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Using small predators for consuming small fish is using the correct tool for the job. There are opportunities for fish farms that are willing to grow some specialty fish and invertebrtates such as grass shrimp and beneficial pond dwelling crayfish. As an example B.Zimmerman is sold out of some fish already this spring. IMO too many fish farms are 'stuck' or focused on the standard pond species and are not willing to explore new opportunities. However to raise specialty fish it does require one to have a fair amount of creativity and fish raising knowledge, thus many fish farmers do not think 'outside the box'.


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Not saying that I am knowledgeable, but I have the the right type of land to consider doing some of this, and I am starting to think about it on a small scale. I would want to work with someone who would handle the permits and business side of things though, And I would need to see some reasonable recouping of excavation costs etc. A small LCS pond might be a good start.

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If Zimmerman can grow many of these fish in small rubber lined pools, the fish can surely be raised in small earth bottom ponds. IMO one would have to start doing this as a hobby and as you became proficient realize a profit. Zimmerman does have a biology degree with some emphasis in fisheries. The ideal situation is to have a fish farm and raise new species as bonus fish or in polyculture. Raising LCS is apparently not easy, as evidenced by Todd Overton who raised LCS only one year and evidently found it not real profitable.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 04/08/14 01:45 PM.

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Redfin pickerel and grass pickerel are the same species. They are different subspecies, with the redfin in the east and the grass in the West. In native habitats they do best in shallow weed choked waters. They do not compete well with LMB. 6"-8" is average for an adult fish with a 12" fish being quite large. They also seem to do better in acidic waters. I commonly catch them in old shallow oxbow ponds choked with weeds. I'll commonly see them with other fish like fliers, banded sunfish, bluespotted sunfish and swamp daters.

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I think with Todd, there was a lack of interest in them.

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Could someone explain to me why LCS aren't recommended to be stocked for forage in addition to BG? Is the problem that using the 2 together could create an issue of one or both of the species over populating?

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Originally Posted By: JamieE
Could someone explain to me why LCS aren't recommended to be stocked for forage in addition to BG? Is the problem that using the 2 together could create an issue of one or both of the species over populating?


I can't think of a reason that they couldn't be stocked together-except that, in the context of a pond with SMB as the main predator, anything that detracts from SMB predation on BG will exacerbate the inevitable [without a lot of intervention to prevent it] overpopuation of BG.

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I'm aware that BG will over populate even without LCS in a pond where the primary predator is SMB, but from earlier posts it appeared it's not recommended to mix the two even with large mouth as the primary predator.

My long term backup plan to the SMB,YP stocking is to add BG and LMB. Hope it doesn't come to that, but it's always nice to plan for the worst if something doesn't workout with the original stocking.

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I do not see any reason why stocking BG and LCS together in a LMB pond would be an issue. I think LCS are of less value in a LMB pond though.

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Originally Posted By: CJBS2003
I do not see any reason why stocking BG and LCS together in a LMB pond would be an issue. I think LCS are of less value in a LMB pond though.


I believe either you or Bill have stated that only under certain situations, i.e. habitat and population control, would LCS thrive in the presence of LMB.

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Alright, I guess I just misunderstood the data Bill posted earlier. Thanks for helping me clear that up.

CJ, since you've had the LCS in your pond for several years now I'd like to ask if you see any downside at all to stocking them? Do you see them being any problem in a pond that will also be used for swimming?

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The only time I ever see them is in mid to late April when they for about 1-2 weeks come into shallow areas to spawn. They muddy up small areas while fanning and laying eggs. Then the adults are gone and I never see them. The YOY I see in schools of 20-100 fish working the bottom in the shallow areas from about June when they are 1" to the end of summer when they are 2" or so. I occasionally catch them in cylinder minnow traps. The LCS are not noticeable for the most part...

Keep in mind, the pond they are in is not stocked in a normal manner. They were stocked in 2009 into this .34 acre pond which only had BNM and BKF in it at the time. Since then, the pond has seen tessellated darters, spotfin and satinfin shiners, eastern silvery minnows, spottail shiners, FHM and inland silversides stocked into it as well. It has been nothing more than a non conventional forage fish research platform. Now that I have access to other ponds to continue my redsearch, I have also placed, HSB and CC in low numbers into the pond along with 25 fingerling RES and a couple dozen all male BG. I am slowly beginning to see how predation affects the forage species in the pond. From past experience in other ponds, I have a pretty good idea but I am always wanting learn more about non conventional forage species.

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Okay, now I understand why your population has grown so much since 2009. Without predation you now have "1000s" in your pond. I was wondering if your prey species were struggling to keep the numbers under control in the pond. In another 3-4 years you will learn a lot about using LCS as a prey species.

I guess the unknown is what makes me a little nervous, so now I'm second guessing my decision to stock them.

Sounds like your experience with them has been positive thus far. I'm sure that the population in your pond is much higher than it would ever be in my pond as I'm planning to stock SMB in fall of 2015. I guess I have just been envisioning a pond full of 14" suckers swimming around 10 years down the road. It's probably more likely that the population will be suffering by that time.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

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Originally Posted By: JamieE
It's probably more likely that the population will be suffering by that time..

I agree completely-as Bill said in a previous post, the predatory effect of a reproducing population of SMB on minnow shaped, soft rayed prey shouldn't be underestimated. Heck, after 5 years, they're coming pretty close to controlling my BG population-they are voracious. Also, at least from my observations of smaller LCS in aquarium/cage setting, they seem to be highly bottom oriented feeders. I don't think a modest population would interfere with BG much if at all, not quite so confident about RES, but they have really tiny mouths.

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I just got off the phone with Brian Zimmerman and he reassured me that the potential for LCS to get over populated with a predator like SMB in the pond is HIGHLY unlikely. He stated that if he were stocking a pond with SMB he would be trying hard to get them established in his own pond to serve as a forage fish.

So given the conversation with Brian and the experience of CJ with his pond I feel pretty good stocking them in the pond. Time will tell how well they do getting established.

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Another nice email from Brian Zimmerman that I thought I would share. He would like to work with someone from this forum to help them do the same thing he is doing. Sounds like there is an untapped market for these unusual species of minnows/forage fish and many are eager to buy them.

from Brian:
Yes sourcing these sort of fish is an issue. I collect all my own brood stock from wild populations and when doing so you have to be sure you have all the proper permits and so on to do so. I can get all of the species I mentioned but as I also mentioned most of the time I can only have relatively small numbers on the order of a couple hundred not thousands. In new empty ponds this is not an issue and you can create a population with a couple dozen or even less with most species.

As far as predators for you the smallmouth probably would not work real well in your pond without adding a lot of rock and it sounds a little small for them. Pickerel do not require deep water and typically live in shallow weedy ponds or marshes which is why I recommended them. Also they would never get large enough to eat your adult redear but would eat young ones to help thin the population.

With an empty pond you would be better off getting small numbers of fatheads and golden shiners from a local bait shop rather than buying large quantity and having them shipped. There is also a very good chance you will get unwanted fish in those large orders. Most of those places are not real good at keeping everything separate and you could get bluegill, bass, green sunfish mixed in.

I would be willing to work with people to help set up ponds to produce larger numbers of these fish, I would like to do this myself but just don't have the means to do so right now. So I guess if someone is interested in info on how to do so sent them my way.















Brian Zimmerman

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The issue is 99.9% of pond owners can barely tell the different between FHM and GSH. People still call all small fish "minnows". So, the vast majority of people who aren't on Pond Boss and reading this information would have no idea in the benefits of stocking other forage. Todd Overton already tried the LCS. After one year, he stopped. I am not sure he ever came on here and said why, but I am guessing lack of interest. No point in propagating LCS if you can't make a profit. Maybe things will change as more people begin to venture away from the everyday LMB/BG pond and begin experimenting with other fish combinations. The vast majority of these species would be a waste in a reproducing LMB pond as they just couldn't handle the predation that would occur. Even with SMB, most of these species wouldn't do well. Especially if proper habitat wasn't present...

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I am interested in LCS, if for no other reason, to stock my own ponds. I would also be interested in whether their might be some market, but I am not interested in interfacing with government regulation or customers, so I would need a partner. I have a couple good areas for forage ponds, but cannot swing the cost of excavation this year. I would also like to give chain pickerel a try if I could source some. I would not trust my own fish ID either, so I definitely would need help with stockers. When I am ready, maybe I'll see if there are any Purdue students interested in getting involved.

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I've read this entire thread and wish I would have been paying more attention to brians page. I have dealt with him before and he is very professional and really likes dealing with Native fish.

Once the weather warms up a little, I'll catch a few pumpkin seeds that he sent me and take some pictures.

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