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I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them?

Q: I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them?

Carl – Cedarburg, WI

A: Though fish don’t go into hibernation like a bear, the bass and other game fish in your lake or pond do go into a period of decreased physiological activity, or torpor, when water temperatures fall below 40° Fahrenheit. Their metabolism slows, their movement slows, and their temperature falls, which allows them to save energy and survive the winter chill.

Because of this, they need very little food to sustain them. If they do get hungry or need a midnight (or mid-winter) snack, they can forage for meals on their own. In fact, they like to nibble on pond plants and small insects. Their natural instincts kick in, and they use their senses of smell and sight to track down needed nutrients , which give them plenty of energy to weather the winter until feeding season resumes.

So—to answer your question—when water temperatures drop to 45° or 50°F or so, you can totally stop feeding them.

Until then, however, keep giving them a tasty diet like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower fish food. Scientifically balanced to suit the nutritional needs of bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the vitamin C-packed diet helps fuel and grow your healthy fish population, ensuring they’re in great shape for fishing season.

Pond Talk: What is your fish’s favorite all-natural snack?

Promote Rapid Growth With A Balanced Diet - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Q: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Dennis – Rock Island, IL

A: A balanced fish population in your pond is key for a healthy, thriving ecosystem. The best way to start figuring out your fish population is to know what you already have in your pond.

Start by sampling the population you already have by using a fish trap, or fishing out a sample population of fish and inspecting them for size and type.

Next, figure what might be needed to keep the population in check if something is out of balance. When sampling, if you notice you are only pulling out prey fish such as bluegill or perch, then your pond is either on the verge or already overpopulated with prey fish. To keep them in check, either fish out the prey fish or add more predators such as bass. Conversely, if you are only pulling out small bass, then your pond is in need of stocking prey fish.

If your pond is balanced, you should notice a population of fish relatively the same size, and the ideal ratio of about three prey fish to one predator fish.

When introducing the right balance, be sure there is a safe habitat for the fish, especially if you are introducing small fish with an already present population of larger fish. The Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres are perfect for this. Release feeder minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and introduce new, small fish at the other end or near a habitat so they have a chance to hide in the pond. Feeder minnows should be stocked every season as they provide good stock food for larger fish, and they reproduce quickly to maintain a living food source.

Pond Talk: How often do you check your predator:prey ratio in your pond?

Provide Refuge And Attract Fish - Porcupine® Fish Attractors Spheres

How Can I Keep My Pond & Fish Healthy With All Of This Hot Weather? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I keep my pond & fish healthy with all of this hot weather?

Cheryl – Cheshire, OH

A: If you’re feeling the heat, there’s a good chance the game fish in your pond are feeling it, too. Not only will they sense the temperature increase in the water, but they’ll also be affected by a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen in their environment.

So what can you do to keep the fish in your lake or pond cool and comfortable? Check out these four expert-recommended tips:

1. Provide a Cool Habitat: Like humans and other land-dwellers, fish like a place to hide to get out of the sun. They’ll slip under the shade of plants, swim inside logs and take advantage of spots like the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres, which encourage plant growth and give them a place to feel safe, shaded and protected.

2. Keep the Water Moving: When the water moves and circulates with an aeration system like an Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System or an above-surface fountain like a Kasco Decorative Fountain, it allows for greater gas exchange at the water’s surface, expelling dangerous ammonia and taking in healthy oxygen. This provides more “breathable” space for your fish to swim deeper in the pond – where it’s cooler.

3. Rake Out Dead Debris: To cut back on the dangerous gasses being produced in your lake or pond, remove dead debris and decomposing plant matter with a Weed Cutter and Rake. Less debris in your lake means less gas is being produced.

4. Be Cautious of Water Treatments: Dead or dying organic materials can reduce oxygen levels quickly, so be cautious when using algaecides or herbicides to treat algae and other weeds. Rather than dosing your entire pond or lake, treat one section at a time, waiting a week or two before treating another area. This allows the fish to remain in the unaffected areas.

With a little planning and a some regular maintenance, you can keep your recreational pond or lake healthy no matter the temperatures. Your fish will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep cool during these scorching heat waves?

Kasco Fountains - Add Tranquility To Your Pond

What Should I Feed My Game Fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What should I feed my game fish?

Beth – Richmond, VA

A: Sure, your bass, trout and other game fish nibble on nature’s all-natural bounty of algae, weeds, insects and worms. However, they also need supplemental nourishment, particularly if you’re growing them for sport. That’s where commercial fish food, like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food, comes into play.

The Ingredient List

When choosing an over-the-counter food for your game fish, look for three vital ingredients on its label: protein, vitamin C and fish meal.

• The protein gives your fish amino acids that their bodies use to grow and repair muscles and other tissues, and reproduce and lay eggs. The protein quality and digestibility matters, as any that’s unused is excreted as waste.

• Vitamin C delivers essential antioxidants that help to fend off sickness and disease commonly found in game fish. Vitamin C also helps fish form collagen, which helps build strong bones and skin. Because fish don’t manufacture vitamin C on their own, they need it in their diets.

• Adding supplemental nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and fat, highly digestible fish meal helps your lake inhabitants grow to whopper size.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about carbohydrates! While ingredients like grains do their part to bind the food’s ingredients together, they’re not essential in a fish’s diet. Most fish will get their daily dose of plant-based carbohydrates when they nosh on algae or other sub-surface vegetable matter.

Portion Control

Seeing those fish swim to the surface for food is certainly entertaining – and that enjoyment (coupled with dreams of giant fish!) might tempt you to overfeed. However, you should feed your fish an amount that they’ll consume in about 5 minutes. Any more than that turns into waste, which means more nutrients for algae.

If your pond or lake is stocked with small fish or growing fry, crush a few of the pellets into tiny bite-size pieces for them.

Along with the commercial food and foodstuffs found in the pond itself, you can also offer your fish human treats like torn-up chunks of stale bread, chopped up fruits and tiny minnows. They’ll add much-welcome variety to their diets – and help you clean out your refrigerator!

Pond Talk: What special treats do you feed to your game fish?

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others?

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others?

Steve – Delaware, OH

Whether you are an avid fisherman, fish grower or a regular homeowner with a pond, many questions exist in regards to common fish like walleye, tilapia and trout. Depending on your location and pond type, these facts will help everyone get on the same page.

Walleye – Typically raised by avid fisherman and fish growers. They are a great game-fish and are highly palatable. Walleye usually reach an average length of 14 inches and are sensitive to light so they require deeper ponds with murky water or lots of shade. A water temperature of 65-75 degrees is preferabl. A deep water aeration unit helps oxygenate deeper ponds for walleye.

Tilapia – Very popular among fish growers all over the world and are known for their taste and nutritious value. They are generally difficult for homeowners to keep because they tend to dig up the bottom areas of ponds, fight with other fish and also require warmer temperatures to thrive – usually between 75-85 degrees. Tilapia are a fast growing fish, but temperatures below 68 degrees drastically slow their reproduction.

Trout – Trout are popular among anglers and put up a great fight. They are also common among fish growers, but not as popular as tilapia due to their somewhat boney flesh. They prefer clear, cool waters of 50-60 degrees that are highly oxygenated.

Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration Systems

How Do I Balance My Fish Population? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

Diana – Aurora, OR

A balanced fish population is key for creating a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Getting a handle on your current pond inhabitants is a great 1st step to achieving balance.

Start by sampling the current fish population using a fish live trap or fishing pole to catch and record the number, size & species of fish in your pond. You may notice, for example, that you are catching a large number of small predator fish like bass but very few prey fish like bluegill, perch or sunfish. This could signal an unbalanced ratio of predator fish to prey fish.

After analyzing your catch, determine the types of fish that are needed to rebalance the population. The ideal stocking ratio is 3 prey fish to each predator. If you are experiencing an abundance of small predators then stock up on prey fish or vice versa if you are catching an excessive amount of small prey fish. As your pond begins to balance you should notice an overall increase in the size and health of your fish along with an even yield of both predators & prey when trapping or fishing.

It is important to provide adequate habitat for young fish to develop and grow before being consumed by larger established fish populations. Fish Attractor Spheres are an ideal addition to any pond with fish. Smaller fish can hide in the narrower spaces closer to the sphere, large fish can navigate only the outermost regions of the attractor and minnows can hide within the open holes at the end of each pvc “arm”.

When adding your new fish to the pond, try to introduce feeder minnows at one side to preoccupy predator fish while your new fish are being added at the other end of the pond. This will give them more time to acclimate to the pond and find a place to hide. Feeder minnows can be added each season as they reproduce quickly and provide a naturally replenishing food source for your large fish.

Tomahawk Live Traps

What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond? What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond?

Richard – Sheridan, IL

Stocking up on fish for your pond can be fun and exciting, but if you’re thinking of adding bluegill, knowing some of the key differences between hybrid and regular bluegill will help you maintain a balanced pond.

Regular bluegill can grow to be anywhere between six and ten inches, and are olive green with an orange underbelly. They have uniform blue-black markings on the gills and fins, hence the name bluegill. The issue with regular bluegill is they reproduce quickly and can take over a pond very fast if there is not a suitable predator fish population keeping them in check. We recommend stocking your pond with hybrid bluegill to help prevent overpopulation.

Hybrid bluegill are a cross between male bluegill and female sunfish, which result in an 80%-90% of the population being reproduced male. This slows down fast reproduction by keeping the female population to a minimum. Do to their hybrid nature, they can also be slightly larger and have a bit more coloration to them than regular bluegill.

Whenever stocking any type of bluegill, keeping the population in check is key. To do this you must have the correct ratio of predator fish such as bass or walleye. We recommend a 3 to 1 ratio between prey and predator. This means for every 3 prey, you need one predator. For example, if you stock 150 bluegill you will want approximately 50 bass.

When stocking your pond with bluegill, use hybrid bluegill. They are still great for fishing and with these fish attractors, you’ll have plenty of action!

POND TALK: Have you ever had an overpopulation of bluegill in your pond? What did you do to keep the population in check?

Tomahawk Live Traps - Fish Trap

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