Stocking Fish in the Summer Months

The Dog Days of Summer are officially here, and while we have plenty of air conditioning to keep us cool, our fish unfortunately do not! Hot summer weather brings with it an array of potential problems for pond owners, including pond turnover, vegetation growth, and today’s topic: the challenge of stocking more fish.

With the extended daylight hours, breaks from work and school, and the overall happy air that Summer brings, many people are inclined to spend more time outdoors working on their favorite projects; some of which can include stocking ponds and lakes. It’s always a great time to stock fish, right? Wrong!

Stocking fish in the heat of the summer CAN be done, but only with extreme caution. Because of the way different fish species process natural body regulation and homeostasis, a rapid temperature change can shock the fish drastically and can even be fatal. For humans, it would be about equivalent to jumping in a hot tub right after taking an ice bath. You’d feel a little shocked, too!

When stocking fish in the summer months, it is important to realize any rapid temperature change of a 5-degree difference or more is fatal. But, good news! Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your summer stocking goes smooth:

  • If picking fish up at a physical hatchery location (i.e., picking fish up that are in bags), it is crucial to come very early in the morning before pond waters get too hot. A good rule of thumb is to schedule your pick-up order as early as possible a day in advance. Coming in the afternoon during the heat of the summer is not a good idea!
  • DO NOT put live fish in the bed of a pick-up truck to take them home. You will arrive with cooked fish! Bed covers and tarps do more harm than good, also. They trap heat and allow no wind to circulate. Placing the fish in the cab of the vehicle ensures that they remain at a safe temperature until your destination is reached.
  • After picking your fish up and making it to your destination, floating the bag for a time period of about 15-20 minutes allows the fish to slowly get acclimated to the pond’s actual temperature, better preparing them to enter the water.
  • Release the fish in the deepest water possible. This may entail wading out in your pond and getting a bit wet, but pond water never hurt anybody! Giving your fish access to deep water upon release allows them the capability to swim to a slightly cooler part of the water column right away.
  • If you have shade trees or well water running in some part of the pond, release your fish there! The cooler, the better.

After all, fish are live animals. It is important to treat them humanely and correctly, so you get the most out of your pond. With these tips, you are well-armed to make your summer stocking project a reality!


Author: Jordan Moore

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