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#547087 04/26/22 12:23 PM
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I had an idea and was wondering if it could work.

I'd love to build a small pond for raising bait but that's just not going to be able to happen anytime soon right now. In the meanwhile I was trying to think of other ways I could raise FHMs.

One thought was to build a cage that is in my pond, maybe floating next to the dock or along the shoreline. If I made it 6x6' or 8x8' by two or three ft. deep, (big enough for a stack of 2 or 3 pallets, corralled it with 1/8in. mesh, and put a top over it, could this work? How small would I need to make the mesh to keep the young inside? Would 1/8" be too small and need to be something more like window screen?

Would this be a waste of time? If worth a try, how many minnows should I initially put in it? I assume I would be feeding them fish food.

My other idea was to use a small pool, about 8' diameter and 2 feet deep, put it in the shade, run aeration in it and see if minnows would work in that.

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I don't know about your cage idea.

However, here is a link to a Pond Boss thread discussing your second idea about a tiny FHM pond.

Tiny Fathead Minnow Pond

Good luck,
FishinRod

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Sherwood I like your idea someday I might do something similar ... But I have some things to add.

1. I wouldn't try to raise fry to adult in the cage. I think the best approach is to use the cage to seed your pond with fry and just let them grow to whatever size they are able. Your pond can support a very substantial weight of fry and juvenile minnows at various stages of development. Yes they will be eaten by BG and LMB .... but that is point right?. So just try to protect the brooders in the cage so they can make babies. IMHO the mesh should be large enough to allow new hatched fry to go their merry way and small enough to keep brooders in and predators out.

2. Keeping screen clean enough to allow water flow through it is important. Might be pretty tough to do in full sun so is there any way it could be fitted under the dock and fed through the dock in some fashion?

3. You mentioned a kiddie pool and again there is a limit to the number of fry that can be grown to adolescence or adulthood ... BUT ... if you collect eggs and hatch them you can stock free swimming fry into you main pond. Here's a good reference in case you are interested.

Last edited by jpsdad; 04/26/22 07:02 PM.

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Originally Posted by SherWood
I had an idea and was wondering if it could work.

I'd love to build a small pond for raising bait but that's just not going to be able to happen anytime soon right now. In the meanwhile I was trying to think of other ways I could raise FHMs.

One thought was to build a cage that is in my pond, maybe floating next to the dock or along the shoreline. If I made it 6x6' or 8x8' by two or three ft. deep, (big enough for a stack of 2 or 3 pallets, corralled it with 1/8in. mesh, and put a top over it, could this work? How small would I need to make the mesh to keep the young inside? Would 1/8" be too small and need to be something more like window screen?

Would this be a waste of time? If worth a try, how many minnows should I initially put in it? I assume I would be feeding them fish food.

My other idea was to use a small pool, about 8' diameter and 2 feet deep, put it in the shade, run aeration in it and see if minnows would work in that.

SherWood, I seem to recall that the Floating Island folks had some success building habitat protecting FHM. At least, this was hinted at not too long ago. You might inquire with Bob Lusk.

I myself have purchased a large fish cage and used it to house CNBG that I later stocked in my forage pond. Wonder if 1/4 or even 1/2 inch openings would work, especially if FHM spawning surfaces were placed in the cage. Would need to keep out coons, turtles & herons as well as predatory fish.

Last edited by anthropic; 04/26/22 08:40 PM.

7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS -116




jpsdad #547104 04/26/22 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Sherwood I like your idea someday I might do something similar ... But I have some things to add.

1. I wouldn't try to raise fry to adult in the cage. I think the best approach is to use the cage to seed your pond with fry and just let them grow to whatever size they are able. Your pond can support a very substantial weight of fry and juvenile minnows at various stages of development. Yes they will be eaten by BG and LMB .... but that is point right?. So just try to protect the brooders in the cage so they can make babies. IMHO the mesh should be large enough to allow new hatched fry to go their merry way and small enough to keep brooders in and predators out.

2. Keeping screen clean enough to allow water flow through it is important. Might be pretty tough to do in full sun so is there any way it could be fitted under the dock and fed through the dock in some fashion?

3. You mentioned a kiddie pool and again there is a limit to the number of fry that can be grown to adolescence or adulthood ... BUT ... if you collect eggs and hatch them you can stock free swimming fry into you main pond. Here's a good reference in case you are interested.

I like your idea in #1.

Yep, my goal would be to breed minnows to move into the pond for forage without having to continue to purchase and travel for more minnows.

As for the pool idea, I would need to buy one that has some size to it but I don't want something that I'd have to pay hundreds of dollars for. If it's too small though, it won't be worth my while as far as raising much forage but it could at least provide a learning experience that helps me figure out exactly what I may want or need. Another pool type of option would be to build a small pond/pool with a liner, kind of like a backyard koi pond sort of thing, minus the koi of course.

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Originally Posted by anthropic
SherWood, I seem to recall that the Floating Island folks had some success building habitat protecting FHM. At least, this was hinted at not too long ago. You might inquire with Bob Lusk.

I myself have purchased a large fish cage and used it to house CNBG that I later stocked in my forage pond. Wonder if 1/4 or even 1/2 inch openings would work, especially if FHM spawning surfaces were placed in the cage. Would need to keep out coons, turtles & herons as well as predatory fish.

Yup, whatever I would do, I'll have to keep varmints out, including my ducks. If I am going to raise FHMs, I will have to use something that's big enough to house some structure for them to spawn along.

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When I was a kid, I had a box turtle pen in my backyard. It was probably 12' by 12' with a short board fence around it, no more than a foot high. It was low enough that they would get out of it at times and I'd find them in the nearby strawberry patch.

My dad built a tiny pond in it with concrete. It couldn't have been much more than 3' by 2' and no more than a foot deep. I used to throw minnows in there I'd catch from a creek and never remember having a fish kill (except that one time when I added a small snapping turtle to my turtle pen.). I don't think they ever produced young and I never used aeration or filtering and don't even remember feeding them. I also recall a friend of my dad's who kept minnows in his backyard in a small rowboat that filled up with water.

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After taking some time to plan out a small pond or pool idea to raise minnows for forage, I'm beginning to really warm up to the idea of doing an in pond cage instead of a pool.


If I do it that way, I won't have to bother with aeration and hoses as well as figuring out how I will power my pump. I would also have to build a sturdy platform to keep it level, as well as pay for all of this stuff and keep a pool operating. If the young minnows can freely exit the cage, that will save me the hassle of having to do it myself.

I can put the cage under the dock but extend a portion out to where I can put a door on the top so I can access the cage and sprinkle feed in it without having to drag the entire thing out from under the dock. I will still make it where I can pull the whole thing out as well. I'll make a wood frame and use wire mesh. Does 1/4" mesh sound right? I'll need to affix floats to it too.

My walkway is pretty much the only place I will be able to put it. There is too much obstruction to under the main dock. So if my walkway is 4' wide, I can make the cage 6' x 6' and up to 3' deep. I hope that's a big enough space for this to be worthwhile. I have no idea how many adult minnows it can hold and I don't know how I would have any idea of how many fry are being produced and swimming out the mesh and into the pond. That's one big downside as I don't know if I can judge whether the system is working well. Also, hopefully there's enough fry being produced that they have some chance to grow a little before being gobbled up so they can at least make a difference as forage.

This would be an awesome way to supplement feeding for a pond if it will work and produce at least a meaningful amount of self replenishing forage.

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Even if fry are being consumed as soon as they exit the pen, you are still feeding the system. Many ways to look at this, and adult FHM are just a step on a huge ladder 2/3rds of the way up. everything from the bottom up needs to be there to work.

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Just realized that I know nothing about minnow spawning/nesting. How will they “nest” in a wire pen?


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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Good point Snipe. The setup likely won't be in vain.

I am thinking that I may set up a small test cage in a sizeable baby pool I was using for my ducks, although I'll have to situate it where they can't get to it. I will put a fraction of the thousand(s) minnows I purchase (100 or so?) in that to see how much they are producing and what the fry do as far as remaining in or leaving through the mesh.

I have the week to get this stuff constructed and can pick up the minnows next weekend. I wish I had the time to get er done after work today and tomorrow morning because now I'm antsy to get this going but I will spend my time and not do a sloppy job. Who knows, if it works well enough, maybe I'll build a couple more and put them along the other ends of my pond.

I'll check back and let people know how things are going.

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I've tried keeping FHM in a wire cage in the pond. After a few days they start to look pretty rough - rough meaning large numbers of
them have torn their faces off trying to find a way out.

Think about using a nylon mesh enclosure rather than hardware cloth.

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Augie #547199 04/29/22 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Augie
I've tried keeping FHM in a wire cage in the pond. After a few days they start to look pretty rough - rough meaning large numbers of
them have torn their faces off trying to find a way out.

Think about using a nylon mesh enclosure rather than hardware cloth.

Dang, hate to hear that but it was something I had wondered about. Thanks for the tip!

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Is 1/2" x 1/2" too large for FHMs? Am I going to have to go with 1/4" mesh for sure?

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Even your jumbo adult size FHM will come and go as they please if 1/2" mesh is used.

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1/2" x 1/2" holes is too big to keep them all in the cage except for maybe the largest of the adult FHM's. 1/4" square should be fine for breeding size adults, but would let the teenagers out.

+1 on the hardware cloth being hard on the fish. I did the same thing while culling fish from my pond and within a few days of being in a steel mesh cage...some of their eyes were cloudy from rubbing on the mesh, not to mention the scale scuffs and scratches.


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Here are some knotless seine webbing that would be more fish friendly.

This one also carries a nylon mesh.

This other one only carries polyester in the smaller knotless meshes.

Last edited by jpsdad; 04/29/22 09:00 PM.

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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How will you keep the FA from growing and clogging the water movement through the cage material?


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
esshup #547223 04/30/22 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by esshup
How will you keep the FA from growing and clogging the water movement through the cage material?

Hmmm, another thing I haven't considered. It's nice to have others help troubleshoot potential problems before I build this thing so I don't spend too much time and money on something that is doomed from the onset or needlessly troubled. Like with the galvanized hardware cloth, I may have purchased and used that material without realizing just how harmful it would end up being on the minnows if it wasn't brought up here.

I guess I'll have to maintain the cage and clear any obstructions that may arise if it starts to become a problem. If I make it, I plan to do it so that I can move it around. I'll limit the size to something I can handle or make two smaller ones. Currently, our algae appears to be on the decline and is mostly situated near the banks. If it becomes too big of a problem along the walkway, I can possibly move the cage out to the deeper end of the dock. I'll have some floats attached and I could put a cover over at least part of the top to provide some shade. I do plan to fully cover the top with whatever netting material I will use too. I'll probably make it such that I can open the entire top and then also include a smaller trap door entrance in the top.

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Here are some knotless seine webbing that would be more fish friendly.

This one also carries a nylon mesh.

This other one only carries polyester in the smaller knotless meshes.

Thanks for those links. I've been looking online today for something in 1/4" that may work for me. None of the hardware stores in my area carry anything I would want. What do you all think about PVC coated wire mesh? It's hardware cloth with a vinyl coating. It would be sturdy and tough but I don't know if the fish would still injure themselves on it like some of you've experienced with normal wire mesh.

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I think the pvc coated wire mesh maybe better than webbing (no worse for injury but possibly longer lasting). I am trying to remember who used webbing to construct a cage here. He could say more about how well the webbing stands up. The PVC coating substantially increases the life of wire in water while softening and smoothing out the rough edges, so I think it is a worthy choice.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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I have a vinyl coated mesh cage (about 18"x18"x 24" with 1/2" holes) that I have used to hold crawdads for the last 3 or 4 years. It stayed in the pond from April to September each year and has held up incredibly well, no signs of rusting away anytime soon. This stuff is pretty stiff and no way of rolling it up in it's flat form...it's a heavier gage wire at any rate. If you could find it in a smaller hole size, it would be my choice for a minnow cage. I would make a round, obround, or squarish with rounded corners coral with a flat bottom and add stiffener bars (think light rebar) if needed. Something like this shouldn't be too difficult to brush off with a broom to keep it clear in case the FA was a problem. The roundness of a coral would help keep the fish from fighting a corner while looking to get out. I used hog rings to hold the panels together on my small cage.


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With the mesh cage, get a deck scrubbing brush and scrub the mesh on the sides of the cage. That will remove any FA that forms.

I have plastic cage netting that has held up for 10+ years without any degradation from the sun. You can get it here:

https://www.industrialnetting.com/cage-netting.html


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I ordered PVC coated 1/4" hardware cloth. Hopefully that will work and I'll monitor the health of the minnows after I build and use my first cage. If it turns out to be less than desirable, I can still find other terrestrial uses for the cloth as I am constantly using that kind of material and chicken wire for other projects. If I ditch on that, I'll get some kind of netting that is softer and more pliable.

I think I will build a square or rectangular shaped box but will round the corners.

One idea I would like to use that I hope will work for breeding spots is to add a bunch of cut pieces of corrugated 3" or 4" tubing inside. I don't know what size diameter would be best and also am wondering if I need something with a rougher surface area for the eggs or if that would suffice. If I can go with 3" tubing, I can fit in more spawning spots. Also I can get either solid or perforated walled tubing. I am also unsure how long I should make these tubes, 4", 6", 12"? I don't know what would be more effective for breeding and egg laying while also trying to utilize as many locations for them as possible.

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Consider using light PCV pipe for the egg laying, and/or the corrugated plastic sheet that cheap signs are made of. Both are light and I have seen other's success with regards to holding eggs (in aquariums). As far as size of either, I'd try items that are at least a foot long (or a foot square) an no more than 3 foot.


Fish on!,
Noel
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