Fisheries Management: Stocking Happy Fish

January 22nd, 2016

Written by Industry Expert, David Beasley, Fisheries Biologist and Director of Fisheries

02_stocking_Trout_Stocking_e.jpgAs a lake or pond owner stocking fish, one of the biggest keys to your success is the purchase of healthy and well cared for fish. Although reputable fish farmers have their own quality control measures in place, state regulations require that a sample of farm raised fish be tested to ensure fish being sold are healthy. This health certification is required by law. Although this law exists to help protect you, it does not ensure you receive high quality fish.

In addition to being healthy, it is important that the fish you are stocking have not been subjected to significant stress. Knowing if a fish has undergone stress is difficult to the untrained eye. To help ensure your success, it is always best to work with a reputable fish stocking company and experienced Fisheries Biologists.

While some species of fish can be stocked year round, many have a desired water temperature range that will provide the best odds of being successfully relocated. This is because the immune system of fish operates efficiently at some temperatures and inefficiently at other temperatures. For example, the immune system of largemouth bass and bluegill is at a crawl when water temperatures drop below the mid 50’s. During these cool water temperatures, these warm-water fish are vulnerable to sickness and should not be handled and relocated when water temperatures are below 50 degrees.

02_stocking_Tiger_Muskies_Merifields_8_c.jpgIn addition to fish having preferred water temperatures, each fish species has a specific tolerance toward swings in water temperature. Largemouth bass and bluegill prefer temperature swings less than 5 degrees per hour, whereas fathead minnows and grass carp tolerate immediate temperature swings of 15 degrees. Understanding the needs of the fish and not pushing them past their limits is how reputable fish stocking companies are able to provide quality fish on a consistent basis.

To stock warm-water fish with the least amount of stress possible, they are transported on trucks in water that ranges between 55 and 65 degrees. Transporting the fish at a colder temperature can compromise their immune system, while transporting at higher water temperatures increases the oxygen needs of the fish during transportation. These factors increase the potential for stress and mortality. Since many warm-water fish species are not able to handle broad temperature swings, most of them are stocked when pond temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees.

Spring is the best time of year to stock warm-water fish followed by the fall which is also appropriate in many regions. While some lake and pond owners have a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) in place that recommends which fish to stock and when, others are not sure what fish to stock and how many. To ensure your fish stocking process favors the health of your fish, it is best to make plans prior to the spring months. Effective planning will ensure that the desired fish are secured in a timely fashion while also allowing the fish stocking to be scheduled when water temperatures are favorable for the fish. Contact SOLitude Lake Management to set up a consultation with one of our experienced Fisheries Biologists for all of your fisheries management and stocking needs.

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David Beasley is a Fisheries Biologist and Director of Fisheries for SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at

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