Stocking your pond with a variety of fish species has many benefits, including better managing the pond ecosystem and making your pond more attractive to visitors — both because the fish are fun to watch, and because a healthy fish population allows for sport fishing on your pond. Fish can be a key part of your pond management plan. But what types of fish to stock? Here is more information to help you choose.
Consider Your Climate
Some fish need cool summer temperatures to survive, and others are well suited to warmer water. Be sure the fish you choose can live in your climate. For southern ponds, consider largemouth bass and channel catfish as great options for sport fishing. In more northern areas, trout are an excellent addition that are particularly fun to fish for. Ponds in warmer climates benefit from the inclusion of tilapia. These fish help keep a pond clean by eating algae and aquatic weeds.
Include Prey and Predators
The fish you put in your pond will need a regular supply of food to survive. Larger fish, especially those enjoyed by sport fishermen, typically eat smaller fish. The first step in stocking your pond should be to establish a robust population of prey fish. These include bluegill, redear sunfish, golden shiners, and fathead minnows. It can take a year or more for your prey fish to reproduce sufficiently before you add in predator fish such as bass. Some prey fish, such as bluegill, also can be harvested by fishing. You can manage your fish populations by monitoring the numbers you harvest. Over-fishing may require restocking certain species of fish to keep a proper population balance.
What to Avoid
Large fish such as walleye and pike are often not well suited to ponds simply because of size. They should generally only be stocked in lakes. Carp should be avoided as they tend to make the water muddy by stirring up the bottom of the pond. Some fish are undesirable because they become easily overpopulated. These include bullheads, green sunfish, and crappie, among others. Including these fish may make it harder for more desirable species of fish to survive in your pond.
When you’re ready to stock your pond with fish, be sure that you are choosing species that suit your climate and the desired uses of your pond. Buy your fish from reputable fisheries to insure their health and quality, and enjoy the increased energy that fish bring to a pond.