I needed a better way to hold fish while sorting or seining, so I went with a holding box instead of a cage. Holding boxes are used more for hatcheries than ponds, but I've had several and really like them if you're only wanting to hold fish for a few hours, or a few days.
The only real difference in a fish cage and a holding box are the sides and bottom, which are free floating on the holding box(free sinking actually), and are nonrigid. This makes them extremely easy to transport and deploy once in the water.
This holding box is 5X5X5, and I used 2" pvc for this one. I added a double top to it, and the 1' of free board should help keep most jumpers in the box. Tilapia and grass carp are the exceptions. I also added the double top to increase the instability of the holding box. GBH shouldn't be able to stand on the box and eat the contents.
I got the net custom made from Miller Nets, and if you take into account all the time zip tying or lashing of rigid plastic fencing to the pvc on a cage, the bulkiness when moving a cage, and the ease of assembly, the price was right in line with a more conventional cage.
This pic shows the net draped on the pvc frame, and clips holding the net on the top bar. I decided not to permanently mount the net, so that I can take it off and store it inside when not in use. It also allows me to adjust the depth of the net as needed, so this one is good for 1' to 5' deep.
This pic shows the 3/4" aluminum bars that once in the water, will keep the bottom of the net spread, and add very little weight at the same time. I connected the bars to each other with 3/4" refrigeration tubing.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 06/25/1805:14 PM. Reason: ADD
Not any updates because this year has actually gone quite well. A lot of the CNBG are right at that 8" length I need for stocking the big pond, and we've had multiple verified spawns. The red tailed males I'm wanting have started showing their colors more, and the tails and fin tipping are the only criteria for staying in the hatchery pond. We had planned to seine the pond on Nov. 15th, the first quarter moon phase, but the water was already in the 40's, and I didn't want to stress the CNBG.
Bottom line, these get put back in to keep breeding.
I spoke a smidge too soon. A week later, and the hatchery pond has been blown out twice do to rain. A 4" rain did it last week, and another 2" rain today. The timing probably couldn't have been better though. Whatever possibly got in the pond won't start spawning until spring, so no issues with mixed spawns. I do have a 1/4" screen on the outlet pipe, and I doubt anything that small is still swimming in January. I did some dirt work and widened the emergency spillway, and even with heavy rains, the water depth is rarely over an inch deep.
I may have interlopers, but I doubt I lost many of the CNBG.
We had a fish kill, and as best I can tell, we lost pretty much all our CNBG. We seined the pond and got less than 50 survivable fish.
At this point I don't really see any reason to have any more extended fish projects until I can get a change or two done to the pond itself. The watershed for this pond is completely on our neighbor's property, so there's little I can do about that.
Long story short, we got whacked by 30 black angus cows and mother nature. Heavy rain events throughout this spring carried massive amounts of silt into this pond from our neighbor's newly pastured cows, and the fish were repeatedly stressed over this spring. The cows are gone now, so hopefully the turf will heal. The dead fish had various amounts of fungus on them, and even the live ones with small amounts of fungus that were caged in the big pond with better water died within a week.
QA, the nutrients sure didn't help. I'm still steaming a bit over this, but it would have been nice if the cows had been fed some hay, and not crawled halfway through our fence to get to the winter rye on our side. Current water numbers and morning/evening DO numbers were also were well within a normal range.
The cows were removed because the property was sold to people in Dallas, and I doubt they'll get in the cow business. The 40# of Japanese millet I bucket stocked my neighbors lower pasture with probably wont hurt either.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/02/1901:38 PM. Reason: sp
Eric, I agree. I've sure killed a few myself, and learned a lot from it.
The big hit for me was that the last 12 months was devoted to 1 particular CNBG. He was to have a vivid red tail, and a more northern body shape. I needed multiple 8-9" males to evaluate, and hope their body shape was mature enough to make a proper selection. That male would be pulled, put all the other CNBG in the big pond, and then the pond would be drained and killed out. That one male would then be bred with some of my largest females. Hopefully, those fish would have a higher percentage of red tails. I was expecting this to be a 3-4 year project, and I thought all was setup for the long haul, but obviously I was wrong.
I lost a year I can't get back, but I learned from this and will move on.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/02/1905:39 PM. Reason: sp
Man, I'm sorry to hear that. Had a fungus fish kill on my large CNBG in fall 2017 after a cold snap caught them in the shallows spawning. Double stress from spawning and rapid temp change was too much.
You could look at floating islands as a way of absorbing excess fertility. That's what they are designed for, and seem to work well.
Will, that sucks! After reading about your fish kill and from what I understand it sounds like the watershed for this pond may continue to be high in nutrients for any near future fish growing. So, what can be grown in this pond that may benefit your big pond? How about growing out some of those freshwater shrimp, the shrimp that grow big I'm thinking they might do real well in a high nutrient water environment from what I have read. And that would be cool if you went that route and kept us in your loop. If you bought them in the really small size, cost might be minimal and you have a great tank to transport them. Al, it's easy for me to make suggestion to others, it does not cost me any money or effort lol.
Do not judge me by the politicians in my City, State or Federal Government.
anthropic & Tracy, I'm sure there were heavy nutrients too, but the silt got them. It hit on 3 different occasions over a month, and it was the color and clarity of creamed coffee. Visibility was almost nonexistent. If it just been an issue with the hatchery pond, I would have just pumped in water from the big pond and flushed it. Unfortunately, I had approximately 2 acres of the same mess at the top of it also. There was no option for water changes.
The hatchery pond has water primrose, smartweed, and rush completely covering the banks. It's still there for 2 reasons. One, it controls nutrient levels to the point that there is zero algae present. And two, it's cover for fry in the spring to fall months. They'll get whacked even in a single species pond, and they require protection just like any pond. Last year I treated the plants with Sonar in late September/early October to eliminate the plants, and throw the sheep to the wolves before I seined the pond. Their life expectancy in the big pond would be about 5 minutes, so having them eaten in the hatchery just targeted calories to the CNBG I was focused on.
At this point I'm just bucket stocking XL CNBG back into the hatchery pond to get it restarted while I wait for my water test results to come back from A&M. No more fish projects for a while, just forage. I feel comfortable doing this because the silt has stopped, and the few remaining CNBG are feeding daily again.
The mine shaft canaries that were my male CNBG adapted well, and last week I stocked 10 large female CNBG so they'd have dance partners. Big thanks to Scott (esshup) for catching most of them while he was here a couple of weeks ago. What's surprised me is the number of <3" CNBG that are coming up to eat and peck at 2.2mm pellets and fish food dust. I'm still not sure if they spawned, or just survived the crash, but the lower numbers make me think they were survivors.
It's nice to be feeding these babies again, and I'm anxious to see what happens after the next full moon.
Tuesday looks like the day we'll seine the pond. We're doing a "light" seine just to lower the biomass. Looks like we got 3 distinct sizes of CNBG this summer, so ultimately, although we lost the pond last spring, it's recovered well.
Below is a pic of my seining needs rev.4. Obviously the net. I lay it out and make sure there aren't any tears. 2 dip nets. One for pulling batches from the seine cradle, and the smaller square one for getting the transported fish out of the ice chest. We don't need the transport tank because we're just running a couple of loads of CNBG across the road to one of our neighbors. Basically, we're bartering seining help for fish. Everybody wins. The waders aren't really needed when the water is warmer, but they sure are nice this time of year. The buckets are for moving fish up the bank, and all 3 have vent holes on the lids. Nothing worse than slipping and dumping a load of fish, so the screw on lids can eliminate that.
I've posted the pics before, but the ice chest carries everything I need to move small batches of fish. O2 bottle with a preset flow meter, Pentair O2 disfuser, ruler, salt, clove oil, and a very bright pink bucket for getting water to fill the ice chest. Nobody steals or borrows a pink bucket.
The saw horses are what we've started using to make a cradle once the net is pulled to the bank. The legs are cut so it sits pretty level in the water, and we drape the top and bottom of the net over the saw horse, making a cradle that really, really makes it easy to sort fish in the pond. I'll post a pic of that once it's set up.
Al, were you able to determine spawning times? Like full moon each month and seeing them all come to the beds at a certain time(full moons) or was it more like a rolling spawn where there were bg on the beds all the time? Like different sizes spawn at different times? I have never seen my bg build nest and spawn at my pond. Most likely due to fertile green water. If they spawned today the water is so clear I could see them spawning to 5 or 6' depths. I was curious if you new how many spawns you had since the last of June? Any thought of doing RES only one time?
Do not judge me by the politicians in my City, State or Federal Government.
Tracy, in a small hatchery pond like mine, it's easy to tell when the CNBG spawn. Since I hand feed, when the breeders are absent, they're on the beds. Females usually start eating again before the males.
I never thought about RES, but there may be some northern visitors in the pond next spring. At least that's the current plan.