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4CornersPuddle, Chris Steelman, esshup, FishinRod, gehajake, jpsdad, Omaha, Snipe, teehjaeh57
Total Likes: 15
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by powerliftingtexa
powerliftingtexa
Please don't hate me with my newbie question. I live on a small 3/4 acre property. I'm a former landscape guy, who's landscaped and built ponds. I actually just finished a small pond on my front yard, it's more for looks and bait. I installed a waterfall, a couple of fountains, and lit it up. But my pond in the front is again for looks (landscape.) It's only 10 x 15 feet.

I have an area in the back, but not a whole lot of room to play with due to structures and things on our property.

If I wanted a pond for just afternoon fishing and relaxing and feeding a family of (3) at the dinner table only at night. How big of a pond would I need? Species would be Channel Cats I think.

I'm only playing with about 70 feet in length x 30 feet wide. How many catfish could I stock. How many would it produce throughout the year? Or how many lbs would it produce throughout the year? Would it be enough to feed only a family of 3 at the dinner table at night or is that a stupid question.

Again, forgive me if it's a stupid question or if I don't have enough room for what I'm trying to do. I'm new to the fish stocking thing. There's another 1/4 acre of empty un-maintained land behind us that I'd love to have, but the old man that owns it won't sell it to us, nor maintain it. lol
Liked Replies
by Bob Lusk
Bob Lusk
Here's the deal...no pond in Texas can support more than 600-700 pounds of food fish per acre for very long...if you have that many fish at the same time. Water would need to be exchanged, aerated, and amended. That means a way to remove water, add fresh well water, aeration 24/7. But what you can do is what I call "crop" your fish as they get to your target weight. Basically, harvest fish as they grow and don't allow such a small pond to try to sustain a high standing crop. It's deceptive to think any pond in the south can carry a heavy load of fish at one time.

I've grown lots of fish...for many years. The best successes I've had growing fish for food is to push a pond of a given size, in this case, 2100 square feet (.0482 acre). A pond that size would be hard pressed to sustain a full carrying capacity of much more than 50 pounds of fish at any given time without constant attention to water quality. But, it could probably produce a total of 100 pounds, stretched out over a full season, if you keep the carrying capacity below that 50 pound target, and you have the ability to exchange water. Feeding is a must. Feeding grows fish and influences water quality, hence the need to crop the fish as they grow and exchange water as needed.

When we pushed our 1/10 acre ponds, we could grow upwards of 100-150 pounds of fish...as long as I opened the drain, dropped off a foot of water, then immediately fill with fresh well water...and we harvested fish with a seine at least four times per year. If we didn't do that, we had issues.

In today's world, there's another growing issue, particularly in Texas, where I pay most attention. When I try to push a tiny pond like that, inevitably, not only do I have to pay attention to water quality, fish health and growth, but also to predators. In such a confined space, Cormorants and River Otters can have their way and completely clean out the fish population.

That's especially true if you overwinter some of your catfish and also plan to double-crop with rainbow trout. For a pond as small as 2100 square feet, you could probably harvest 40-50 pounds of catfish as they reach a pound and a half...over the entire growing season. Leave the water shallow enough to be able to pull a seine through it to harvest fish. Don't count on them biting a hook. At least half your catfish won't ever bite a hook. Been there, done that, seen it over and over. You might be able to trap some in a cylinder-trap, but that's another conversation.

Not saying, "don't do it", just telling you to go in with eyes open. Plan to deal with water quality, regular harvest, and keeping predators at bay.
3 members like this
by Bob Lusk
Bob Lusk
Think I'll be little more direct. When I started this forum 20 years ago, it was to offer solid information and true-world experience. I love the science as much as anyone. The science of pond management is evolving. It truly is. No one can debate H.S. Swingle. That guy started it all with his work to help people grow protein during hard economic years. All the scientists did their individual work that is still becoming a body of work. The guys who make a living at it, like me, take that complete body, use it as we work with landowners in the real world to make it happen for them. I used to think pond management was about 10% science and 90% "art". I've changed my mind. We have more tools today, so it's more like 20% science and 80% art. Anyone here can debate that...just don't do it unless you've been out there for decades implicating many of those theories, only to figure out nature has two huge rules where she pushes back. Nature detests a void and a bounty. You can take all the theories and papers and science and throw that stuff in the mix, but when you are paid to produce results in nature, you have to learn that all the science in the world is nice, but most of the time, it's a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

If someone wants to raise some fish in a small pond, go for it! I'm in. I just probably won't have a ton of sympathy when I get that call that there was a fish kill from some random summer storm, or the otters ate the biggest fish just before they were harvested, or a comment comes across the transom that, "I spent way more money on raising fish for my family than if I'd bought them from a producer."

If anyone on this forum wants to speak from any authoritative position, I expect qualification. There's no way I can convince anyone I'm an "expert" unless I properly credit the science sources so as not to take credit myself, and get out there and do it. In my opinion, as a professional pond management guy, I have the most respect for those who have done it. Sure, I have respect for science that others do, but I'm not ever going to use that as my sole opinion. The variables of each situation keep me from that.

Phil, this next statement is directed to you. I love the science you look up. From reading several different threads, I see some push back toward what you are posting. Rather than speak as an expert, I think it would be better to give your advice, but do a better job of quoting the source. I can tell by reading what you write that you have a passion. I can also tell by reading what you write that you've not spent a lot of time actually doing what you write about. I think it would do your intelligence a better service if you answer these questions with proper credit to the source...just like you are writing a scientific paper, which you are.

I have a younger brother who used to say, "I learn from your mistakes." Glad he did, but like all of us, we still make our own...and there's no way anyone can learn from other's mistakes. All they can do is pull the first layer off that onion. Heck, I'm still learning from my mistakes, but now it just a lot more fun. One thing I've tried to teach my kids is, "You can't live with something until you live without it." They saw that way back, early in my entrepreneurial career, when I couldn't pay the electric bill for a few days. They had a greater respect for electricity after five days without it.

Here's the bottom line...advice from a book or scientific papers is good. I dare anyone to say otherwise. Those papers are typically narrow in scope and usually lead to other questions. I see scientific writings as one tool in my tool box. When I see someone write about something as a definitive expert because of something a researcher did under controlled situations, I respect it just for that....a controlled experiment in controlled, replicated circumstances to make sure the science is correct. I admire that, respect it and rarely use it. Grasping the theory is part of the deal, putting it to use where there are some controls is nice, but the reality is we have very little control over what nature wants to do in a pond in Pawhuska, Oklahoma compared to one in those rocky soils outside Nashville, Tennessee, compared to the acid water of Laurinburg, North Carolina. This stuff is a mix of a little bit of science and a whole lot of art, which comes with experience, luck, and a good fundamental understanding how nature works.

I hope my message comes across as intended, without arrogance or malice.
3 members like this
by ewest
ewest
I have, as most of you know, posted lots of science on the Forum and written about it in the Mag for years. For every science article discussed there are 100 more at least not addressed. One of the things Dave Willis and I used to amaze over are the studies and replicates that had opposite results. We even tried a couple of times to track down the authors (often friends of ours) who were as shocked as we were. Those dadgum unknown variables. The real dangerous ones are when 2 or more groups of science writers are each sure they are correct on a topic in which they highly disagree (writing with a point to prove). Often all sides have part of the issued correct and part wrong, with no side having the real answer which may come 20 years later as a result of improved scientific ability and method.
3 members like this
by Bob Lusk
Bob Lusk
Phil, your advice is solid...and theoretical in this case. In reality, suppliers have what they have. You get what you can get. I tried to overwinter small tilapia in my RAS. They died...every time I tried it. They can't be bought in Texas. Fish farmers want to sell what makes the most money for them, and it's not tiny tilapia in the spring.

Not disagreeing with what you said...you are right. But, I've made a good living for 42 years with hands-on, in the field, doing the things you write about. Doing my best to add to your good information with a small dose of reality. My reality, with your theories, can help more people.

I'm a big fan of the literature, whether from scientific journals, extension publications, foundations and other sources. But after years of scraping pond mud from under my toenails, raising fish, helping literally thousands of clients with thousands of ponds, I do understand what Swingle did. Dr. Richard O. Anderson is a personal friend (yes, he's still alive at 95), and the other researchers that built the data that guys like me use every day. I also understand the marketplace, what's available, what you can stock, and how every single pond is different. Love all that stuff. Theories are just that...theories. They give you a starting point. That's it.

I appreciate your calling me out about following Swingle's protocol. No, I didn't. Neither will any other pond owner. I play in the real world of the marketplace, not a controlled lab.
2 members like this
by Snipe
Snipe
Originally Posted by jpsdad
Originally Posted by Sunil
jpsdad wrote: "Everyone who reads my posts knows I have only recently acquired a property with a pond."

I feel this is a disconnect.

Using this 'catfish' thread as an example, I don't see how the original poster could glean from this post that you have never tried any of this, and thus in fact have no idea if this is even feasible:

Think about what this means if you are right. In essence, its like saying the experience of Swingle and others that replicated his results means nothing unless jpsdad or some other member replicates their results. Can you see where this isn't quite right? What if instead of Swingle and other scientists we applied the same litmus test to everything we the members have experienced? Sometimes reversing the order of things can make one take a step back and wonder how he thought the original in first place. But to your point, I think I can trust Swingle's experience. My post was a short little to "the point suggestion" of what I thought he could grow at the outer limit. It was meant to be a conversation starting place for further discussion.

gehajake, it's OK with me that you don't trust science. I'd like to persuade you to warm up to it but everyone has their own way of doing things. I know when I write about technical things that it doesn't speak to many. Most are not inclined to finish reading them I think. Consider my thread on conversion, It may have reached only a couple regulars and few others. But I know if you studied it with the intent to understand it before passing judgment, you stand a good chance of understanding the importance of those principles and why no magic occurs despite anyone's experience. A couple of years ago I came across a paper where the authors provided equations for Feed rates and Gross FCR. The feed rate equation was regressed from tests they performed to discover feed rates that optimized Gross FCR for catfish of differing weights. The optimum feeding rate changes as the catfish grow . The idea of course was to lower the cost of producing catfish. Within a day I had a spreadsheet that I could use to grow out catfish according to their experience. Pretty cool don't you think? All their meticulous testing and record keeping. All that experience. So cool that I don't have to do all that in order to apply what they learned from experience. Sweet stuff to me anyways. Some time later, when learning how to plot SGR to find intrinsic FCR and the maintenance rate ... it occurred to me that I could test whether those scientists findings of Gross FCR were consistent with theory. Indeed the results of that regression confirmed beyond any shadow of doubt that their findings of FCR at the differing feeding rates were fully consistent with theory. Was very satisfying and it strengthened my trust in their findings and the theory as well.
I'm not going to disagree with anything but what I highlighted in RED... That's the reason I do this, "the Magic"..
2 members like this
by Sunil
Sunil
jpsdad wrote: "Everyone who reads my posts knows I have only recently acquired a property with a pond."

I feel this is a disconnect.

Using this 'catfish' thread as an example, I don't see how the original poster could glean from this post that you have never tried any of this, and thus in fact have no idea if this is even feasible:

"You could probably grow 70 or 90 lbs of fish per summer and a similar weight of trout in the winter. So something like 150 3" Mozambique YOY TP when temps are above 70 F and something like 50 8" CC each year. If YOY, the TP won't spawn in most years but could in some. The small recruits could feed CC or RBT as they die over winter. So at 90 lbs we are talking a standing weight of 1866 lbs/acre. You could have two crops if you would grow trout in the winter."


The success of the Pond Boss Forum is the sharing of experience and knowledge. Of course knowledge includes the sharing of technical publications and articles of interest, but as we've seen countless times, nothing is absolute with ponds and fish, and sometimes, jpsdad, you are 'presenting' theoretical absolutes as if they are realities.

Finally, I think some of the consternation comes from offering 'book' advice when another experienced person is taking their time to offer experience-based advice.
1 member likes this
by jpsdad
jpsdad
Originally Posted by Sunil
jpsdad wrote: "Everyone who reads my posts knows I have only recently acquired a property with a pond."

I feel this is a disconnect.

Using this 'catfish' thread as an example, I don't see how the original poster could glean from this post that you have never tried any of this, and thus in fact have no idea if this is even feasible:

Think about what this means if you are right. In essence, its like saying the experience of Swingle and others that replicated his results means nothing unless jpsdad or some other member replicates their results. Can you see where this isn't quite right? What if instead of Swingle and other scientists we applied the same litmus test to everything we the members have experienced? Sometimes reversing the order of things can make one take a step back and wonder how he thought the original in first place. But to your point, I think I can trust Swingle's experience. My post was a short little to "the point suggestion" of what I thought he could grow at the outer limit. It was meant to be a conversation starting place for further discussion.

gehajake, it's OK with me that you don't trust science. I'd like to persuade you to warm up to it but everyone has their own way of doing things. I know when I write about technical things that it doesn't speak to many. Most are not inclined to finish reading them I think. Consider my thread on conversion, It may have reached only a couple regulars and few others. But I know if you studied it with the intent to understand it before passing judgment, you stand a good chance of understanding the importance of those principles and why no magic occurs despite anyone's experience. A couple of years ago I came across a paper where the authors provided equations for Feed rates and Gross FCR. The feed rate equation was regressed from tests they performed to discover feed rates that optimized Gross FCR for catfish of differing weights. The optimum feeding rate changes as the catfish grow . The idea of course was to lower the cost of producing catfish. Within a day I had a spreadsheet that I could use to grow out catfish according to their experience. Pretty cool don't you think? All their meticulous testing and record keeping. All that experience. So cool that I don't have to do all that in order to apply what they learned from experience. Sweet stuff to me anyways. Some time later, when learning how to plot SGR to find intrinsic FCR and the maintenance rate ... it occurred to me that I could test whether those scientists findings of Gross FCR were consistent with theory. Indeed the results of that regression confirmed beyond any shadow of doubt that their findings of FCR at the differing feeding rates were fully consistent with theory. Was very satisfying and it strengthened my trust in their findings and the theory as well.
1 member likes this
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