How many fish to stock a pond (Pond Stocking Guide)

Last Updated on November 16, 2020 by Anne Thynne

You won’t begin building a home or barn without planning a suitable structure as a prudent person. Likewise, as a prospective pond owner, you need to plan your pond according to your fishing requirements while making a healthy habitat for the fish.

So, with proper design, built-quality, and location, you must ensure that you have provided an adequate amount of fish in your pond.

But do you know how many fish to stock a pond? For a typical medium-sized pond, you should stock 50-100 largemouth bass, 500- 800 bluegills, and 80-100 perch (yellow) per surface acre. You can also include a similar number of other common types of fishes according to your preference.

Let’s have some in-depth information about the pond’s fish stocking. Keep reading…

Things to consider before stocking a pond with fish

There are several aspects that you need to think about while deciding the pond’s stock. And these factors affect the fish’s number significantly. The things are-

  1. Pond size

The size of the pond matters. You need to determine the frequency of the fish according to the depth and width of the pond. Fish needs proper spacing to live and grow spontaneously. Also, knowing the size of the pond is essential to pick the right type of fish. Don’t forget that the minimum size pond that will be stocked is 1/4 acre.

As a result, the fish number may increase or decrease. So, consider the dimensions of the pond for fish stocking for optimal results.

  1. Types of fishes

All types of fish are not suitable for all types of ponds, and some killer or predator fishes may kill and eat other fishes. Consequently, your pond may fall short of fishes. So, you must choose those bunches of fishes that have similar behavior and can stay together. Therefore, the quantity of fish can be fluctuated by their size and weight.

  1. Fishing pressure

The stocking rate varies for different fish species. Some kinds of fishes have quick reproduction while some grow plus reproduce at a steady pace. It would be best if you stocked as many as you want to pull out at the end of the year in some cases. For instance- if you need 200 hybrid bluegills a year, then stock 200 hybrid bluegills per surface acre.

  1. Pond’s condition

Your fish stocking amount immensely depends on your pond’s condition and the water quality and quantity. As I said earlier, large ponds can contain plenty of fishes, and the opposite happens for small ponds. However, a brand new pond’s stocking rate would never be the same as rehabilitated ones. The stocking number of fishes in a pond with previously established fish populations should be completely different from the new or rehabilitated ponds.

On the other hand, some species of fish may not survive in poor water-quality pond.  So, you must check the pond’s actual state before stocking fish.

  1. Feeding

Some people don’t provide any feed to their pond’s fish, and they let the fish have natural food, while other people offer feed externally to help their fish-growth. Therefore, your stocking rate shouldn’t be too high if you don’t want to feed them from outside. Instead, it would be better if you stock a slightly lesser number than the average stocking amount.

On the other hand, if you want to feed you fish but don’t have enough time, then you can get a durable automatic fish feeder for more convenience. This device will feed your fish at a predetermined time and help you maintain the fish feeding activity without human intervention.

  1. Pond Filtration

Filtration makes your pond clean and clear. It wipes out harmful decomposed vegetable, unconsumed feed, and fish excrement from the pond. You need to combine both biological and mechanical filters. Biological filters neutralize toxic substances while mechanical filters remove solid particles.

You need to buy the best pond filter considering the pond’s size and fish stocking density. I would recommend you to go for a bigger filter to get better results as you can’t over filter your pond. Yet, overstocking can damage the whole pond filtration system. Ideal stocking is 50 cm of fish per 1000L. It will allow the fish to grow smoothly.

  1. Aeration

Surface aeration and bottom aeration are a real plus. Aeration is beneficial for your pond as it adds oxygen and takes CO2 out of the water. Ensure proper aeration to help the newly stocked fish to maintain a sustainable living environment. Also, beneficial bacteria can’t survive at the bottom of the pond without adequate oxygen. As a result, your organic waste won’t break down easily inside the pond.

You can increase aeration by buying and setting a highly efficient pond aeration kit or building a water fountain. The aeration system also benefits your pond’s underwater plants and algae.

  1. Time

Time plays a crucial role in fish stocking and must know the best time of fish stocking. Fall and spring season is the perfect time for fish stocking. You should not start stocking fish in winter as fish don’t consume food in cold weather. They go to the hibernation state in winter. So, it would be harder for them to survive in a new environment during winter. Also, avoid scorching days of the year.

how many fish to stock a pond

Different types of fish and their stocking rate

You need to have a clear idea about the stocking rate and species you will put in the pond. Let’s dive into the details…

  1. Largemouth bass and bluegills

These are the primary fish or common fish, which are very popular among pond owners. These fish also reproduce at a great rate and make new generations for years to come. You should stock 100 basses to 200 bluegills per surface acre. Their size should be 2-3 inches.

  1. Yellow Perch

You can put 100 yellow perch per surface acre. This sort of fish will reproduce, but reproduction won’t survive in the typical ponds. So, you need to stock them periodically. But if you have a good food base, feed fish with pellets, and a structure for perch to hide, it is possible to see reproduction.

  1. Black crappie

You can stock 100 black-crappies per surface acre. They become huge, up to 16-18 inches. These fish are good to eat. However, they will reproduce with bluegills once a year.

  1. Channel catfish

This is another great fish that you can put in your pond. These fishes are also perfect for eating and fishing as they proliferate. You can add 100 channel fish per surface acre. But, if you don’t want to eat and fish, you should not add catfish because they become very large and will eat your bluegills.

  1. Shell-Cracker

Shell-CrackerThey eat shell; that’s why they are known as shell-cracker. This fish is also known as a red-eared sunfish because they have a red ear flap and yellow breast. As they eat parasite carrier snail of the pond, the parasite issue will be solved noticeably. Add 100 fish per surface acre.

  1. Hybrid Bluegills

Hybrid BluegillsThese kinds of fish grow rapidly, and if you can feed them according to their need, you should add as many as you want. I would recommend you to add at least 100 hybrid bluegills per surface acre. This kind of fish bites on worm aggressively. So, you need to restock occasionally.

  1. Fathead minnow

You should add this fish species to your tally as they are excellent for promoting growth in the pond with restocking. They are the feeder fish. You should stock 1000 fishes per surface acre.

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  • ✔ POND STOCKING – Black Fathead Minnows are a hardy fish that is great for stocking as a feeder fish for a recreational pond.
  1. White amur (grass carp)

The stock rate of white amur varies based on vegetation as they eat vegetation. Put in 8-12 grass carp per surface acre.

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  • ✔ RELIABLE SHIPPING DIRECTLY TO YOUR DOOR – Fish ship within 48 hours of your order for arrival Tuesday through Friday. Please see shipping information below for more details.
  • ✔ HEALTHY FISH WITH LIVE ARRIVAL GUARANTEE - Step by step acclimation instructions will be included with your order. We stand behind all our products and will either ship replacements or refund your purchase if necessary.
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Fish stocking rate options in a table

I have made a table describing three different fish stocking options according to the feeding program per acre for better understanding and convenience.

Options Fish rate with fish feeding program( per surface acre) Fish rate without fish feeding program( per surface acre)
1 100 Largemouth basses, 100 Black crappies, 500 Bluegills, 200 shell crackers, 200 Channel Catfishes, 800-1000 Fathead minnows, 10 white amurs 100 Largemouth basses, 100 Black crappies, 400 Bluegills, 200 shell crackers,100 Channel Catfishes, 1000-1200 Fathead minnows, 10 white amurs
2 2000 Hybrid bluegills, 200 Redear breams, 800-1000 Fathead minnows, 10-12 white amurs 500 Hybrid bluegills, 200-250 Redear breams,1000-1200 Fathead minnows, 10 white amurs
3 100 Channel catfishes, 200 Redear breams,1000 Fathead minnows, 10-12 White amurs 80-100 Channel catfishes, 200 Redear breams,1000-1200 Fathead minnows, 10 White amurs

Fish stocking process

After deciding the number and types of fish to be stocked, you must follow an appropriate stocking process to minimize the fingerling fishes’ death and health issue.

First of all, make sure that you have managed and maintained all the things mentioned in the above sections. After that, you must ensure the safe and stress-free transportation of the fish. Because of poor transportation, the mortality rate of fish could be higher.

After having a secure carrying, now it’s time to do the acclimation process. As we all know, fingerling fishes come in a sealed bag or tank with adequate water and oxygen.

So, when the fishes arrive, patiently open the tank or bag and insert some water into the tank from your pond using a bucket or small pump. Mixing both types of water is recommended when you are introducing fish from hard water to soft water.

At this stage, adjust the water temperature and bring it close to the pond’s water so that new fingerlings fishes feel more comfortable. After 20 minutes of the adjustment, gradually add the fish to your pond. Don’t wait for 20 minutes if you witness stress or weakness in fish behavior.

If the fishes are supplied in a plastic bag, you should keep or float the bag in a cool and shady place of the pond for half an hour. After 30 min, open the bag and immediately let the fish dive into the pond.

After all, the stocking process is simple, but you need to accomplish it carefully.

To wrap it up,

Fish stocking is a crucial thing to keep your pond healthy and live. But, you must ensure that you’re not overstocking your water surface as overstocking can cause population imbalance inside your pond. So, you must decide the stock rate keeping all the aspects and conditions that I have mentioned in this guide.

I believe this article will help you to determine how many fish to stock a pond. So, read thoroughly, understand deeply, and implement precisely. Simple!      

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