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I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Joe – Alhambra, IL

A: Bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – make excellent predator fish. These strong, scrappy guys keep your bluegill population in check. They chase frogs, eat crustaceans and snails, and even catch unsuspecting birds and rodents like small muskrats. They’re a definite asset in your pond or lake.

These two fish cousins, however, have their differences. Read on to learn which is better suited to your pond or lake.

Distinct Differences

Though they’re both species of fish in the sunfish family, largemouth and smallmouth bass have different physical characteristics. The largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, sports a big grin that extends way back beyond its eye, while the smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, has a smaller smile that reaches only to the middle of its eye. They also differ in their color and color patterns; the olive green largemouth has dark blotches of scales that run horizontally down its flank, and the brassy brown smallmouth has dark scales that run vertically.

Happy Habitats

These freshwater fishes both thrive in lakes, ponds and rivers, but each species has its preference. Largemouth bass favor crystal clear lakes with 2 to 6 feet of water, and sandy shallows and abundant rooted aquatic plants for spawning. They flourish in warmer water – even enjoying 80 to 90 degree temperatures in the summertime.

Smallmouth bass, however, are primarily river dwellers that like to hang out around pea-size to 1-inch-diameter gravel for spawning. They’ll tolerate lakes and ponds, but they like the steady current and higher rate of dissolved oxygen it provides. They also like water temperatures a bit cooler; anything warmer than 90 degrees F is lethal to smallmouth bass.

Food for Thought

These fishes also have different tastes in food. Largemouth bass aren’t too picky. They’ll gobble through a variety of foodstuffs, from Game Fish Grower Food to smaller fish like shad, perch, bluegill and sunfish. Smallmouth bass, however, stick to the bottom of the lake or river and nosh on crustaceans, insects and smaller fish.

Potential Pondmates?

Because both these guys are fun and challenging to fish, it would be fantastic to have both species in your pond or lake, wouldn’t it?

Large- and smallmouth bass can live together, but it takes the help of an attentive game fish manager to make that happen. The general consensus from most experts is that the largemouths will typically replace smallmouths in smaller pond settings unless subadult or adult smallies are introduced annually. Even if you provide an ideal spawning environment for them, the largemouths will still edge them out.

Bottom line: You’re better off with the largemouths. They’re easier to keep, and they adapt more readily to a pond- or lake-type environment.

Pond Talk: What types of game fish do you have in your pond or lake?

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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 a 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?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

Michigan Residents Can Pre-order Fish to pick up In-store on Fish Day – May 8th

The Pond Guy presents Fish Day 2010 on May 8th

What is Fish Day?

Fish Day is a local semi-annual event located in Marine City, MI. Although Koi and Goldfish are offered all season at our location, game fish are reduced to only twice a year (Spring & Fall). Game fish require a much larger environment to survive they cannot be held in holding tanks for any extended period of time. Fish Day is a great opportunity to visit with other pond owners, get lots of free pond advice and save on some of our most popular items such as Airmax Aeration Systems, weed and algae treatments, Nature’s Blue Pond Dye and many other great items. Advanced orders are recommended and will be filled first. Extras will be available starting at 9 am on Fish Day, although they are subject to availability. No deposit is required. $25 minimum order.

This is not exclusive to Michigan residents. Fish bags have a limited oxygen supply (approximately 1-2 hours) for the fish. We’re locate at:

6135 King Road
Marine City, Michigan 48039
(888) 766-3520

You can order:
1/4 Acre Package $299.00 SAVE 5% (75 Hybrid Bluegills, 50 Redear Sunfish, 25 Perch, 50 Bass and 6 lbs. Minnows)
1/2 Acre Package $469.99 SAVE 10% (175 Hybrid Bluegills, 50 Redear Sunfish, 50 Perch, 75 Bass, 12 lbs. Minnows)
Customize or your Fish Day Package which is a $25 Minimum. We ask that the fish be ordered in increments of 5

Here are the fish available:
2″–4″ Hybrid Bluegills ($0.89 ea. or $79/100)
2″–4″ Redear Sunfish ($1.29 ea. or $119/100)
2″–4″ Yellow Perch ($1.49 ea. or $139/100)
3″–4″ Large Mouth Bass ($1.89 ea. or $179/100)
3″–5″ Channel Catfish ($0.99 ea. or $89/100)
Fathead Minnows up to 5 lbs ($10 per pound)
Fathead Minnows up to 6 lbs or more ($9 per pound)

Note: Price includes fish, bags and oxygen. Minimum fish order $25. Bring cooler or Rubbermaid tub. These containers will protect your bags during transportation. Each bag will be supplied with up to 3 hours of oxygen. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Largemouth Bass

Quick Links:

  • Fish Available
  • How to Order
  • Stocking Rates
  • Fish Habitat
  • Do I need to feed my fish?
  • Fish Day FAQ
  • Directions to get to Fish Day
  • Pond Talk: Have you participated in The Pond Guys Fish Day event?

    Pond & Lake Fish Day - May 8th

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