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How We Protect Fingerlings from Predation During Stocking
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How We Protect Fingerlings from Predation During Stocking

5 Steps That Make an Enormous Difference

Newalla Fish Company has emerged as a frontrunner in pond stocking with our proprietary system. Our fish are raised indoors in disease-free environments that we control. We follow strict biosecurity protocol, ensuring fingerlings arrive strong for guaranteed success during their introduction into ponds. Our tailored approach to stocking ponds incorporates several key tactics to enhance survival during their most vulnerable phase.

Fingerling Survival During Pond Stocking

Our method begins with the careful selection of stock by size and genetics. We provide pond-ready hybrid striped bass known for their rapid growth and adaptability to various pond conditions. This innate resilience reduces their chances of being preyed upon immediately after stocking. Our process is designed to secure the investment of our clients effectively.

1. Stocking Away from Feeders

If you use a feeder, this is very important, especially when introducing fingerlings into an environment with largemouth bass, is the location of their release. Based on our own experience stocking thousands of private pond and lakes, we advise not to stock fingerlings near feeders. The reason is quite straightforward: large predators, such as the largemouth bass, quickly learn to associate feeders with an easy meal. They tend to wait under these feeders, preying on the young fish that come for the feed. This behavior significantly reduces the survival rates of newly stocked fingerlings, as they become easy targets for these waiting predators.

Understanding that sound and smell travel underwater, there's no need to worry about fingerlings finding their feed. Even if they are stocked away from feeders, they will naturally locate their food sources through these cues. After a couple of learning experiences that could only be described as embarrassing, adjustments were made to stocking recommendations to ensure fingerlings are introduced into the pond at locations away from feeders. 

This approach has significantly improved the survival rates of fingerlings by minimizing their initial exposure to predation, allowing them a better chance to grow and integrate without being swallowed by a largemouth bass in the initial seconds after stocking.

2. Ensuring Full Alertness and Strength

Your fingerlings will arrive pond-ready as we have changed our preparation method to limit their vulnerability in the initial moments after stocking. In contrast to standard practices, we prioritize the full alertness of fingerlings during stocking by forgoing the use of sedatives. So, your fish arrive alert and vibrant rather than asleep from a sedated ride in a transport tank.

This approach is critical for the immediate schooling behavior of the fingerlings upon release, enhancing their survival chances against predators and aiding their adaptation to new environments. While sedatives like tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222) and eugenol are commonly used by other companies for various procedures to reduce stress, Newalla's method aligns with the principle that minimizing handling stress without anesthetics leads to better fish survival and ecosystem integration. This practice is critical to stocking success.

3. Minimizing Prep-Time

Many of you are used to receiving new stock with sunken bellies and thin bodies. This is because most companies are starving their fish prior to movement, for those that only pick up, drive and deliver fingerlings, they never feed the fish at all. Prolonged starvation, also known as purging, is an old school method that weakens fingerlings as their guts are emptied for 5-7 days prior to stocking. Newalla Fish Company's innovative approach prioritizes the strength of fingerlings for stocking by eliminating the extended fasting process, which weakens fish. Step 4 of our process prepares juveniles for the specific conditions of their destination pond without prolonged starvation, ensuring they are at full strength upon introduction.

This customized preparation removes large batch purging (starvation), preventing the loss of strength that can occur when fingerlings are deprived of feed for extended periods prior to stocking. In short, we don’t starve your fish to a point of weakness and dump them in the pond to be eaten by your giant largemouth bass.

4. Pre-Acclimation Technology

Our indoor recirculating aquaculture technology enables us to do things other companies simply can't accomplish, pre-acclimation reduces the stress on the fingerlings and shortens the overall stocking process.  This involves aligning the transportation temperature with the pond's surface temperature 5-7 days prior to shipping or delivery.  The result is a seamless introduction of the fingerlings. Our process negates the need for traditional acclimation methods, like floating bags or swapping pond water into tanks, and allows for a direct transfer into the pond.

How are the fingerlings introduced to ponds? The best practice is to swiftly, but gracefully, pour the entire contents of the shipment straight into deep water, avoiding weeds and plants to ensure the school swims out together as a group without any distractions. This ensures success at stocking. It's that simple, we send them to you ready to swim off. Your job is to gently pour them in the water.

5. Pre-Stocking Predator Feeding

Finally, for those concerned about hyper-aggressive predators especially ponds over populated with largemouth bass:  Feeding a predatory high-protein feed prior to stocking helps diminish predatory aggression towards new fingerlings. The feed, Triton 4512 High Protein fish feed, contains 45% protein and 12% fat, specifically formulated to cater to the nutritional requirements of predatory fish such as largemouth bass and hybrid striped bass. This high nutrient content promotes rapid growth, improves fish health, and maximizes feed utilization efficiency. By first satisfying the dietary needs of largemouth bass with this feed, their natural tendency to prey on fingerlings can be mitigated.

The strategy is simple, begin feeding once or twice daily by hand or fill the feeders with Triton a few weeks prior to stocking, then manually offer a generous feeding 1-2 hours prior to stocking. This fills the gut of the more aggressive predators and begins to reduce risk to the incoming fingerlings. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for videos of largemouth bass feeding on Triton.

Conclusion: Our Commitment to Success

At Newalla Fish Company, we go above and beyond to ensure the success and survival of our pond-ready fingerlings. From selection of the strongest and largest stock to innovative acclimation processes, every step is designed to maximize the likelihood of survival and integration into new environments. We stand by our process with a 100% success guarantee, confident in the vitality and readiness of our fingerlings for their new homes.

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