How to Stock a One-Acre Fish Pond

A one-acre pond can be a good source of entertainment and recreation when stocked with the correct species of fish and using the right stocking methods.
Choosing incorrect species or adding fish at the wrong time of year can result in loss of fish as well as stunted growth of some species due to overcrowding. When deciding what type of fish to buy to stock a pond, think about small fish that can be a constant food source for larger fish. Try to establish a self-sufficient ecosystem that can support a healthy fish population without additional expense.

Step 1

Add 1,000 adult fathead or golden shiner minnows to the one-acre pond in the fall when water temperatures fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The minnows provide the base food source for all other fish but will need time to become established. Transport the fish to the pond in a plastic bag or bucket. Let the bag or bucket sit in the pond water at the water's edge for 30 minutes until the temperature in the container is the same as the pond water to prevent shock when the fish are released. Don't add small fish next to a drainage or overflow where the fish could be swept out of the pond by a strong current.

Step 2

Add 250 small bluegill and 250 small red-ear sunfish in the winter of the first year. If possible, add another 1,000 adult fathead or golden shiner minnows at the same time, because the loss rate for the minnows added in the fall due to birds and other predators is high. The bluegill and sunfish will spawn in the spring and provide food for larger species such as largemouth bass. Use the same method described in Step 1 to allow the fish to adapt to the water temperature and avoid small fish from being lost via drain currents. You can release the fish in the same area each time because the fish will swim away from the area and disperse themselves throughout the pond.

Step 3

Stock 100 small largemouth bass in the spring when water temperatures are still below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Use largemouth bass or a largemouth bass hybrid because they are adapted to live in pond environments. Addition of the the largemouth bass in the spring allows the bass fingerlings to feed on the bluegill and sunfish that are hatching in the spring. Use the same procedures as described above to introduce the young bass to their new home.

Step 4

Stock 100 small channel catfish the following fall if catfish are desired. Channel catfish have a low reproduction rate; however, even a few will keep the water cloudy as they forage for food on the bottom of the pond. Cloudy water is visually unappealing and can affect the health of other fish. Also, cloudy water prevents the growth of beneficial algae and grasses that smaller fish feed on and use for cover by blocking sunlight from the bottom of the pond. Avoid bullhead catfish because they have a higher reproduction rate than channel catfish and they eat bass and bluegill eggs. Add young channel catfish to the pond the same way as you add other fish.

Things You Will Need

  • 1,000 adult fathead or golden shiner minnows
  • 250 1- to 3-inch bluegill
  • 250 1- to 3-inch red-ear sunfish
  • 100 2- to 4-inch largemouth bass
  • 100 2- to 4-inch channel catfish

Tips

  • Do not add fish to your pond that were trapped or caught in another location. Fish from an outside source may bring diseases to your fish population or may have trouble surviving in a small pond.
  • Never stock fish in a pond if the water temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit because fish cannot tolerate the warmer temperatures when first introduced into the new pond.

Warning

  • Goldfish or koi are not recommended for a large outdoor pond due to animal predation, competition with game fish and their ability to create turbidity in the water due to their bottom feeding activities.

About the Author

Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.