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#455507 - 09/06/16 03:52 PM Are gambusia good for a pond?
Andy G Offline


Registered: 09/03/16
Posts: 19
Loc: Oklahoma
Hi guys. You all have helped me so much already. I recently built an acre pond with the intentions eventually of stocking crappie and bass after i let my FHM population grow. Come to find out some gambusia somehow got into my pond and from what i can tell they are rapidly reproducing like crazy. I can only guess theywashed in from the pond upstream. How will gambusia affect my pond? My pond is very deep and steep on most sides. I will not have alot of shallow areas but there will be some. Are gambusia a species i should create special habitat for in hopes they can survive? Do they hurt my FHM population? Please anyone with experience on gambusia in there pond?
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#455509 - 09/06/16 03:57 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
John Fitzgerald Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2040
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
Crappie are not recommended in a pond less than 50 acres. Gambusia won't hurt anything. They find a way to survive predation when fathead minnows don't. They are smaller than FHM and less value as forage for bass and bluegill.
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#455519 - 09/06/16 07:28 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
Rainman Offline
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Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 6976
Loc: St Louis, MO area
Gams like shallow, vegetated areas like marginal grasses. Like Guppies, they are live bearers and provide good forage to predator fry and small fingerlings.
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#455521 - 09/06/16 07:40 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Rainman]
Pat Williamson Offline


Registered: 08/08/14
Posts: 2407
Loc: Oakwood,Texas
I have gams and the YOY bass whoop up on them all summer and they keep on making little gams. I have BCP,BGs, bass CC, and blue cats. Gams are a shallow water fish and I can't find any problems that they cause

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#455526 - 09/06/16 09:22 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
highflyer Offline


Registered: 07/09/11
Posts: 1864
Loc: East Texas
Gambusia are also called Mosquitofish and are good for a pond.

About putting BCP, LMB (and I assume BG) in a one acre pond, you had better be on your A game for the rest of your life or that pond will get out of balance quickly.
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#496084 - 09/09/18 10:48 AM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 197
Loc: Texas
Many BOWs I fish have Gams and here are a few thoughts. As has already been mentioned, they should only be stocked where they are common and native to your watershed. In this case, however, it may be hard to keep them out.

They are native here and whether they were stocked in these BOWs I do not know. What I can say is that there are a few BOWs where I have not observed them. In these cases, they may have been extirpated but I my general sense is that they have never been there. Shoreline shallows seem to provide just enough cover to protect a breeding population. In BOWs that have GAMs I notice much better condition of BG and a higher frequency of small LMB. From my posts, you will notice that I like to fly fish for large bluegill and so I tend to focus on fishing ponds which have GAMs ... that is unless ... I am fishing for bait for bass and catfish. LMB though capable of growing to 2 lbs in one year, infrequently outweigh BG after their first summer in a mature pond. O year bass and bluegill compete directly for resources and O year bluegill quickly outgrow the gape of 0 year LMB. The presence of GAMs can alter that scenario by providing a type of forage that the O year LMB can more effectively utilize than the O year BG. O year LMB growth is benefitted in the presence of GAMs.

Potential Problems for trophy LMB:

1. GAMs prefer the same foods that 0 year BG prefer and compete for these resources. They tend to be predators that do not convert primary algal production to forage. In this sense they will inhibit BG reproduction, help BG outgrow the gape of predators for the same reason and as a source of forage. Because of this, GAMs make BG less available as forage for LMB.

2. The presence of GAMs reduces BG competition with 0 year LMB and provide forage that O year LMB are better at capturing. Increased survival of young LMB (1-2 years) hamper growth of larger LMB by two influences. They reduce BG survival and help BG grow more quickly (individually). So the surviving BG are more capable of escaping predation.

For trophy LMB, it would seem that prey items which can utilize primary algal production are better choices as they do not directly inhibit BG reproduction. PK shrimp are examples of such forage. Ultimately, cover, weeds, and brush are necessary to establish breeding populations of the kinds of things which will assist in the production of BG forage. Minnows of any kind, though very good for young bass may not help with the goal of trophy LMB. If one the other hand one is interested in the production of eating size LMB, then they would be a good introduction that helps with early growth and recruitment.

Benefits for Trophy Bluegill:

1. Gams help LMB recruitment and directly compete with YOY BG reducing BG survival and boosting surviving BG growth as forage.

2. Gams have been shown to increase pond production


(Swingle). But keep in mind this was in the absence of other possible forage choices.

Whether I would stock GAMs in a trophy BG pond might depend on whether I also had a small forage pond in which I could grow FHM. Though FHM would be unable to reproduce in the trophy BG pond, a small forage pond might provide a significant amount of fry to stock the main pond. Clearly, FHM's utilization of primary production would increase both BG and LMB forage. The question might then be whether increased BG survival (over GAMs)would present challenges for larger BG.

All in all, for bigger BG and LMB recruitment, GAMs appear to be very beneficial at least from my observations.


Edited by jpsdad (09/09/18 11:51 AM)

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#496092 - 09/09/18 01:38 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: jpsdad]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5249
Loc: SE Kansas
Interesting observations jpsdad. I have small numbers of gams in a couple of ponds but the pond where they really took off is my RES/SMB pond. On the end opposite the dam I introduced water primrose and it established well. In this primrose thicket both gams and bullfrog tadpoles went crazy with reproduction.

Just 6" beyond the primrose is a good place to catch both small RES and SMB so I am pretty sure the YOY fish are utilizing the gams for forage. The SMB keep the gams in tight cover where I used to see the gams out a little further.
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#496104 - 09/10/18 07:42 AM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2479
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
The Gams seem to be a much faster swimmer than the FHM's. I have seen them jump a good distance when they need to escape. I have gams all around the shoreline so I know they most likely they will be there even when all other fish are gone. Something is feeding on them or there would be even more of them, just not sure which fish in the pond can chase one down and eat it.


Edited by TGW1 (09/10/18 07:43 AM)
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#496121 - 09/10/18 11:13 AM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: TGW1]
Pat Williamson Offline


Registered: 08/08/14
Posts: 2407
Loc: Oakwood,Texas
Tracy in my pond Gams are there along shore line, and yoy LMB tear them up on a daily basis. Sometimes the bass comes out completely on the bank after them . Itís fun to watch. Iím glad to have them

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#496124 - 09/10/18 12:30 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
canyoncreek Online   content


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1883
Loc: West Michigan
Thinking out of the box here and probably showing my ignorance... Could gams be another forage fish for northern ponds? Like tilapia, they would die off when water temps drop but if they were easy to source and affordable it would not be much different than buying FHM wholesale in the spring and 'stocking the pond' knowing they will possibly be snacks.

They in a way could be like tilapia offering another part of the forage ladder?

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#496128 - 09/10/18 01:50 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
DannyMac Offline


Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 48
Loc: Bexar county Texas
My gams survived in a little 4 x 8 x 1 feet holder frozen down to two inches. They can take a lot of abuse: temperature, oxygen, etc. They've been depleted a lot this summer in my main pond because the baby bass git em. I have a few thousand in that little holder...started with twenty-five from Amazon a couple years ago, after a water beetle cleaned out a few hundred rosy reds...I'd find forty deflated minnow skins every day...and then they were all gone. Nothing like a helgramite that eats a few every day, those beetles are killers.
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#496143 - 09/10/18 05:40 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: canyoncreek]
Mike Whatley Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 529
Loc: Louisiana
[quote=canyoncreek]Thinking out of the box here and probably showing my ignorance... Could gams be another forage fish for northern ponds? Like tilapia, they would die off when water temps drop but if they were easy to source and affordable it would not be much different than buying FHM wholesale in the spring and 'stocking the pond' knowing they will possibly be snacks.

They in a way could be like tilapia offering another part of the forage ladder?

As was said earlier, it's not whether they would be a good addition to your forage base, it's finding a source where you get them in your area. Most hatcheries wont/don't handle them....for whatever reason. If you can find them locally, terrific, but you'll likely have to import them. Then there's the question of legalities when transplanting non native species. I'm not so sure they wouldn't survive your winters.

We had a solid week of 20* weather here this past winter. While it didn't freeze the pond, those kind of temps are virtually unheard of down here and are definitely a stressor for our subtropical conditioned fish. It didn't even faze my GAMs.


Edited by Mike Whatley (09/10/18 05:47 PM)
_________________________
.10 surface acre pond, 10.5 foot deep. SW LA. The epidomy of a mutt pond. BG, LMB, GSF, RES, BH, Warmouth, FHM, Longear Sunfish, Gambusia and apparently, now crappie.

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#496148 - 09/10/18 07:33 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
Clay N' Pray Offline


Registered: 12/03/17
Posts: 194
Loc: Caswell co NC
I can get GAMs locally, 50 fish for $54.00. After reading up on pros and cons, I think I'll just stock tilapia every spring as a secondary forage.
I buy the tilapia locally by the lb, as meat fish. I usually get 10 breeder sized fish for $20. They definitely breed well in my BOW.
They also do a great job of cleaning up the shallows around my feeder.
They do eat pellets that my CC & BG could eat, but I feed cheap stuff.

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#496191 - 09/11/18 03:43 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 197
Loc: Texas
I think the reason most hatcheries won't offer them is that GAMs more limited in total weight per acre. One reason for this is that they require zooplankton and this can be a limiting food for them. Another reason is that GAMS are cannibalistic. FHMs play well together, feed at the base of food chain consuming algae, detritus, and feed. FHMs can with aeration be grown at many thousands of pounds per acre. This is why hatcheries want to grow them instead of GAMs

GAMS also prey on the fry of other fish. That GAMs eat fry is a good thing for trophy BG I think. The benefits to LMB outweigh any fry that are eaten. The key benefit to LMB is that surviving fingerlings grow faster helping them to escape predation from larger LMB. If any BG fry are eaten ... nothing but a good thing for trophy BG.

Some other thoughts. IMHO the shoreline is preferred habitat for larger GAMs. Newly born GAMs I think are pushed out of this habitat by adult GAMs. They survive using cover like weeds (ie Chara) in deeper water. If you wait for the Sun to set, you will see the surface come alive when its too dark for LMB and BG to effectively forage. Both adult and juvenile GAMs take to the pelagic areas of the pond and feed on plankton that have coincidently risen from the deep portions of the pond to the water near the surface. I think juvenile GAMs that have survived to reach a minimum of 5/8" return to the shallows where they breed. This last sentence is an opinion supported by my lack of observing smaller GAMs in shallow water.

Also GAMs are prolific. A single pregnant female could become thousands at the end of the season if not a lot of predators are present. Unlike FHMs, a few hundred Adult GAMs will significantly contribute to forage many times beyond the original weight of them. FHM can't reproduce in a mature pond. The FHMs you put in is what the fish get to eat. In this sense, Adding GAMs would be similar to adding tilapia except that they probably won't add as much ultimate forage and they will benefit panfish and fingerling LMB the most. Tilapia will benefit your largest LMB the most.

John, I am not surprised that your SMB/RES pond has the most GAMs. Makes perfect sense and I think they are definitely helping SMB recruitment and your RES. Shoreline is limiting for adults so I think you might be able to net some weekly through the growing season for supplementing other ponds.

One last thing. Panfish may have a little more trouble than LMB at consuming GAMs but LMB have no trouble whatsoever at capturing them. When I observe them, I will see many jumping out of the water, but I figure one GAM fell each time I see this.


Edited by jpsdad (09/11/18 03:45 PM)

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#496203 - 09/11/18 08:52 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: jpsdad]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5249
Loc: SE Kansas
Thanks for the comments.

I have both small and large Gams in the shallows with the water primrose but the small ones may already be that 5/8" you mention.

I'll try to pay a little more attention to their behavior in the future.
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#496205 - 09/11/18 08:59 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
canyoncreek Online   content


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 1883
Loc: West Michigan
How far north are there anecdotal reports of Gams overwintering or surviving under ice?

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#496215 - 09/11/18 10:30 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
John Fitzgerald Offline


Registered: 10/27/15
Posts: 2040
Loc: S. end of Elkins, Arkansas
They are native as far north as southern Indiana and Illinois. They will withstand some fairly harsh conditions.
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#496317 - 09/13/18 03:35 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: DannyMac]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 197
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: DannyMac
My gams survived in a little 4 x 8 x 1 feet holder frozen down to two inches. They can take a lot of abuse: temperature, oxygen, etc. They've been depleted a lot this summer in my main pond because the baby bass git em. I have a few thousand in that little holder...started with twenty-five from Amazon a couple years ago . . .



That is a remarkable number of GAMs. I could see that little "forage holder" being a good source of pregnant adults to supplement your pond. I've wondered how big container it would take to keep adult numbers up in 1/4 acre pond. That's definitely big enough to make a difference. Danny, would you mind remarking about how you feed them and whether water exchange and aeration are provided?

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#496319 - 09/13/18 04:09 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
Mike Whatley Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 529
Loc: Louisiana
JPSDAD,
If your pond has any shoreline vegetation at all, you won't need to have a holding tank past maybe getting them to a good stocking level. Seriously, they are very prolific. They can take a lot of pressure and will readily take pellets if you provide a little right at the shoreline. I've never done anything special with mine and I've got thousands of them.
_________________________
.10 surface acre pond, 10.5 foot deep. SW LA. The epidomy of a mutt pond. BG, LMB, GSF, RES, BH, Warmouth, FHM, Longear Sunfish, Gambusia and apparently, now crappie.

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#496329 - 09/13/18 07:18 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: Andy G]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 197
Loc: Texas
Point well taken Mike. There's several BOWs near my house with them. One has an abundance of them ... others have surviving populations but not nearly as many.

Anyways, I am still interested in any experience DannyMac can share. So the request still stands Dan if you don't mind.

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#496331 - 09/13/18 07:32 PM Re: Are gambusia good for a pond? [Re: snrub]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 197
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: snrub
Thanks for the comments.

I have both small and large Gams in the shallows with the water primrose but the small ones may already be that 5/8" you mention.

I'll try to pay a little more attention to their behavior in the future.


John the average length of a GAM at birth is 8-9 mm which is a little under 3/8". That's pretty small and may be why I don't see them. In late June there was a good number of large females in one BOW. They were decimated. The first to go were the 2 inchers and then 1 1/2 and so on. I wondered whether I was seeing the beginning of a big decline. Then a couple weeks later there were utterly tens of thousands of 5/8" gams that seemed to show up all at once. These are now declining as they grow. I figure there will be one more good showing of small GAMs before the season ends. I definitely could be wrong about the small ones utilizing habitat beyond the shallows but it seemed compatible with these observations.

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