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#552407 09/26/22 01:09 PM
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I've got a young pond stocked with bass in June that has a really good bluegill base and reproducing fathead minnows. I'm looking to expand the forage opportunities next spring. My pond is very clear but it has necessary nutrients and fish are thriving. I am not looking to fertilize my pond. I've read Threadfin are filtered feeders so in a clear, unfertilized pond would they survive and reproduce successfully? If not what other forage options can I add this spring? Thx

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If you can find a fish hauler nearby or can haul yourself, I think one of the best forage fish for bass in TX is(are) Tilapia! The fish themselves or their offspring make great forage opportunity. You probably can get a good price on the leftovers in the fall and I believe they will overwinter just fine in most areas of TX. If they don't overwinter, they will get sluggish as the water temps cool which might make them easier targets for the largest LMB.

Outside of that, I'm not an expert on southern ponds but always wondered why folks didn't set up mosquito fish as forage fish. It seems they are found almost everywhere and are pretty hardy even in hot conditions. It seems they could be the forage fish for the south that fathead minnows are in the north.

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Cuda, fathead minnows typically don't survive well after bass are stocked. Too slow to avoid a one way trip down the LMB gullet!

Threadfin shad and/or golden shiners tend to do better, though threadfins are vulnerable to cold winters. Tilapia are even more vulnerable, and in your area aren't likely to survive most winters. Texas doesn't want them reproducing, so mandates the most cold intolerant, Mozambique strain, be stocked.

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For additional forage I'll plus 1 the TP recs above. Though they have to be stocked each year they will consume resources that the BG are not and so can produce additional forage all other things being equal. Also, they tend to recycle nutrients that accumulate on the pond bottom. Give them some consideration.


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TShad need fertile water and open room (3 acres +). Lots on the forum about TShad. Agree with tilapia comments above.
















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food for thought..
Super clear water = low fertility. Low fertility = slower growth. Slower growth = lower reproduction, including the forage base.

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Barracuda says his pond is very clear. What is the actual water visibility of very clear for you? How deep can you see a white coffee cup underwater?

Water Clarity usually indicates water productivity. Water productivity indicates carrying capacity. Fish community structure is determined on how you manage the carrying capacity.
Diversifying the forage base almost always benefits the sport fish in some way. Enhancing the reproducing long term forage base is often based on finding species that are able to utilize the unused parts of the pond's productivity. Filter feeders such as shad and omnivorous tilapia feed and thrive on things not eaten by the standard minnow, BG and LMB fishes thus the pond carrying capacity can increase.

Sometimes adding new species that just compete with the existing current forage species just results in fewer of the original resident forage species that are present. Almost always feeding the fish high quality protein pellets increases the carrying capacity in clear water. Then it becomes your management task to determine the population structures and sizes of the sport fishes present based on the pond's carrying capacity.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/30/22 03:47 PM.

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Originally Posted by ewest
TShad need fertile water and open room (3 acres +). Lots on the forum about TShad.

I know Threadfin Shad are an open water fish. However, could we use their characteristics against them in a pond smaller than 3 acres?

I am imagining a heavily fertilized forage pond to keep a full planktonic bloom. Could you grow 6-8" TShad in one season to feed the LMB that prefer that size of forage?

As you transferred the TShad into the predator pond, they should be easy prey since their usual defense mechanism of schooling in the middle of the lake would not be viable.

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For threadfin shad - what is their physical requirements that causes them to need open room of 3 acres to best succeed? The 3 acres recommendation is probably for optimum reproduction and survival as an ongoing forage fish not just as a summer forage crop to be used each fall.

I think FishinRod has a good point using some creative thinking that threadfin could be used as a small pond summer residents that would produce some nice forage fish that should be able to grow well in a small fertilized pond that has abundant plankton of both large phytoplankton and zooplankton. Pond could be stocked with shad and then drained each fall when shad are harvested and added to the main sport fish pond. The main hurdle and trick for success would be maintaining a good fertile bloom in the small pond to keep the shad well fed and growing.

This from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Aquaculture, Fisheries, & Pond Management Teaching, Research, Extension and Service
Biology and Life History: ..... threadfin shad are a warm water species that will die if water temperatures go below 6 degrees Celsius (43F). They can be found in open brackish waters, as well as large ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. They are dependent on light for foraging and will stay high in the water column. Very tolerant of salinity, threadfin shad can even live in salt water environments. They can be found in organized schools based on size. Threadfin shad feed exclusively on plankton but have two methods of obtaining it, leading to a diversity of diet. They can spawn as early as their first summer of life but often wait till their second summer to mate. Mating occurs between August and July. The lay sticky egg masses that clump to the substrate or floating objects. Few of these fish live to be older than 2 years or grow over 10cm long.

https://fisheries.tamu.edu/files/20...-Forage-Fish-Introdution-and-Species.pdf
Threadfin shad, Dorsoma petenense, are used as forage fish because they remain relatively small, usually less than 7 inches. Threadfin are a schooling, open-water fish and grow well in productive ponds. Shad are filter feeders and feed mainly on zooplankton and some larger phytoplankton. Larger threadfin may consume some detritus as well. They eat fish feed only incidentally. High mortalities occur at 45 ºF (7 ºC), and most fish die at 40 ºF (4.4 ºC).

What makes a good forage fish?
https://fisheries.tamu.edu/files/20...-Forage-Fish-Introdution-and-Species.pdf

Last edited by Bill Cody; 10/01/22 11:27 AM.

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Dr. Cody, thanks for the additional discussion and links!

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I think I just found the flaw in my hare-brained scheme.

I was hoping to put brood stock in a grow out pond as soon as it was warm enough. Let them reproduce and keep the pond heavily fertilized, so the YOY can grow like crazy. Then release the whole batch into the predator pond so the bass can gorge themselves in the fall.

Unfortunately, it appears that Threadfin Shad spawn too late in the season for my plan to work in areas where the TShad would die during the winter.

It would only be possible in warm ponds where the mass of spawned shad could survive the winter, and then be released during the following year when they were the appropriate size for the bass size selected for "extra" forage.

My pond plans would be so much easier if I had some hot springs that would supply "Florida" temperature water year round!

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
I think I just found the flaw in my hare-brained scheme.

I was hoping to put brood stock in a grow out pond as soon as it was warm enough. Let them reproduce and keep the pond heavily fertilized, so the YOY can grow like crazy. Then release the whole batch into the predator pond so the bass can gorge themselves in the fall.

Unfortunately, it appears that Threadfin Shad spawn too late in the season for my plan to work in areas where the TShad would die during the winter.

It would only be possible in warm ponds where the mass of spawned shad could survive the winter, and then be released during the following year when they were the appropriate size for the bass size selected for "extra" forage.

My pond plans would be so much easier if I had some hot springs that would supply "Florida" temperature water year round!

Buy a chainsaw and an outdoor wood boiler. laugh Small pond, lots of wood and it will be toasty!!


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Originally Posted by esshup
Buy a chainsaw and an outdoor wood boiler. laugh Small pond, lots of wood and it will be toasty!!

That is funny, esshup!

I already have that plan in a notebook. I considered building a tiny reproduction pond for tilapia and heating it so that I could start them off earlier during the Kansas spring.

Side note - Do tilapia mind if you also utilize their pond as a family hot tub?

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
Buy a chainsaw and an outdoor wood boiler. laugh Small pond, lots of wood and it will be toasty!!

That is funny, esshup!

I already have that plan in a notebook. I considered building a tiny reproduction pond for tilapia and heating it so that I could start them off earlier during the Kansas spring.

Side note - Do tilapia mind if you also utilize their pond as a family hot tub?

FishinRod, have you done tilapia in KS? I've been very interested in tilapia and shrimp but have yet to pull the trigger on trying either one.

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Originally Posted by catscratch
FishinRod, have you done tilapia in KS? I've been very interested in tilapia and shrimp but have yet to pull the trigger on trying either one.

I have not - because my three old ponds have too much water level variability for active fish management.

(I am rehabilitating them and digging new ponds when I can afford heavy equipment on site, but that is another story.)

However, I have followed lots of the tilapia discussions on the forum, and they certainly are an interesting "tool" to add to the pond management toolbox for Kansas ponds.

From what I remember about your pond goals, they might help out in your pond. The tilapia take their sustenance for growth out of a different food chain than the existing forage and predator fish utilize in your pond. I believe in Kansas, the tilapia offspring could in one season provide significant additional forage for your 1-3# bass, and the stockers would provide some additional forage (especially in the fall) to your 5-8# bass.

(I think you would enjoy/learn reading some of those threads when you are stuck at the computer this winter!)

P.S. Good to see you posting in the forum. I was a little worried about you ending up stuck beneath a concrete culvert in 5' of water. cry

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by catscratch
FishinRod, have you done tilapia in KS? I've been very interested in tilapia and shrimp but have yet to pull the trigger on trying either one.

I have not - because my three old ponds have too much water level variability for active fish management.

(I am rehabilitating them and digging new ponds when I can afford heavy equipment on site, but that is another story.)

However, I have followed lots of the tilapia discussions on the forum, and they certainly are an interesting "tool" to add to the pond management toolbox for Kansas ponds.

From what I remember about your pond goals, they might help out in your pond. The tilapia take their sustenance for growth out of a different food chain than the existing forage and predator fish utilize in your pond. I believe in Kansas, the tilapia offspring could in one season provide significant additional forage for your 1-3# bass, and the stockers would provide some additional forage (especially in the fall) to your 5-8# bass.

(I think you would enjoy/learn reading some of those threads when you are stuck at the computer this winter!)

P.S. Good to see you posting in the forum. I was a little worried about you ending up stuck beneath a concrete culvert in 5' of water. cry

Lol, the concrete culverts are still on bank. Haven't quite figured out how I'm going to position them yet. But I have done more to the pond. Lengthened stone/rubble point that I had started further into the pond and planning on some more structure. I've been lurking but not much to post about. Catching 21-22 inch bass once in a while. They are relatively fat for the summer we've had but not where I would like them. I may be asking too much in that department though.

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