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Joined: Apr 2016
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Hi folks,

My wife and I have now been the proud owners of a large, high-altitude plot (2,500’ to 3,000’) in the southern Appalachians that is absolutely bubbling up with cold spring water. We bought it because months into one of the worst droughts the region has ever had, it had water flowing in the three springs about which the previous absentee owner knew. Since then, we have found 6 more, and we have only explored one of the three valleys we now own.

We are huge trout anglers, and in addition to wanting homestead and vacation land, we always planned to build trout habitats. We now can certainly construct three spawning-capable large ponds with the water resources we have found, and there is already one 1.5-acre stock pond. This pond is over a century old and as such has a lot of weeds (about 12’ deep in the middle, 5’ to 8’ for most of the rest), but the water is clear and cool, and we are going to deepen, widen, and improve this pond before constructing two larger ones from scratch.

My wife and I have studied forage base since we were literal teenagers dating in undergraduate, as having our own mountain trout fishery is a dream we have had since we were first together, and are planning to go hard on amphipods as the main food for the fish. We currently have in our house in the suburbs flourishing monocultures of Hyalella azteca, Gammarus fasciatus, G. lacustris, G. minus, G. pseudolimnaeus, and Asellus aquaticus. After H. azteca, our first benthic macroinvertebrates were actually G. pulex, but it was from them dying that we learned that basically all Gammarus spp. need chilled water, and so we know have many aquaria with chillers and canister filters. Our U.S. source of G. Pulex doesn’t produce them anymore, and since we won’t stock non-natives in our ponds (plus, importing scuds looks like a red tape nightmare) we probably won’t get more G. pulex, although they are such cool pets.

While the native scuds we keep will be the broodstock for our ponds, until recently I hadn’t given any thought to Palaemonetes kadiakensis. I had read somewhere years ago that they do not contain astaxanthin or beta-carotene, and so are not very nutritious for trout. However, I recently read some literature that showed that they are actually a source of these nutrients, so I am considering them to be part of the forage base community.

I have some concerns, though, and wanted to ask you fine folks whether my worries are justified.

1. Are PK shrimp antagonistic/predatory to scuds and will they compete for the same niche and resources? If this is the case, I’ll not use them, as I know for a fact that scuds in abundance are what makes a trout fishery world-class. If, however, they stick to different habitats and niches, and don’t compete for the same, there will be more biomass of forage, so I definitely would use them.

2. Do the nocturnal habits of PK shrimp make them difficult for trout to utilize? Even if PK shrimp get along with scuds and increase the biomass of forage, if the shrimp are only active at night, this would be wasted.

3. Do PK shrimp burrow and make water cloudy? I have read reports that PK shrimp make the water in a pond turbid. While I know scuds do burrow a little (G. fasciatus is the worst offender), they don’t move around once buried, and seem not to make the water cloudy; even in some western alpine lakes in which literally the majority of the surface area of the lake bottom is made up of the wriggling bodies of tens of millions of G. lacustris, the water is glass-clear! While pretty much the entire bottom and sides of our ponds will be composed of limestone and dolomite in the form of gravel, riprap, and boulders, something that will find sand or mud and foul the water is a non-starter for us.

4. Finally, do PK shrimp do well in cool, mountain water? Our springs mean that our water will be coming out at 52 degrees all year, and will stay between 45 and 60 all year. While I know these conditions are perfect for Gammarus growth and year-round reproduction, will this prevent the PK shrimp from multiplying and thriving?

Sorry to be so long-winded, but this is a literal lifelong dream of mine, and I want to give the habitats the best possible start!

Thanks in advance!

3 members like this: Laskowski, KenHorton, anthropic
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You should be able to search literature for temperature preference and tolerance for the PKS. I do know they survive okay in 39F water during winter. As I know it the 2 'species' (PKS & scuds - amphipods) do not normally occur together due to temperature preferences, although I think they could thrive in similar habitats and feed on similar materials. I have not known PKS to cause turbidity. IMO PKS thrive and develop their highest populations in vegetated locations with preferably plants having finely divided leaves. Since you are experienced with culturing scuds, grow some PKS combine some of them with various scud species in a community tank and learn what you can from everyone involved. With your property you might be able to build a small or shallow mini-pond just for PKS as trout forage. I doubt the nocturnal feature of PKS has much influence on them being good forage. In cooler trout water I wonder how well the PKS will thrive. As I know it, both scuds and PKS thrive best and would be productive and abundant enough to grow trout when the pond had ample vegetative habitat.

Is astaxanthin or beta-carotene an actual nutrition thing or is it just a coloration factor for the trout flesh?

Please keep us advised of your trout growing experiences so we all can learn from the development and progress of your exciting fishery.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/16/23 06:46 PM.

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AR,

Sounds like you have found your dream situation. Congrats!

I was going to type that you could build a forage pond and fill it with diverted spring water, and then isolate it so the water will warm - but then I saw that Mr. Cody made the same suggestion.

It is generally much cheaper to do that kind of project, when the big equipment is already on your property for construction of your two large ponds. Even if your PK shrimp project is a bust, your "forage pond" could be converted to a grow out pond or a breeder pond.

It is nice to have lots of options available for your long term plans.

Good luck on your trout paradise!

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AR, congratulations! Best of luck on your piece of trout heaven.

As for PK shrimp, my experience has been that they need relatively high alkalinity to thrive. I stocked 1,000 into my pond, but haven't seen a one in the years since that time. Unfortunately, my pond is naturally low in alkalinity, despite liming. Probably your spring water is much better.

Please keep us up to date on how your project is going!


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS NLMB, -160




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The astaxanthin or beta-carotene is what gives the trout their red/pink flesh and really brightens up their colors. You can get commercial food that has that added to it, but the same trout do just as well on food that doesn't have it in it's formulation. I believe that it is just to enhance colors and flesh colors - it's not a critical "need" to have that in their diet.


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Originally Posted by anthropic
AR, congratulations! Best of luck on your piece of trout heaven.

As for PK shrimp, my experience has been that they need relatively high alkalinity to thrive. I stocked 1,000 into my pond, but haven't seen a one in the years since that time. Unfortunately, my pond is naturally low in alkalinity, despite liming. Probably your spring water is much better.

Please keep us up to date on how your project is going!
Well, you probably just saved me some money. I was considering giving PKS a try, but we are pretty acid too.


Ross Canant
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