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The other day I was lurking an old thread here and someone said something like "if you stock lmb at 150/acre they'll stunt at 10 inches long". That got me wondering if it was really possible to predict (at least within a margin of error) what size a fish will stunt at based on the rate you (over)stock it at and if this foreknowledge could be used as a management strategy.

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Yes. This is true. All water is food limited. The extent of its limitations are determined by productivity ... something that varies with nutrients and community members. It can also be altered by adding food the pond doesn't grow. Anyways, if the community and nutrients (including supplemental feeds) are tightly controlled and the population of the fish controlled in number, the limit of ultimately size is very predictable and repeatable. This is the science of aquaculture.

According Swingle, the father of modern aquaculture, fish will grow until such time that the food produced is what is required to support the metabolism of the standing weight. This is why fish grow very fast in a brand new pond. The metabolic requirement of a small standing weight of fingerlings allows much of food the pond is capable of producing to be used for growth instead. By the end of the second growing season, the limit of food limited standing weight is reached and without mortality the fish can no longer grow. In other words, mortality reduces the metabolic requirement for food and so will allow the excess to be converted into growth.

All viable management methods include the management of fish numbers. For single season production, the numbers and the food are the most important factors determining the production (Harvest mortality weight - both individual weight and combined weight). Other factors including water quality (think oxygen and toxins) or survival to end of grow out also affect the results. But when water quality is good and survival is also the food and the numbers determine the results. Obviously for any fixed food amount the results are dependent on the numbers stocked.

For recreational ponds with annual carryover the numbers are not as easily controlled (due to reproduction) and so the effort is usually focused on enforcing annual mortality in terms of weight harvested. All the same this has the effect of reducing numbers and reducing metabolic requirements allowing the surviving fish to grow.


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Have graphs or charts been published that show the relationship between max length and initial stocking density for common pond species?

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I believe the variability between pond conditions and the interaction between the multiple species present in the pond would create error bars on such a graph that would be significantly larger than any trend in the data.

I think some rough "rules of thumb" are probably about the most specificity that could be generated.

Are you trying to address some specific problem or pond plan? If so, you could add some more information, and you might get some additional nibbles from the forum experts (not me!) that could move your project design a little farther along.

Good luck!

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I agree with FishingRod. The mixed fish community can be highly variable depending on all the various influences that occur in natural settings. Without proper harvest, cropping or management to my knowledge any reproducing fish that recruit new individuals into the community will eventually stunt due mostly to too many fish and not enough food. All this is essentially similar to what jpsdad wrote above.


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Originally Posted by saint_abyssal
Have graphs or charts been published that show the relationship between max length and initial stocking density for common pond species?

saint_abyssal,

Saying 150 LMB/acre stunt at 10 " (1/2 lbs each) is the same as saying that the water can support 75 lbs/acre of LMB. That's a pretty good standing weight of LMB by any yard stick. Even if the water could support double that weight 150 LMB/acre would still stunt at 12.5". To get consistent trophy fish the standing number of LMB must be limited to be below 30 LMB/Acre.


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You should just provide us with the hard, fast equations.


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Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
You should just provide us with the hard, fast equations.

Just curious.

Do you mean 150/150 = 1lb = 12.5" LMB?

Obviously its difficult to grow 6 lb LMB when they average 1 lb ... even in a pond that is running hot enough to support 150 lbs of LMB.

Stock at 50 LMB/acre and cull as many males as possible and there is pretty good chance to grow a few big ones before recruitment takes over. So a goal of less than 30 LMB/acre standing number really is a recipe for growing big bass.

Last edited by jpsdad; 12/05/21 08:34 AM.

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I agree with Bill - to many variables at work in a water body with several species and different productivity parameters not to mention time periods. For example, water productivity (carrying capacity) can range in a natural (no feeding or fertilization) setting from 50 lbs. per acre up to 3000 lbs. per acre. This affects both the population dynamics (size structure before reaching capacity) and the time frame for getting there. The stocking numbers should not be viewed as a biological result but as a plan (attempt) to reach goals and based on location.
















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I don't know who originally said that 150 LMB stunt (stop growing) at 10" in the thread that saint abyssal referenced. If I had to guess, I would guess that esshup said that. All the same, for most ponds this is a good rule of thumb give or take a couple of inches in length. Most ponds don't carry 50 lbs of fish or 3000 lbs of fish. These lie outside the norm. More than 1 std deviation, more than 2 standard deviations. If you need a practical estimate about what you can expect when stocking a new pond with 150 LMB/acre, 10" is a very practical expectation of the length the LMB stop growing. One shouldn't assume his water might produce 3000 lbs of fish which might allow them grow maximally (as much as they could digest). That's not likely to happen.


Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

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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