my opinion it is worth the effort to help FHM reproduce. It does help , may not be sustaining in LMB pond but helps none the less. If it does not work you still have structure that other fish will use.


Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 03:05 PM

The ones we kept for a while in our aquarium sure liked to stay in holes just like the picture you have.

We took a half height concrete block (as opposed to the big standard ones)that has the three holes through it (same size as a cap block but with holes). We sawed it in half with a tile saw and put one half in the aquarium. They practically lived in those holes. One would stake one hole out as his own and run the others off. There were three holes and four FHM so it was kind of musical chairs. Funny to watch. They will hit the surface with gusto for floating food.
Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 03:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Shorty
Are you aware that RES will mess with your FHM's? laugh

My five indoor RES ate 25-30 two inch fathead minnows last night. grin


Yes. The upside to that is, the only fish that is more favorite to me than FHM is RES. shocked
Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 03:16 PM

Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Rub

Sorry if you took offense to our input - I assure you we're merely trying to provide the benefit of our collective experience using FHM as a forage item to temper your expectations.


No offense taken and thank you for your input. Notice the smiley faces at the end of my post. Just having some fun and I assure you there was no sleep lost.

I know most people don't give a second thought about a lowly FHM. I for some reason took a shine to them. I may make a small forage pond to raise some, not that my fishery needs them, but just for the heck of it. Kind of like some people like to raise Koi, guess I just like FHM.

What I am thinking of trying, is a forage pond with FHM as the main goal, but put in about ten adult RES just to keep the FHM from getting lazy and maybe produce some additional RES stock. I know the RES will eat the FHM and that is fine, but if I do not put too many RES and let the FHM get a head start, there should be plenty of both. At least that is what I am thinking about trying. Why? Who knows. Don't really like Koi I guess.

Hobbies don't always need to have a reason.

If anyone has input on a FHM-RES .2 acre forage pond stocking ratios or other advice, I'm all ears.
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 04:20 PM

I have a pond I raise SMB in and could easily lend itself to a grow out or forage pond. If you want details PM me and we can chat I am happy to help with what worked/failed during construction process...too much to relate here. You can probably find it in the archives, however, if you want a good laugh. Everything worked out in the end, just took a circuitous route there.

You might want to consider BNM also - they avoid predation better than FHM otherwise look and behave very similarly. I'm not sure I could tell the difference, personally.

Hey, we all love FHM here, we just wish they weren't so damned slow!
Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/13/14 05:20 PM

Is this the thread? If it is, will read it later tonight or tomorrow.

New SMB Rproduction Pond Project

Edit: Read it. I had read it a while back but read it again last night. Interesting. Seems like I remember at some time you posting a video showing the fish coming out into the net also.
Posted by: teehjaeh57

Re: by the way................... - 02/14/14 04:58 PM

Yep - what I like best after several seasons of PITA seining is the gate valve/auto collection effort. It only takes an hour to drain completely, and collecting fish is simple. If one has their forage pond adjacent to the main pond obviously there's zero labor involved other than netting/saving a few adults for brood stock and lifting the gate valve. Then you refill, replace your brood fish, and start again. I would love to have a series of forage/growout ponds around my main pond. If I ever sell my place and start again, this is my plan. Love the auto stocking process...simple and easy.
Posted by: snrub

Re: by the way................... - 02/14/14 09:00 PM

Yes, your setup looks like it works good.

I have area next to my pond for one or maybe even two small ponds but the ground is flat with no way to get the water out of the hole other than pumping. I do have another area not too far away that I could do like you did easily, but it is not right up against the pond. Only a few hundred feet away though.

So not sure if it would be better to have it right next to the pond but have to pump it out, or a little ways away but have access to the lower part of the dam where a valve could be used. I was thinking about putting a regular pond anyway in the latter area, but it would have been more like an acre pond. So to make it smaller and a forage pond would not utilize the area best.

Decisions, decisions. Got to finish up daughters pond first before I do anything else. Right now she has piles of mud and dirt in her front yard so I imagine she would like me back on that project as soon as the weather allows.

Thanks for the info. In "looking at alternatives" stage right now. When I get more serious might have some questions. I have several old ponds on various farms that I would not mind doing something with. Raising my own forage might be fun to get stockers for those ponds. They are kind of out of the way so probably would never spend a lot of money stocking them. But if I was raising the stuff (even if ended up spending more money in the end smile ), it would not seem so bad to stock them.
Posted by: Redfishman

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/24/19 02:46 PM

SNRUB;
It has been four years! Were you able to develop a sustainable FHM population?
I would like to believe with a big enough population and extensive cover and possibly exclusion barriers for predators it is possible.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/24/19 07:01 PM

Not really. I would not guarantee there are absolutely no FHM left in any of my ponds, but just about any predator will work pretty hard on the FHM.

I did have a sustained population in my forage pond when it had only RES and FHM but when some GSF got in and I added GSH the GSH just crowded them out. I have not caught a FHM in a trap for a long time but thousands of shiners.

The SMB in my RES pond made short work of the FHM after the RES had their way with them before stocking the SMB.

You can say I failed at sustaining a population of FHM.
Posted by: Redfishman

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 09:43 AM

Thanks for the response. I have a 3 acre main pond and 1/20th acre pond I raise FHM and shiners in. I started with 10 lbs FHM and a an order of Anderson Minnows GS fry. I seine it every fall with help of local biologist. He estimated we pulled 300 lbs last year. Those all go in main pond. I have visible schools of bait in there which are most likely Gizzard shad.
Posted by: Redfishman

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 11:01 AM

Forgot to mention I fertilze the pond in the spring and I use a Texas Hunter feeder for my minnows. the pond has a small spring feeding it and several waterfalls to aerate it.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 11:53 AM

Sounds like you are getting good use out of the small pond.
Posted by: Snipe

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 08:00 PM

All good info here, but I'll add what we do in Kansas Hatcheries for FHM production-easily duplicated in a simpler manner..
We drive fence post staples, 2 at each end of a 4'X8' sheet of plywood and run braided cable through the staples and float 20-30 sheets on the surface with cables staked on either side of rearing ponds.
I used wood pallets on my pond and used eyelet screws to run 1/4" rope through. If you think they will sink (I've never had one sink anywhere I've done this) run a pool noodle through each side.
Posted by: canyoncreek

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 10:50 PM

Snipe,
How long does the plywood sheets float before it sinks? Is this marine grade plywood or standard OSB, or chipboard or what?

My pallets became waterlogged and heavy as lead and sunk after one season in the water. I love your idea of keeping them in place with guide ropes but I would have to figure in some way to keep them on top.

I'm curious if the FHM would prefer wood surface over foamboard? It would seem logical to use high density foam sheets since it would take much longer for them to waterlog? Or maybe plastic sheets?

I'm getting ready to build a forage pond this year and really want to figure out the optimal substrate that FHM prefer.
Posted by: Snipe

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/25/19 11:31 PM

I'd have to call and ask on the plywood type, but never seen one sink. The cables are taut but not overly so..
I had 13 oak pallets on my pond, group of 7 and 6 from mid july to just before I sampled in October with no sinkers. Must depend on wood and pallet design because I've had people tell me they've had 1 or 2 in a group sink. That's where I'd shove a noodle on each side.
As for foam, if you're not exposed to high winds, maybe that would be ok??
I know they've tried a lot of different materials at the Pratt Hatchery and they settled on the plywood.
I'll call the bossman and find out the type of plywood.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/26/19 07:42 AM

Something I read a long time ago about a commercial FHM pond was they used waxed cardboard from butcher meat boxes for the FHM to spawn on. The waxed cardboard was free (they must have had a source), would float for the season, then sink and be gone for the winter.

Not saying it was good or bad as I have never tried it. Just something that I read.

My initial pallets sunk after about a year. My solution was to slide a couple strips of 2" foam insulation (I had surplus scraps) inside the pallet and held in place with a couple screws. These have lasted going on 5 years but I think I am going to need to pull them this spring. The nails are rusting out and they are starting to come apart. One already has.

picture of one of my FHM spawning structures. note layer below water
Posted by: TGW1

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/26/19 08:01 AM

I have a small sediment pond its about 30' by 30' and was about 14' deep when originally dug. I have tried many different forage fish in it but the only thing that seems to live in it is the FHM. That is because of turbid water events after a good rain. And that is why I built it. What I have learned is this pond when raising FHM's it will attract Bull Frogs of different sizes. Apparently, Bull Frogs like FHM. Last time I had fhm's in this pond I counted 14 in all sizes in this small sediment pond. They don't dare get in the big pond lol. Funny how that is.
Posted by: Snipe

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 03:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Snipe
I'd have to call and ask on the plywood type, but never seen one sink. The cables are taut but not overly so..
I had 13 oak pallets on my pond, group of 7 and 6 from mid july to just before I sampled in October with no sinkers. Must depend on wood and pallet design because I've had people tell me they've had 1 or 2 in a group sink. That's where I'd shove a noodle on each side.
As for foam, if you're not exposed to high winds, maybe that would be ok??
I know they've tried a lot of different materials at the Pratt Hatchery and they settled on the plywood.
I'll call the bossman and find out the type of plywood.

I guess they are using 1X10, 4-6' long pine now...
I'm told the AC Plywood WAS coming apart prematurely..
Posted by: Nathan&Kelly

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 03:26 PM

Hello fellas. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and advice. I'm sure its saved me a lot of MONEY already. I have a 4.5 acre pond 45 min south of St Louis that has been around for 50+ years. I just bought it in December an don't have a clear picture of my predatory populations yet. Its only been fished a hand full of times in the winter so far and we have caught a lot of 8-12" bass and a few 8-10" crappie. I have not seen any BG at all yet, but also didn't know there were crappie until last weekend. I have reached out to my local fish farms and am/was planning to have 80lbs of FHM, 500 RES, and a hand full of catfish delivered. Though after reading this and talking to the Mo Dept. of Conservation it seems like I will be putting in a thousand+ dollars of fish in just to have them decimated in weeks by the existing fish. My new idea. I have several small creeks feeding my pond and coves that I can isolate from the rest of the lake. Do you think if I ran mesh fencing and blocked off a section/cove that I could establish an environment to grow large numbers of FHM. Trying to think of a way that I could continually be able to add FHMs to the rest of the lake to sustain faster growing predators, without having them demolished overnight. What are your thoughts?
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 03:37 PM

You will certainly increase the survival rate by pre conditioning the fingerlings before releasing. Releasing fingerlings into a pond full of predators will mostly result in an expensive snack.

For a pond with established predators I would completely forgo the FHM all together. Spend your thousand dollars on advanced size BG and RES. In your situation I would much rather stock a half dozen 6" BG or RES for every hundred of the fingerlings you were going to stock. Large stocking fish are expensive, but cheap compared to 2-3" fish that get slaughtered in the first couple days.

Stock advanced sizes of forage fish and remove lots of small LMB if you have an over abundance. That would be the way I would do it but I am no professional so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.
Posted by: lmoore

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 04:48 PM

The main problem I see with the mesh fencing is that you will, with almost 100% certainty, not keep out the bass/crappie. Either they will make it over in high water, or fingerlings will pass through the net and grow out to a size where they decimate your "protected" FHM population.

I agree with snrub, remove as many small bass and small (or all) Crappie as you can and stock advanced size forage. I would include some brooder sized GSH, although depending on an accurate assessment of your current bass population they may also end up as snacks.

The wisest decision (but not necessarily cheapest) would be to have your pond shocked to get a more accurate look at what you have, then formulate a plan based on your ultimate goals.
Posted by: Bocomo

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 04:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Nathan&Kelly
Hello fellas. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and advice. I'm sure its saved me a lot of MONEY already. I have a 4.5 acre pond 45 min south of St Louis that has been around for 50+ years. I just bought it in December an don't have a clear picture of my predatory populations yet. Its only been fished a hand full of times in the winter so far and we have caught a lot of 8-12" bass and a few 8-10" crappie. I have not seen any BG at all yet, but also didn't know there were crappie until last weekend. I have reached out to my local fish farms and am/was planning to have 80lbs of FHM, 500 RES, and a hand full of catfish delivered. Though after reading this and talking to the Mo Dept. of Conservation it seems like I will be putting in a thousand+ dollars of fish in just to have them decimated in weeks by the existing fish. My new idea. I have several small creeks feeding my pond and coves that I can isolate from the rest of the lake. Do you think if I ran mesh fencing and blocked off a section/cove that I could establish an environment to grow large numbers of FHM. Trying to think of a way that I could continually be able to add FHMs to the rest of the lake to sustain faster growing predators, without having them demolished overnight. What are your thoughts?


Hi N&K,

What are your goals for the pond?
Posted by: Augie

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Nathan&Kelly
am/was planning to have 80lbs of FHM,


$800 will buy a Texas Hunter automatic fish feeder that ought to last for many years.

$800 in FHM will be a one-time snack for your predator fish.
Posted by: Snipe

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 02/28/19 10:44 PM

Probably over-kill on info, and I'm sure it's all confusing right now, Nathan&kelly, but I would say (among other things) the fact you have crappie at 8-10" indicates to me you would want to get some relative weights of every size bass you catch before you start removing what might be keeping your crappie in check.
4+ acres can be a very complex ecosystem, it'll take some time to figure out what you have. Keeping/starting good record keeping to analyze later is a good first step at starting a game plan for proper management.
I would also add as other have, save your money on the FHM.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/01/19 07:57 AM

Good point about the crappie Snipe. That is where some of us with limited experience get in trouble in pond management. Forget to look at the whole picture and instead focus only on a portion. You are saying it could be possible if he removed a bunch of LMB, the Crappie could go out of control in numbers and he be in a worse situation than he already is.
Posted by: Nathan&Kelly

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/05/19 11:32 PM

Sound advice guys. Thank you! I definitely think itís wise to get a better picture of what I have in my pond now befor I make any big changes. I have been keeping records of whatís been caught so far but donít think Iíll get a better picture till spring when the fishing starts picking up.. I only have a tiny snapshot of a handful of times fishing it in the least productive time of year. I am still going to try putting out mesh and sectioning off a small cove for fhm. But I think Iíll try it with 30-40 bucks worth vs $800. Figure 40 bucks is an acceptable loss if it fails miserably. Iím going to try sticking a few hundred in the small creeks that feed the pond too.
Posted by: Nathan&Kelly

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/05/19 11:44 PM

My end goal is to have high numbers or easy to catch big fish. Once I have electric run Iím adding 4 zones of airation. I saw the comment on feeders. Iím not opposed to using a feeder but havenít really looked into them to much yet. But did noticing fish food is more expensive than dog food at my local farm store.
Posted by: Snipe

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/06/19 12:43 AM

N&K, take a close look at Optimal brand feed.. Read about it, study it, ask questions.. I have a couple of Hunting trial Dogs at all times and I feed some expensive food for those beggers.. I look at it this way, a wise man (Bill Cody) once wrote: "a fish only has so many heartbeats-how it grows during that time is important because at any time it's lacking what it needs, it never gains it back".
If you think of it that way, I don't see it so much as expensive, I see it as an obsession to grow the biggest, most healthy fish possible.
I might add one more thing.. In a pond surrounding, "easy to catch" and "Big fish" don't always go hand in hand, but don't let that slow you down, the rewards are well worth the effort!
If you search, I think it was shorty (Maybe?) that posted some ideas on screening off some areas to raise certain fish. Keep in mind you're feeding a LOT of fish for a very short time (days)for what you may be able to produce in a small area with a pond as big as yours.
Posted by: Dave Davidson1

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/06/19 05:06 AM

To me, the solution for new ponds means FHM to jump start everything and then a feeder to maintain it.
Posted by: Stressless

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/14/19 05:32 PM

Great 5 year thread! I, like about everyone that posted in this thread, would like to minimize the $ and labor outlay for the maximum return to each of our Pond Mgt goals... while also stating it's a hobby and is supposed to be fun.

Along that line, will FHM survive? - "it depends" I'm rolling a mess of fish, FHM GSH,(Forage) and RES, YP (just cause I want some different panfish) into established ponds. Three of them, each is unique in the pH weeds, water flow, size and density of predator's LMB & BG (Fishbowl), LMB,BG & BCP (Figur 8), LMB, BG &CC (Long). The common thing is they are all very heavily LOADED with |-structure-|, SAV, standing (cypress) and felled trees, beaver feeding stations, etc. So, am I rolling the dice? Is the cup half full or half empty? Depends - every once of protein (made from outside the specific ponds ecosystem) is a big big plus, IF, and that's where all of us differ, IF some of the forage I put in breeds It's a bigger plus. Do I expect to have to add Forage again - Yup. When and what amount well, that's why I joined this august group of intrepid soggy asses. (Come on we've all slipped at, and got wet, at the edge of our ponds at one point or another) I stock on the 30th, walleye will go in this fall - 'cause I like walleye and my ponds are all deep and I would like a different predator.

I'm not very interested in an auto protein feeder, I am trying to build an organic autonomous forage production, I accept that it will need to be bumped up "recurrently" what that means and how often is what I'll investigate and work out. I think the large amount of structure for the forage gives my Operational Concept a decent chance... it's just rolling the dice that's hard.

I've been reading the forums/threads here, and I'll continue to update this thread with results over the next few years. Looking forward to advice on how/when/what to use to sample the ponds while building a great escape for family and friends.
Posted by: snrub

Re: Fathead Minnow Spawning - 03/14/19 06:28 PM

If you build a small forage pond and make it seinable you can raise a lot of your own replacement forage.


specialty ponds including forage ponds