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#15201 06/15/06 08:27 PM
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After having been in the fish business for about ten years now, I have verifiably heard 10 times more hype about largemouth bass than about any other single fish. We've learned all sorts of aspects regarding genetics, fertility, habitat, water quality, food-chain, variety, etc, all aimed at pumping food to into the mouth of a largemouth bass and giving her a good home.

We haven't heard much about more possibilities for small ponds. My recommendation for most small pond (less than 1-acre) owners goes like this: Stock baitfish that have high reproductive potential and predators that have low reproductive potential.

Please do not infer that I am recommending all of these species together. Just consider the combinations in southern ponds.
Forage
>Fatheads
>Shiners
>Mosquito fish
>Bluegill
>Redear Sunfish
>Longear Sunfish
>Tilapia
>Threadfin Shad

Predators
>Hybrid Striped Bass
>Blue or Channel Catfish. Blue catfishing with a flyrod is phenomenal.
>Female largemouth bass
>Trout

Stocking density is dependent on intensity of management program. In theory, I believe that the concept of stocking prolific forage with non-prolific predators is the answer to keeping small ponds in balance over time.

It would be great if I could get ideas from the forum regarding this concept and how you might sell it to folks who have heard all the bass hype and took it hook, line, and sinker.


It's ALL about the fish!
#15202 06/15/06 09:19 PM
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I think the best way to work around the bass hype would be with better bass hype - the performance and better size possibilities of Female LMB and/or HSB in a small pond due to predator numbers control. But I'm one of those types who wants a lot of small bass to get big BG, so I may not be the best to get an opinion on this from. \:\(


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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#15203 06/15/06 09:20 PM
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Todd :

Good topic to start. We don't post enough about possible options for small (use your 1 acre) ponds which many people have.

One thing that may surprise many is that quite a few state agencies recommend HBG and CC for small ponds. They do so as a stock grow out/fish out and restock option. It is easy to manage and you rarely see any questions of balance.

If you want other fish with this option then add FH and RES. I would probably not put HSB in such a small pond in my location unless there was aeration and a new cool water source for exchange. But the more factors you add the more management is required. If I had to have a second predator I would use female LMB in low numbers as a bonus fish.

Another option is FH/Gamb. and male only BG/RES and a single sex predator of choice in low numbers.

Still another if you will manage a put and take fishery is FH/Gamb. ,tilapia and trout with another single sex predator. Stock the tilapia or trout( summer and winter in adult sizes and grow them and harvest them before they succumb to the temps.

Another is a trophy BG/RES pond with overcrowded LMB to keep the BG/RES #s down. Don't manage the LMB let them stunt . Catch and restock adult BG and RES and if you catch a big LMB 4 lbs up harvest it.

I think there are some really good options for more northern ponds where YP and SMB are options.

Well that is a start. A good topic to brain storm some thoughts.

Warning this is a brain storming topic for ideas. No one go off on a wild tangent and try one of these with out thinking through the options . No one get bent out of shape if someone posts an unusual idea and no personal " that is a stupid idea" replies.Who knows we may all learn something .
















#15204 06/15/06 09:50 PM
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Todd, I praise and commend you as a fish hatchery owner for your progressive, inovative and investigative thinking. From my experience most hatchery owners are primarily serving the traditional fish market (stock our standard mix)and not trying to make much of an an effort to customize fish sales to the needs of a customer.


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#15205 06/15/06 10:16 PM
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This is a fantastic topic. There seems to be quite a few folks who feel management of a 3/4 acre pond is essentially the same as a 75 acre pond (not on this forum, though \:\) ). All of my ponds are under 1.5 acres, so I've found that quite a bit of the information available on government sites and fish supplier sites does not apply to the smaller body of water. Ironically, there is probably more of these "smaller" ponds that need managed.

My feelings on the smaller ponds are similar to what Todd is suggesting, with minor variations.

1. Low reproductive potential for predators is essential. Female LMB are probably even more viable for smaller ponds than large ponds, because it is more practical to "drain, seine, and start a-gain". If you make an error, it is correctable without taking a major financial hit. I think this is a great unexplored idea--Female LMB in small ponds

2. High reproductive potential for forage. Yes, but not always necessary. I'm currently managing my best pond with low reproductive potential forage, but this would only work if the predators are feed trained, which many LMB are, or if the goal is trophy panfish.

3. Use of creative structure for conversion of prey biomass to predator biomass. I.E. Feeding areas where fatheads congregate to use pellets, right over areas where predators live. This not only improves optimal foraging theory, but gives anglers an idea of predator location. This also gives the pond owner the ability to periodically improve angling by turning off the feeder for a few days. The fish continue to utilize these areas and become easier to catch as they get more and more anxious for food.

Consider the following options:

A. Predator/s: HSB and/or female LMB (both feed trained).
Prey: Fathead minnow, probably supplemented in relation to observed densities and augmented by feeding.

B. Predator: Black crappie with selective angler harvest of male fish each spring.
Prey: Fathead minnow, once again fed and periodically supplemented.

C. Predator: HSB (feed trained, obviously)
Prey: Bluegill and fathead minnows, with heavy harvest pressure on female adult bluegill. All fish benefit from feeding. Lots of cheap biomass, good angling, and potential for trophy bluegill AND HSB.

D. Trophy BG/RES pond with high density LMB as ewest suggest, but maybe a potential variation would be heavy harvest pressure on female BG, female RES and LMB over 15 inches after spawning.

E. Predator: Trophy female LMB.
Prey: Tilapia from March through October and Rainbow Trout from October through May. These prey fish would require little maintenance and give the LMB a month in the fall and a month in the late spring where they could gorge at will. RT could be harvest on a limited basis and the LMB might end up around 15 pounds. This is a wild one, but I'm not sure I can think of a good reason why it wouldn't work.

It needs to be mentioned that these are "southern" options, in concurrence with Todds ideas. "Northern" ponds have other fish available that can replace the above fish, such as female YP (if used as predator) and both-sex YP (if used as prey).

It should also be mentioned that smaller ponds need to be more intensively managed, in relation to size because of the ponds limited ability to buffer oxygen and temperature swings from rain/weather events and aquatic plant die-offs. The pond owner may need to be well versed in symptomology of problems which may create the dreaded "fifteen minutes" which can claim every fish in the pond.

Remember that the tendency on these small ponds is to allow the fish-weight density to grow beyond the ponds ability to absorb and process toxins, ammonia etc. Very, very fun--but with some element of danger.


Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.
#15206 06/16/06 01:10 AM
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Here's outside the box...trophy GSF and BH pond w/ gar as a predator. There is a small creek not far from me that only has BH, GSF and gar in it. It produces GSF over a pound, BH over 2.5 pounds and 5+ pound gar all the time. Very fun and a little different.


I'll start treating my wife as good as my dog when she starts retrieving ducks.
http://geocities.com/h20fwlkillr/
#15207 06/16/06 08:03 AM
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Todd, great post with some great follow-ups. Since you are a hatchery owner and need to sell fish, I commend you for your concern. It's all about balance and lots of things can go quickly wrong in a smaller pond. I've been trying to figure out the best game plan for 25 years. People like me, in an arid area, are walking a tightrope regarding balance and I've killed a lot of fish. I don't know the stats but would expect that the "average" pond is less than one acre. My guesstimate is that maybe 80% of the ponds are small and predator/prey balance is misunderstood and/or overlooked.

Your statement about stocking density being dependent on intensity of the management program is absolutely true. If a pond owner can't or doesn't want to manage, I often recommend HBG, CC and a feeder. This helps to somewhat eliminate Bruces "dreaded 15 minutes" when ponds get out of balance.

I explain balance, density, and conversion efficiency with some examples.

First, toss too many fish in a home aquarium, ignore cleaning and oxygenation, and see what happens. This usually happens in my forage ponds.

The next one gets a little longer and assumes that the pond owner knows something about cattle. I have always thought that the best ranch manager needs to consider himself as a grass farmer with grass as forage and cows as predators of that grass. The cows only job is conversion of forage into edible and marketable flesh. Too many poorly managed predators overgraze the forage with bad results to the cows, the land and the owners checkbook. Too few predators allow the forage to get out of control, improperly utilize the ground or impounded water and allow proliferation of undesireable forage. I seldom see understocked ecosystems whether it be water or land. IMO, too many people over fertilize both ecosystems. Successful raising of predators, whether fish or cows, mandates proper balance, maintenance and utilization of the ecosystem. Without a game plan the results are always predictable.

BTW, I've often asked new pond owners how many non neutered house cats they want.


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
#15208 06/16/06 08:44 AM
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Wonderful posts! h20fwlkillr, what a wonderful idea. Using species not normally considered "desireable" is great. Large green sunfish and bullheads are great fun to catch and very good to eat. Gar are so under appreciated as a game fish. While we may not admit it, we have an incredible bias against species that are not easy to clean or eat.

Todd, you mentioned longear sunfish. Add to that orangespotted sunfish. These are two beautiful sunfish that don't get large enough to eat. They are certainly as pretty or even more colorful than most aquarium fish. Is there a way we could use them in special situations?


Norm Kopecky
#15209 06/16/06 09:25 AM
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 Quote:
Todd, you mentioned longear sunfish. Add to that orangespotted sunfish. These are two beautiful sunfish that don't get large enough to eat. They are certainly as pretty or even more colorful than most aquarium fish. Is there a way we could use them in special situations?
Orangespotted sunfish would work well with just SMB. ;\)

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



#15210 06/16/06 11:47 AM
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Has there been a thread in the past with a discussion of using only female largemouth bass? How would you find and stock female only bass? I know the pond upstream from me has bass. I guess one male would throw a monkey wrench in that idea. :rolleyes:


Please no more rain for a month! :|
#15211 06/16/06 01:25 PM
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Yes, one male, by mistake from the seller/buyer or from nature herself and your all-female bass pond has changed. Consider your risks from upstream or downstream. Fish will travel from both directions. Also consider nearby ponds. We've seen birds fly from pond to pond with fish.

At the hatchery you would have to purchase all female adult stock, which would probably be more costly and would be limited to the spring season.

The above posts with different ideas are exactly what I wanted to see, because I want my customers to have better results for the long haul. I know people lead very busy lives and don't have the time to do all the things necessary to maintain balance in bass ponds. I'll think more on the options...

As a hatchery owner I would have to charge more to stock a small pond with special species and combinations, which require extra logistics and more effort to acquire. However, I think it would save time and money down the road.


It's ALL about the fish!
#15212 06/16/06 01:56 PM
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Shorty that is a great article !!! \:\) -- just what I would expect from Dave Willis. Yall should read it if you have not. It goes well with the recent articles in PB about SMB ponds and forage. Thanks.
















#15213 06/16/06 02:31 PM
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Quoted by Todd "We've seen birds fly from pond to pond with fish."

Testify, Man!!! Testify!


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

#15214 06/16/06 03:56 PM
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Todd -- I have to confess! I used to be one of those ponds guys who said keep it simple, few options, etc. That was, however, prior to my days with this Pond Boss crowd. \:\) There are FAR more truly interested pond owners out there than I previously recognized, and they will go to great lengths to make a situation work! In the past, I tended to think too much of a disinterested farmer or rancher, not interested in fishing, but who wanted fish in their pond(s) for the relatives and neighbors. Thus, I often gave overly simplistic advice. Good thread.


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From Bob Lusk: Dr. Dave Willis passed away January 13, 2014. He continues to be a key part of our Pond Boss family...and always will be.
#15215 06/17/06 01:06 AM
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I have to agree with Todd on this one. Small pond owners (less than an acre) should be careful about stocking both sex LMB for the fear of high maintenance with a 5 year plan of little to no forage base (based on the no maintenance lack of intoducing a new food supply). The larger the LMB is the larger their selection of prey. Kinda like a Krystal burger versus a double whopper it all depends on the size of the predator. Then again it all boils down to customer goals.
Personally I like to see my GG's stocked with HSB and Gambusia in smaller ponds (as ML's experiment shows). Only time will tell on that one. I have had too many positive results from customers who wanted both large panfish AND a hard fighting bass in their smaller water holes (thus my strategy mentioned above). Now if the goal is for trophy LMB I suggest a larger pond with a smaller stock of F-1 LMB to get the job done (and NO hybrid bream). So many goals out there with so many results and pleasures. Most important though is to know the customer's needs/wants/goals from A-Z, and then do your best as a professional to guide him/her toward that objective.

Off to bed now (I have had to correct my spelling WAY to much tonight, and I probably still missed a few).

Deb


Do fish actually kiss?


#15216 06/17/06 08:33 AM
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We should have more threads like this one. Huge numbers of small ponds exist across the Land and many/most are mis-managed because of the "hype" associated with trophy LMB. It isn't impossible to raise trophy LMB in a small pond, but it is very unlikely, given the management requirements.

After 7 months on an ongoing experiment with GG's, HSB and Gambusia, I'm of the opinion that this stocking strategy needs to be considered for small ponds. 3-4 inch Dec. HSB are now 9 inches and 4-5 inch GG's are consistently over 8 inches. Very little management (and feeding) required thus far.

However, I still have several unanswered questions which preclude presenting this option to anyone as a recommendation. Most questions deal with the suitability of the HSB predator and not the target fish, the GG's.

First question and main concern I have and it is a nice concern, will the HSB outgrow their role in this small pond? At a stocking ratio of 5 to 1, the HSB seem to be very capable of controlling the GG offspring....but what will happen as the 9 inch fish become 18 inch fish, as it appears they surely will? How then do we maintain pond balance, which has been self-maintained to this point? My thought is to try to keep the weights of the predator and target fish roughly in that 5 to 1 balance. For example when the HSB reach 1 pound and the TGG are say 8 ounces, in order to maintain that 5 to 1 weight ratio would require the removal of about 15 HSB assuming no (or very little) Fx survival of the target fish. It could also work out that removal of some GG's may be needed, although that seems very unlikely...in fact, my only regret thus far is that I didn't stock more GG's to start with.

Its a strategy that's as far as I know untried and it very well may fail. It requires a reasonably accurate measurement(counting) of the GG offspring.

Another question regards the survivability of HSB in a small pond in Texas. What is the max size limit in terms of survivability, if any, for HSB in a small pond? HSB are high temp sensitive and in the small pond there is no deep water refuge with cooler temps.

Of course, the question of what the GG's will eventually become(a pond full of stunted green sunfish?) remains an open issue, in some folks minds. Although, I don't have enough data yet, this question seems to be as overhyped as the trophy LMB for small ponds...it may happen, but it isn't likely.

It would be great if there were more folks trying out multiple options for small ponds. One reason there aren't, I believe is the fear of failure and perhaps overstated consequences of failure. My small experimental pond can be pumped out and cleaned in one weekend. With a well water sorce, it can be ready for stocking the following weekend. It just isn't a big deal to fail in this situation, unless egos are considered and that's an entirely different topic.

One last subtopic...Tilapia. In a small pond in which one is using a strategy of predator control of target fish offspring, Tilapia may very well be a wild card. They may completely undermine the strategy by providing so much forage that the predator fish does not perform or adequately perform its intended function to control the target fish's offspring. I would really like to see some results from someone on this. I didn't stock Tilapia in the small pond for the very reason that they could affect the experiments results to the point where no conclusions could be reached....but after this initial experiment, then the question of Tilapia needs to be addressed in conjunction with this small pond strategy. Whatever forage is used, it has to be such that the overall strategy can be maintained. It isn't clear that Tilapia would enable that in a predator/target fish strategy.

Looking downstream (no pun intended), it is easy to see where even a 1/4 acre pond could be a marvelous source of fun and excitement...and even could be more of such a source of fun than much larger "trophy" LMB ponds. Far too many small ponds are under-appreciated and not effectively used, IMO.

#15217 06/17/06 02:24 PM
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I have been fortunate that of the 30 or so professional fisheries scientists and hatchery owners who have helped with the ponds none have ever hyped a trophy LMB pond. They explained the options and provided sources of info. One did suggest that a particular pond be used as a trophy BG pond. None tried to talk me into any course of action.

In the larger world of ponds by far most ponds that I know about are not managed at all. Just stocked and fished. If they get to bad then they just start over. I guess that could be called one form of management.

We are a very small part of the pond owner/manager world. More people should use the resources available to them and join in the fun. The outstanding PB forum members are in the small portion of those who actively manage their ponds.

In thinking about options pellet fed predators make a big difference. If used the need to stock very prolific forage species is no longer required. That gives us many more options.

I would not recommend that a small pond be used as a trophy LMB pond. It is to hard to do and most will be unhappy with the results. Most people do not want to spend the time managing or fishing for just a few large LMB bites a year.

Some of you northern PB members give us some help with northern cool water options like YP , SMB , Weyes , and even some cold water trout options.
















#15218 06/18/06 05:47 AM
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 Quote:
Originally posted by ewest:
I have been fortunate that of the 30 or so professional fisheries scientists and hatchery owners who have helped with the ponds none have ever hyped a trophy LMB pond. They explained the options and provided sources of info. One did suggest that a particular pond be used as a trophy BG pond. None tried to talk me into any course of action.

Eric, in this part of the country there has been LMB “hype", as long as I can remember.

As a youngster growing up in East Texas, I recall tagging along with the men folk to set trot lines for catfish – it was my job to help seine the bar ditches for crawdads.

We would run the trot lines all night and the women and children would join us the next day. The rivers we fished were the Attoyac, Angelina and Neches, that make up Sam Rayburn Reservoir as we know it today.

There were “oxbow” lakes that you are very familiar with and the more affluent fished for bass and white perch (crappie).

After returning from WWII, I splurged and bought a steel shaft True Temper rod and a Pfleuger Supreme reel, and fished for LMB in sawmill ponds.

Large resesrvoirs began to be built across the country.
Ray Scott formed BASS organization and bass clubs and tournaments were formed and LMB “hype” literally exploded.

Every pond owner wanted to grow a state record like the first Florida strain LMB caught by Mark Stevenson from lake Fork – I don’t recall her name but she was on exhibit at Bass Pro Shops for may years. (Ethyl?)

There has been LMB “hype” and lots of money has been made. I believe it to be the “fish buyers” that are responsible for the “hype” – “not the fish sellers”.

I yearn for the simpler days, and appreciate this thread very much.
It is very appropriate.

George Glazener
N.E. Texas

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Great post, George. Dont forget the 'bull bream' from the oxbows. Nearly black at times.(right, Ewest?) I also grew up running trotlines and 'brim' fishing. When I moved to Houston, straight out of the navy, hadnt fished much in years. When I asked about 'brim' man did the noses go up in the air. I later found out why. Bought a camper and put it on Livingston. We caught BG about the size of a 50 cent piece, and of course we caught some little ones, too. ;\) White bass fishing was good, and catfish were large, so I was right at home. Better shut up. Some folks in high places make their living making trophy LMB fisheries, and I do commend them; not an easy chore. Those LMB are OK, though; but they just jump so dang much. \:D


#15220 06/18/06 03:58 PM
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George that is a veritable walk through history. No doubt there is plenty of LMB hype . Frenzy is a better word. But not so much with small ponds. Big lakes and rivers - yes as you noted. That frenzy is from the fishermen not the biologists or reputable hatcheries. I think the biologists and hatcheries have done a good job of maintaining a balanced approach when so much of the public is demanding large LMB.

Stock some more LMB , stock some more LMB I don't care just stock some more. That is a common theme from the public to many of the state biologists on the public lakes. It takes a brave scientist (he is paid by their tax dollars) to stand in front of that type of crowd and say there are to many LMB we need to stock shad and BG and take out some small LMB. What - take them out, you can't be serious - we are responsible fisherman - catch and release , catch and release. I think the general public should take some more science classes. ;\)

BM I have caught some of those black bull bream from the oxbows and rivers. The little ones make good Flathead bait.
















#15221 06/18/06 09:49 PM
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I think most hatcheries are demand driven. Like Todd says, there is plenty of largemouth hype out there and it does a good job of fueling the demand. I think you have to mature as a pond owner to figure things out.


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
#15222 06/19/06 08:45 AM
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Back to the topic at hand - we were side tracked by LMB hype.

Surely there are some more small pond ideas. What about YP and SMB and FH and GShiners up in cold country. Other cold country options?
















#15223 06/19/06 09:05 AM
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ewest - A BG, LMB, YP, along with a heavy pike or musky stocking might produce some very nice BG and YP in "cold country". Bruce could tell us more about some of the sandhills lakes in western NE. that produce giant BG and big YP.

Rock Bass would also be something you could add to a YP, SMB, FH and GShiner pond.



#15224 06/19/06 06:07 PM
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Small "coldwater" ponds can equal some of the best fishing available. I own a 3/4 acre Trout pond in Northern Arizona that is doing very well right now with fathead minnows as a "base" forage.

I would love to explore yellow perch as a option with my pond, as I think that with the few large channel cats and some culling yellow perch could be fairly easily managed even without a predator such as bass.

For all small ponds, especially those less than a 1/2 acre I think that channel catfish are a great choice for your pond. They are fun, easy maintenace, and can be stocked in large numbers.


- Jighead

#15225 06/19/06 08:03 PM
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What about SMB in ponds with FH and GShiners as the forage base and also adding YP and one of the less productive lepomis ( redbreast , longear or pumpkinseed sunfish) to the mix ? Any thoughts from the northern PB'ers on this plan.
















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