At Florida Fish Farms, Inc., we encourage the use of native species in recreational ponds whenever possible. A pond stocked with healthy bass, bluegills and redear sunfish (shellcrackers) will yield many years of enjoyment.
There is considerable confusion regarding the species of panfish used for stocking. Below you will find a photo of a redear sunfish. Please note the red margin of the opercular lobe of the gill cover.
Another misconception is that there is a separate species of sunfish known as the coppernose. In actuality, the coppernose (or copperhead, as it is sometimes called), is the male Florida strain bluegill. Note the copper colored banding which gives the male its nickname.
Except for the lack of red markings on the opercular lobe, the female bluegill might be mistaken for the redear sunfish. The female bluegill (left) and male bluegill (right) are depicted below.
Typically, new ponds in Florida greater than ½ acre in area are stocked with 500 mixed bluegill and redear sunfish and 100 to 150 Florida largemouth bass per acre. Channel catfish may also be stocked at 100 to 300 fingerlings per acre in combination with other fish or at up to 2000 per acre when stocked alone. Ponds less than ½ acre are generally more successful when stocked with catfish only. Although game fish will survive in smaller bodies of water, it is difficult to maintain a proper ratio of predator and forage fish. The removal of relatively few fish can lead to an imbalance resulting in the stunting of fish and a general decline in the health of the pond.
The maintenance of a good feeding program can substantially increase the number of pounds of fish in your pond. In addition, feeding allows you to get a periodic glimpse at your fish.
It is not unusual for channel catfish to attain weights of 5 pounds or more in a well fed pond.
At Florida Fish Farms, Inc., we specialize in the production of Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus). Our farm is situated near the center of the zoogeographic range of the Florida subspecies. Our location, coupled with the fact that we do not keep any northern largemouth bass on our farm, help to safeguard the genetic integrity of our product.
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