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My new 1/4 pond currently under construction, longtime dream of mine. 13.5 acre property, mostly wooded, no other water source (just lots of rain.) Current plan is to not stock till fall. Right now I'm studying PB threads relating to all things related, watching YT videos on the subject, etc. etc. So much to learn, not in a hurry, just want to enjoy the process. I've read that "the best fishing pond and the best swimming pond cannot co-exist," and that's fine. What I want is a "good" fishing pond (not focused on developing lunkers), and a fun swimming hole that visiting family/kids will enjoy. In other words: the best compromise I can achieve that hopefully will have reasonable mgmt. demands. Prefer to avoid feeding, so my goal is as close to self-sustaining as possible, understanding that periodic stocking will almost certainly be necessary.

(note: I have access on the property to unlimited structure: logs, boulders, large slabs of rock, etc.) I would appreciate any advice/guidance that all of you far more experienced pond owners can share with me, particularly on establishing a healthy food chain/ecosystem.

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What is your plan for fish to stock?

I would put the foundation of my food chain in the pond as soon possible.

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Congratulations on the project!!

Why do you feel you'd rather not have a feeding program? Of course, it's your decision, but feeding is a very, very enjoyable experience, and the things you can do with a 1/4 acre pond are quite vast.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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So far, based on what I've been reading, I'm looking at basically FHM, GS, BG, RES, HSB, LMB, TGC. I'm figuring on stocking w/Jones Pond/Lake Mgmt., which features many options. For example, the "Angler's Choice Fingerling Package includes CC, which I've been advised against....also someone already also advised me not to put in the GC unless I develop a weed issue. Anyway, that's what I'm looking at, but happy to listen to all opinions. And, I read that BG can be big nippers in the water, and I'd rather minimize that seeing as how I want to make it swimmer-friendly. fwiw: I swam in lakes over the years, never experienced any such issue, but those were usually bigger lakes, not a pond. But aggressive nippers IS a consideration.

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I'm not dead set against it by any means. I've been told it involves somewhat of a "commitment," that I have to "train the fish" to an extent, and I really like the idea of a pond "following nature" as much as possible; in other words, predator/prey in balance. Happy to listen to any thoughts on this. Here to learn.

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Oh, and how do I set PB forum to automatically notify me of any responses? Didn't see a setting anywhere.....

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I think you can have swimming and fishing, that is what we did with our third pond.
For swimming I wouldn't ad BG at all, YP may be a better choice, catfish dirty the water also and are super predators. Stone or small rip/rap around edge will help keep water cleaner for swimming.
Starting with a good forage base like FHM, GSH, YP, RES first to get them spawning will help. I wasn't wanting to feed when we first dug our swimming pond either but it is really enjoyable. We hand feed off the dock most mornings and evenings during the warm months and it is a hoot to see them come up.

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Nick, there should be a a button or box to check when you first start a thread, I think, where you can select a notification, but I've never tried it, so I really don't know. I do think there's a way to do it in your profile also.

I've never experienced the 'nibbling' of fish when swimming, but many others have and don't like it. I don't spend a ton of time swimming in my pond(s) either.

These are general comments, but can certainly vary greatly:

-to have a healthy fish population, without a feed program, your top species of desired fish will need a good supply of natural forage. As you mentioned having HSB and LMB, etc., the base forage for the LMB to be healthy is bluegill. And, the bluegill need to be in heavy enough density to provide regular forage for the LMB, and other predators.

-my guess is there's more nipping in ponds where the bluegill population is more dense.

-the more dense the fish population is, overall, the more you may need to watch water quality and maybe need aeration.

-you could start with lower initial stocking numbers of both bluegill, and predators, but in year two, and some successful spawns, you may be back at looking at a fish density that is more at risk for nipping when swimming.

-for the best fish growth results, and without a feed program, conventional wisdom says to stock forage now and in the next few months, and let that all grow for a year if you can, but at least, wait on predator stocking until Fall '24; if you couldn't wait, go very low in quantity.

-feed very much supplements the natural forage base, and the more you feed, the more you can maybe almost replace the forage base. Of course, when using feed, things are kind of sim-world (unreal!!). But this is where the human factor comes in. Watching 4, 5, and 6lb+ HSB and LMB charging for 1" pellets is awesome fun. And you really get to see the fish quite a bit.

-water quality should be monitored no matter what route you go.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Those sound like good suggestions. I've been told it's better to get the forage community established and going strong, and THEN put in the LMB.

What I read is that RES much less aggressive, don't know much about YP but seems they're more mellow too....yes? And supposedly they're very willing to take a hook, so they sound like a good way to go. Yeah, CC's I've been told are not only major predators- lots of competition for the LMB that I don't need- but that they'll mess things up in general. The biologist at Jones said if I really like eating cats, fine, but otherwise leave them off.

The feeding sounds fun, but I'm thinking if I start with that, then the fish will heavily depend on that, am I right? Again, my thinking is to try to keep things as "natural" as possible.

Last edited by BJ Nick; 02/20/24 10:45 AM. Reason: misspelling!
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Originally Posted by BJ Nick
Those sound like good suggestions. I've been told it's better to get the forage community established and going strong, and THEN put in the LMB.

What I read is that HES much less aggressive, don't know much about YP but seems they're more mellow too....yes? And supposedly they're very willing to take a hook, so they sound like a good way to go. Yeah, CC's I've been told are not only major predators- lots of competition for the LMB that I don't need- but that they'll mess things up in general. The biologist at Jones said if I really like eating cats, fine, but otherwise leave them off.

The feeding sounds fun, but I'm thinking if I start with that, then the fish will heavily depend on that, am I right? Again, my thinking is to try to keep things as "natural" as possible.

Nope, the fish won't depend on the food. They WILL eat it, just like if someone puts Ice Cream in front of you, you will eat it, but you don't depend on Ice Cream for all your meals. It's supplemental feeding in a pond that has forage fish in it vs. the only thing that they will eat like if they were in a raceway or in an aquaculture setting only with fish their own size that they cannot eat.


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BJNick - Yes feeding does create a fishery that depends on regular feeding to maintain the same quality of fish present. Lack of food does stress the fish. You can raise some big fish by not pellet feeding. It is just you won't have as many fish present because lack of total food present in the system. Numbers present, actually pounds of fish, will probably be 3X to 6X less fish when on all natural foods than when fed pellets. Feeding basically turns the pond into an animal feed lot. More food means growing more animals. .

As noted a pond without feeding and to have a high quality of fish present, the populations (numbers of fish) present have to be fewer so all those present have ample or enough food for growth. The more food they have the better they grow. In other words, The more food each one has the better each one grows. Slow growing fish are telling you "we are not getting enough to eat" or possibly or probably the fish are too crowded thus too many "hogs feeding at the trough". Managing animals those with fur or scales is all about numbers control.

Without pellet feeding and to have the best fishery in a small 1/4 ac pond HERE is what I would do based on your stated goals for the start.
1. Change some of the beginning fish species. Continue to use the basic forage FHM & GSH. At least for the first few years - OMIT BG and substitute Jones' specklebelly (SBS). These are a very low reproducing hybrid sunfish of BG X Redear. These SBS do not have any of the aggressive bitter tendency as regular hybrid bluegill (HBG) from the green sunfish parent. Better population control.

2. OMIT LMB and start with just HSB. I am surprised that the 'biologist' from Jones did not advise you differently based on your goals and knowledge of fish and what fish they sell.

3. My plan gives ample forage fish FHM & GSH, reduces the chances of getting too many BG bitters with having too many BG over eating the food source and wanting to bite swimmers in a small pond. HSB will not reproduce as do LMB who over populate and eat too much forage. With non reproducing HSB you control the numbers of predators by removing or adding. There will not be a LMB overpopulation and a lack of predator growth.

4. With my plan if you don't like the results of the fish stocked then after several years just add your normal reproducing fish of BG, LMB and maybe perch. Then eventually those prolific species will dominate the pond and very likely eliminate the FHM & GSH to where you are needing to annually buy minnows from Jones. IMO Jones has an annual business and income to protect.

5. If you like my idea for stocking,,,,, return and I will look up Jones' numbers to stock and make new suggestions. Timing of the stocking may vary based on more of your information. An additional option would be to stock a few only female yellow perch(YP) . However you will not get them from Jones.

6. Where do you live in OH? Is buffalo valley a town? There may be a better place driving distance to get your fish. Sometimes a day trip with the kids can be a good quality time adventure.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/20/24 04:17 PM.

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Bill:

To throw a monkey wrench into the mix, how does the pounds of fish change in a pond that is dyed vs. one that isn't dyed? (Fed or unfed, just comparing apples to apples with just the dye as the variable).


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Thanks for all this great info, Bill. Much appreciated. It's all part of my learning process. I guess the overall message to me, is that I don't need to get everything perfect right away, that it might take a few years for me to get everything the way I want it. And, I can always make adjustments if things don't work out.

As far as the specific advice:

1) sounds great....SBS for sure seem like a great option.

2) The person I spoke with is definitely an aquatic biologist, says I can omit/add any fish they sell to an order, happy to adjust. I think they suggest LMB because pretty much everybody uses that paradigm of LMB / BG etc. Seems most people want to develop lunker LMB, so they cater to that. But your point is well taken that a profit motive is involved- I wouldn't blame them for that, of course. I just need to be aware of it.

3) makes perfect sense. However, the idea of the fish reproducing is really fascinating to me, something I'd love to see. But as you explain, there are drawbacks for sure.

4) want a swimming pond, so no BG. YP sound like great option, however not legal in Tennessee for stocking. If you have suggestions for acquiring them, that would be great.

5) I would LOVE to see your revised order suggestions!

6) I am in Middle Tennessee, not Ohio. About an hour east of Nashville.

Thanks again for taking the time for such a detailed message.

Last edited by BJ Nick; 02/20/24 01:08 PM. Reason: clarity
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BJ Nick, FWIW, I have been nipped (and hard) by Hybrid Bluegills too.

The thing about LMB is that once they are added, it's almost impossible to fish them out of a pond if they pull off a spawn.

Lake Dartmoor in Cumberland County has Yellow Perch in it. Parksville Lake held the state record for them in 2010. Ocoee Number 3 had the new state record in 2019....

So they ARE in Tenn. Now I cannot answer the question that is coming. "Why does Tennessee certify a Yellow Perch as a state record if you cannot stock them in a private pond?" You may have to call the TWRA to ask that question.

BUT, if you want to catch some there, you better get moving. The best time to catch them in Tenn is the end of Feb, the 1st week in March.........


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Aiming for a self-sustaining ecosystem is a good plan. Diversity in habitat and keeping an eye on species balance will be important.

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Working on a lengthy answer for dye use and stocking.


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Thanks Bill. I was told by a person that you and I both know that a pond with dye (even though it's fed) can only support 25% of the fish that a non-dyed pond can. I know differently, but I think this person needs to hear it from someone else too.

Last edited by esshup; 02/21/24 09:42 AM.

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Firstly I looked at Jones’ website. They now heavily promote their long time in the business and numerous trained staff. I am not doubting their credentials. There are biologists and then there are BIOLOGISTS. Taking a biology class or some training does not make you a biologist. I have my own credentials. MS degree in aquatic biology specializing in algal identification for 50 yrs. Technically I am an algologist (phycology, phycologist). Algae analyses are my main form of income working with Universities, consulting firms, corporations and municipalities. I have authored and co-authored numerous related publications. As my part time interest I’ve worked with local clients managing ponds for 40 yrs. I specialize in natural holistic pond management and my pond clients and others call me The Pond Doctor. Bob Lusk calls me a microbiologist. I bought my first HSB in the early 1980’s from Rob Jones. I’ve been in this business longer than anyone at Jones Lake Management. I’m not bragging, just letting you know who you are getting advice from just as Jones does with their website. IMO you will get better less biased management advice here at Pond Boss compared to that at Jones who are in the business to sell their pond stuff as are all pond companies and fish farms.

To esshup’s comment question - “throw a monkey wrench into the mix, how does the pounds of fish change in a pond that is dyed vs. one that isn't dyed?”
Pond dye does what it is supposed to do in most cases; but not all – it reduces plants including ‘most’ algae susceptible to light filtering. Plants and algae especially the planktonic forms are the basis for biological production in a pond. It is the ‘grass’ that feeds the system. Suppressed plant growth means overall suppressed fish productivity. Dye can be at low or high concentration depending on dosage. It is relative The darker the water stain the less fish poundage (carrying capacity) that will be produced / supported. Pond dye can actually encourage and select for problematic and difficult to control algae. This is dependent on pond conditions, nutrient basis and amount of dye used. It is somewhat similar to over usage of antibiotics and the resistance it creates for humans.

An all natural based fish pond will make for a cleaner swimming water feature. Adding nutrients of any form always adds a stimulus for more plant growth as plankton, attached algae and/or rooted plants. Note the nutrient based soil and fill water does have its own inherent nutrient basis that does work its way into the pond to give the pond its basic initial trophic (nutrient) condition. The Alkalinity concentration of the soil (lime) and as it influences the water, allows nutrients to more effectively stimulate plant growth.


Back to your pond fish.

Your ¼ ac pond especially if dye is used will not grow very many fish pounds i.e. less carrying capacity. Now if dye is used, the dye reduces the food chain which it is designed to do – to reduce the forms of plants that are the pond’s food basis for fish production. My experience or estimate is dye at label recommendations reduces the total fish poundage that a pond can produce to about ½. This is where esshup is going with his comment. Feeding the larger fish pellets compensates for lack of plants and if you add pellets then the added pellet food then grows fish. This becomes a double, sharp, edged sword. REMEMBER adding any organics to the pond from tree leaves, animal waste (bird poop), land runoff or fish food that are ALL forms of organics to increase the pond’s nutrient load. Annual Nutrient accumulation causes more plants of some form or another to grow. Plant herbicides just kill the growth temporarily and do not reduce nutrients. Dead plant decay then recycles those plant bound nutrients. It is a natural cycle, growth - death - decay - regrowth. Pond aging is the result. Nutrient accumulation is the cause of the pond aging process – more nutrients are always wanting to grow more plants that live grow and die to make more bottom muck / sludge and thus it fills in the basin. These nutrient stimulated plant growths could be some of the problem algae that are unaffected by using pond dye. No matter what you do to your pond Nature has something that will eventually grow there and you may not like it due to the new conditions they present.

Pond Capacity
Your ¼ ac pond without dye with all natural food production IMO will likely grow around 60 total pounds of fish. Using blue dye and no added forms of fish food,,,, the ¼ ac will be lucky to have a total of 30 total lbs of fish. This is especially true if the water is clear as in visibilities of 4 to 7ft. Clear water is a sign that nutrients in the water column are present in a low amount. Dye used with fish pellet food and bottom aeration used then maybe(?) you could get 80-100 total pounds of fish in the 1/4ac. You are the manager and controller. With just 30 to 60 lbs of fish in ¼ ac is why I highly suggested using mostly the sport fish that do not reproduce. Thus the pond will grow and support fewer LARGER fish who are growing on the pond’s limited amounts of food rather than having lots of smaller fish reproducing with total numbers equaling your pond’s total fish poundage.
OR - with stocking Jones’ plan of more fish and their recommendation of bi-annually adding minnows (adds more nutrient based food into the system) to keep the suggested reproducing fish growing. Adding minnows is not much different than adding fish food. – both are nutrient based additions to the pond. Again both enhancing the nutrient basis enhancing the aging of the pond.

This is Jones stocking plan for ¼ ac. FHM 10 lbs, GSH 5 lbs, LMB 30, HSB 15, BG 100, HYBG 50, RES 50, CC 50 GC 2. Sport fish number is 30,15,100,50,50,50 = 295fish. In general, if all live is 295/960oz(60 lbs) = 3.2 oz each as the total carrying capacity. The all natural food produced in a ¼ac pond does not grow enough food to feed all those fish for them to achieve decent sizes. Plus the fishery is adding many new fish each year due to numerous fish reproducing.

When using my plan you can always later switch to some form of the Jones plan. However once you add normal reproducing sport fish there is no way to get them back out when they are a problem or are unwanted unless you totally renovate the pond which Jones can gladly do for you.

Stocking numbers. Your management plan (dye, no dye, pellets, no pellets) will determine how many fish to stock for producing 30 to 60 lbs of carrying capacity of fish. Planning now for what fish to use and what sizes to hopefully be present to compose the carrying capacity is how you go about finding what and how many to stock. Of course this assumes all their stocked fish do survive after stocking for which ever plan you use. A big IF.

Normally for a balanced predator:prey ratio plan for predators,,,,, the HSB (predators) will be close 15% (0.15) of the carrying capacity weight when the predators are relying on all natural food production. I will use 60 lbs as your final fish weight in an all natural ¼ ac pond. 60 lbs X 0 .15 = 9 pounds of HSB each at one lb (12”-13”). This can be 9 to 12 one pound fish or three or 4 HSB each weighing around 3 lbs. In this plan, I would stock 9 to 12 HSB, 20-30 specklebelly(SBS) and some FHM/GSH. Actually if the stocking includes specklebelly who have very limited reproduction, it would be best to have the HSB to always remain at the smaller 1 lb sizes to more effectively control most all the offspring as young small fish produced by the few specklebelly females present in a normal stocking allotment. Specklybelly (SBS) allotments typically are around 90%-95% male fish. Note – I think Jones does not continuously have SBS. Often they are sold out especially when order is placed too late.

OR for another optional plan,,,,,, stock just 20-25 HSB and only FHM/GSH you could probably soon have around 20 to 30 one pound HSB. That many HSB as aggressive fish could easily and quickly (1-2yrs) eliminate all the FHM & GSH. Thus no HSB growth. Feed them pellets and they could after several years each of the HSB could weigh close to 2 to 4 lbs. Appropriate food of any sort grows fish. Lack of enough food = no growth. Remember when using HSB is it best to “ladder stock” some every few years to maintain a few smaller predators to better consume small new specklebelly sunfish that survive the fry /fingerling stage to be one yr old fish. As the pond ages angling and some natural fish mortality will occur to where the HSB are fewer number. As I note below you may find that the HSB,SBS minnow fishery balance best works in your small pond with only a few (just 2 to 5) HSB in the pond. Periodic ladder stocking of HSB helps keep the pond fishery in a better balance of prey – predator. HSB fight extremely hard and when caught in mid summer’s warm water they are known to die of sheer exhaustion. Smaller HSB are the best sizes for controlling the limited numbers of small sizes of specklebelly sunfish.

After a couple years, my guess is it will not take very many HSB to control the reproduction of SBS and still have some annual production of FHM/GSH. I am thinking that it would take only 2-4 HSB in the pond who are able to grow by eating the small SBS and some minnows. Always be watchful of the numbers of small SBS and numbers of FHM/GSH and then add or remove HSB so you always have some annual natural reproduction of FHM/GSH and do not have to regularly buy minnows. When minnow numbers are noticeably low the pond has too many predators; remove some HSB. IMO you always want enough minnows present to keep the HSB staying at a good body weight and size even if this size stays constant. No or too few FHM/GSH means too many predators – remove some HSB until some minnows are always present. Adding some dense big areas of habitat for minnow refuge hiding areas in the back end of the pond will help small fish survive predation for a longer period of time. IMO use types of habitat that can be relatively added or removed based on the numbers of small fish that you want to be present. More dense habitat = more minnow survival.
Examples of types of habitat to add
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92463#Post92463

MINNOW FORAGE
For your minnow stocking this can be done two of several ways. Stock as Jones suggests FHM 10lbs & 5 lbs GSH. They say stock all fish at once. This allows for immediate and quick consumption of the initial stocking of minnows. This is a profit maker for fish sellers.
If it was my pond, and usually suggested here on the PB Forum, I would in Spring first stock minnows as 2-3 lbs FHM and 1 pound GSH. Allow them to reproduce all summer that can often result in a total minnow production of close to 40 lbs of minnows in your small 1/4ac. And then in fall,,, stock the HSB and specklebelly. OR another very good option is first add 2-3 lbs FHM & 1 lb GSH and all the 20-30 specklebelly. Specklebelly will grow 2X to 4X by fall. Then in fall 2024 or spring of 2025 stock the 9-12 HSB. HSB sometimes have poor survival when stocked depending on when stocked and their prior handling conditions. Lots and lots of the all prior summer long minnow production as a pond FULL of small forage allows the HSB to grow from ( 5”-7” as 2 oz) in May 2025 to 12”-15” in just one year (one pounders!!).

Yellow Perch Option
YP --- you will not get all female YP from Jones. To my knowledge they do not do that form of selling YP. IMO for what esshup suggests, you will have difficulty gathering TN lake caught female YP as this requires some significant effort and fish sexing knowledge. These are not techniques for the average pond owner. As an option as law changes you can add some mixed sex YP from Jones or add male/female YP later in the pond history. HSB when maintained as suggested numbers will effectively control reproducing YP populations. NOTE – The SBS will each year produce some young of year, thus you will get your chance to have some fish reproducing that “is really fascinating to you”. You will also have some annual FHM/GSH reproduction to watch for and manage. Keeping my reduced stocking plan SUCCESSFUL with a good fish balance in your ¼ ac pond will be plenty of a pond management challenge for you without having numerous fish species reproducing to try and juggle to maintain a good balance for a swimming recreational pond.

Keep us informed as to how the pond progresses with whatever stocking plan you use. We here at the PB Forum are always wanting to learn more about what happens with ponds of our PB members.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/22/24 11:57 AM. Reason: clean up edits

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Nick, I’ve played this game for a long time. My observations

1. A balanced pond generally lasts from 15 minutes to 2 weeks. Then reality slaps you.
2. This stuff can be additive.
3. Don’t lie to your wife about the expenses. You’re gonna get caught.
4. Concentrate on water quality and prey fish and the big predators will be fine.

I’ve been through Idaho several times. Beautiful country and it is pulling on me to come back. I once spent most of a day trying to get a shot at a bull elk whose IQ was greater than mine.

Welcome to Pond Boss. Pretty good bunch of guys here.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Just to add to what Bill said, unfortunately due to transportation expenses, you will most likely be buying fish that are bagged at the hatchery and bringing them to the pond. Try to do this in cool weather/cool water. The rate of fish survival will be greater then. You will have to balance acclimating the fish to the same water temp with making sure that they have enough O2 (and minimizing ammonia build up) in the bag while they are acclimating.

Typically you want to have the water temp as close to possible as what's in the bag, no more than 5°F max difference.

Golden Shiners spawn in shallow water and broadcast their eggs over fine grassy habitat. Fathead Minnows spawn on the underside of things in shallow water. So stacked pallets or large (10"-12" dia) rip rap will both give them spawning habitat.

Cody Note: any flat structures under water at most all depths less than 4 ft will allow FHM to set up a nest for spawning. Flat pieces do not have to be big as FHM are territorial when defending a small area around the nest site. I've seen FHM set up a nest in 4 sq in areas (2x2). Be creative when adding habitat structures. As noted above dense brushy type habitat near nest sites provide the fry some refuge areas. Add or remove habitat and predators as needed to maintain the proper balance of minnow and predator.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/22/24 07:56 PM.

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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Dave- haha excellent suggestions. I'm single, so it will be a case of lying to myself about expenses. :-) Yeah, I can believe this stuff gets addictive....I'm already seeing that. And thanks for mentioning Idaho, which told me I needed to amend my profile: I'm in middle Tennessee, about an hour east of Nashville. Almost did choose Idaho to move to, but settled on TN because I love lots of rain rather than tons of snow. And I already see that this is a very helpful community of guys who like helping each other. I definitely look forward to being part of it, as my new pond takes shape and goes through the "reality" you speak of. Outside my office window right now are the excavator, mini-ex and truck hauling boulders, as the pond takes shape. Exciting process for sure.

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Great stuff, Bill- I'll respond shortly as I have some follow-up questions on all this really important wisdom. I appreciate your taking the time to be so detailed....answers questions while raising new ones at the same time....I'm guessing that's pretty typical. :-)

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Originally Posted by BJ Nick
Dave- haha excellent suggestions. I'm single, so it will be a case of lying to myself about expenses. :-)

Since you are single, please take all previous fish stocking recommendations and increase by 2x! grin

I believe the same formula also works for adding structure, building docks, etc.

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Well said Rod


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Haha....expert advice noted!

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Good stuff, Bill; lots to ponder here. To your points:

- "Biologist": I just mentioned the person I talked to was an "actual biologist"- I even looked up the background of the gal I was talking to on the phone (their "staff" listing.) Fwiw: You've only got a 48-year advantage experience-wise. :-) So I will take your suggestion and consider my best source of guidance to be HERE, rather than w/ a business that by nature has slightly different goals than I. I will stock according to the advice I'm given here.

btw Jones is not "the only game in town," but I will really need to look around middle TN to see if there are better options. I have also talked w/SE Pond, and they were helpful, knowledgeable, lots of options....but they charge over $400 to make a delivery. What attracted me to Jones is the flexibility, reasonable pricing (it seems to me- only $39 delivery fee for Nashville to me, about 50 mi.), convenience etc.

- Dye: I didn't mention using dye myself, but I'm glad to learn the pros/cons. My intention would be not to use it unless I need to. I'm not looking for an azure blue lake; just want it to look nice, not ugly and murky. fwiw: the pond construction guy thinks it will not need any dye, due to all the limestone he's using to shape ("scult" is his preferred term) the pond.

- Curious about vegetation both in and out...whether I should add any around the pond; for one thing, maybe to keep leaves at bay....lots of trees around, lots of leaves in fall, but not a TON; maybe just play it by ear...and of course IN the pond, very curious how I should approach things....after all, "establishing the food chain" is the subject of this forum, and my primary interest as I get started with my new pond.

- Feeding: great explanation; makes sense. Certainly open to it, but hopeful I can rely on "natural forage" as I mentioned. I'll keep an open mind.

- Aerator: that's 100%. Definitely will have one; the guy has a great idea for me that he's done for many previous ponds, including his own, w/ a "waterfall," etc. He's explained it, I can't describe it offhand, but he says it's a great option and will aerate the pond beautifully.

- What exactly is "ladder stocking?" I think I have an idea, but please explain.

- When to stock: the pond should be complete the first week of March, then I will wait to see how it goes w/spring rainfall. Usually abundant around here; May generally huge rains. Also, the boss says he's going to try to get some water from the local quarry that accesses a nearby creek....they have a water truck and whatever they're willing to donate, that's great.

Regardless, I can't really move ahead w/stocking until I'm at what, about 4' ft.? That's my understanding. So I'm guessing I will have a couple months to decide on that first stocking, and I'll be all ears for what you suggest for a solid plan: just FHM/GSH first, or maybe SBS as well....or should I wait till fall to start initial stocking, etc, etc.

- There's a lot to consider, and I don't expect to get everything right the first time. Gonna try though....

Thanks again, and I look forward to your feedback.

(Note: still can't find how to get notifications for responses to the thread; I have to come here each time and check.)

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I had to go back and check the pond plans / details as a refresher. Lots of pond mgnt water went over the overflow since my last post. I will work on your questions. Refresh if I miss some.

"Biologist" Don't just take my word for it. Do your good homework and get opinions. I like to be the 2nd or 3rd opinion and tell the rest of the long term story for the prior opinions. Your "biologist" should know and have experience for the long term results and possible complications of the actions suggested.

Ladder stocking. This is just periodically adding some of the same specie of fish to the pond to maintain several size classes of fish that are preferably eating different sizes of prey.

Waterfall. These are IMO are mostly aesthetic, inefficient at moving water, costly to operate because you are pumping water not air as with a diffuser, and I think waterfalls require more maintenance than the added benefit they provide. Water pumps work hard and do not last nearly as long as air compressors that operate moving air to bottom diffusers that circulate much more water than a waterfall. Lots of algae will want to grow and inhabit the surfaces of the waterfalls. Most suggested control methods involve algaecides. Do plenty of homework on this before pulling the trigger. """""... but he says it's a great option and will aerate the pond beautifully.""" Depends on definition of "aerate beautifully". As in lots of top to bottom water, whole pond, circulation or it just looks pretty splashing some water. THEY ARE EXPENSIVE to operate and maintain compared to a good rotary vane compressor with the right diffuser/s that can turnover a 1/4 ac pond in about 1-2 hour. And the right compressor will likely last 30-40 yrs if taken care properly. My Gast compressor is going on 25 yrs with its first set of vanes; as it runs 5-8hrs/day per open warm water season Apr-Nov. . Motor bearings are supposed to last for 3 vane rebuilds. These compressors are work horses.

Dye colorant. There are several colors at least 4 available for different purposes. All suppress natural pond productivity, thus fewer fish pounds are produced. I do not use pond dye in my pond but I sell it.

Vegetation - Not sure how much of it you would want in a small swimming / fish pond. Some emergent vegetation managed and contained at the opposite end of the swim area could function okay. Some dwarf water lilies opposite end of swim could help with algae control.
This from our Common Pond Q&A Archives
Plants
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=440475#Post440475

You should read through appropriate topics - Common Pond Q&A Archives section
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=22&page=1



For algae control research tilapia. Their favorite food is filamentous algae and the delicate submerged veg such as chara and small pond weed. I wouldn't manage a swim pond without each year using some tilapia depending on pond size and algae problems determines the number. You can actually eat the algae control agent at the end of the year; can't do that with dye nor algaecides. Tilapia also allow one to remove lots of bound nutrients lowering the pond's nutrient load at years end

Stocking - IMO you don't need to stock until the pond is full. The time it takes to fill the pond will give nature time to naturally colonize it with a good complement of invertebrates before fish start reducing, disrupting and interfering with the natural food base. This is important if the fishery is a natural or pellet based eco-system.
Locate the farm that has SBS. This is a relatively new pond fish and not all farms sell them. Some don't even know they exist.

Getting some added water from a local quarry that has a creek????? Does he know microscopically what is in the water? Are there any problem, harmful algal bloom algae hanging out in the water waiting for the right conditions to bloom? Will the water be strained through 500um mesh to remove problem invertebrates, or potential veligers or unwanted eggs. Newly hatched fish fry are only 3 - 4 mm long and not much wider than a hair. I would ask the "boss" is he is going to guarantee the water is not introducing any future pond water quality problems. Just because the water is from an apparently "nice" quarry does not mean there are no microscopic potential problems in that water. Microscopic inhabitants in the water wax and wane depending on pond conditions and seasons. Once introduced rarely do they ever leave that water body. I examine water microscopically for a living. I would not trust stream water going into a quarry and then into my new pond unless it was properly tested and then properly filtered. WAY too much unwanted stuff gets introduced into ponds by dumping the fish container / transport water into the pond.

No matter what you do you will NOT get everything right the first time. There are way too many variables involved in starting a pond. One BIG or major variable is TRUSTNG the fish farm did not have any unwanted fish accidently or uncaringly added in your order. The smaller the fish are the harder they are to correctly identify or see the intruder. Too many fish farm employees, low paid workers do not think this is a big deal. Way too many PB members here complain that the fish farm mixed 2 or more of the wrong specie into their order. It is way too easy, having too many ways, for unwanted fish to get into a customer's order.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/27/24 12:01 PM. Reason: enhancements

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
For algae control research tilapia. Their favorite food is filamentous algae and the delicate submerged veg such as chara and small pond weed. I wouldn't manage a swim pond without each year using some tilapia depending on pond size and algae problems determines the number. You can actually eat the algae control agent at the end of the year; can't do that with dye nor algaecides. Tilapia also allow one to remove lots of bound nutrients lowering the pond's nutrient load at years end

I learned something there. Hadn't considered removing dead tilapia a way to remove bound nutrients from the pond. Makes perfect sense, I just hadn't connected the dots like that. Thanks BC


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Thanks Bill.

Biologists: agreed. I'm trying to gather info/wisdom everywhere it's offered, and sift through it and judge it appropriately. Obviously the more I learn, the better judgment I'll have.

Brought-in water: WON'T DO IT. You convinced me. I'll just leave it to the rains.

"Waterfall": yeah, I knew I shouldn't use that word....I don't believe that's what he has in mind. I have zero use for "water features" like I often see: fountains, waterfalls, etc. What he suggests is not that; I'm just not sure how to describe it even though he has explained it to me more than once. In fact, one of the biggest things he mentioned was the low maintenance, etc. It will essentially be an aerator of some sort....I'll get the exact specs/details and run it by you guys.

Dyes: good to know.

Vegetation: ditto. I'm hearing various warnings, such as don't plant anything as it will provide cover for land predators, plants can soak up water and affect the pond, etc. I'm also reading that judiciously chosen vegetation can be helpful in things like keeping leaves etc. out of the pond....Just trying to educate myself.

Tilapia: interesting....sounds like a good plan. From what I'm reading ~7-8 lbs. of them for my 1/4 acre pond.... seems about right? Jones- which does stock SBS btw, lists Tilapia exactly as you say: "as an alternative to chemicals for algae and aquatic weed control." However, they add: "Their prolific reproduction helps feed the predators within the pond." What are your thoughts on that? I read that Tilapia won't survive water under 48 degrees....I don't yet have any sort of reference point on that here....so I have no clue what spawning options I'd have with them.

Suggested articles/threads: I will read/devour ALL OF THESE.

Getting it all right the 1st time: Yep, I don't expect to. Not even close. Way too much to learn, and that's part of the adventure, isn't it? I'm retired; in no hurry.

Unwanted fish: not sure how to avoid this risk, except to go with a respected/trustworthy vendor. I would LOVE to get advice from anyone on here who knows the local fish farms/etc in middle TN. What is the best way to find that out? Googling it gets me businesses from all over the place....I believe a recommendation from people in Middle TN- or at least within a few hours (that means Al, GA, KY can all be within a few hours)....is probably my best bet. As I mentioned, Jones seemed a good bet, but happy to listen. And, I have time, since I won't be stocking for a few months anyway. Plenty of time to research.

Thanks again. Got a lot of reading to do.....

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I'm working on another long answer. Stay tuned. I need a break.


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Do not buy from the traveling fish wagons, I'm down in Tullahoma with a 1/3 acre pond and I bought a few hundred RES last year from the fish wagon, lots of BG and a few GSF mixed in. I did not want either of those in the pond initially. I've been trapping out a few GSF, but I know it's a lost cause. . just hate to kill everything off in the pond at this point so i'm going to let it go for a while and see what happens.

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Jones is typically pretty good. They get the majority of fish from the same fish suppliers that I do.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Good to hear. Thanks. I just don't know what the competition is around here, except for SE Pond, which as I mentioned, seems pretty expensive ($439 for a delivery??)

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Originally Posted by bob_esper12
Do not buy from the traveling fish wagons, I'm down in Tullahoma with a 1/3 acre pond and I bought a few hundred RES last year from the fish wagon, lots of BG and a few GSF mixed in. I did not want either of those in the pond initially. I've been trapping out a few GSF, but I know it's a lost cause. . just hate to kill everything off in the pond at this point so i'm going to let it go for a while and see what happens.

What a drag. Well, thanks for the tip; I will stay away from them.

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SE Pond is a good outfit.

With the cost of fuel and other expenses these days, that doesn't seem unreasonable for a delivery fee especially if they cannot string several deliveries together.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Originally Posted by Sunil
SE Pond is a good outfit.

With the cost of fuel and other expenses these days, that doesn't seem unreasonable for a delivery fee especially if they cannot string several deliveries together.

It's just that Jones is only $39.....SE Pond indicates that they'll do a very thorough job of placing the fish, etc. etc. but
I'm not sure how their delivery differs overall from what Jones does. I'll have to research further.

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I see.

$39 seems very low to me for a delivery fee, but as others mentioned, Jones is good too.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Yeah, spoke w/ SE Pond today once again, their fee for delivery to me (~175 mi. away) is actually $350. But doesn't seem like they are going to do anything special beyond what Jones will do: deliver the fish, make sure temp etc. is right, ease the fish into the water....seems that both companies do the same, so that being the case, can't see why I'd pay $300 more. Also, the price of the fish is much higher. I'll show their estimates later to compare; I'd like to see what y'all think.

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Okay I am learning more about your pond situation which improves the advice you are getting.

1. Back on Feb 20 you said "”4) YP sound like great option, however not legal in Tennessee for stocking. If you have suggestions for acquiring them, that would be great.””
Yellow Perch
I am not sure where you got that information about YP as illegal in TN. . I searched and I found no where that I looked that stated YP were not legal to be sold by fish farms in TN. The Tennessee Pond Management booklet which was a pretty good general pond guide did not mention yellow perch. See also below about TN DNR fish restrictions.
https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/habitat/how-to-managing-small-lakes.pdf
Page 8 for species recommended to not stock. Not recommended although not illegal.

The Tennessee DNR listed the illegal fish to be those as: Banned In Tennessee It is unlawful to possess or transport live specimens of the following animals: • Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) • Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) • Black carp (Hypophthalmichthys piceus) • Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) • Marbled Crayfish (Marmorkreb) (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) • New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) • Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) • Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) • Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua) • Snakeheads (all members of the Family Channidae) • Swamp eels (all members of the Family Synbranchidae) • Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha).

YP in TN are on the southern edge of their comfort temperature level, however they will grow to quite large sizes in TN waters. Recent state record angler sizes are in the 15” size ranges. YP due to their cool water needs and lack of use by fish farms in TN, YP are difficult to acquire for pond stocking and getting a fish farm to sell you only females is a very unusual request and a REAL big challenge to any fish farm. Thus I would not stock YP in your small ¼ ac TN pond unless they are all female fish. You do not want a lot of unnecessary sport fish reproduction for an easily managed small pond for having high quality fishery. YP can be very efficient for recruiting annually new perch into the pond. For your goals I would initially stay with the minnow, SBS and for the predator use HSB as the easiest species to manage and the best species to overall grow well in an all natural food based small TN pond. SBS are much better adapted to grow large compared to YP in TN. Claims are made that the SBS can grow up to 3 lbs which is a huge sunfish. If you can grow SBS to 12” and 2lbs you are doing very well for a ¼ ac pond. You will get praise. My test sample of SBS grew to 8” in just one year. The test is ongoing. I expect 10” at a full 2yrs old.

2. Added Water.
Outside water can be okay for adding to the pond IF it is filtered at the discharge through 500 um mesh also called a proper mesh sized filter sock. Creek water when running clear with low nutrient concentrations can be very okay if properly filtered. Do not let any hose pumped fill water drain with direct contact down the exposed dirt embankment. This erodes the basin, makes the water muddy and adds soil nutrients. Use piping or a tarp on the bank to let the water run into the pond.

Another important water to not add to the swimming pond is the fish transport water. Your pond is small so you will not be dealing with large numbers of fish. Thus the added effort is minimal for the added benefits obtained. Do a water rinse for ALL added fish. Be prepared to dip fish out with a minnow live well dip net. Do the dip / water rinse by placing the net with some of the removed fish that are net held for a few seconds in a bucket of pond water. Lift out fish in the net; allow to drain. Dip fish in second bucket of pond water. Then from 2nd bucket allow netted fish to quickly drain & release fish into the pond. I have some careful clients do a 3rd rinse. These rinses are mainly to rinse off and reduce microscopic bad algae and plant fragments that are usually present and spread around amongst all fish farms that grow and hold fish. Most if not all small, medium and large fish farms buy their fish from big commercial farms. Small fish farms including Jones buy almost all their fish because they sell far more fish than they can grow in-house.. Fish farms are big incubation areas for algae/ weed problems transported from farm to farm because they all add the transport water to their ponds when releasing purchased fish that usually are sourced from other states. It is the practical way to receive and deliver large numbers of fish. Numerous tiny celled contaminant problems are all water born and very easily transported.

3. Vegetation.
Educate yourself to pros and cons of vegetation species that can be beneficial for a pond. And then ask questions on this forum. Higher plants growing in the pond absorb and compete with problem algae for nutrients. Whenever you can remove any plant or part of a plant that grew in the pond you are removing nutrients from the pond. Nutrients grow algae. Excess nutrients grow even more algae to the point it becomes a problem. .
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=440475#Post440475

4. Tilapia –
TP will die each winter when water temp drops to 55-48F depending on the specie or variety of tilapia. An annual cost is present when using tilapia, however so is the annual cost of pond dye and various algae control chemicals. I prefer natural control for the pond water quality vs chemicalization. ALWAYS do your best to manage nutrient input and some annual nutrient removal. This nutrient removal mgmt plan or habit plan reduces plant growing problems. IMO this is better than just killing algae / plants each year and letting all die to decompose in the pond.
Jones recommends 7-8lbs of tilapia in 1/4 ac. Some suggest 40lbs/ac or 10 lbs in 1/4ac. These numbers are often too high in my experience for a new pond or well managed ponds. Number of tilapia per year is based on amount of algae and small weeds present. Low algae = low tilapia numbers. Each fish can eat just so much algae per day. More algae requires more fish. For a new ¼ ac pond without aggressive predatory big mouth LMB, I suggest 3-4 lbs of tilapia. Sometimes only 2 lbs of mixed sizes of TP. Remember the males are always larger than the females so ASK the seller for at least a couple larger ones (males) on the truck or tank. Males build the nest; smaller females put eggs in the nests all summer long. Males grow faster than females which is why farms growing TP for the food market have all males. It is your baby tilapia that are really your algae eating ARMY. Stocker larger tilapia get the algae consumption started but it is the babies that eat most of all the new algae short growths. If you put enough TP in the new pond it should be swimming pool clean by late summer and clear up into early winter when they all die (water 45F). Some algae in the fall – not enough TP at the start or maybe TP were all one sex. IMO it is very good they all die each year because you never get an overpopulation of TP which can be a problem in itself. And next year you can buy more or fewer depending on how well of algae control they did the prior year. This way you are in control of the pond not the fish when ad if hey become too abundant. .

Do your best to reduce amount of algae before getting tilapia. Try to find and buy a smelt dipping net which is very good tool for removing excess algae, leaves, floating debris, and dying, dead tilapia, at the end of the year. Notice the long handle length 7.2ft. Cummings makes one 10ft long which is the one I prefer.
Cabelas or Bass Pro - FRABILL Smelt/Shrimp/Shad Net

Some of the smelt nets have a net rim yoke that has a hole for a spring button connector. I have found that if the ID of the yoke is 1.25" then you can use a pool skimmer pole (12'-16') from a box store such as HomeDepot to fit into the smelt net rim connector yoke.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-16-...le-with-External-Cam-Set-61316/205542693
I have fit the smelt net rim yoke into the skimmer pole, drilled a hole through both and inserted a bolt and wing nut to hold both together.

By reducing the amount of algae in spring pre-TP, the new stockers don't have to 'play a big catch up' to get the algae problem under control. Remember all plants that you remove from the pond reduces the nutrient load in the pond. Removing dead or dying tilapia also removes the bound up incorporated nutrients from the algae that TP ate as they grew. TP should at least double in size before they die. You can catch the larger tilapia with a worm and bobber fished in the shallow water beach area in Aug-Sept-early Oct before the water temp drops below 70F when TP quit spawning. Water temperature of 70F is important here. During summer, most tilapia are near the nesting - spawning area – usually the shallow area where the bulldozer drove out of the pond – i.e. beach. Water lower than 70F the TP stop spawning and it is harder to find and catch them by angling. Cleaning & eating the tilapia are pretty good and better quality than those usually sold in the grocery. Usually you will only catch a few of the TP during each angling period – they learn quickly to be cautious. IMO they are inherently shy fish.

5. Unwanted Fish.
’’””Unwanted fish: not sure how to avoid this risk, except to go with a respected/trustworthy vendor.”””
As noted by numerous others on this forum, this is a definite problem and risk for those thinking it is important wanting only the correct specie of fish ordered / purchased. Uninvited fish are IMO a major problem for those that have spent lots of careful effort planning the pond fishery. Reproducing unwanted fish can be a definite long term problem in a pond. For me, I hand sort all fish added to my pond as I do my fish rinse transfer. However, remember I had lots of fish identification class work and experience when in undergraduate, graduate, and post college endeavors. Not very many pond owners and fish farm personnel have this amount of knowledge and experience. Although these ‘hatchery’ workers do/should know pretty well the identification characters of the fish they commonly handle and sell.

This is what I would advise for those new small pond owners who do not want to get unwanted fish.
1. Be sure to tell the fish farm employee when ordering your fish that it is important to not get unwanted fish mixed into your order. Tell them their reputation is at stake here. Be present if fish are delivered. If fish are delivered, repeat your request of no mixed species in your allotment to the driver. Emphasize this. Tell them this is important to you. Now they know you are not the casual pond owner and to be extra careful when picking out fish for your order.
2. Do not order/buy the fingerling sizes of sunfish/hybrid species. These smallest ones are VERY difficult to recognize when the size of fish is 1”-2” long. The smaller these fish are the harder it is to recognize its true identity. Spend a little extra money and buy the larger sizes of stockers. Buy the next larger or 2X larger sizes. This heavily reduces the chance of identification error.
3. Buy your fish rinse net. Walmart sells a very good low cost net for fish transfer by pond owners. I sell this net for TP clients that arrive for their TP.
Promar Fun Multi-Color Bait/Fish Fishing Net 16" long x 8" wide x 1" High.
4. The Fish Rinse. If fish are bagged and oxygenated for travel, look at them in the bag to see if any look noticeably different than all the others. Use the net to lift out several fish for the rinse. Again look at them for abnormal shape or significant different coloration pattern as they sit in the net in the pond water bucket. Release captured several fish as the net-group into the pond after doing the water rinse/s.

Fish Sources
Since your pond is small you will not need to purchase very many stocker fish especially if they all have to survive on all natural pond foods. It might be interesting and worth your time to make a day trip to drive and get your fish from the fish farm distribution center or arrange to meet the deliver truck when it is relatively close to your pond. Stocker fish that have been bagged and oxygenated can survive an 6-8 hr drive home especially if the water is below 70F. Fish travel much better in cooler water conditions. Water holds measurably less oxygen the warmer the water becomes - warmer water stresses fish when they have to travel in containers. IF you drive to get your fish remember to remind the fish guy that it is very IMPORTANT to not mix any unwanted fish into your allotment. Tell them you have heard bad stories about this happening to new pond owners.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/29/24 11:53 AM. Reason: Improvements

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It's always nice to see a long post that's chockful of good information.


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Bill, just a FYI. All the fish farms that I pick up fish from use flow through systems to hold their fish, and use well water in those systems. So, there is no pond water used to hold the fish.

When the fish are initially added to the holding raceway they are put in there with pond water, but they are held in the raceways for a minimum of 3 days to purge the fish so all the pond water is gone from the raceway.

Once all those collected fish are sold, they drain the raceway, sterilize it (typically with bleach), scrubbing the painted walls, the raceways are refilled with water, any remaining chlorine is neutralized (if needed) and new fish are stocked.

The amount of water that they pump through the holding tanks on a daily basis is mind boggling. The water then exits the raceway to a ditch and exits the property.

When I fill up the hauling tanks, it's with well water. Some of the fish farms furnish oxygenated water for the holding tanks, others furnish straight well water and I have to make sure the O2 levels are up before adding the fish to the transport tanks.

It's all about bio security and not transferring nasties from facility to facility. With some facilities, if you walk inside, you have to walk through a sterilizing solution so you don't track anything nasty inside on your shoes/boots.


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esshup - It is good to know that some of the more modern fish sellers such as some of the National famous largest wholesale fish farms use clean water holding methods. They have learned the hard way by loosing many thousands of $$,$$$,$$$ of valuable fish from the widely used technique of using pond water holding fish facility methods. It would be good to know what percentage of all those fish farms - largest to smallest - that sell fish operate using your above described methods. I know of some fish haulers while on the delivery trips will drain stressed out metabolite laden tank water and replace it with some convenient type of surface water from various convenient sources.

I - My - big question is what is done with the 'clean water wholesale fish' when they arrive at the small fish farm for resale until the fish are sold????? This holding time may last several weeks. I know of no small reseller fish farm that takes the precautions you describe above. Fresh oxygenated water is IMO all they are concerned about regardless what is present microscopically. Fresh oxygenated pond water is all good water - right? I doubt if any of the many smaller retail sellers even have the ability to microscopically examine their pond water used as dilution water for hauling fish. If some retailer fish sellers cannot even sell a fish allotment having sometimes thousands of fish, without introducing a few other "wild" or unwanted or unordered fish,,,, then what type of clean water methods are they using to hold their fish for resale????

Knowing all this information above, our ever present global wide Mother Nature has her own hundreds of ways to introduce her unseen gaggle of microscopic organisms into an open pond. My point main point here is when buying your fish hauled in bags or dipped out of a hauling tank why add one more unknown variable into to your pond that could have been easily avoided.?

In my example #2 above I say that added water from a drainage ditch, creek or river or another pond is acceptable to add to a new pond providing it is filtered at the discharge through 500um mesh (filter sock). Do you have any idea how many microscopic organisms and micro-algae as species of potential problems will pass through 500um(0.5mm) mesh?? Answer: ALL OF THEM. . Microscopic organism to me are things smaller than 2mm maybe 1mm (1/16"). Some of the adults could be retained by the mesh netting,,,, but how about those same species that are as forms of immaturity and many sizes smaller than the adults? Again - ALL OF THEM! My fish rinse technique is just a simple precaution and not a necessity.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/29/24 12:35 PM.

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Originally Posted by esshup
When the fish are initially added to the holding raceway they are put in there with pond water, but they are held in the raceways for a minimum of 3 days to purge the fish so all the pond water is gone from the raceway.

Great information from all of the contributors in this thread!

esshup (and others), what specifically does the term "purge" mean in the quote above?

What are the most common/likely biological contaminants that we are trying NOT to spread throughout our facilities and ponds?

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
When the fish are initially added to the holding raceway they are put in there with pond water, but they are held in the raceways for a minimum of 3 days to purge the fish so all the pond water is gone from the raceway.

Great information from all of the contributors in this thread!

esshup (and others), what specifically does the term "purge" mean in the quote above?

What are the most common/likely biological contaminants that we are trying NOT to spread throughout our facilities and ponds?

Purge means allowing their digestive tract to be emptied out so they aren't swimming in their own toilet during transportation.

Most common are algae and plants. The facilities/growing ponds have the fish in them tested annually for a broad range of viruses and other nasties. Then you have the hitchhikers - fish NOT of the same species that a person is buying. Those are typically sorted out at the hatchery, but sometimes ESPECIALLY when the fish are small it's impossible to sort out all of them. For instance regular BG mixed in with RES. Dang near impossible to sort out 100% when they are <2" or so.


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Originally Posted by esshup
ESPECIALLY when the fish are small it's impossible to sort out all of them. For instance regular BG mixed in with RES. Dang near impossible to sort out 100% when they are <2" or so.


^^^Heed this advice to the letter or suffer the consequences later on.^^^

I have a pond full of unwanted BG. In my defense I did attempt to hold my stocker RES in a cage until they sized up enough for positive ID.
Daughter's doberman went swimming a couple days after I caged them in my pond, dump trucked the cage, and a dozen or so of 50 fingerlings escaped.

Since then I've been soaking traps 24/7 from April to October removing every <9" BG that I catch, but it hasn't been sufficient to keep up with their prolific spawns.
I bought a fyke net last fall and will begin using that once the water warms above 60° later this spring. I'll never be fully rid of them unless I drain/nuke the pond,
which I currently have no intention of doing, so I will continue the trapping but on a larger scale.

That said, I have good numbers of >10" BG along with a good crop of >12" RES, both of which I attribute to a good feeding program along with the constant trapping.
I'm just having to work a lot harder than I'd like to maintain that situation.

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Thanks for the clarification of "purge", esshup.

That is what I thought it meant, but I wasn't positive.

This leads to a related question. If fish aren't fed for 3 days (for direct transport), or aren't fed for weeks (multi-stop transport or fish wagon), at what point does the lack of food start to impact their survival rate in their new home?

(I know that fish are cold blooded, but most of my experience is with the reaction of humans and other mammals when they are extremely hungry. No clue about how much it drains fish!)

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Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
It's always nice to see a long post that's chockful of good information.

Better believe it. Wow, a lot there.....all of it good, and part of a loooong learning process, that much is obvious to me.

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Lots to digest here, Bill.....thank you a TON for taking the time to put all this down. I'm going to look into everything you mention, and definitely keep in mind your strong suggestions for how to stock the fish, especially the procedure for keeping the stocking fish free of anything negative they can bring to my pond. And, all the thoughts on tilapia.....So much to learn....

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Bill:

This isn't in regards to BJ Nick's pond re: Tilapia, but to others that might be reading this thread that have a pond that hasn't been taken care of and have an overabundance of FA in their pond. We have found out a number of things over the years.
1) Stocking Tilapia at the rate of 40# per surface acre is needed in those ponds.
2) Stocking Tilapia that are 5"-9" in length work the best, stocking 10"-12" fish more then likely are food grade fish and they most likely won't have the reproduction that is needed in the pond.
3) If the Tilapia that were stocked are "food fish" meaning they were treated at egg fertilization to be 99% male, then even at 40#/surface acre they won't do a good job. (your statement that the army of hatched in the pond Tilapia do the majority of the work eating the algae is absolutely 100% correct)
4) If the algae in the pond isn't treated with some sort of algaecide close to stocking the Tilapia (we use 5 days pre/post as an example) then usually the Tilapia cannot consume the algae that is already in the pond AND consume the newly growing algae. Not even if they are stocked at over double the recommended stocking rate.
5) If a pond owner is using Tilapia for the first time, and for whatever reason the Tilapia do NOT control their algae that year, they usually will not give them a try again in the future; they will go back to the chemical route of controlling the algae.



In regards to the clean water, all of the hatcheries that I have been at in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wisconsin use well water and a flow through system to hold their fish. You are correct in that the smaller secondary ones do not. At this point in time, we as a secondary supplier do not - we use pond water to hold the fish during the late Spring/Summer/Early Fall. We use oxygenated well water to hold fish over the winter. The long term plan is to build flow through holding tanks inside a building and use oxygenated well water like the bigger guys do. Until the bank account gets built up, it will have to be that way. I estimate that it will run somewhere North of $200,000.00 to build a large enough holding facility to hold the different species and sizes of fish in well water.

The way the laws are set up in regards to interstate fish sales, it would take a whole new thread to explain the intricacies of the regulations, and that thread would have to be updated every year because the laws change from year to year depending on what state you are talking about.

Some states just require the fish to be health tested and certified. Other states require that in addition to the fish being health tested and certified, they also require the fish farm to have their water tested to ensure that there are no "nasties" that are unseen but still in the water, i.e. Zebra Mussel veligers etc. None that I know of test for any type of algae or Starry Stonewort. Some states require the fish health test and certificate to be re-done if the fish tough ANY water that was generated in a Great Lake State, even well water. Now when testing requires that 60 fish of a certain size and species be killed for the test, and that a specially trained veterinarian collect the species, and that the testing has to be done every 6 months or every year. that can really add to the hatcheries bottom line of expenditures. When the bill runs between $600 and $1,000.00 just for the test for one fish species and size of fish, (not including the cost of the fish) and a hatchery has 10+ different species of fish, that adds up pretty durn quick.

What we as fish suppliers and stockers do to minimize any transfer of nasties is to use buckets to transfer fish from the tank to the pond. The bucket that dips water out of the tank never is used to bring fish to the pond. The nets that are used to get the fish out of the tanks are never put in the pond. The buckets are either allowed to dry out between stops, or they are sprayed with Hydrogen Peroxide and then let dry. Unfortunately there is no good way to inexpensively and quickly sterilize equipment between deliveries that is 100% foolproof. Then at the end of the delivery day everything is sterilized before starting the next delivery cycle. Transport tanks, nets, buckets, etc., etc. We can use more aggressive sterilizers back at the farm. We have never had to get water while on the road from another source other than the hatchery that the fish came from.

Last edited by esshup; 03/01/24 10:33 AM.

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Esshup explains a very good practical fish transport and distribution program. IMO and experience the precautions that esshup uses as Hoosier Pond Pros is not commonly used by all the smaller fish farms. My advice is know your fish supplier. Most all have their own methods of transporting and holding fish for resale that are the reasons why I utilize my homemade fish rinse system.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Esshup explains a very good practical fish transport and distribution program. IMO and experience the precautions that esshup uses as Hoosier Pond Pros is not commonly used by all the smaller fish farms. My advice is know your fish supplier. Most all have their own methods of transporting and holding fish for resale that are the reasons why I utilize my homemade fish rinse system.

This is obviously really important. I'll talk with Jones Monday about their exact fish planting day- of- delivery procedure and see what they say. fwiw: I talked with someone from the local Univ. of TN agricultural college- recommended to me by TN fish& wildlife and he was very helpful; recommended a couple of fish farms that he says are quite reliable and they use them all the time. However, neither of these two fish farms have SBS, tilapia, YP; very limited selection. Essentially BG / LMB et al. Everybody has forage fish in abundance. For that matter, neither did Trophy Pond, a very large operation that serves ponds/lakes up to 20 acres+. Jones has everything. Interesting.

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[My advice is know your fish supplier. Most all have their own methods of transporting and holding fish for resale that are the reasons why I utilize my homemade fish rinse system.[/quote]

I'll make sure I do my homework on this and act as necessary. And, I'll 100% act on your warnings to REMIND them at every juncture.

This is obviously really important. I'll talk with Jones Monday about their exact fish planting day- of- delivery procedure and see what they say. fwiw: I talked with someone from the local Univ. of TN agricultural college- recommended to me by TN fish& wildlife and he was very helpful; recommended a couple of fish farms that he says are quite reliable and they use them all the time. However, neither of these two fish farms have SBS, tilapia, YP; very limited selection. Essentially BG / LMB et al. Everybody has forage fish in abundance. For that matter, neither did Trophy Pond, a very large operation that serves ponds/lakes up to 20 acres+. Jones has everything. Interesting.


[1. Back on Feb 20 you said "”4) YP sound like great option, however not legal in Tennessee for stocking. If you have suggestions for acquiring them, that would be great.””
Yellow Perch
Not sure where you got that information about YP as illegal in TN......Page 8 for species recommended to not stock. Not recommended although not illegal.]


Guess I misunderstood the issue on this. Yes, YP are definitely "legal" in TN. But when I asked Jones about getting YP, they said they are not allowed to stock them in TN. So that might be more Ohio regulation-based. Regardless, I don't see that anyone else has them available....not sure where I'd get them, but in any case, you say below that it's probably not a good plan for me to stock them anyway.


[For your goals I would initially stay with the minnow, SBS and for the predator use HSB as the easiest species to manage and the best species to overall grow well in an all natural food based small TN pond. SBS are much better adapted to grow large compared to YP in TN. Claims are made that the SBS can grow up to 3 lbs which is a huge sunfish. If you can grow SBS to 12” and 2lbs you are doing very well for a ¼ ac pond. You will get praise. My test sample of SBS grew to 8” in just one year. The test is ongoing. I expect 10” at a full 2yrs old.]

Sounds good....definitely learning towards your suggestion of HSB as the big predator in the pond, and to your advice on which fish to focus on.


2. Added Water.
Outside water can be okay for adding to the pond IF it is filtered at the discharge through 500 um mesh also called a proper mesh sized filter sock. Creek water when running clear with low nutrient concentrations can be very okay if properly filtered......

Moot point, as I get what you're saying and I'm going to proceed on the assumption that ANY outside water contains an element of risk and it's better to avoid it entirely. I'll rely on the rains.


[Another important water to not add to the swimming pond is the fish transport water.........Do a water rinse for ALL added fish........


Gonna try to be rigorous in all of this.


[3. Vegetation.
Educate yourself to pros and cons of vegetation species that can be beneficial for a pond. And then ask questions on this forum........
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=440475#Post440475]

I've got quite the reading list going......important stuff. And I WILL ask questions.


[4. Tilapia –

Do your best to reduce amount of algae before getting tilapia. Try to find and buy a smelt dipping net........By reducing the amount of algae in spring pre-TP, the new stockers don't have to 'play a big catch up' to get the algae problem under control.]

Sounds logical. I do like the idea of Tilapia in the pond, depending on how things go w/the algae.....sounds like it would work out, but we'll see.



[5. Unwanted Fish.
’’””Unwanted fish: not sure how to avoid this risk, except to go with a respected/trustworthy vendor.”

Uninvited fish are IMO a major problem for those that have spent lots of careful effort planning the pond fishery. Reproducing unwanted fish can be a definite long term problem in a pond.......

This is what I would advise for those new small pond owners who do not want to get unwanted fish.......1. Be sure to tell the fish farm employee when ordering your fish that it is important to not get unwanted fish mixed into your order. Tell them their reputation is at stake here. Be present if fish are delivered......repeat your request of no mixed species.....tell them this is important to you..........fish net.....fish rinse.....]

GOT IT.


[Fish Sources]

I'll be doing lots of research on this, including their specific process in planting the fish.

Thanks Bill....as always.

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Please keep us updated in this thread as to your pond conditions as they progress in the future. I am always interested in how well my advice works toward good pond management - Pros and Cons - learning is learning.

As far as Jones not delivering and stocking YP in TN this could be a TN state allowing only fish are properly state approved tested. Some states are particular about their regulations. Another option is YP as orders for TN ponds are so few it it just not profitable to haul so few of them to TN.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/02/24 08:42 PM.

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Hand painted BG are not hybrids and will reproduce same as BG. Offspring will be a mixture of BG and various versions of handpainted color pattern. IMO They are not the fish for a 1/4 ac swimming pond.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Hand painted BG are not hybrids and will reproduce same as BG. Offspring will be a mixture of BG and various versions of handpainted color pattern. IMO They are not the fish for a 1/4 ac swimming pond.

I agree. Just saying that because if the OP (original poster) wanted RES, like you said, they need to be sorted to make durn sure there are no regular BG in there.

I like the RES/HSB mix for a swimming pond, and I'd make sure there were forage fish in there - i.e. Fatheads and maybe Golden Shiners because if the fish are not fed pellets, I don't know if the RES will produce enough to feed the HSB, and also the HSB and RES typically utilize different areas of the pond. HSB/GSH swim in the same area of the pond, so the GSH would be utilized more as prey than the RES.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/04/24 08:29 PM. Reason: OP delineation

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If "they're in a pond w/other fish," how does a customer make sure they're getting ONLY the HPB??? Doesn't inspire much confidence. They are a BIG operation; they do 20 acres+ ponds....my little podunk 1/4 acre job probably didn't interest them much. I talked to the owner, it would have been $1350 for a 1/2 hr. consult, $24K/week for construction. I'm sure they know what they're doing, expert at the work, but I looked elsewhere.

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Hand painted BG are not hybrids and will reproduce same as BG. Offspring will be a mixture of BG and various versions of handpainted color pattern. IMO They are not the fish for a 1/4 ac swimming pond.

Yeah, they certainly don't sound like what I need. But point remains (unless I'm missing something): aren't fish farms supposed to be able to sell EXACTLY what the customer requests (though I'm guessing sometimes that is difficult to guarantee, especially w/fingerlings?)

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Originally Posted by esshup
Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Hand painted BG are not hybrids and will reproduce same as BG. Offspring will be a mixture of BG and various versions of handpainted color pattern. IMO They are not the fish for a 1/4 ac swimming pond.

I agree. Just saying that because if the OP wanted RES, like you said, they need to be sorted to make durn sure there are no regular BG in there.

I like the RES/HSB mix for a swimming pond, and I'd make sure there were forage fish in there - i.e. Fatheads and maybe Golden Shiners because if the OP doesn't feed the fish, I don't know if the RES will produce enough to feed the HSB, and also the HSB and RES typically utilize different areas of the pond. HSB/GSH swim in the same area of the pond, so the GSH would be utilized more as prey than the RES.

That's stuff I need to know.....kind of thing I'll be observing/studying carefully once I'm at that stage. Advice here was that I should go for maybe 3-4" fingerlings, as they'll be easier to identify/differentiate in terms of not winding up w/regular BG....yes?

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I bought 400 RES , drove 300 miles for them, to go in my SMB and YP pond . I was over run with snails. 2-3" stockers , a year later I was over run BG and GSF. Today, I wouldn't purchase RES under 5", just my 2 cents. Going to cost much more than 2 cents to correct.
I assumed, that they would deliver what I paid for.


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Originally Posted by Fishingadventure
I bought 400 RES , drove 300 miles for them, to go in my SMB and YP pond . I was over run with snails. 2-3" stockers , a year later I was over run BG and GSF. Today, I wouldn't purchase RES under 5", just my 2 cents. Going to cost much more than 2 cents to correct.
I assumed, that they would deliver what I paid for.


Forum Question:

Is it proper forum etiquette to name the seller in this type of situation?


If so, would you (FA) care to name the seller considering that you are in this as a business?

(These are not rhetorical questions or commentary. I truly do not know the correct rules. However, it does suck to ruin a nice SMB-YP pond.)

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I am not sure about proper etiquette of naming a seller. If words are the truth and not just a matter of opinion then what is wrong with the truth? True Facts remain the facts not opinion or an idea.

"If "they're in a pond w/other fish," how does a customer make sure they're getting ONLY the HPB?"

This is a difficult topic. As I know it there are no guarantees nor warranties in the fish delivery / selling business for pond stocking. This is why one has to be careful who one does business with and trust the seller to do the right thing. Mistakes can easily happen in the live fish selling business, I have had those types of mistakes happen to me which is why I mention or list precautions when buying your fish if it is important to you to not get unwanted fish.

We are dealing with live fish. Live fish can be moved around by 'Mother Nature'. If one has the wrong species soon show up in a pond, the seller can say a bird brought them into the pond or have some other excuse such as a neighbor added some free fish for you. Both are not impossible to happen. Many pond owners do not get too concerned if a couple of the wrong species show up in the pond after stocking. Proving the problem was with the seller is IMO pretty difficult. This is why I think it is IMPORTANT to let the seller know that you do not want unwanted fish in your order. Let the seller know his reputation is at stake on the national widely used Pond Boss Forum. Plus you have to pick a good fish seller and trust him especially for certain fish species and sizes that you are buying.

Another very good option is to hand sort the fish that you buy. Know what that species looks like and how it is recognized. Do your homework. Do not take the fish delivery for granted if pure species are required. Take some precautions. Buying lots of fish makes hand sorting more difficult and time consuming and often not practical. Again buy your fish form very reputable fish farms and even they can make a mistake. Risky business.

Another option as was already mentioned buy the larger sized fish that are more easily recognized by the fish seller and hopefully yourself. Common distinctly featured fish such as LMB, SMB, catfish, HSB, yellow perch, koi, crappie, golden shiner are all pretty easily recognizable. Difficult to recognize fish are the sunfishes and some minnow species. FHM are pretty easily recognizable after you see and compare body coloration and pattern from a few hundred of them. Most difficult to correctly identify even for many farm new type workers at the fish farm are the small sunfishes such as RES, BG, HBG, and now specklebelly hybrid bluegill (BGXRES). I know of some fish farms who grow their own hybrid bluegill (HBG). A HBG does not have to be the first generation of the bluegill X green sunfish cross called F1. HBG can reproduce in mom and pop fish ponds and the offspring as of F2 or F3 generation could be unethically sold as a HBG.


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Bill:

I hand sorted HBG that were going into a pond and pulled 4 BG from the batch. I did the same with the RES that went into the pond and 3 years down the road the owner catches what looks to be pure Northern Bluegill from the pond that are over 8" long. If I let enough BG slip through the cracks to create a reproducing population in a pond then a person that doesn't see 10's of thousands of fish a year would have an even harder time.

These were 1"-2.5" sized RES and HBG. For me, a HBG is easy to tell from a BG, even at that size. A BG mixed in with RES at that size is WAY harder (for me) to tell for sure what is what.

Last edited by esshup; 03/04/24 10:46 PM.

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If stocking the larger fish. Does that change your stocking plan?

Instead of stocking 500 fingerling BG would you change that to ??? of the 4-5" version?


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I wouldn’t stock any one inch fish. I consider them too fragile. My personal preference is 2-3 inch.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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Originally Posted by esshup
I hand sorted HBG that were going into a pond and pulled 4 BG from the batch. I did the same with the RES that went into the pond and 3 years down the road the owner catches what looks to be pure Northern Bluegill from the pond that are over 8" long. If I let enough BG slip through the cracks to create a reproducing population in a pond then a person that doesn't see 10's of thousands of fish a year would have an even harder time.

These were 1"-2.5" sized RES and HBG. For me, a HBG is easy to tell from a BG, even at that size. A BG mixed in with RES at that size is WAY harder (for me) to tell for sure what is what.

esshup (and any other fish suppliers, or managers that frequently deal with fish suppliers),

I know you would only source fish from a supplier that you trusted. When you were sorting fish to get the right species, was the mixture of fish in a batch you got from a supplier, or were they from fish you collected yourself from a multi-species pond?

More general question: When members report getting some undesired fish species mixed in with their purchases, is that due to sloppy protocols by the fish supplier (at either their facilities or transport operations), or will fish get out of their designated spaces - at even the most diligent fish suppliers?

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As far as I know there is no agency regulation of these farms regarding having the correct species in an order.
Some background info and history.
I am a small time fish supplier who usually buys fish from local small fish farms and not the big AK fish farms. My local suppliers usually buy fa lot of their fish from the big AR suppliers. Now there are some fish suppliers who have numerous ponds and one I know who farms 230 ac of water. Most all of your local fish farms even the 230 ac farmer get at least some of their fish such as CC and grass carp from Big AR farms. Some local farms will shop around and buy wild raised minnows from big WI/MN suppliers that often have contaminated fish such as sticklebacks or others in with the large minnow wholesale order. When they they run out of stock they also by fingerlings where ever they can get them.

Some farms with ponds owned or leased have fish they grow themselves or hold fish for a time in their own ponds. These instances are likely the most common way species such as the various sunfish varieties get mixed into customers orders. When harvesting fish for resale there are numerous ways different species can get mixed into an order. Numerous ways. And as I noted previously and mentioned, IMO this collecting, handling, and sorting is where the unwanted specie/s most often get mixed into an order. It is a prevalent ongoing problem in my experience mostly for the sunfish varieties due to when these sunfish are small, at times they all look very similar. And as I noted earlier IMO some or numerous fish farms do not think this is a big deal nor a big problem. Pond fish are pond fish correct? So what,,,, if you get a couple of the wrong fish in a large 200-1000 fish order?. Buying pond fish can be like buying expensive watches from a street vendor. KNOW YOUR SUPPLIER for the best results and even then there are no guarantees.


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Thanks for the background Dr. Perca!

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
esshup (and any other fish suppliers, or managers that frequently deal with fish suppliers),

I know you would only source fish from a supplier that you trusted. When you were sorting fish to get the right species, was the mixture of fish in a batch you got from a supplier, or were they from fish you collected yourself from a multi-species pond?

More general question: When members report getting some undesired fish species mixed in with their purchases, is that due to sloppy protocols by the fish supplier (at either their facilities or transport operations), or will fish get out of their designated spaces - at even the most diligent fish suppliers?

The fish came from a large fish supplier in AR and it was a direct trip from their facility to the pond. I had not had a problem with this particular supplier previously, and none since, but in ponds where not having a certain species is the goal, I normally do a check anyway when stocking fish in the pond. This particular pond had a BUNCH of fish going in it. I know we stocked 100# of FHM, and 100# GSH in the Fall, then the panfish in the Spring.

This particular pond was renovated over a 2 year period and the owner had us come in and rotenone the pond because he was worried that he had some unwanted fish in it. He did. I can't tell you how many Green Sunfish and Yellow Bullheads were in the remaining 24"-36" of water that was in the pond. He had pumped the pond dry to work on it and it was barely wet for almost 2 years. How did they survive? Your guess is as good as mine.

I will have to go back in my records to see how many fish we stocked and will make another post. But from memory, the 4 BG that were found in the HBG batch of fish was at the most 1/10th of 1 percent of the HBG that were stocked, and it could have even been a much smaller percentage.

It could be either of the two things that you listed, if a huge rain event happens and one pond overflows to another things will happen. Sometimes the overflow might be short lived and it wasn't noticed. Bill talked about a place that has 230 acres of water. The supplier that I got the fish from is a very large supplier and I really don't know how many acres of water they have to grow fish in. The smaller place that I go to has 1,500 acres of water that they grow fish in if that gives you an idea of the scope of the size of the operations in Arkansas.......

The ponds aren't ALL side by side, they lease or own property scattered all over and while they try to visit the ponds frequently, there aren't enough bodies to visit all the ponds on a daily basis. These ponds are anywhere from 1 to 20 acres in size.


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My bad order of RES came from a well known supplier in the Ok,Ar.Tx. Area. I could have thrown a fit, but when I figured out the SNAFU , through this forum and at same time scratching my head as to why my RES didn't have red ears , it was a year down the road. I knew they could blame, ducks, herons, bucket stockers, fish swimming up stream and jumping a twenty foot water fall, etc,etc.
I won't sully their name, starting a Pxxxxxg contest, especially one that can't be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yes it sucks, I share my experience with other newbies as I am, and I was really was. I also forgive their mistake, but I learned not to do business with them again. I offer my experience to other Newbies, so they can learn from my mistake.

I'm trapping out all GSF and BG under 9" that I can, asking my customers to remove all of the same when caught, hoping to grow some really nice BG and GSF for my fly fisherman, and looking forward to Saugeye , as soon as available . Proverbial Lemonade from Lemons. Replace my Walleye with better growing Saugeye , hopefully big BG and GSF . With heavy cover, SF minimized best I can, hopefully YP can go ahead and do well.

To finish, IDK how long it would have taken to understand what had happened without this forum. 1) Others relating issues with contaminated fish orders and 2) All of the images of SF, requesting help with ID. Wow, what a lesson. Thank you, everyone for knowledge and experience shared. God Bless each of you.


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[quote=Fishingadventure] Yes it sucks, I share my experience with other newbies as I am, and I was really was. I also forgive their mistake, but I learned not to do business with them again. I offer my experience to other Newbies, so they can learn from my mistake.

Yes, and one of those newbies would be MYSELF, so it's appreciated. To me, the overall take-away is that one cannot be too careful in the process....thus Bill's admonitions to use the most reputable supplier you can find, remind them repeatedly that the sorting is VERY important to you- and second: try to be hands-on as possible during the process to verify you're getting just what you asked for.

And along w/all the rest of you, about 1000 other things....such as opting for larger-sized forage fish, not 1-2" fingerlings......

And the realistic take-away that even w/the best of intentions/effort, some wily rascals will still probably slip by....all one can do is try to minimize these as much as possible.

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BJNick and those interested in this thread. I would like to put some of those people that work for fish farms in perspective of their fishery knowledge.
One of my clients went to a nearby Home & Garden show in Indiana last weekend. My client who has a 1/2 ac pond and a GSF problem with YP stopped and talked to someone at the Jones 'booth'. Maybe the someone was a "biologist"?. My client explained his fish problem and my client told the guy I (BCody) arranged to get and stock one 14" SMB into the pond to hopefully help reduce numbers of GSF. Our plan is to if needed stock 1 LMB and then gradually add HSB as we monitor numbers of GSF and YP over the next few years. I have a 0.1ac test pond with a shore line containing large rock. This pond had lots of invader GSF with my perch as the test fish. I added some SMB, and did regular trapping and removal of GSF as I fed them to the SMB and after a year this has significantly reduced the GSF. Coincidence? Maybe. Note for later - the SMB stockers reproduced in 2nd yr as 2023 when I saw a few new SMB fingerlings.

Background: at this point in time my client and I do not want same sex predators that are reproducing in his pond to over eat the YP offspring, yet hopefully just gradually reduce numbers of GSF and YP. Note the pond has 8 pellet raised walleye in it with a good reproducing minnow population inhabiting the pond containing a moderate amount of hybrid water lilies and some red tipped eelgrass.

Back to Home & Garden Show and Jones representative. Jones rep said to put in more smallmouth bass from them because they would not reproduce.

Every pond where I have stocked SMB they have reproduced each year. I even had SMB reproduce in my own clay bottom pond as my first stocking experience back in 1991 with SMB -YP- FHM, GSH, BNM management. I pellet trained my own SMB who then grew to 5 lbs in this 0.3ac test pond. It is pretty difficult to stop SMB from reproducing in a pond even a small 1/4ac pond that has good habitat. Dr. Willis fish professor at SDSU regularly noted that SMB will often over populate in a pond.

Story take away - be careful to not believe everything that a fish farm worker tells you. IMO get a second or third opinion before going to the "bank" with your new pond management information.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/07/24 09:24 PM. Reason: rewording for clarifications

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Story take away - be careful to not believe everything that a fish farm worker tells you. IMO get a second or third opinion before going to the "bank" with your new pond management information.

Yeah, I get it. In fact a few days ago I called SEPOND and asked for their take on what I should get. I said specifically: I want a SWIMMING/FISHING pond....the best balance/compromise I can get. Immediately he suggested BG. That kind of made me doubt anything else he said, since everyone who "knows" the issues w/swimming ponds, has told me STAY AWAY FROM BG for the obvious reason that they tend to be nippers.

Jones: the problem is, there aren't that many fish farms "around" that have exactly what I need/want; many have very restricted fish breeds; just the "standard" that everyone else has: FHM, GSH, BG, RES, LMB, GC. Jones has the widest selection (at very reasonable prices, it seems) of anyone. So at this point, my strategy would be to consult with all you on the forum, know exactly what I want, and get exactly that from them.....along with following Bill's (and others') guidelines/tips on getting your order RIGHT.

However....and this is a BIG however....it's mid-March right now, and chances are I won't be stocking for at least a few months....so there's time. Time for me to locate other farms/opportunities/suppliers, and time for me to increase my knowledge of the whole process.

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BJNick - Are you planning on having Jones deliver or are you going to pick the fish up at their Branch facility during their fish sales days? If they have what you want the first stocking could be just minnow species and or some (several or 1/2) specklebelly and next year add the other fish and rest of speckebellies. Lot of options are available. For your new pond I would at least plan on at stocking several Tilapia (2-3lbs) to keep the algae and early growth submerged vegetation controlled for good swimming. New ponds almost always gets noticeable filamentous algae the first summer season. Tilapia stocked in May will be big enough to get some fun angling done in the Fall of September early Oct before the water temps drop below 70F; watch the water temperatures for fishing timing.

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
BJNick - Are you planning on having Jones deliver or are you going to pick the fish up at their Branch facility during their fish sales days?


Lot of options are available. For your new pond I would at least plan on at stocking several Tilapia (2-3lbs) to keep the algae and early growth submerged vegetation controlled for good swimming. New ponds almost always gets noticeable filamentous algae the first summer season. Tilapia stocked in May will be big enough to get some fun angling done in the Fall of September early Oct before the water temps drop below 70F; watch the water temperatures for fishing timing.

Well, the order comes directly from Ohio (not from their Nashville outlet), they've told me that- so they'd deliver it. I just talked to them yesterday about some of the issues you and others have raised: primarily, making sure no unwanted fish get included in the order. He said all fish are raised in their own specific ponds, not combined w/any other fish, and checked again when delivering. He stressed that they never have issues w/people complaining of unwanted fish; take that for what it's worth.


They are out of SBS for this year. Don't know any other suppliers who have them, but again: I have time....I think....gonna be a few months till I'm ready to stock; aiming for fall....we'll see.

Stocking: Sounds like a good plan, but probably for the following year, I'd imagine, as I won't be stocking till at least fall.....pond at this point is only about 3/4 of the way constructed.

Question: the pond construction process is fascinating....and quite involved, as my particular location requires intensive blasting through solid rock. Is it okay/productive to post images on the PB Forum of the pond as it's being constructed?

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Jones IS good about not having unwanted fish in their mix. But the "All fish are raised in their own specific ponds" may or may not be 100% true. If you consider buying fish, putting them in your pond, feeding them for a length of time (short or long) "raising fish", then the statement is correct.

Next time you talk to them, bring up the "all fish are raised in their own specific ponds" and ask them if all the fish that they sell are hatched and raised from eggs in their ponds. If they say no, then you could ask for clarification on their "all fish are raised in their own specific ponds" statement. If the guy says yes, that is interesting because they buy fish from some of the same suppliers that I do. wink

It may mean that they don't mix species in their ponds, which is how they are supposed to be raised.


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Posting pond construction pics?
Yes - that is okay to put them on the forum. I hope you find that process smooth and relatively easy. Posting is a little too technical for me in that one needs to use a stepwise process and an outside provider for storage of pics such as I think its called imgur. Here is a link for lots of "ole" posts and suggestions of how to do it. The last post (included below) on 21/04/21 with a link is probably the best and most current way to post pictures. Old thread and old methods first -
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92443#Post92443

Here is the newest way to post pics.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=534153#Post534153

For new ponds in my area, my advice to the owner with a new pond especially for a swim use pond or a domestic water use pond is to live it for a full year. No or minimal fish. This is similar to a partnership or relationship of a marriage. This way ...... one learns a lot about how the pond will behave and it altogether will provide a baseline of information before it has any fish or a significant amount of fish. IT IS THUS A BASELINE OF WHAT THE POND IS ALL ABOUT AND WHAT TO EXPECT AS FUTURE PROBLEMS AFTER THE FIRST YEAR. Is it clean and easy going or is it green and full of problematic green stuff?.

Watch for water clarity changes, various types of plant growth, and colonization or progression of invertebrates and larger critters such as frogs & turtles as the pond ecosystem moves forward as a "clean" or newish water filled basin. This then serves as a starting point with its minimum basis of nutrients. In many of these cases the only fish I suggest are a few tilapia and or minnows. Several tilapia in a new low nutrient pond will keep it swimming pool clean all summer. If they do not do it then the pond initially had a "FLUSH" of too many nutrients from the very start. In these cases the pond will be a cantankerous plant / algae problem every year. Too many initial nutrients with too much fertility for a good easy to care for swimming type of pond.

Normally a new pond quickly springs to life developing numerous life forms due to the amount of initial nutrients that are incorporated in the 'dirt' basin and from any nutrients coming in with water runoff events. This first year will be the baseline of annual pond activity. This then serves as a comparison to the continual changes that will happen as the pond ages. Organisms from tiniest microscopic algae to larger aquatic bug types; they live, grow and die daily in a pond. Normally the first year, the pond will be the nutrient and plant cleanest basis that it will be as it ages into the future. Thereafter plant growth increases because of more plant growing nutrients are being added each year even if it is just one duck or goose visiting and placing in manure or tree leaves dropping or blowing into the pond. A dugout basin having and collecting nutrients without a frequent overflow means there is a constant accumulation of more fertility in the basin. No losses of nutrients unless something such as plants or fish/critters are removed. Nutrients are trapped inside and are continually being used and recycled to continually grow more and more "STUFF". This is called Eutrophication aka aquatic succession or pond aging.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/17/24 05:57 PM.

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Bill, that last bit is very true for me. I have not had any water exit my pond for going on 4 years, and I still am not near full pool. I turned on the well back in January and it's been pumping 25 gpm into the pond 24/7 ever since. I have a 3' band of FA around the edge of the pond and I can see lots growing on the bottom in shallow water. At least the pond isn't 9' low any more, it's only about 24" low. The Tilapia will have their work cut out for them this summer.


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Just adding a note on eutrophication from one of my ponds.

We had a hundred year old groundwater pond at our farm that had been slowly filling with sediment and leaves. The 2-year drought in our area had dropped the groundwater level in the area BELOW the bottom of the pond. The pond essentially looked like a marsh with zero standing water, but heavy plant cover in the damp mud.

I dug the pond about 8' deeper this fall and got the bottom back below the groundwater level. The pond then re-filled with beautiful, clear groundwater for our wildlife to utilize this winter.

I went by the pond on March 5th to see how it was doing. Still had beautiful clear water, but it was a fairyland of filamentous algae! There was lots of algae that had started on the bottom and had even established a few floating mats, with tendrils of algae connecting the two.

When I dug out the pond with the excavator, I certainly went deep enough to remove all of the rooted plants. I don't know where the initial algae starter cells came from, but the FA is essentially the only thing in the pond that is currently utilizing all of the accumulated nutrients. The pond is partially shaded, and we haven't yet had that many warm days, but the FA has already kicked into high gear!

(I just added this off topic note, because the pond was kind of an unusual "experiment" compared to the more typical ponds on the forum.)

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Posting pond construction pics?

Here is the newest way to post pics.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=534153#Post534153

For new ponds in my area, my advice to the owner with a new pond especially for a swim use pond or a domestic water use pond is to live it for a full year. No or minimal fish..... IT IS THUS A BASELINE OF WHAT THE POND IS ALL ABOUT AND WHAT TO EXPECT AS FUTURE PROBLEMS AFTER THE FIRST YEAR. Is it clean and easy going or is it green and full of problematic green stuff?.

.....If they do not do it [/u]then the pond initially had a "FLUSH" of too many nutrients from the very start. In these cases the pond will be a cantankerous plant / algae problem every year. Too many initial nutrients with too much fertility for a good easy to care for swimming type of pond.

No losses of nutrients unless something such as plants or fish/critters are removed. Nutrients are trapped inside and are continually being used and recycled to continually grow more and more "STUFF". This is called Eutrophication aka aquatic succession or pond aging.

I will post pics...thanks. About 3/4 done, but going S L O W L Y for awhile now w/just one excavator guy working steadily (main guy has a lingering illness), and it's solid rock continuously; like WW1 trench warfare: feels like gaining an inch a day sometimes.

Re: "live with it for a full year"- yeah, I've heard advice on initial stocking all the way from this recommendation (leave it alone for a year), to "wait a few months, let it settle, see what happens,") to "as soon as it's 4' deep, STOCK IT!" (from suppliers.) I understand the desire to get it stocked, enjoy all the fish being in there, etc. etc......I REALLY get that; it's how I feel. But honestly....I am inclined to go with your advice on this one....just LEAVE IT, maybe a few minnows or a few Tilapia along the way..... I believe the process of watching the pond develop from nothing will be fascinating. I want to study how it develops; who/what shows up, how the whole ecosystem starts to form. And of course you and others make it very clear that seeing how the eutrophication process develops will be critical.

If I didn't live on all this acreage now, with plenty of room for a pond, I would have settled for a garden pond of some type....with koi or goldfish.....so I'm pretty jazzed I'll get to "have it all" (hopefully, knock on wood, etc.)

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You don't even have to throw Tilapia in there but throwing Fatheads and Golden Shiners will help you out next year.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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If you go back to my note above one of my options was to stock: "In many of these cases the only fish I suggest are a few tilapia and or minnows. Several tilapia in a new low nutrient pond will keep it swimming pool clean all summer." If you are planning to stock any type of fish eating predator I would stock in a 1/4 ac a few pounds of fathead minnows and a pound or two of golden shiners as noted by esshup. And for the most algae free pond with the minnows, I would stock at least 2-3 lbs of tilapia for algae control so you are not needing to add some form of chemical algaecide. IMO the more chemicals that you keep out of the pond the better it will be or swimmers.


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^^^^ What Bill said. BUT be aware that if there isn't algae in the pond for the Tilapia to eat, and they can't find enough food by sifting through the detritus they will eat the minnows to survive.


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That sounds like an excellent plan. Plus I imagine one benefit is that the minnows/shiners will presumably spawn, so there'll be a good supply when I ultimately stock the SBS/RES/HSB.....is my thinking right on this? As with everything, I recognize there's no guarantees.

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Originally Posted by BJ Nick
That sounds like an excellent plan. Plus I imagine one benefit is that the minnows/shiners will presumably spawn, so there'll be a good supply when I ultimately stock the SBS/RES/HSB.....is my thinking right on this? As with everything, I recognize there's no guarantees.


You are correct


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Because the SBS and or RES are not significant predators of the minnow population, they can be stocked when minnows are stocked. HSB in this fishery are intended to control the limited recruitment of this type of panfish. IMO do not add an over abundance of the panfishes if you want them to grow large. Basically the fewer of these panfish that you initially stock the faster and larger they will grow. For your 0.25 ac pond I think 40 is a low number and 80 is a high number for the total panfish, initial stocking. This is mainly due to the number of panfish living in a small 1/4ac low productivity non-pellet fed pond. If the new pond has no snails or very few snails observed on underwater surfaces, as snails are the main food for growing of RES, then I would skew the numbers toward more SBS than RES. SBS will thrive better on invertebrates in a 'snailess' pond compared to RES who are naturally adapted to eating small mollusks (snails - clams).

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I don't think this will be off topic for what he's doing so i'll jump in with a question. How many HSB do you recommend for his pond? His pond is only a little smaller than mine, and about 1 hour away. I'm to the point of deciding on predator fish as well. Was thinking of bucket stocking a couple SMB and then buying a few HSB to go in as well.

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I've had anywhere from 5-10 HSB in my 1/4 acre neighborhood pond, and I do feed quite a bit in that pond.

In this 1/4 acre pond, the HSB get over 20" long, and 4-5 lbs.+.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Bob-esper12 - Number of HSB to be adding to a 1/4 ac pond has a lot to do with ones GOALS for the fishery and what other fish are in or gonna be added to the pond. Do you have a PBoss stocking thread or history of the pond? You could have provided a link to the past discussion of your pond for an informational reference . For stocking HSB or any predator, a lot has to do with goals for the fishery. My stocking experience with stocking HSB - just because you stock 10 does not mean 10 will survive after 30 days. HSB can be "touchy" regarding survival of fish less than 8"-10" long. The unknown cloudy waters of a pond make if extremely difficult to know exactly who survived the stressful experience of transportation and stocking.

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Originally Posted by Sunil
I've had anywhere from 5-10 HSB in my 1/4 acre neighborhood pond, and I do feed quite a bit in that pond.

In this 1/4 acre pond, the HSB get over 20" long, and 4-5 lbs.+.

Nice sized fish.....that's encouraging......

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As the fish get bigger and bigger they eat measurably more and larger foods to keep growing. When managing for growth it is important to take this into account. Pellet feeding does help keep large fish growing when there are periods of forage shortages.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
As the fish get bigger and bigger they eat measurably more and larger foods to keep growing. When managing for growth it is important to take this into account. Pellet feeding does help keep large fish growing when there are periods of forage shortages.

Noted. Makes sense. I will hope to avoid "periods of forage shortages." And I may break down and decide to feed them; we'll see how things go.....

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One truism to remember when stocking.

Only bluegills can spawn enough to feed bass.
And, only bass can effectively control the booming spawns of bluegills.

Another: Too many fish can cause an O2 shortage. Don’t hesitate to catch and eat or otherwise cut down on the numbers.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
One truism to remember when stocking.

Only bluegills can spawn enough to feed bass.
And, only bass can effectively control the booming spawns of bluegills.

Another: Too many fish can cause an O2 shortage. Don’t hesitate to catch and eat or otherwise cut down on the numbers.

Good to know. I won't have any BG per se....rather SBS, RES.....so does the "only bluegills can spawn enough" comment apply to its sunfish cousins? Not sure if this just means BG, and not other sunfish. I'm assuming you're saying JUST BG.

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Redear Sunfish will not, and neither will Hybrid Bluegills.


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Yep, only bluegills.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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BJ for your current planned fishery stocking, when using the correct numbers of fish stocked, you should not encounter forage fish shortages in your 1/4 ac pond. When a pond gets out of balance of fish numbers is when growth rates of fish are slow. Your current plan without feeding pellets is for a "good" fishing pond (not focused on developing lunkers), AND a fun swimming hole that visiting family/kids will enjoy. Good swimming pond means doing your best for introducing fewest nutrients as possible for the natural soils where the pond is built. All nutrients that get into the pond usually results in increased algae and plant growth.

BJ Look at this UT website about the nine soil fertility regions of Tennessee. Try and figure out in which region your pond is located. This information will help determine the natural carrying capacity of fish and numbers to stock for your pond.
https://utcrops.com/soil/soil-fertility/soil-ph-and-liming/


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I'd love to look at the "soil types" map, but the text is too small, and if enlarged loses resolution. However I researched it a little and I'm definitely in the "Mississippian" and/or 'Ordovician" areas....meaning sedimentary: limestone, shale, chert, sandstone, dolomite, etc.

You characterize my goals for the pond perfectly: that is exactly what I want. I know I'll have to learn to manage the nutrient levels and all it entails.

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Here is the link to the excellent USDA soils site.

Web Soil Survey

Just click the green button that says "Start WSS".

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