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I built a 1/8 acre baitfish pond last fall & stocked it with 3 pounds of FHM & 1 pound of GSH. This spring I stocked it further with 3 pounds of GSH & 1 pound of FHM (these were the red rosy variety) for a total of 4 pounds each of FHM & GSH. This summer, the fall stocking of FHM bred like crazy and over the summer some of the rosies from the spring stocking managed to breed also - although it doesn't appear to be much.

There's a lot of conflicting information about time to sexual maturity and lifespan for these minnows. For FHM I've seen lifespan stated beween 1-3 years. My FHM YOY have grown quickly but I don't see how they're going to reach sexual maturity by next spring. Is this normal? I have been taking some of the adults out and putting them in my main pond for supplemental feeding, which was the purpose of building the baitpond, but now I'm wondering if this is a mistake and will leave me short of breeders come next spring. The GSH look pretty much the same as when I stocked them so I have no idea how long to sexual maturity for them. The pond was built with no cover or vegetation for ease of seining. Everywhere they say GSH lay their eggs in vegetation. Can GSH reproduce in a pond with no predators and no vegetation? How old or close to sexual maturity are GSH when you get them from the fish dealers?

How should I proceed? I don't want to have to wait any longer than necessary but I need to get things sustainably established in the baitpond. I did not plan on seining at all this first year and have just been using minnow traps and tried using a throw net for the GSH, which didn't work too well because of their relatively low density.


East Central Missouri
1 1/4 acre pond, build fall 2011
1/8 acre baitfish pond build fall 2022
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How big or what is the length in inches of most of the offspring? Measure them do not guess. From your initial description, it sounds to me like there were too many fry who did not get enough to eat, thus their small size at the end of Sept. For the amount of stocker fish that you added, I think you probably initially added too many breeders who produced too many over crowded fry that did not get enough to eat. Too many fry can easily over eat the zooplankton bloom and growth is slow. FHM fry hatched in late spring and if received enough food should be at least 1.5" to 2" long by end of October. These 1.5"-2" offspring should be large enough to spawn the next spring.

Did you fertilize the pond and it produced a good green plankton bloom? The other option would have been to daily feed the fish a finely ground good quality protein fish pellet meal to enhance growth.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/25/23 07:17 PM.

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Jimmi,

FHM will breed at 3 to 4 months of age. To be good brooders they need to achieve more than 2" in length. If the density is already high with limited food, they may not be able to recruit any more than what is already there. Follow Bill's advice on feeding which would expand the carrying capacity.

Furthermore, minnows should be cropped as they grow and added to your fishing BOW. You will produce much more forage this way. A fair proportion of your feed goes to support the maintenance of the FHM biomass so by cropping ... more of the feed is converted to minnow flesh (in the remaining minnows and recruits). Keep in mind that FHM are PROLIFIC and they can easily stunt without enough food. Ideally you should remove the weight your feed is gaining the FHM biomass OR vice-versa. Yes, you can feed for a goaled weekly or monthly gain and crop it. Right now you should harvest most of your minnows and feed your fish in the fishing BOW. Unless you feed over winter you could easily lose half or more of the biomass by spring anyway ... but even with half of what is there now that is probably way too much for brood next spring. 3 lbs in 1/8 acre bow is a healthy amount of brood stock and just that many can fill the pond with more fry than required to reach carrying capacity.

It can be a good idea if the forage pond is drainable to drain and dry it each year off season. 2 to 3 lbs of minnows is affordable to start again ... consider also the winter mortality within the forage pond. That's a loss if they don't feed your fish. Usually, you will produce more minnows next year if you start with a dry pond. This can help to reduce disease and insect predators. If not drainable, then ignore, but its very handy to have that capability.

Last edited by jpsdad; 09/25/23 09:18 PM.

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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I measured some this morning and the longest were 1 1/8" and I'd say the average that I dipped out were probably 3/4". Some that may have been YOY were bigger but I can't be sure if these were original stocking or not.

The overstocking was intentional. We've got a lot of predator pressure around here and I didn't want to get a half a** start to the thing and waste a whole season as I'm an old man and in a big hurry. I read an article in PB stating that GSH were predators, limited by mouth size. So my intention was that if the FHM over populated, so much the better for the GSH, which I prefer anyway. I accept the fact that my methods will likely produce a boom and bust cycle but that's OK with me. Most of the pond is 2-3' deep, with a small 5' hole, so it remains to be seen if I'm going to routinely get winter kills or not anyway. The original fall stocking survived is all I know right now.

The baitpond is connected to the main pond by screened pipes so there should be a decent exchange of plankton between them. I have not fertilized. In any case, fertilizing would have a somewhat limited effect as it's just as likely to wash back in to the main pond as not. I do feed a bit of some floating catfish chow most days.

Thanks for the info. I'll keep an eye on growth rates as we go through October and see what happens.


East Central Missouri
1 1/4 acre pond, build fall 2011
1/8 acre baitfish pond build fall 2022
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I like your idea of cropping the minnows as they grow which I'm going to try to do.

The pond is not easily drainable but I accepted the fact when I built it that someday it's going to need to be drained and started over. Being that I have screened pipes between the main pond and it, it's only a matter of time until some bass or BG fry makes it into the baitpond introducing predators into the mix and ruining the setup.


East Central Missouri
1 1/4 acre pond, build fall 2011
1/8 acre baitfish pond build fall 2022
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FHM in MO at 1.2" sizes by Oct indicates they are stunted and did not get enough food due to overcrowding. Your small pond at mostly 2-3ft deep would be easily, and quickly drained down into the small deeper pocket with a 2" trash pump (maybe harbor freight or one used). Then seine the remaining 2ft deep depression. jpsdad has it correct. The minnow pond will overall produce better minnows if the pond is drained and started over every year or two. Periodic draining will also reduce the accumulation of BG and stray LMB.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/27/23 06:57 PM.

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