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Fish culturists are continually receiving letters from people who want to know how to raise fish.


Transactions of the American
 Fisheries Society

Edited by The Recording Secretary 1914 and Stanley L. Klos 2005

Fish culturists are continually receiving letters from people who want to know how to raise fish. Without assuming to give advice to any one, we would like to drop a long distance hint to such people. First we would refer them to bulletins and other literature published by fish culturists; and, second, we would say, that in our judgment, if one desires to know how to raise fish and become a fish culturist, it is almost necessary" to make an all day and all night—in fact, an all year and an all life time study of the subject, and especially of the spawning and food habits of the kind or kinds of fish that one desires to produce.

Baby Fish Birth



Mr. Lenie of Michigan: I desire to ask Professor Dyche if the flsh introduced into the pond with the bass were blue-gills and sunfish and whether he keeps any small-mouth bass?

Professor Dyche spoke of fish eating one another. We have found that if our old bass are well fed all the time they do not bother the young bass to any great extent. We endeavor to feed our bass in all the ponds once a day and give them all they will eat, and we raise a great many more flngerling bass in the pond with the old bass than we would in a pond from which the old bass were excluded.

Professor Dyche : I do not like to put blue-gills in with the bass when spawning. I put in goldfish, hickory shad, or any sucker-mouthed minnow; but I prefer to spawn blue-gills in an adjoining pond and have a screen between that will allow the young bass to go in where the blue-gills are, or the blue-gills where the bass are. The blue-gills are very bad about eating up the young bass, which are the most foolish of fish when they are little and do not know how to take care of themselves at all. After they have attained some size the tables are turned.

We have no small-mouth bass at all.

As to feeding bass, I plan to raise all I want without feeding them artificially at all. I furnish them with abundant food, just the same, by planning ahead and having certain things grow in the ponds for them to feed on.

Mr. Woods, of Missouri: We do not feed our large bass, but rely on other fish and crayfish. We separate our breeders from the young bass as soon as the latter are able to take care of themselves. Our superintendent, Mr. Cochran, who has had thirty-two years' experience, claims to have the most success by that method.

Mr. Fearino, of Rhode Island: For twenty-eight years we have followed the custom of placing the fry in ponds and feeding them. When they are not provided with sufficient food they turn cannibals and the larger ones eat up the smaller. The smaller ones may even attempt to eat the larger. But if they have all the food they want, you can have both large and small trout in the same place and they will leave each other alone.

Professor Dyche : The problem of feeding depends on conditions. I have ponds where hornwort, milfoil and other fine-leaved plants, commonly called "moss," grow to such an extent that they form a solid mass. On these plants are found large numbers of molluscs, crustaceans, insects and larvae, that furnish food for all kinds of fish to start with, and some of those fish make food for the larger fish. I could not seine one of those ponds to get the large fish without destroying all the plants. So they all live there together, and in October or November I can get, when they do well, from 20,000 to 30,000 bass, from four to six inches long, out of an acre pond, and in addition the old fish are still there and in good condition.

Besides, those young fish must feed out of the way of the older ones and fight for existence. Not only that, but they swim all around the pond and learn to know food when they see it; they know the different kinds of insects, the little goldfish, hickory shad and suckers, and learn to feed on them. When you place such fish in a stream they know how to find food. There are many things to be considered in this business of raising fish to stock ponds and streams, and much that we have learned this year may not be of much use next year because the conditions have changed and each pond or stream will have its own peculiarities.

Mrs. Graham, of Massachusetts: You spoke of losing fish in the tanks by the larger ones devouring the smaller ones. Is that because of underfeeding?

Professor Dyche: Yes; I have had a four-pound bass swallow a two-pound bass in a tank while the fish were being moved. I presume it was because they were hungry. Young fish sometimes swallow each other when held in small ponds or tanks a few days before they are shipped.

Mr. Speaks, of Ohio: In some of our ponds which can be seined readily the young fish are taken as soon as they come from the beds and placed in brooding places. In other cases where seining is difficult, we placed a series of wire fences, to enable the young fish to escape from the old ones. The young fish appear to know instinctively that it is necessary for them to keep entirely away from the old ones. Also by feeding the old ones well their appetites are reduced. We use a great deal of prepared food—meal and meat scraps ground together with some preservative which keeps it indefinitely. By these two methods we have for two years succeeded in raising a very satisfactory number of fish.

In our state fishing has become apparently the prevailing pastime. We estimate that we have now in Ohio nearly a million people who are interested in hook and line fishing. We have succeeded in organising such persons into clubs for the protection of fish in the streams, until now these clubs are common over the state. But we are put to our wits' ends to supply the demands. Last spring I got eighteen carloads from the marsh districts of Lake Erie. We put out a number of carloads of bass weighing from two to four pounds. We got them very early, so we had the benefit of the spawn in the spring. I have found this so successful that in the future I expect to devote a good deal of effort to restocking by this method. We are fortunate in being able to get from the marsh district an almost unlimited number of small-mouth bass, rock bass and blue-gills. We put out eight carloads of blue-gills in March when the streams would receive the benefit of all the spawn. We are making provisions for enlarging our reservoirs and contemplate adding a number of small systems in various parts of the state. It may be better to follow Professor Dyche's plan of concentrating all effort at one point, but from experience in the past three years with little wild ponds I am convinced that under ordinary conditions such numbers of fry can be raised that it seems unnecessary to go into a big scheme of pond propagation.

In one little pond, with an area of less than half an acre, we put last fall, thirty pairs of breeders. I have seen it several times and looked it over recently. We are just beginning to take out the young and it looks as if there were from 50,000 to 100,000 of them. They have had no careful attention of any kind.

We find, as Professor Dyche does, that the young are cannibals from infancy, but it has been our experience, after five years close observation, that when we feed properly this is greatly reduced.

In Lake Erie waters it is interesting to note the difference in habitat of the two species of bass. In Sandusky Bay one can get a carload of small-mouth bass at one haul of the seine. As soon as the water turns cold they all make for the deepest waters. I have been over the bay during the winter season and have seen tons and tons of pickerel and perch caught through the ice, but never a small-mouth bass, where three months later they could be found at every point. In the marsh district we take carload after carload of large-mouth and never see a small-mouth bass. They do not frequent the same waters, yet we are putting them into every stream in the state. It was a common notion a few years ago that small-mouth bass would not live in our ordinary Ohio streams, but we have disproved this by using them to stock the streams, and this year our fishermen had remarkable success with them.

Mr. Titcomb, of Vermont: I wish to ask Mr. Speaks what he uses for food and where he gets it, and to ask also for Mr. Lydell's experience with prepared foods.

Mr. Speaks: It is meat ground with meal and some sort of preservative added so that it will keep. It may be had from any of the Chicago packing houses under the name of "prepared fish food." Our fish appear to relish this food and do well with it.

Mr. Lidell, of Michigan: We use beef liver, beef milt and beef scrap. Last year I fed a lot of young perch on this diet and they were four or five inches long by the latter part of August. They were in a cemented pool and there was nothing else there for them to eat. I tried the same food on bass, but they did not grow satisfactorily on this food exclusively. In the larger ponds where they got a lot of natural food in addition to this, they did very well.

Mb. Speaks: I wish to inquire as to the experience of the members in placing some carp in bass ponds for food. Last year one of our superintendents stripped two female carp, and in eight days had 400,000 young carp. If food that will suit the bass can be produced in that way it would be a simple matter.

Mr. Guy A Ham, of Massachusetts: When you once put carp into a pond it is impossible ever to get them out again. If yon wish to bring upon your head the condemnation of every fisherman, put the carp in.

Mr. Speaks: I know from one or two experiences that if bass are introduced into water completely stocked with carp, it will be only a matter of time until the carp disappear. They eat up all the young carp.

Professor Dyche: I do not favor carp. They eat up much of the food that the little bass should have and they grow too fast. In the same period a bass will grow to weigh a pound and a carp three pounds. I prefer goldfish for food for bass. Young and small goldfish make excellent food for young bass and larger goldfish are good for the larger bass.

But I do not want you to be misled by what I have said about feeding. I have started out to found a hatchery where I will not have to feed the fish and am working out every idea to make the ponds self-sustaining. I have a great deal of vegetation in the ponds and fish that will consume such matter and convert it into food for other fish. I do not attempt to sort or remove small fish. Twenty thousand of the larger fish eat up eighty thousand smaller ones, and that is all right, as I get rid of the weaker bass that do not grow at a proper rate. I have only 600 bass that I am feeding for a new stock of spawners.

A Member: What is the preservative used in the fish food?

Mr. Speaks: I do not know. It cannot be injurious because the fish eat it every day and relish it. It is something to prevent the food from becoming rancid.

President Ward: How do they compare in growth with fish fed on other foods?

Mr. Speaks: We used only this food in one pond last year, and after the pond was frozen over we put lines in and took out bass eight inches long, which is a rather remarkable growth in one season.

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