Stocking your pond will not only bring you lots of fishing fun, but you will be helping to keep the algae, weeds, insects, leeches and worms under control.
Creating a Balance
To properly balance your pond, you should stock your pond with 3 prey fish, like perch or bluegill, for every predator fish, such as bass. This fish stocking strategy for your pond will ensure that your predator fish will have a bountiful selection of prey, while still giving the prey fish a sporting chance to mature and reproduce. Keep in mind that catfish will have little effect on the prey to predator ratio as they will pretty much stick to themselves at the bottom of the pond.
When your have properly stocked your pond, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. When you first stock your pond it is recommended to add some fathead minnows to feed the predator fish while the prey fish get established. In proper conditions, minnows can be a snack for your fish that will replenish themselves.
When stocking your pond, selecting fish of similar size will also help the population grow together. The number of fish you add to your population will ultimately depend on the surface area of your lake or pond. Below is an example for stocking ponds of various sizes.
|2-4" Hybrid Bluegill/Sunfish
|3-4" Yellow Perch
|5-7" Largemouth Bass
When stocking your pond with fish, make sure you take stock of any "wild fish" you may already have in the pond. You want to confirm larger prey fish are not in the pond that will eat up all the smaller, new fish you are adding.
Best Time to Stock
Spring or fall is the ideal time for stocking fish in your pond. Temperatures are mild and oxygen levels are high, so the stress factors affecting your fish will be at their lowest. Once acclimated to your pond, they will be primed to flourish. Fish can be added in the summer, but they will need a little more time to adjust.
After stocking your pond, acclimating fish is simple. Place the transportation bag in a shaded area of the pond and let float for 15-20 minutes. This allows your fish to slowly adjust to water temperatures in your pond. Next open the bag and let the fish swim out on their own. If you are adding fish to a pond where fish are already present, release minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and release the smaller fish at the opposite end so they have a chance to find shelter.
Keep in mind when stocking fish in your pond, that adding habitat will increase the area for the smaller prey fish and minnows to hide and safely reproduce. Weeds and other structures already in your pond will provide some cover, but a specially designed environment, like Porcupine® Fish Attractor or Fish Attractor Trees and Logs, can improve on what is already there by providing a habitat that won't decompose. The attractors, trees and logs are great places for fishing as the fish will congregate around them and they will not snag fishing line. They are also safe places for fish to spawn. Read more about habitat here: How to Create Habitat.
To keep the population of both predator and prey fish healthy, make sure your water is well oxygenated when you are stocking fish in your pond. If you do not already have an aeration system set up in your pond, now is a good time to add one. When you introduce new fish to a pond or lake, they will be adding waste – something that can cause an algae bloom, pH shift, or possible fish kill. An aeration system and use of beneficial bacteria, like those found in the ClearPAC® Plus, will decrease toxic gases, increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, and prevent harmful stratification from occurring.
Try to catch some of the fish in your pond each season and record how many of each type you are pulling out of the pond while inspecting them for healthy color, weight, and size. Occasionally checking up on your fish will decrease the frequency and severity of population issues, while making your pond an enjoyable addition to your home with fun activities for the entire family. Enjoy these tips, and try putting them to use the next time you are stocking your pond with fish!