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Why do fish swim in schools? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why do fish swim in schools?

Why do fish swim in schools?
Chris – Akron, OH

Most people are well aware that fish – most of them, anyhow – swim in tightly-knit groups known as schools. But when pressed for a rationale, few people know exactly why fish are so intent on sticking together. As it turns out, school is just as smart for fish as it is for people – but for some very different reasons. So, in no particular order, here they are.

There’s safety in numbers. When pond and lake predators look for a meal, they look for easy targets. And while a school of fish might seem like a logical choice, it’s actually easier to identify a single target – and track it down. Schools of fish, on the other hand, present multiple targets. And when a predator goes in for a snack, the school scatters, making it difficult to keep track of a single individual long enough to catch it.

But when survival’s at stake, group behavior can always use a helping hand. That’s why we recommend Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. When placed in your pond, fish will enjoy improved spawning habitat, and young fish will have a great place to hide when predators are on the hunt. Using our Fish Attractor Spheres, you’ll see improved fish survival rates, healthier stocks, and, if you’re so inclined, better fishing.

The buddy system makes life easier. When a fish goes solo, he faces currents and resistance all alone. And when you have to fight resistance on your own, you have to work hard just to get where you’re going. In schools, however, a lazy fish can draft off the fish around him, significantly reducing resistance. By reducing the energy they need to expend, they can expend even less energy looking for food.

For a good paradigm, think of the Tour de France. During each stage of the race, a few aggressive riders typically break from the tightly-packed peloton. Those lead riders are often overtaken late in the race by riders who stuck with the peloton for the majority of the race to enjoy the benefit of riding behind and among other riders whose bodies reduced wind resistance and made the ride less fatiguing. The breakaway riders, on the other hand, are forced to work harder, making it tougher to maintain the lead. Migratory birds often employ the same tactic, flying in v-formations to reduce drag and conserve energy.

While schooling helps to preserve energy, it’s still important that your fish have the proper food to stay healthy, active, and capable of successful reproduction. We strongly recommend a scientifically-balanced food like Pond Logic Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Designed to promote optimal growth of game fish like bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the large pellets are high in protein, which helps to promote a strong, healthy fish population for more satisfying game fishing.

Having walked our way through fish that do school, it’s worthwhile to note that some simply don’t. In most cases, those fish have evolved with a different set of survival techniques – from hiding to aggression – that works just fine for them.

Pond Talk: Do you often see your fish swimming in a school in your pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres - 3 Pack

How well can my fish find food? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

How well can my fish find food?

How well can my fish find food? Jim, Coplay, PA

Just like people, your fish need to eat to live and grow, while they can’t just drive on over to a fast food restaurant or raid the refrigerator to snack they can utilize their highly developed senses to easily catch a quick meal.

The game fish in your pond are not very picky about what they eat. With a diet ranging from tiny insects and plant matter to birds and small mammals there is plenty of meal choices to go around. While their food sources are usually abundant many pond owners like to implement Fish Food so they can watch their fish or speed up growth and increase their overall size.

Fish rely on their abilities to see, hear, smell, taste and feel to both catch prey and avoid becoming a meal for bigger predators. The height of each individual sense depends directly on the type of fish. Bass for example have sharp eyesight that allows them to easily ambush prey while concealed in submerged plant matter. Due to their bottom dwelling nature, catfish are very sensitive to light so they can see clearly in deeper darker water and tend to be active more at night or darker periods of the day. Some fish develop a keen sense of smell to survive. Bluegill, for example, rely on smell to verify valid food options. Salmon can detect the smell of their home stream 5,000 miles out at sea and will follow the scent back to spawn. Fish also utilize internal sets of ears to hear. While the mechanics of how sound travels underwater is a bit different than how we hear sounds on land, fish can sense particle movements and feel vibrations in the water that can reveal both potential food or possible danger. Your fish can even differentiate or isolate specific sounds to help make sense of what they are hearing when dealing with ambient sounds created by moving water. Their ears, much like our own also provide them with a sense of balance helping them control their pitch and direction.

Keeping their senses in mind, it is easier to see how and why some food is easier to detect than others. Food or lure that is alive and moving will be easier for your fish to detect than a pellet of fish food as it has not only a scent but is also giving off sound and vibration which will attract predators. The same principles can be implemented when fishing your pond. If the water is turbid or it is an overcast day using bright colored lures or lures that rattle can attract fish that might otherwise dismiss your hook. Bait manufactures that have also taken into account the fact that your game fish can smell and taste are producing artificial baits that are scented to attract fish and taste appealing so the fish hangs on to the lure longer instead of spitting it out.

There are always exceptions to the rule but in a natural environment your fish typically have no trouble finding their own food. Things like overpopulation or an unbalanced fish population can have an adverse effect on fish size and health. If you are finding that your game fish are growing slower than normal or are dwindling in numbers you may want to trap or catch a sample of your fish population and track what type of predator to prey ratio you are coming up with and inspect your catch for signs of illness or malnourishment. Click over to our Pond Stocking Blog and Fish I.D. Blog for additional information on your game fish and how to maintain their population.

POND TALK: Which foods, baits, and lures do you find most effective on your game fish?

Keep your fish healthy!

Do I really need to feed my fish? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I really need to feed my fish?

Do I really need to feed my fish? Joe – Little Rock, AR

Come And Get It
Those of us pond guys and gals that own large farm ponds have been feeding our fish for ages. Over the years, some of us have pondered, “Do I really have to feed my fish?”

“Fish” Food Versus Fish Food
There are two ways to keep your fish well fed: properly stock your pond or use fish food. We suggest both.

Properly Stocking:
To properly balance your pond, you should stock the water body with 3 prey fish, like Perch or Bluegill, for every 1 predator fish, such as Bass. This 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. If you stock too many prey fish, you will experience a very small number of big predators and a ton of tiny pan prey fish. If you stock too many predators, you will end up with very small predators and only a few big prey. When your pond is properly stocked, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. We suggest starting out with 300 bluegills and 100 bass per acre. You can add some feeder minnows into the pond to provide a nice snack that will be able to replenish itself. However, it is not uncommon for the fish in your pond to make short work of the feeder minnows you add to the pond.

Fish Food Pellets:
So you feel your fish should have a little more selection than their regular diet of … well … each other? You can control what your fish are eating by feeding them quality fish food like Game Fish Grower. Foods that are high in protein and low in filler promote rapid fish growth and optimum overall size. Pellet feeding also provides an opportunity to turn feeding your fish into an opportunity to have some fun. Pellet training your fish takes some patience and persistence, and while it can be trying at times, it is truly enjoyable once you get it right. Try to establish a daily routine feeding time and place so your fish will begin to expect your pond side presence. Start by throwing some pellets in the water from a distance, waiting for the fish to venture to the water surface to take the food. Repeat this process until your fish willingly greet you at feeding time. As time progresses, you can close the distance between you and the pond’s edge. Avoid making sudden movements, as this will scare the fish and they will be more hesitant to approach you at feeding time. You can then begin placing your hand into the pond with a fist full of food, opening your hand slowly to release the pellets which will float to the surface. You may not have any takers the first few days you try this, but if you are patient, they will eventually figure out where this food is coming from. As they grow more comfortable to your hand being in the pond, they will start eating from it. If you do not have the time or desire to feed your fish by hand, you can place a feeder, like the AquaPro Directional Feeder, at the pond’s edge to release food at programmed intervals.|

What’s On The Menu?
While your fish always eat the food you throw in the pond like they haven’t eaten in years, the truth is, if your pond is stocked properly, they really don’t need any outside assistance. On top of having other fish in the pond to eat, they will also eat bugs from the surface of the pond, leaches at the bottom, and basically anything else they can find in the water. 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.

POND TALK: How often do you feed your fish?

Pond Logic® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

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