Fishponds On Farms: Characteristics of the Young Fish- Their Food and Growth
Fishponds On Farms: Characteristics of the Young Fish- Their Food and Growth When first hatched the fry of most of these species are colorless, and because of their tendency to collect among the roots and in the crevices of the spawning beds are difficult to find.
They become darker in a few days, however, and are easily distinguished. In a short time, they rise a few inches off the bed during the day and return to the bottom at night, increasing the distance each day until they eventually reach the surface.
During all this time the parent fish has given them the same sedulous attention as when they were in the egg stage. Gradually the school enlarges in circumference to such an extent that he has difficulty in keeping his brood together.
He crowds them into shoal water—their natural feeding ground and patrols the shore in an effort to ward off enemies, but they finally separate into small bands, escape the vigilance of their guardian, and become free lances in the strife for survival.
The largemouth black bass and catfish fry school much longer than the other species mentioned; in fact, catfish fry retain this gregarious tendency throughout the first year, while young black bass remain together until 2 inches or more in length.
Young sunfish and catfish are easily taught to take artificial food, when the natural food of the pond is insufficient for their nourishment. As with adult fish and animal tissue is the most readily accepted, and will produce the strongest growth, though cooked cereals or vegetables will answer, and are even relished by young catfish when given in the raw state.
The food should be scattered along the natural feeding grounds, starting with a small amount, and increasing the quantity to what the fish will consume daily.
Care should be taken to prevent the pollution of the pond through the decomposition of excess food.
The young basses and crappies cannot be successfully fed and must depend entirely upon the insect life in the pond for their sustenance. For this reason, no more young fish of these species should be carried in a pond than the natural food supply contained therein will support.
When such food is inadequate for the number of fish in a pond the only alternative will be the provision of additional ponds, to which a portion of the fry may be transferred for rearing.
A public-spirited course would be to plant the surplus stock in neighboring public waters, taking care not to introduce them into streams and lakes which should be reserved for trout or salmon, as their presence would be detrimental to the latter species.
Such a policy pursued by several fish-culturists in a given vicinity would maintain good public fishing, without diminishing to any appreciable extent the quantity of edible fish in the waters under private control.
Ordinarily well-constructed ponds can produce from two to ten times the number of fry that can be reared therein. The surplus is of some value as food for the stronger specimens but would be of much greater value if liberated in adjacent lakes or streams.
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