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Availability and Timing of Fathead Minnow Supplementation Influence Largemouth Bass Survival and Production in Rearing Ponds

Matthew J. Ward, Steven R. Chipps
Open Journal of Animal Sciences , Volume 10, pp 337-345; doi:10.4236/ojas.2020.103020

Abstract: Adjustments to rearing practices should be justified with increases in production, stocking success, or angler satisfaction. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) production was assessed between hatchery ponds where fish were restricted to an invertebrate diet or received supplemental fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) forage during 2015. At harvest, age-0 bass yield was 4.5 times greater and average fish length was 38 mm longer, in the pond that received fathead minnow. In 2016, a second study evaluated the timing of minnow supplementation that included earlier stockings of small fathead minnow (30 mm) minnows. With earlier supplementation, bass yield was 2.3 times greater and fish averaged 14 mm longer at harvest. Bass survival was approximately 38% higher during 2015 when supplementation occurred and 25% higher during 2016 when minnow supplementation began earlier. Our findings show invertebrate forage was probably limiting bass production in hatchery ponds and supplementing with appropriately-sized fathead minnows increased age-0, largemouth bass production.
Keywords: Largemouth Bass Culture / Pond-Rearing / Fathead Minnow Stocking

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