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What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
#512913 10/19/19 09:47 AM
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I've been considering building a BOW on a 2 acre property. Though the property receives water from outside, the watershed is very limited and I think I will be limited to a BOW of about .18 acres. What I have imagined in this space has changed alot the past few years.

It's easy to imagine something bigger and better than the space allows. In a typical LMB/Bluegill combination, appropriate harvests range 10 - 25 lbs/acre-year for LMB and 30 - 60 lbs/acre-year for Bluegill. So for a .18 Bow we're talking between 7 to 15 lbs per year. To be sure, I just want to have fun with my son and daughter and (hopefully the eventual grandkids) and the size of the fish, provided they are a harvesteable size to filet, is not of great importance to me. Were I to state a goal it would be this, I would like to harvest a minimum of 300 lbs/acre year of fish > .25lbs in weight AND I want the standing weight to NEVER exceed 500 lbs/acre. I already know I can do this with catfish, but I want different fish and would only consider stocking them at 50/acre (10 annually preferably all harvested annually).

I've whittled dozens of considerations down to 3 favored scenarios but before I describe them it would be good to discuss how the goal above is limiting my choices. First to have a harvest that great with a maximum standing weight so low probably requires (I think) that the fish are harvested 0-year and/or 1-year of age. Where a predator fish is expected to reproduce, it must attain a weight that would allow it to reproduce at 1 year of age (or a very limited few at 2 years). LMB or SMB with sufficient growth can do this but I have reservations as to whether sufficient cannabilism would occur to allow them to achieve 9" by year 1. Ideally, year 1 predators would reproduce and all or most of year 1 predators would be harvested over the following 7 months.

For the predator food chain, I want a vibrant community of invertebrates and small fish of sizes to be ideal for predators up to 14". From the ground up they would include shredders hyallela Azteca and PK shrimp. They would also include fishes Gambusia and Red Shiner. These are chosen on the basis of high reproduction rates, mobile maternal care of eggs, in the case of the shiner the freedom to spawn without parental care. I would hope these forage would overwinter sufficient populations to repopulate each season.

It is not likely, even under ideal forage conditions that the predators would attain sufficient mass to meet the harvest objective. So to fill this gap I think Mozambique tilapia are a good choice. I like them for number of reasons. Although I would expect them to consume some of the forage, I do think this will be limited. I am hoping they will help to reduce phytoplankton and FA abundance and improve water quality where fertility is enhanced. They would more efficiently produce fish flesh than the predator food chain. Swingle found Mozambique tilapia to be the most catchable of tilapia by hook and line in his trials. They reproduce at a young age and I anticipate that the majority of resident predators will not be able to capture 4" tilapia. I think I can produce the quantity I need from an overwintered pair of fish from a single spawning. Would just need to protect the fry/fingerlings until they reach 3.5 to 4". I anticipate the timing of tilapia introduction would be in the early July time frame and given the introduced fish will have just reached reproductive size and age I would expect that some would be spawning by August. I would hope the tilapia offspring would never reach a size too large for the predators to eat.

So what about lepomis? Well I like them, no I dearly love them, but they would destroy the initial goal I think. Within a couple years, if harvested at the rates I want to harvest, I think their numbers would be excessive and the sizes rather small. The bow would always be at a large standing weight and small prey species would never achieve the abundance they would without them nor would the food chain produce fish flesh as efficiently. In the end, I think the sustainable harvest of predators w/o BG would be greater than a sustainable harvest of BG would be (unless one is harvesting <5in BG ... a situation I do not want). Still I see BG and LES making their way in as a male only bonus fish at the rate of say 2 to 4 annually (10 to 20 per acre-year).

OK, so now my top 3 considerations for predator are HSB, SMB, & LMB ... in that order. Because the numbers of HSB can be tightly controlled I did work up a "plan". I am pretty sure I would be happy with the HSB/Tilapia combination and I think it would exceed my stated goals. Concerns I have about HSB are whether they would survive well to 13" in a tiny BOW here in Texas. The annual cost of 1 1/2 inch fingerlings wouldn't be cost prohibitive but they would require the attention of a grow out to a size they could evade predation.

I like SMB because they could reproduce and ideally replenish on an anual basis. I like them also because they more efficiently utilize invertebrate prey than LMB. It may be possible that they may be able to grow faster than LMB in their first year assuming the same number of recruits. I like SMB because snrub has successfully fed them without training which might help to boost their size. If I have concerns, it would be that cannibalism would be insufficient for them to reach a reproductive weight by year 1. I also have concerns that they might not as effectively inhibit tilapia recruitment and convert less of this resource to fish flesh. Insufficient predation of tilapia recruits would also reduce the weight of harvestable tilapia (the stockers).

I like LMB because I think reproduction would be less of an obstacle for them than SMB. I feel confident that LMB will be more oriented to consume tilapia recruits converting more of this resource to fish flesh and increasing the stocker tilapia growth. So my concerns are, despite these favorable traits, that LMB might still over recruit preventing Year 1 LMB from spawning and a sustainable harvest of Year 1 fish.

To be sure. I lack the experience to understand the best combination. I think if I could be certain that the LMB or SMB route would work with my harvest objectives I would favor them to avoid the necessary yearly introduction of advanced fingerlings that HSB would require. I am interested in whatever thoughts Pond Boss forum members may have particularly with regard to the LMB and SMB combinations and whether year-1 reproduction and year 1 harvest is sustainable or whether a different more complex age structure will likely be required. Thanks in advance for any and all ideas and comments.

Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #512922 10/19/19 02:39 PM
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Firstly I would be checking with the fellow Texan Pond Forum members how well their SMB have survived in the TX climate especially in smaller ponds that lack depth. SMB can be raised in warm climate as proven by our member Aaron Matos who raised them in a small pond in Arizona. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=240409
I'm not sure why Bruce's pictures are out of focus in the linK??

Those Texans with poor SMB raising success were Chris Steelman and our mentor BobLusk. Maybe one of these guys will update us about their experience with Texas SMB? Based on your interview results your efforts may be better focused on HSB or LMB. SMB tolerate the heat however they need constant amounts of high DO. I raised some in a pond that developed 90F water.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 10/19/19 08:26 PM.

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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #512939 10/19/19 09:49 PM
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Thanks Bill. And thank you for the link above. Aaron had a remarkably productive tiny BOW.

Aside from gape, what are your thoughts on how effective HSB would be in controlling TP recruitment? Would they be as effective as LMB?

Last edited by jpsdad; 10/19/19 09:52 PM.
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #512945 10/20/19 06:57 AM
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A couple of thoughts.

I don't personally know anyone who has been successful with SMB in Texas. Heck, I don't recall anybody who has tried them other than Chris. That may be my ignorance/memory speaking. But, if Aaron did it in Phoenix, I guess it could be done. But, he had a well and aeration. Since he quit posting some time back I have no idea about his long range success.

I doubt that HSB could control BG spawning in a small pond. Lusk says that only BG spawn enough to feed bass and only bass con control BG.

I have a pond about that size with CC, GSF and some BG. Right now it's about the size you are thinking about. It's working OK and I feed them when I get there. It's a long way from the house and only accessible by 4wheeler.

When I bought the place 25 to 30 years ago, I knew nothing about ponds and stocking. I put in BG, CC, fatheads and bass. It worked great about 5 years until drought hit. Then O2 depletion set in and, due to overstocking, I lost almost everything.

My favorite small pond stocking scenario for hot and dry country is CC with HBG and feed. I don't recall what area of Texas you are in. That really means rain. With a well, that wouldn't matter except for the electric bill.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
Dave Davidson1 #512955 10/20/19 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
A couple of thoughts.

I don't personally know anyone who has been successful with SMB in Texas. Heck, I don't recall anybody who has tried them other than Chris. That may be my ignorance/memory speaking. But, if Aaron did it in Phoenix, I guess it could be done. But, he had a well and aeration. Since he quit posting some time back I have no idea about his long range success.


Yes, harvesting a ton a fish in a year from a .10 acre BOW certainly requires expert handling. WOW! I figure a well was a very handy tool in that it may have provided significant water change capability or at the very least a source of clean, cool, highly oxygenated water as a refuge in a portion of the pond. Notwithstanding his success I will not have that tool at my disposal.

You guys have me marking the SMB from the list. I am just north of Dallas and I intend to be flexible with regard rain. A drought like we had a few years back would probably shut it down till the rains return. This is just part of the reason I am leaning towards harvest of 0-Year and 1-Year fish. If we get through the "rainy season" with insufficient rain, I'd probably forgo stocking the BOW with replacements in that year and double up harvest hoping my forage would survive it. With LMB there would be little I could do about them producing a new crop of YOY in such a year though ... something I might have to consider.

Quote:
I doubt that HSB could control BG spawning in a small pond. Lusk says that only BG spawn enough to feed bass and only bass con control BG.


I agree. Don't know if you noticed but I will only try to maintain 10 or so adult male BG or LES. I don't actually want BG reproduction. I will rely on harvest to ensure the predator doesn't eradicate the prey. The minnow species won't support large LMB the way BG can. But they should be optimal up to the length the LMB would be harvested. I wouldn't let LMB stagnate at that size I would try to remove them while they remain well fed.

I am just unsure as to whether the concept would work with LMB as I would hope it would. In the ideal world 12 or so overwintered LMB would spawn in the spring and these YOY would be whittled down to around 60 to 70 >8" LMB by late September. Now when I say whittled and ideally, I mean I did nothing special to reduce the number of 0-year LMB surviving the summer. Hopefully, the over wintered 12 or so Year-1 LMB would eat them and YOY would eat their siblings to such a degree that only enough remain that they could grow to an average of 8" by late September. At this time I would try to harvest all Year-1 LMB and all but about 12 or so 0-year LMB which should gain sufficiently to spawn the next spring starting the cycle all over again.

This scenario (as imagined) would be able to produce about 25 lbs/year of LMB or about 125 lbs/acre-year. Since that is below the harvest goal, I could supplement that harvest with CC and tilapia. Tilapia would provide a forage benefit to the LMB and the LMB would help to reduce competition among tilapia.

Alternatively, I could completely control the predator recruits by stocking a predator that doesn't successfully spawn. The stocking would need to recur annually. In the case of HSB, I am concerned that they might inadequately control tilapia recruits which would impact the harvest size of original tilapia stockers I would hope to harvest in the fall. Success with HSB in part depends on their successful predation of tilapia YOY. I guess perhaps the comparison should be made between tilapia and BG. If BG are more prolific than tilapia, then perhaps the HSB might be sufficient. Vice versa .. perhaps not. Any thoughts on that?

Quote:
My favorite small pond stocking scenario for hot and dry country is CC with HBG and feed.


This is an interesting and promising scenario. In your case do you use catfish feed? Also are the CC meeting your expectations with regard to the predation of the HBG recruits?

Last edited by jpsdad; 10/20/19 02:38 PM.
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #512967 10/20/19 07:38 PM
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To my knowledge not a lot is known about how well HSB will control tilapia. I suspect that if enough HSB are present and tilapia are low enough density the HSB will definitely control tilapia. I am not sure why you think there is a pressing need to control the recruitment of tilapia. Lots of small TP will provide abundant food to grow HSB quickly. Winter in north TX will eliminate the entire TP population each year. Tilapia at 6"(mostly males) for me this summer grew from Jun 01 to Oct 1 (120days) to 13" that produced large fillets.

In Ohio this summer I grew HSB from 5" to 11" from Jun 1 to Oct 15 (135days 1.12mm/day). In TX you should be able to get the them to 13-14" in one year.

A 0.18 ac pond is small enough to easily and quickly renovate it when you want to change the fishery.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 10/20/19 07:41 PM.

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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
Bill Cody #512970 10/20/19 08:16 PM
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Quote:
I am not sure why you think there is a pressing need to control the recruitment of tilapia. Lots of small TP will provide abundant food to grow HSB quickly.


I guess I didn't communicate very well that I do want the tilapia to spawn. I just don't want the offspring to reach a size that the predators won't aggressively target. For the anticipated length of predators I think this will occur at about 4" TL. Just don't want a large weight of 5" tilapia recruits come fall and I want most of the recruits to be cropped by the predator. I also hope to harvest most of the original tilapia stockers by the end of October and then the predators can gorge on the smalls one that remain in the die-off.

**BUMP**

However, as I think about, I might have to tolerate a fair amount of TP recruitment at sizes > 4" After all, if they were cropping the TP that well, then how will any minnows survive to the next season? Seems to me like there are some pretty big holes in this plan. smile

Last edited by jpsdad; 10/21/19 04:32 PM.
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #513044 10/22/19 05:00 AM
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Well, they don't survive until the next season but die out in the Winter and have to be restocked annually.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #513106 10/22/19 07:49 PM
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The number of TP recruits that reach the 4" mark will be heavily dependant on how many predators are present to eat 1"-2" tilapia. This offspring number will depend on the TP female:male ratio, how many TP that are stocked and how many predators are present. Some species of tilapia are probably more prolific than other species. Know the habits of your participants. Many of the TP that I get are almost all males so few if any offspring are produced, thus the offspring production - survival is somewhat controllable. Not a lot of good detailed information is available for situations like you are planning. I think for your plan is a good one, you will have to proceed mainly by trial and error and hopefully you will keep us advised as your fishery develops so we can all learn some new fishy things!

Last edited by Bill Cody; 10/22/19 07:52 PM.

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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #513238 10/24/19 06:58 PM
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Thanks for these ideas Bill. I have a paper on LMB and tilapia that can serve as a baseline. The problem is that it is nile tilapia studied in the paper. The Mozambique is the tilapia I will be limited to using and it reproduces at two months younger age than nile do. I think if I can get a ball park estimate to begin with I can fine tune it, as you said, each year. The males vs females was something I wasn't planning to do but it is a great idea and an alternative that would greatly help if there is too many offspring growing up.

Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #513243 10/24/19 08:23 PM
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One option for the TP stocking and restriction of numbers of offspring would be to buy most of your TP from a TP food grower who have almost all male fish. Then to get a controlled number of female TP buy those from a pond stocker who has both sexes. For those with reproducing TP for pond stocking; remember the larger ones will be males and smaller ones females.


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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #513255 10/25/19 04:35 AM
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Your question; Will CC control HBG? They have and the HBG, some of which are actually Green Sunfish, have coexisted for about 5 or so years since the last drought. And the HBG/GSF have evidently eliminated any CC fry. In my case, I feed them when I can by hand. I don't live there and the pond is a long way from the house, only accessible by 4 wheeler. I feed a couple of pounds(a coffee can full) whenever I can.

I originally added 25 4 inch CC to the mutt fish about 4 or 5 years ago. They have coexisted pretty well. It's a somewhat delicate balance. If they were closer to the house or if I had a feeder I believe the CC would outgrow the pond. And, the YOY lepomis would possibly get too numerous. Either scenario could cause a fish kill due to the CC eating only feed and not the natural foods.

Bottom line? All ponds are different and if I don't start getting some rains, this pond won't make it. It's dried up twice in the 30 or so years that I have had the land.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #520998 05/14/20 08:39 AM
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I keep churning the SMB idea in my head. I know this fish won't do well in combination with most lepomis and definitely not with LMB but I've read about them as a standalone fishery. Buck and Thoits found they could achieve fall standing weights of 170 lbs/acre in unfertilized ponds and that they can sustain cropping pressure closely approaching carrying capacity (carrying capacity appeared limited by winter conditions). This seems like an easy fish to manage on its own in combination with various invertebrates and minnows provided their numbers are managed through harvest.

Texas is pretty far South for them but could they do well on their own with out heavy competition from other species? I saw an article from American Sportfish where they were stocking them in the deep south. They claimed they thrived in their shallow production ponds and that temperature was not an issue for them. Buck and Thoits also trialed them in shallow ponds and subjected them to a lot of handling (and marking). They remarked they were a very durable fish. Does anyone know why American Sportfish quit offering them? I suspect low demand and failures due to species competition but don't really know. Their article is here.

Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
Bill Cody #521008 05/14/20 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
...Those Texans with poor SMB raising success were Chris Steelman and our mentor BobLusk. Maybe one of these guys will update us about their experience with Texas SMB? Based on your interview results your efforts may be better focused on HSB or LMB. SMB tolerate the heat however they need constant amounts of high DO. I raised some in a pond that developed 90F water.
Bill, as of 3 years ago Bob still had them. Quite the tussle with a light weight flyrod.
[Linked Image]

TJ and I have kicked around a SMB/LMB breeding combo down here. IIRC, his window for a positive verification of male SMB is relatively small, so my schedule would have to be open during his spawning period. Meanmouth's are already naturally occurring in some TX lakes, so my thought is long term sustainability should be fine.

Logistical and time considerations are probably more demanding than the actual cross breeding aspect.

Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/14/20 11:38 AM.

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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #521014 05/14/20 02:28 PM
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For "tiny" waters look seriously at fish that won't or don't reproduce in a pond such as HSB and single sex sport and panfish. Non-reproduciing fish will grow better because of less competition and more natural foods available in small limited production waters. Too many fish usually overeat the food source that suppresses growth. Tiny waters make it easy and economical to regularly add stocker fish as needed.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 05/14/20 02:30 PM.

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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #521036 05/14/20 10:51 PM
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I guess we should add a predator to the .15ac pond stocked with HBG over a year ago... It was renovated during the drought 8yrs ago? Snow cone shaped bowl.


How are you going to know unless you try!

NW TX 2ac main pond fed from 1100ac watershed going through 2 2+ac sediment ponds. 1st filled 10/2018
900BG, 200RES, 200HBG, 100CC and 23# FHM...."Free" BH, GSF GSH, LMB & ??? 75LMB 3/2020
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Re: What fish combinations for a tiny BOW?
jpsdad #521043 05/15/20 06:17 AM
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Jpsdad, that small pond is exactly one mile from the house. About1/4 acre and the hbg have turned into about half gsf. I feed when I get there. The cats, although stocked at the same time/age, vary quite a bit now. Some are twice the size of others at 3 or 4 yoa. Feeding sporadically , a large coffee can all gets eaten. The best thing about a small pond is that it’s water turkey proof. Not enough room for them to take off so they don’t land.

Biggest current concern is a bunch of hogs that are using it as a wading pool. Wife and I have been there a couple of times lately and the hogs, supposedly wild, came and started wading around about 20 ft from us. Wife got nervous and started her 4wheeler so they wandered off. I have 2 different bunches of hogs on 133 acres. The ones closer to the house got in a trap. Grandson and his buddy had to stay up most of the night butchering 13 of them. ThT bunch has evidently relocated.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP

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