Hybrid Striped Bass in Ponds in West Virginia
If you plan to raise hybrid striped bass in ponds in West Virginia, consider the following factors:
- Road access for stocking and harvesting
- Pond site above the flood plain
- Pond within view of the producer or fenced to prevent trespassing
- Access to electricity at the pond for aeration if intensive
- Open pond production or cage culture
- Adequate drains for harvest in open pond culture
- dequate depth and walk-on dock for harvest in cage culture
Water Quantity and Quality
- Gravity-fed continuous water supply to each culture pond is recommended. A flow of 25 gallons/minute per surface acre of pond is desirable.
- Supplemental aeration is recommended.
- Suggested dimensions for an aquaculture production pond are at least acre in size with an average depth of six feet.
- Water must be free of contaminants, i.e., heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer residues.
- Temperature: 55 – 90 degrees F (72-78 degrees F is optimal)
- pH: 6.5 – 8.0
- Total hardness: 100 mg/l or more
- Total alkalinity: 100 mg/l or more
- Iron: 0.15 – 0.5 mg/l
- Dissolved oxygen: 10 m/l preferred
- Ammonia: temperature and pH dependent.
- Carbon dioxide: less than 15 mg/l
Hybrid striped bass (HSB) fingerlings should be stocked in early spring after water temperature has reached 60 degrees F.
Open Pond Culture
Stock “Phase I” fingerlings two to three inches long (about two months old). Larger fingerlings have exhibited high levels of stress and mortality after transport, especially in ponds with lower alkalinity. Stock at a rate of 3,000 fish per surface acre of water if no supplemental aeration is to be used.
In situations where open pond culture is not practical, HSB can be raised in cages. Fewer HSB can be raised in cages than in open pond culture. Stocking recommendations for HSB in cages are 1,500 fish per surface acre of water if no supplemental aeration is to be used. The following chart is a guide for stocking HSB cages:
|Dimensions in feet||# HSB|
|4×4 cylindrical cage||300|
|4×4 x 4||400|
|8×4 x 4||800|
|8×8 x 4||1,500|
Cages should be evenly spaced to allow circulation of water through the cage. Cages must be placed at a depth to allow at least two feet of water under the cage. Special note: young HSB are cannibalistic. Careful grading of fingerlings is required at stocking to avoid losses.
HSB feed according to their size and according to the water temperature. The grow-out cycle for HSB is an 18-month period to produce a 1 to 1.5 pound market-size fish. Feed conversion ratios for HSB are approximately 1.8 – 2.5 to 1 depending on the pond temperature and the type of diet fed. Fortunately, recent advances in commercial diets for HSB are improving this ratio.
Fish smaller than 1/4-pound should receive 5% of their body weight in feed per day. Larger fish should receive 3% of their body weight in feed per day throughout the growing season. Feeding activity will slow in colder water, but HSB should be fed during winter to maintain health and weight. For every 10 degrees F below 80 degrees F, cut the daily amount of food in half.
HSB should be fed twice daily if possible. Fish should not be fed in the late evening or after dark when pond oxygen levels are declining. If fish are fed only once per day, a floating feed should be used. If fish are fed twice per day, a mixture of 25:75 floating to sinking food is recommended.
HSB are typically ready for harvest in mid-fall after an 18-month growing period. Open ponds must be drained to allow net harvest of fish. HSB should be held off feed for two days prior to harvest and transport. Cages should be removed from the water, cleaned thoroughly, and allowed to dry. Inspect mesh and lacings for signs of wear.