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Hey guys, first post! Read on this site for hours, tons of great info.

Here's my conditions...I live in SE Kansas, and had a pond built early this year. It's a clean runoff only pond, not spring fed, not connected to any other water sources. Depth once full will be 9 to 10 feet, which is where my builder hit bedrock. Currently has around 6 to 7 feet thanks to the drought this summer. Primarily clay bottom, but the top 4 feet or so does have soil spread around the entire shoreline. One very large rock pile approx 12 feet around in about 4 to 5 feet of water on the edge of a drop-off and uses layers of rock up to 6 feet in diameter that are stacked jaggedly. Has another small rock pile approx 6 feet in diameter that uses rocks 1-10", and it's in about 3 feet of water. Two large brush piles using cedar & hedge, in medium depth and separated. Water clarity is approx 12-18" on a good day, but cloudy when it rains. I have not tested the water itself yet.

Early this spring, I stocked 5lbs of FHM, which did spawn. Over the summer, I stocked primarily adult male and female BG, adult RES, and some adult hybrids mixed in (no GSF). The BG/sunfish did spawn as there were thousands of fry. Added approx 200 adult crayfish, which spawned (can see the babies scooting on the bottom). This week, I added 5lbs of 3" GSH, and will be adding more next week, possibly larger size. Pond has a lot of frogs, few snakes, couple small turtles. All in all, signs appear good regarding forage, and I've only seen 1 dead BG and 1 dead crayfish since stocking.

As far as predators...my goal is to have small numbers of large as possible SMB and HSB. I also want the BG/sunfish adults to get large as possible which is why I am stocking predators with smaller mouths and large appetites. The HSB obviously won't spawn, and it seems the SMB will be hit or miss, but all juveniles caught will be removed. All initially stocked SMB and HSB will be adults and will be tagged.

What would you guys suggest as far as all this? What kinds of numbers should I stock of SMB and HSB so I do not add too many? I'd much rather have a few giants than a bunch of average size, and I want to keep my forage appropriate to my predators in order to maintain a healthy balance while giving the predators all they can eat.

Thanks in advance for your help. Look forward to all your replies.

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Welcome. It sounds like you have a good start of the prey fish/food community.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Welcome. It sounds like you have a good start of the prey fish/food community.
What would you recommend as far as stocking SMB and HSB? Would the plan to stock young adults be fine as long as my food base is well established? I'm not sure what kind of capacity I'd be looking at numbers wise.
Looking to stock them next fall after all my food gets their spawns done.

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Welcome to Pond Boss!

The jury is out, or at least partially out, on how well SMB and HSB control Bluegill populations.

If you have a good, recurring source for adult SMB, I would stay on the conservative side of stocking numbers as you can always add more later, but we still have the question on how well they'll control the bluegill. Maybe start with 30-40?

For the HSB, what size can you get them in? Usually, they come in less than 8" size ranges. For that, maybe 20-30?

I've been struggling to understand the complete role of Golden Shiners in smaller bodies of water. With your 5 lbs. of 3" GSH, I think you may end up have reduced recruitment numbers across all breeding species which may support your goals.


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Also, consider feeding.


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Originally Posted by Sunil
Welcome to Pond Boss!

The jury is out, or at least partially out, on how well SMB and HSB control Bluegill populations.

If you have a good, recurring source for adult SMB, I would stay on the conservative side of stocking numbers as you can always add more later, but we still have the question on how well they'll control the bluegill. Maybe start with 30-40?

For the HSB, what size can you get them in? Usually, they come in less than 8" size ranges. For that, maybe 20-30?

I've been struggling to understand the complete role of Golden Shiners in smaller bodies of water. With your 5 lbs. of 3" GSH, I think you may end up have reduced recruitment numbers across all breeding species which may support your goals.

I'd say the SMB will be in the 12" range, and HSB could be 15-20" range. I have a good source luckily. Considering this starting size, my food sources, and size of pond, I was thinking around 20 SMB and 5 HSB. Would this be appropriate given their size, and biomass from the GSH & BG?

Regarding BG, the ones I have already put in (approx 200) would be too big for SMB and HSB this size. Just too tall. I have read a lot of people on here saying that both SMB and HSB have helped control their populations of small BG though, which would definitely be a plus.

With the GSH, it wasn't so much to add numbers to my food source as it was variety. I know they will compete with the BG for certain food sources and that's totally fine. Both spawn prolifically, which is another plus. I've read the HSB and SMB both prefer GSH over BG, but if the BG and GSH keep each other in check (somewhat), I'm hoping the BG won't be as high in numbers with a lot of the young ones getting eaten as there hopefully won't be 'excessive' GSH either. Will just have to see how this goes.

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Here is a long series of comments of your pond plan.
Quote
stocked primarily adult male and female BG, adult RES, and some adult hybrids mixed in (no GSF). my goal is to have small numbers of large as possible SMB and HSB. I also want the BG/sunfish adults to get large as possible which is why I am stocking predators with smaller mouths and large appetites. All initially stocked SMB and HSB will be adults and will be tagged.

Welcome to our pond management advice forum. In all, there are lots of experienced pond owners here, numerous ones with SMB & HSB as primary predators. Hopefully they will add their experiences to your thread.

It sounds like you have a good start of the prey fish/food community.

My first question is for your goal,,, can you provide an idea of what you consider “large as possible SMB and HSB”.?? What makes you satisfied with a top end size for each?

Second question is do you plan to feed the fish good quality high protein fish food? And will you use appropriate sized pellets for the medium to large predators?

Large predators of 16”-18”+ will grow bigger in a small pond if they have larger pellets as in a bass pellet hand throw 1” size although with focused low predator density special pellets for predators would not be required.

IMO - you will be able to get the HSB to a significantly larger size (26"-28") compared to the SMB(20"-22") especially if you feed pellets. If you feed only small pellets to sunfishes, then the larger predators will not benefit very much from small size pellet feeding and they will mostly have to resort to feeding primarily on forage fish items for growth. This can be good for growing predators and reducing forage density, however IMO the pond will not be able to support as many large predators if their diet is not supplemented with large pellets. Appropriate sized pellets can grow more fish biomass and larger fish per acre of water – esp in smaller ponds when density is managed correctly.

A large 1” pellet was created to be close to the nutrition value of one 5”- 6” trout!. As your predators grow in years 4 to 6 they will need more appropriate sized food consumption to keep growing well. Remember that a 2 pound fish eats more than a 1 pound fish and a 5 pound fish eats more than a 2 pound fish to maintain body weight. For increased growth, it then requires even more food beyond just being healthy and standard weight which is another 10 lbs of fish to gain one pound. Food for producing growth is significantly more amount than the food amount for just a maintenance diet.

How many large predators and total pounds possible per acre are the main unknowns that have not be extensively studied. Basically in my opinion the fewer stocked per acre the more they have to eat and the better and larger they will grow. Your plan will be an atypically stocked pond. This pond plan project will be a learning curve for you and us if you keep us advised of your pond progress. Ponds with different basic soil fertilities due to higher soil alkalinities and nutrients result in higher amounts of plankton and are able to support a higher total fish biomass. Expect clear water (vis5-7ft) to produce around a total of 5-12 lbs/ac of predators and fertile - fed ponds can produce around 50-60 predator pounds per ac for natural diets. In reality, this is not a lot of large predators at 5 to 8 lbs each PER ACRE. See later.

If a pond owner is routinely adding forage fish this is a very short term benefit. There are good reasons for scarcity of proper amounts of forage fish and the reasons are probably due to too many predators and not enough adequate habitat. Lack of habitat and too many predators results in the forage fish are eaten too quickly. Good quality fisheries that maintain stable and optimum forage fish density have 20-25% of habitat on the entire shoreline distance that results in potential for high quality fisheries

I have initially one main concern where you use BG - HBG as a primary forage for SMB & HSB. As already noted, these two predators are not the best suited predator for consuming a can lid shaped sunfish. They will eat those smaller sized sunfishes, however they may not help achieve your goals of having numerous large sunfishes because the predators may not eat enough of the smaller sunfishes to reduce their total density.

Traditionally for having more large sunfishes, the pond usually requires having lots of smallish predators that eat lots of 1”to 3” sunfish. Lack of lots of or maybe numerous smallish predators in your 1/2 ac will likely not result in producing numerous large 'trophy-like' predators that you state is your goal. Plus The large predators will not grow well if they are primarily eating 2” sunfish. Generally a low density of smaller sunfish allows more remaining food reserves for growing the medium sunfishes to BIG bull sunfishes. If you don't mind having lots of small sunfishes and not an abundance of large sunfishes,,, then your stated goal of fewer large predators becomes IMO a more 'doable' possiblity. As predators reach the 5+ lb range they do not grow best when eating small sunfish. See next.

Predators always grow best when utilizing the optimum foraging theory or concept. This basically states that as predators grow they need to eat larger and larger prey so the predator does not waste unnecessary energy and food reserves chasing and eating too small forage fish. Thus a 6 lb bass does not grow well eating too small of fish such as FHM small shiners and 2”-3.5” sunfish.

Concern 2. Producing “large as possible BG/sunfish”.
IMO this could be difficult because the pond will need lots of small BG rather than large BG to adequately feed the larger predators. Plus the predators you are choosing are not well adapted nor suited for capturing and eating can lid sunfish. This means they have to eat small ones what have less body mass and nutrition per catch effort. Thus the largest SMB - HSB having to thrive mostly on sunfish, IMO the growth rates will not be optimum – growth maybe good but not optimum.

If the SMB-HSB are preferring the GSH as optimum forage this takes pressure off the sunfish density and they proliferate. Overabundant sunfish or shiner will prevent successful SMB fry production which could be good and bad. All this is a balancing act and a management challenge.

It is historically difficult to produce trophy BG and trophy predators (bass) in the same SMALL pond. Small pond volume, limited habitat, forage base complexity and importantly, predator feeding habits all combine to put limits on the entire system. INITIALLY,,,,, the pond could produce larger Sunfishes and good sized HSB & SMB because the INITIAL stockers will be adults that could continue to grow for several years. After several years as the old predators die and you are able to add some same size as the initially or new pond stocked young ‘adult’ predators,,, then IMO your plan becomes more of a possibility or reality. It evolves more of a put and take fishery as noted above by Sunil.

Regardless, I think one has to keep large amounts of a blend of appropriate sized small forage species always abundant for your chosen small mouth types of predators so they grow well every day each year. It can be a definite management challenge. Every day a predator does not FILL its belly above maintenance diet is a day it does not grow. It lives, but does not grow if it doesn’t get EXCESS food daily.

Over time - too many crowded small sunfishes as good predator food make it very difficult to grow large Sunfishes due to the lack of appropriate food items for the large sunfish because all the over abundant small sunfish eat and detract significantly the needed food reserves for producing large trophy sunfishes. The recent PBoss mag article noted that growing trophy BG requires a yearly DIVERSITY of natural invertebrate foods. Premium good items are often different for biggest sunfish compared to small and medium sunfish. Overcrowding of fish in a small pond significantly results in lower water quality, more fish stressors, and overall lower fish growth rates. At this point one is again balancing on a very sharp knife edge with this type of fishery that can easily and quickly CRASH.

EXPECT annual SMB spawning with probable recruitment especially since you have some adequate spawning habitat and a fair amount of added rocky/tree habitat to act as refuge for the SMB fry to get them off to a good start for recruitment. As mentioned,, overabundant and crowded forage fishes can significantly limit fry survival of all fishes. Something to always monitor and watch for. This can be a pro and a con. It all depends. You will only need one successful SMB nest to produce 40-80 fingerling SMB per year. The more young and growing smb in the pond, this will detract from the overall food source and the adult growth potential for how big the larger SMB will grow to. As food becomes limiting this limits growth rate. Often with too many predators / ac the adults 'hit the wall' for food reserves and their resulting growth rate is less than it could have been.

Quote
“I'd say the SMB will be in the 12" range, and HSB could be 15-20" range. I have a good source luckily. Considering this starting size, my food sources, and size of pond, I was thinking around 20 SMB and 5 HSB. Would this be appropriate given their size, and biomass from the GSH & BG?”


My general belief is the fewer predators there are per acre the larger top growth is that they achieve. Your plan is IMO a pretty good starting point of 50 adult predators per ac (25/0.5ac). However as they grow toward the larger sizes I would be prepared to remove some if their relative weights (RW) drop below 100%.
With lots of current food supply your stocked predators will initially grow fast.
Example 5 HSB at 22” will 6lb ea = 30lbs.
20 SMB at 16” should weigh 46lbs. + 30lbs HSB = 76lbs of predator 152 lbs total predator/ac.
20SMB at 18” should weigh 68lbs. + 30lbs HSB = 98lbs of predator at 196 lbs total predator /ac.
Note these total predator lbs /ac is significantly higher than my above reference for normal predator pounds per acre.
“.. fertile - fed ponds can produce around 50-60 predator pounds per ac.
As the predators get to sizes more than the examples above expect to have fewer of then in a 0.5 ac pond. The bigger they become expect to have fewer of them per acre.
It all depends on carrying capacity.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92440#Post92440


Be aware your fishery is above normal productive poundage levels and the ecological system is stressed and vulnerable.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 11/21/22 01:12 PM. Reason: word edit

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Here are overly long comments for your pond plan.
Quote
stocked primarily adult male and female BG, adult RES, and some adult hybrids mixed in (no GSF). my goal is to have small numbers of large as possible SMB and HSB. I also want the BG/sunfish adults to get large as possible which is why I am stocking predators with smaller mouths and large appetites. All initially stocked SMB and HSB will be adults and will be tagged.

Welcome to our pond management advice forum. In all, there are lots of experienced pond owners here, numerous ones with SMB & HSB as primary predators. Hopefully they will add their experiences to your thread.

It sounds like you have a good start of the prey fish/food community.

My first question is for your goal,,, can you provide an idea of what you consider “large as possible SMB and HSB”.?? What makes you satisfied with a top end or near top end size for each specie? They will continue growing as long as they live if they always have the right foods. As the foods decrease and end of life occurs RW gradually decline.

+++ well, where I live a 5lb SMB is like catching an 8lb LMB, very rare, but is my goal. For HSB, 10 pounds and up is the goal.+++

Second question is do you plan to feed the fish good quality high protein fish food? And will you use appropriate sized pellets for the medium to large predators?

+++ I do not want to mess with pellet food whatsoever. At most, I would like to fertilize in order to support the bottom of the food chain, which in turn supports the top, but if I pursue this I want to be very careful. I do have a 5lb bag of Pond Plus that I was intending on using early next Spring to start out with. Thoughts? +++

Large predators of 16”-18”+ will grow bigger in a small pond if they have larger pellets as in a bass pellet hand throw 1” size although with focused low predator density special pellets for predators would not be required.

IMO - you will be able to get the HSB to a significantly larger size (26"-28") compared to the SMB(20"-22") especially if you feed pellets. If you feed only small pellets to sunfishes, then the larger predators will not benefit very much from small size pellet feeding and they will mostly have to resort to feeding primarily on forage fish items for growth. This can be good for growing predators and reducing forage density, however IMO the pond will not be able to support as many large predators if their diet is not supplemented with large pellets. Appropriate sized pellets can grow more fish biomass and larger fish per acre of water – esp in smaller ponds when density is managed correctly.

A large 1” pellet was created to be close to the nutrition value of one 5”- 6” trout!. As your predators grow in years 4 to 6 they will need more appropriate sized food consumption to keep growing well. Remember that a 2 pound fish eats more than a 1 pound fish and a 5 pound fish eats more than a 2 pound fish to maintain body weight. For increased growth, it then requires even more food beyond just being healthy and standard weight which is another 10 lbs of fish to gain one pound. Food for producing growth is significantly more amount than the food amount for just a maintenance diet.

How many large predators and total pounds possible per acre are the main unknowns that have not be extensively studied. Basically in my opinion the fewer stocked per acre the more they have to eat and the better and larger they will grow. Your plan will be an atypically stocked pond. This pond plan project will be a learning curve for you and us if you keep us advised of your pond progress. Ponds with different basic soil fertilities due to higher soil alkalinities and nutrients result in higher amounts of plankton and are able to support a higher total fish biomass. Expect clear water (vis5-7ft) to produce around a total of 5-12 lbs/ac of predators and fertile - fed ponds can produce around 50-60 predator pounds per ac for natural diets. In reality, this is not a lot of large predators at 5 to 8 lbs each PER ACRE. See later.

+++ Would my idea to fertilize help support this? +++

If a pond owner is routinely adding forage fish this is a very short term benefit. There are good reasons for scarcity of proper amounts of forage fish and the reasons are probably due to too many predators and not enough adequate habitat. Lack of habitat and too many predators results in the forage fish are eaten too quickly. Good quality fisheries that maintain stable and optimum forage fish density have 20-25% of habitat on the entire shoreline distance that results in potential for high quality fisheries

I have initially one main concern where you use BG - HBG as a primary forage for SMB & HSB. As already noted, these two predators are not the best suited predator for consuming a can lid shaped sunfish. They will eat those smaller sized sunfishes, however they may not help achieve your goals of having numerous large sunfishes because the predators may not eat enough of the smaller sunfishes to reduce their total density.

Traditionally for having more large sunfishes, the pond usually requires having lots of smallish predators that eat lots of 1”to 3” sunfish. Lack of lots of or maybe numerous smallish predators in your 1/2 ac will likely not result in producing numerous large 'trophy-like' predators that you state is your goal. Plus The large predators will not grow well if they are primarily eating 2” sunfish. Generally a low density of smaller sunfish allows more remaining food reserves for growing the medium sunfishes to BIG bull sunfishes. If you don't mind having lots of small sunfishes and not an abundance of large sunfishes,,, then your stated goal of fewer large predators becomes IMO a more 'doable' possiblity. As predators reach the 5+ lb range they do not grow best when eating small sunfish. See next.

Predators always grow best when utilizing the optimum foraging theory or concept. This basically states that as predators grow they need to eat larger and larger prey so the predator does not waste unnecessary energy and food reserves chasing and eating too small forage fish. Thus a 6 lb bass does not grow well eating too small of fish such as FHM small shiners and 2”-3.5” sunfish.

+++ With all this into consideration, a fully grown SMB and HSB 'should' be able to eat 4-5" BG/sunfish I'd imagine. I do absolutely get your point of it's more work and less gain with smaller food. I know with HSB at least, they will go nuts on whatever is available, at whatever size, and are extremely active. The SMB I would have to guess would be the ones eating the more medium size sunfish.+++

Concern 2. Producing “large as possible BG/sunfish”.
IMO this could be difficult because the pond will need lots of small BG rather than large BG to adequately feed the larger predators. Plus the predators you are choosing are not well adapted nor suited for capturing and eating can lid sunfish. This means they have to eat small ones what have less body mass and nutrition per catch effort. Thus the largest SMB - HSB having to thrive mostly on sunfish, IMO the growth rates will not be optimum – growth maybe good but not optimum.

If the SMB-HSB are preferring the GSH as optimum forage this takes pressure off the sunfish density and they proliferate. Overabundant sunfish or shiner will prevent successful SMB fry production which could be good and bad. All this is a balancing act and a management challenge.

+++ This is part of the goal, kind of haha. Since the HSB will be moving a lot and pushing food fish around, I'm counting on the SMB essentially eating out of opportunity since hopefully the fish will be on the move quite a bit due to the HSB, which expend a lot of energy whether they are eating or not. +++

It is historically difficult to produce trophy BG and trophy predators (bass) in the same SMALL pond. Small pond volume, limited habitat, forage base complexity and importantly, predator feeding habits all combine to put limits on the entire system. INITIALLY,,,,, the pond could produce larger Sunfishes and good sized HSB & SMB because the INITIAL stockers will be adults that could continue to grow for several years. After several years as the old predators die and you are able to add some same size as the initially or new pond stocked young ‘adult’ predators,,, then IMO your plan becomes more of a possibility or reality. It evolves more of a put and take fishery as noted above by Sunil.

+++ Yep, I will be supplementing the adult BG/sunfish during each summer most likely. I don't anticipate a lof of the initial offspring living long enough to get big, but the initial stockers should be around for a while since they're too big to get eaten, by the fish ;-) As far as the initial HSB and SMB, I'll be keeping track of their progress through catch and release and keeping info in a database with their tag number. If they start getting stunted or look unhealthy, I will remove as necessary. +++

Regardless, I think one has to keep large amounts of a blend of appropriate sized small forage species always abundant for your chosen small mouth types of predators so they grow well every day each year. It can be a definite management challenge. Every day a predator does not FILL its belly above maintenance diet is a day it does not grow. It lives, but does not grow if it doesn’t get EXCESS food daily.

+++ This obviously supports pellet feeding, but this is also why I'm stocking less total predators and a variety of well-established forage before adding the predators.+++

Over time - too many crowded small sunfishes as good predator food make it very difficult to grow large Sunfishes due to the lack of appropriate food items for the large sunfish because all the over abundant small sunfish eat and detract significantly the needed food reserves for producing large trophy sunfishes. The recent PBoss mag article noted that growing trophy BG requires a yearly DIVERSITY of natural invertebrate foods. Premium good items are often different for biggest sunfish compared to small and medium sunfish. Overcrowding of fish in a small pond significantly results in lower water quality, more fish stressors, and overall lower fish growth rates. At this point one is again balancing on a very sharp knife edge with this type of fishery that can easily and quickly CRASH.

+++ Absolutely. If I have an over-abundance then I would have to contribute that to the predators not keeping up, right?+++

EXPECT annual SMB spawning with probable recruitment especially since you have some adequate spawning habitat and a fair amount of added rocky/tree habitat to act as refuge for the SMB fry to get them off to a good start for recruitment. As mentioned,, overabundant and crowded forage fishes can significantly limit fry survival of all fishes. Something to always monitor and watch for. This can be a pro and a con. It all depends. You will only need one successful SMB nest to produce 40-80 fingerling SMB per year. The more young and growing smb in the pond, this will detract from the overall food source and the adult growth potential for how big the larger SMB will grow to. As food becomes limiting this limits growth rate. Often with too many predators / ac the adults 'hit the wall' for food reserves and their resulting growth rate is less than it could have been.

+++ My plan right now is as I catch anything that is not tagged (for the first few years) it will be taken out of the pond and transferred to my neighbors pond. I want as little predator numbers as possible beyond the initial stocking.+++

Quote
“I'd say the SMB will be in the 12" range, and HSB could be 15-20" range. I have a good source luckily. Considering this starting size, my food sources, and size of pond, I was thinking around 20 SMB and 5 HSB. Would this be appropriate given their size, and biomass from the GSH & BG?”


My general belief is the fewer predators there are per acre the larger top growth is that they achieve. Your plan is IMO a pretty good starting point of 50 adult predators per ac (25/0.5ac). However as they grow toward the larger sizes I would be prepared to remove some if their relative weights (RW) drop below 100%.
With lots of current food supply your stocked predators will initially grow fast.
Example 5 HSB at 22” will 6lb ea = 30lbs.
20 SMB at 16” should weigh 46lbs. + 30lbs HSB = 76lbs of predator 152 lbs total predator/ac.
20SMB at 18” should weigh 68lbs. + 30lbs HSB = 98lbs of predator at 196 lbs total predator /ac.
Note these total predator lbs /ac is significantly higher than my above reference for normal predator pounds per acre.
“.. fertile - fed ponds can produce around 50-60 predator pounds per ac.
As the predators get to sizes more than the examples above expect to have fewer of then in a 0.5 ac pond. The bigger they become expect to have fewer of them per acre.
It all depends on carrying capacity.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92440#Post92440


Be aware your fishery is above normal productive poundage levels and the ecological system is stressed and vulnerable.[/quote]

+++ Yep, which is why I feel it's so important to stick to the 20 SMB and 5 HSB, and just try to maintain that number as long as I can. I know the SMB will spawn and there will be fish I can't see or catch, but I will be closely monitoring the overall health of the predators.+++

I have had numerous aquariums, including a small saltwater tank, and you can learn a lot about how things affect the cycles and fish health. The smaller the body of water, the more precise you need to be with what you're doing as well. I'm a very meticulous person and this pond is a big project of mine. I'd like to be able to pull this off successfully and will be doing what I can to support it. A lot of where I got my ideas and strategies from was based off reading postings on here for hours on end. I've read your posts and replies specifically for hours and was really glad to hear from you regarding my build. I know what I'm doing is out of the norm, and on a small body of water, but this is something I'm very passionate about. Lots of excellent advice to take with me going forward as well.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 11/21/22 01:01 PM.
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Responses:
+++ well, where I live (SE Kansas) a 5lb SMB is like catching an 8lb LMB, very rare, but is my goal. For HSB, 10 pounds and up is the goal.+++
Std wt for a 5lb SMB is 20” and 10lb HSB is 26”. Do you have any reported growth rates for your stocker predators (12" range, and HSB could be 15-20") at SMB starting of 12” and HSB about 16”??? Knowing some good growth rates for these predators will help you determine how well the predators are performing and the relative abundances of forage fishes. We could derive some reasonable numbers for this.

“+++ I do not want to mess with pellet food whatsoever. At most, I would like to fertilize in order to support the bottom of the food chain, which in turn supports the top, but if I pursue this I want to be very careful. I do have a 5lb bag of Pond Plus that I was intending on using early next Spring to start out with. Thoughts? +++”
If you are not going to feed pellets and you being in Kansas soil structure, then you might have enough natural fertility to achieve your fishery plan. Before you fertilize, I would check the alkalinity of the pond to make sure what natural nutrients are present so they can produce acceptable phytoplankton and zooplankton. The minimum alkalinity for blooms is 20ppm however I prefer alkalinity around 50-80 for best naturally produced blooms. Since you have experience with aquariums you should be able to use an aquarium water test kit to verify some basic chemistries.

+++ Would my idea to fertilize help support this? +++
I would not fertilize unless you have lower amounts of plankton and secchi disk water clarity greater than 4-5ft. And then I would be very cautious using standard dosages of fertilizer. Fertilizing ponds can be tricky and risky and not for amateurs regarding long term pond health and stability of the algal community structure.. One new fertilization philosophy is to have desired water clarity of around 3ft not the old school clarity of 16”-2ft. If you decide to fertilize I would use lower amounts each time to not develop the 2ft clarity. Secchi disk clarity does not really verify phytoplankton density. Secchi clarity is affected by silt-detritus, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and bacteria. I can help verify composition of suspended solids.
For more detailed new information about fertilization, listen to this podcast for a pond fertilization discussion.
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8656547-episode-56-binding-nutrients-in-your-pond-and-lake?t=0

+++ With all this into consideration, a fully grown SMB and HSB 'should' be able to eat 4-5" BG/sunfish I'd imagine. I do absolutely get your point of it's more work and less gain with smaller food. I know with HSB at least, they will go nuts on whatever is available, at whatever size, and are extremely active. The SMB I would have to guess would be the ones eating the more medium size sunfish.+++
Point is if more energy is expended catching too small of forage compared to the energy nutrition stored then growth is not as good as it could have been. Fully grown SMB and HSB can probably eat 4”-5” sunfish but will they eat them when smaller fish are more abundant. Predators IMO will often eat mostly what they encounter most commonly. You will definitely get growth of the large predators eating lots of small fish, it is just my thinking the growth will not be optimum. Some reduced annual growth is much better than “hit the wall” maintenance condition.

+++ This is part of the goal, kind of haha. Since the HSB will be moving a lot and pushing food fish around, I'm counting on the SMB essentially eating out of opportunity since hopefully the fish will be on the move quite a bit due to the HSB, which expend a lot of energy whether they are eating or not. +++
SMB may not move around as much as you think due to HSB activity. I think SMB feeding activity will be in a completely different niche compared to HSB. You have different food items living in at least two different pond areas – open water and littoral niches. My understanding of SMB is they tend to be a more sedentary habitat oriented fish.

+++ Yep, I will be supplementing the adult BG/sunfish during each summer most likely. I don't anticipate a lof of the initial offspring living long enough to get big, but the initial stockers should be around for a while since they're too big to get eaten, by the fish ;-) As far as the initial HSB and SMB, I'll be keeping track of their progress through catch and release and keeping info in a database with their tag number. If they start getting stunted or look unhealthy, I will remove as necessary. +++
It will be you as manager to monitor sunfish and shiner densities and then respond accordingly. Frequent surveying of the forage fish numbers will significantly help you evaluating fish densities and balance. This is where feeding small amounts to the forage fish can visually help you assess their sizes and numbers. Other ways to do this is trapping and seining AND keeping good records of the efforts, methods, and catch results for comparisons and monitoring of annual forage amounts.


+++ This obviously supports pellet feeding, but this is also why I'm stocking less total predators and a variety of well-established forage before adding the predators.+++
Fewer stocked predators and planned numbers will IMO be great growth initially but as these predatory fish grow they eat more and expect forage fishes to significantly decrease. Again, regularly monitoring forage sizes & densities will be important because you are not feeding pellets. You may need to use other monitoring methods rather than visual. You will always need ample forage to keep the predators growing or at least in good body condition.

+++ Absolutely. If I have an over-abundance then I would have to contribute that to the predators not keeping up, right?+++
Yes -- an overabundance of small forage including shiners and scarcity of large BG are good indications that the predators are not “keeping up” with recruitment of forage. In this case several main choices are to: A. add a few predators, B. manually thin the forage fish, C. do nothing if predators are performing well, Your mixed sunfish blend of primarily adult male and female BG, adult RES, and some adult hybrids mixed in (no GSF) could produce some interesting results as far as sunfish density and their top end sizes. With your plan and access to larger stocker fish, if large panfish are not common enough and pond has lots of small forage, I would supplement with some adult sunfish by removing several small forage individuals for each added adult sunfish. Be aware implications of an overcrowded fishery.

+++ Yep, which is why I feel it's so important to stick to the 20 SMB and 5 HSB, and just try to maintain that number as long as I can. I know the SMB will spawn and there will be fish I can't see or catch, but I will be closely monitoring the overall health of the predators.+++
Your predator density and choice of forage fish will be a good basis starting point and for study. As predators add poundage then you may need to reduce number of largest predators when their Relative Weight decreases. My experience is catch and release results in premature deaths of larger predators. Just because the fish swims away does not mean it lived. Be aware the catching HSB when water temp is around or above 80F significantly decreases the chance of this fish surviving after release.

I hope you return to this thread on a regular basis to educate us about the progress of your interesting fishery.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 11/21/22 09:11 PM.

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For those in Kansas or other mid-western areas interested in creating this type of interesting, creative fishery in a new small pond, I think the results would be over all more rewarding if yellow perch (YP) were used instead of BG and HBG.

For starters the record angler fish in KS is SMB 6.8lbs 21.5" and HSB 25lb 33.5"; true trophies. The record YP is 1.46lb 13.5" which is a pretty easy YP to grow in a pond especially if the stocker YP are pellet trained and fed pellets. Plus IMO YP are a much better forage fish to grow in a pond with SMB and HSB compared to sunfishes. Interestingly for food fish use a 13" LMB has a Std Wt of 1.16lbs, 13" SMB is 1.18lbs and YP Std Wt of 1.26lbs that yields slightly more body weight.
Although if the fish are for table use then consider some redear sunfish for eating snails as a good addition to minimize occurrence of pond fish parasites.

Secondarily - YP are or can be as nearly prolific as BG as far as numbers of eggs produced. YP with good numbers management can easily grow to 12" and weigh 1 pound. YP are a slender bodied fish so they are vulnerable to being eaten by SMB & HSB for longer periods in their early life than sunfishes which makes them a good forage fish. Ample medium dense types of habitat in ponds can help improve survival of small perch and BG. Less habitat allows more successful predation of YP, small fishes, and forage minnows by SMB and HSB.

Thirdly YP are naturally evolved and adapted for life as a forage fish with smallmouth bass. Many lakes with SMB as one of the main a predators have YP and weed beds as habitat. SMB are often considered not as an aggressive fish eater compared to LMB. HSB for my stocking experences have proven to ready prey on small YP and control their density. A proper predator - prey balance is important in all fisheries. One option for creating this type of fishery would be to omit the RES and use ONLY male bluegill with YP -SMB-HSB. Be aware that experiences have shown that male BG with RES will produce hybrids BGXRES. Hybridization studies in the lab by W. Childers revealed female BG X male RES produced 99% male offspring. He reported the ponds stocked Male BG and female RES produced no hybrids, although my use of this cross did produce hybrid offspring that to my knowledge were not fertile. Krumholz also saw offspring from the male BG and female RES.

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
For those in Kansas or other mid-western areas interested in creating this type of interesting, creative fishery in a new small pond, I think the results would be over all more rewarding if yellow perch (YP) were used instead of BG and HBG.

For starters the record angler fish in KS is SMB 6.8lbs 21.5" and HSB 25lb 33.5"; true trophies. The record YP is 1.46lb 13.5" which is a pretty easy YP to grow in a pond especially if the stocker YP are pellet trained and fed pellets. Plus IMO YP are a much better forage fish to grow in a pond with SMB and HSB compared to sunfishes. Interestingly for food fish use a 13" LMB has a Std Wt of 1.16lbs, 13" SMB is 1.18lbs and YP Std Wt of 1.26lbs that yields slightly more body weight.
Although if the fish are for table use then consider some redear sunfish for eating snails as a good addition to minimize occurrence of pond fish parasites.

Secondarily - YP are or can be as nearly prolific as BG as far as numbers of eggs produced. YP with good numbers management can easily grow to 12" and weigh 1 pound. YP are a slender bodied fish so they are vulnerable to being eaten by SMB & HSB for longer periods in their early life than sunfishes which makes them a good forage fish. Ample medium dense types of habitat in ponds can help improve survival of small perch and BG. Less habitat allows more successful predation of YP, small fishes, and forage minnows by SMB and HSB.

Thirdly YP are naturally evolved and adapted for life as a forage fish with smallmouth bass. Many lakes with SMB as one of the main a predators have YP and weed beds as habitat. SMB are often considered not as an aggressive fish eater compared to LMB. HSB for my stocking experences have proven to ready prey on small YP and control their density. A proper predator - prey balance is important in all fisheries. One option for creating this type of fishery would be to omit the RES and use ONLY male bluegill with YP -SMB-HSB. Be aware that experiences have shown that male BG with RES will produce hybrids BGXRES. Hybridization studies in the lab by W. Childers revealed female BG X male RES produced 99% male offspring. He reported the ponds stocked Male BG and female RES produced no hybrids, although my use of this cross did produce hybrid offspring that to my knowledge were not fertile. Krumholz also saw offspring from the male BG and female RES.

Only problem is sourcing YP. I have talked to all local fish farms and none of them had them unfortunately since they are not found or common in this area. None had GSH either, which I had to purchase from Anderson Farms - a very positive experience and great company by the way.

If it was even possible to source them, would YP be advisable to add at this point? Would they be able to survive the brutally hot summers in Kansas in a 10-foot-deep pond, and with competition from everything else?

This is why I went the GSH route - body 'similar' to a YP so has the potential to be eaten once larger compared to a BG of same size which cannot (by SMB and HSB). GSH are also adapted to the weather here and found commonly in ponds and lakes in the area.

As far as adult sunfish, I will have to keep the number of adults in check that are too large to be eaten by the predators since LMB won't be present (yet). This is why I wanted to go this route, since it will provide a good fishing experience for kids with a fish that's easily self-replenished. If I can source a couple LMB over 5lbs I would be certain they are female, and I would possibly put in a couple of that size because they could help keep the large BG in check while still not wiping out all the adults. If this happened, I'd be even more strict on removing small SMB after they spawn.

I know it's going to be tricky to pull this all off as smaller bodies of water are less forgiving as far as changes, but I feel at this point as long as I keep predator numbers down, and establish a system that keeps itself in check, it should work out. Since I'm adding the predators next fall, I imagine I won't have much work to do until summer/fall of 2024.

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If it was even possible to source them, would YP be advisable to add at this point? Would they be able to survive the brutally hot summers in Kansas in a 10-foot-deep pond, and with competition from everything else?

Kansas does have some existing populations of YP in the lakes. Using this as a source you could in early spring before spawning (water temp 50F) catch a few males and females and use them as stocker fish. Allow plenty of water for hauling several fish so they travel well depending on distance. YP will survive in your KS pond if smallmouth will survive in the pond.

KS lakes with YP: Lake Wabaunsee, Gardner City Lake in Johnson County, Council Grove City Lake. Lake Shawnee.


PB Forum discussion of YP in KS.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=480857

https://www.facebook.com/WYCOParksa...-yellow-perch-this-mor/2197674617023154/

Last edited by Bill Cody; Yesterday at 10:54 AM.

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sgtmac,

There actually is one YP supplier in Kansas!

Snipe (real name - Kenny) runs a facility a long way from you in Goodland.

Here is the link to his web page at Aquatic Specialties.

Aquatic Specialties

He also does SMB, RES, and BG.

That is a long way to travel for a small order. However, many of the suppliers are quite creative in making multiple deliveries on a single long run.

I would definitely contact Kenny if you are still interested in a small order of YP and SMB. It might work out to be cost effective if he can add you to another delivery in that region next spring.

Good luck on developing your pond!

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Yellow perch grown by Aquatic Specialties have some of the best big fish genetics in the whole USA.


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