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Joined: Apr 2024
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jm96 Offline OP
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I’ve been enjoying reading up on stocking and managing small ponds on this forum. I’m hoping to get some advice on what species of fish will best meet my needs.

I have a small pond in NY, about ¼ acre that I’m planning to dig out to ~1/2acre because its somewhat shallow and most of the perimeter is muck and cattails. I’m also looking to make it slightly larger because I would like to redirect a couple springs and runoff to it. My main goal is to create a pond that will feed me two servings of fish, once a month (i.e. 12 two pounders per year). Also, my background is in ecology so managing a biological system like this is fascinating to me.

Here's two systems I found interesting so far that might work with little to no supplemental feed, and both have the simplicity of put-and-take.
1. Crayfish, grass shrimp, gizzard shad, hybrid striped bass (removed for eating at 2-3lbs and restocked with 6”)
2. Crayfish, grass shrimp, fathead minnow, channel catfish (removed for eating at 2-3lbs and restocked with 6”)

I also looked into hybrid bluegill but I’d rather catch and filet one bigger fish instead of several smaller. I’m looking forward to hearing thoughts on this, especially the if the forage base will be adequate. I’m hoping its possible, especially if I give careful consideration to prey habitat and predator stocking rates.

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I believe the most efficient way to raise fish meat in your situation is pellet-fed catfish. They will grow very rapidly on a feeding program.

Blue cats generally have a little more filet meat than channel cats, but it would probably be difficult for you to source the blues in your area.

Do you live at your pond? If so, then you could even hand feed them. If not, then a feeder would still probably be a good investment.

Lots of people on the forum want to go the "natural" feed route. However, the catfish farms all use designed artificial feed. That indicates the cost/benefit analysis for most situations. When your natural forage gets out of balance you may spend more money correcting the problem on your "replicating" feed than you spend on artificial feed. You can always use artificial feed as a supplement to the natural feed, even if you get your forage well established.

Gizzard shad may be a risk, even in NY. They have the capacity to grow beyond the mouth gape of 3# HSB or CC. You could end up with the bulk of your fish mass made up of gizzard shad.

Good luck on your project. I believe your 1/2-acre pond should be able to easily meet your fish servings goals!

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Welcome to the forum. Ideals are great to have. Unfortunately, in this day and age, being able to afford what it takes to get a person's ideals to fruitation can be a big hit to the pocket book.

Case in point:

Fathead minnows for feed. If you can't raise your own in large quantities, look at the cost ratio vs. a good commercial feed. Figure 2# of commercial fish food to grow one pound of fish flesh. Compare that to 10# of Fatheads. (providing the fish are 10" or less). If the fish are bigger than say 10" Fatheads won't cut it, you will need a bigger forage fish. Don't even think about Gizzard Shad, YOY will outgrow what a HSB can eat in less than a year.

You have a background in ecology. I have to ask, what conversion rate do fish have when eating crayfish, or grass shrimp? How much do they cost per pound? Delivered, not prior to shipping.

I seriously doubt that you will be able to raise enough in the pond to satisfy the food requirements of your predator fish.


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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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Looking at a different math problem:

You want to harvest 24 lbs of predator per year. That will require growing or providing 240 lbs of prey. Can that be done (growing, anyway) in a 1/2 acre pond in upstate NY?


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I agree that pellets are the easier and possibly cheaper option, however, part of the fun was going to be creating a functioning ecosystem and biodiversity where there was none before. On that note, how frequent or infrequent can supplemental feed be? Once a week?
I didn't realize that the shad could outpace the hybrid stripers. Is there another species that's better suited? Or a different introduction strategy so the HSB are ahead (like fatheads year one, shad year two)?

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The feed conversion math has also been interesting because most data I am finding is for pellet feeding, whereas the conversion efficiency and hunting effort in non-supplemented systems make that calculation much more of a guess... there are a lot of caveats to the 10% rule. My understanding is that CC will have the best conversion ratio when fed, however, my thoughts were that a faster fish like the HSB might have a better ratio when feeding itself? Analysis paralysis haha

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For NY, I'd look into Golden Shiners. There are no shad species that will survive the winter that won't cause problems down the road.

Here in N. Indiana Gizzard shad can grow from spawning to being too large for LMB to eat in less than a year. The local lake has Gizzard Shad in it. The last gill net survey the DNR did showed that they made up 60% of the fish biomass in the 365 acre lake.


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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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