Best fish to stock in your dam

“Is it worth putting fish in my dam?”

The answer is almost always “Yes! 100%!”.

Fish And Dams Go Hand In Hand.

Our finned friends are a great addition as they help form a balanced ecosystem and are great fun to have and soothing to watch! When appropriately stocked, they can remove nutrients as part of a food chain, control mosquitoes & filamentous algae, and most of all, provide recreation and fun by (responsible) fishing, hand feeding or just observing.

When selecting the best fish to stock in a dam we treat every client individually and find out their goals and preferences first. For instance, there’s no point buying an aggressive angling fish that may prove difficult to manage and there’s no point stocking Barramundi in Tasmania because they’d probably turn over as soon as they hit the cold water (poor things!).

Without further ado, here are our top fish picks:

Silver Perch

A hardy fish well suited to dams and reservoirs.  Their natural habitat is lowland, turbid, slow flowing rivers ranging from Queensland to Victoria and into South Australia so they have adapted to a variety of climates which makes them an ideal fish for dams. They grow to a maximum length of 500mm and maximum weight of 8kg although you need to be feeding them with fish food pellets if you want them to grow to that size in a dam.

Silver perch are omnivorous feeders meaning they eat both plants and animals.  Their natural diet includes aquatic plants, snails, shrimp and aquatic insect larvae.  They will readily take fish food pellets. Young fish are considered by some to be good for mosquito control and they are also promoted as being able to control filamentous algae although this will depend on what other food is available.

Silver perch are a good table fish and are one of a few native fish bred for aquaculture.  Muddy water can transfer into the taste of the fish so if you’re stocking silver perch for the table then you should either floc the muddy water or purge the fish in tanks for a couple of days before eating.

If you want your fish to thrive and be protected from predators, you will need to add habitat to your dam. Habitat can come in the form of underwater structures, aquatic plants or floating wetlands.

Silver perch are one of the best as they’re easy to find, easy to grow, tolerant of a variety of environmental conditions, and good to eat (if you’re a meat eater!).  What more could you want?

Golden Perch

Golden Perch, also known as Yellowbelly, Callop or Murray Perch are native to the Murray Darling Basin and a great fish for stocking in larger dams with a minimum surface area of 500m2 (1/10th of an acre) and minimum volume of one megalitre (million litres).  If your dam is smaller than this, Silver Perch would be a better option.  When stocking Golden Perch, we recommend a stocking rate of 100 fish per surface acre.

Golden Perch are usually available to stock in early summer as fingerlings and will grow quickly in most dams with a natural food supply of insects, shrimp, yabbies and small fish.  Golden Perch don’t take fish food pellets well so creating a natural food supply is important.

Golden Perch are well suited to dams as they prefer still or sluggish waters.  They have a wide temperature tolerance between 4 – 35 degrees and have no problem with turbidity or moderate salinity.

Golden Perch can grow up to around 20kg but will usually get to 2-4kg in dams providing a good size fillet.  They’re a good eating fish and rarely have off or muddy flavour.

Golden Perch can live for over twenty years but their normal life span is less than ten.  In nature, they breed during spring floods producing semi buoyant eggs that drift downstream.  This means that in farm dams even if they breed the eggs won’t remain viable as they will sink to the bottom and become overrun with bacteria, fungus etc.  Restocking every year or so will be required to maintain numbers.

Golden Perch are a great addition to larger dams and are well suited to most areas around Australia.

Aussie Bass

Aussie Bass are a native species of the eastern drainage systems of Australia, commonly found from South Eastern Queensland down to Southern Victoria.

Aussie Bass are carnivores that like to feed on insects, insect larvae, shrimp, yabbies and smaller fish. If stocking your dam with them, it’s a good idea to also stock smaller feeder fish such as Murray River Rainbows or glass shrimp to keep them happy.

While they are heavy feeders, Aussie Bass are slow growers compared to other native freshwater species such as Silver or Golden Perch reaching around 40cm and 1 – 2kg in dams with good food supplies.

It’s relatively small size is made up for by their aggressive fight as a sport fish species and out of those species suitable for dams, they are arguably the best eating fish.

The natural breeding behaviour of Aussie Bass involves migrating to estuarine or salt water for breeding which is why they won’t successfully breed in dams and will need to be restocked every few years.

Considered the Barramundi of the South, Aussie Bass are a great sport fishing and eating species that is well worth stocking for anyone who wants a prized catch from their dam.

Freshwater catfish

Freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus), also known as Eeltail catfish, are native to the Murray Darling Basin and are usually found in slow flowing river or lake systems.  They are a relatively sedentary species that don’t move around much, making them an ideal species for dams. They need to be handled with care as they have a spine at the fin behind their head.  Known for their excellent eating, they will grow in dams to around 500g – 2kg.

One benefit to stocking Freshwater catfish in dams is that they are one of few native species that will successfully breed in dams.  Freshwater catfish become sexually mature at around 3-5 years of age and will create a nest from gravel and pebbles in Summer when water temperatures reach around 20-24 degrees.  The eggs settle into the gravel nest where the male remains to clean, fan and protect the eggs that hatch after around seven days.

If you’re after a ‘not so common’ species to stock in your dam; that’s good eating and will successfully breed then the Freshwater catfish is a good choice.

Note: Before stocking any kind of fish in your dam, please check your local regulations to make sure they’re an approved species in your area.

Get the right start when you’re ready to stock fish and call us on 1300 283 837

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48 Comments
48 Comments
  • John Kenneth Morris Barnard wrote...

    I have a neighbour who has a dam loaded with algae [mainly because it receives sunshine only in the pm]. How does one tell if the algae is filamentous algae?

    • Marketing Boss wrote...

      Hi John,

      Algae can be caused by many reasons. Get your neighbour to give us a call and we will glady help them out!

  • Greg melton wrote...

    Have a small dam about 20m x 20m x 2 m deep get a lot of duck weed wondering if stocking with some fish will help keep it down

  • Helen wrote...

    Hi, what type of fish would you recommend for a dam in WA?

    • Marketing Boss wrote...

      Hi,
      Bream or Yellow Perch could be a great option for inland waterways in WA, Check with your local fish authority or local hatchery for stocking limits.

  • John wrote...

    Hi have a pretty deep dan at home in vic, wondering because I am a angular what would be the best fish to stock it with?

    • Marketing Boss wrote...

      Hi John,
      Silver Perch are a great species to stock in your dam, especially in Victoria.

  • Matt Galloway wrote...

    Hi I just got my dam Dug our in western vic, roughly 12 foot deep and 1 million litres of water, wondering what fish to stock and what to feed.. tia

    • Jessica Jones wrote...

      Hi Matt,
      Silver Perch are always a great option but to be able to give you specific, personalised, advice we’ll need some extra info that you probably don’t want to discuss publicly.
      Could you please get in touch via our contact page so one of our specialists can give you a call?

  • Sam Fox wrote...

    Hi, We have a large dam (a few acres 2-4metres deep with plenty of structures, algae, plants and tinny guppies) and it has been overrun by tilapia. Did originally have silver perch in it but now we only have tilapia, eels and turtles, carp with a few catfish left. Is there a native fish which will breed well in it and protect itself from the tilapias?

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Sam,
      We’re sorry to hear that.
      Most species smaller than the tilapia won’t really stand a chance with them in there so our main recommendation would be to actually physically remove the Tilapia if possible.
      If not, we’d suggest stocking some Barramundi who will help clean up the Tilapia invasion but may further decimate other fish populations.
      Without having specific information we can’t really speak much further to the topic. Feel free to lodge an enquiry form if you’d like some more information and if you’d like to chat with land owners who deal with Tilapia all the time, our friends from Pond Boss in America have some pretty good forums: http://forums.pondboss.com/

  • Gordon Gunn wrote...

    Where is the best place to buy silver perch from for dam in Kangaroo Ground Victoria? Thanks in advance.

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Gordon,
      We’d be happy to set you up with some Silver Perch, could you please fill out an inquiry form so we can organise this for you without having to leave your contact details in the comments?
      Kangaroo Ground isn’t actually that far away from our office in Somerton so we’d be able to have them to you fairly quickly 😊

  • Chris wrote...

    How many silver perch will be sufficient for a 3 million litre dam?

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Chris,
      Due to size and without knowing where you are located we would recommend a maximum of 100 Silver Perch for a dam of that size.
      If you would like to give us a call or get in touch through our contact form we can discuss this further 🙂

  • Merv Blechynden wrote...

    Have a small dam in south west of WA
    have just this year for algae. Am looking for fish to help control. That will coexist with marron

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Merv,
      Silver Perch will happily co-exist with your Marron and have been known to snack on algae. Having said that this will depend on what other food sources are available within your ecosystem so there’s no guarantee that they’ll fix the problem.
      Our general recommendation for dealing with algae is to get some biological treatments (such as Biostim Pellets) in your water to help reduce excess nutrients and if you’re hunting for a quick fix, you can treat your dam with Algae Lift.
      Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email if you’d like to discuss this further.

  • joseph wrote...

    hi I’m from South Australia near port Lincoln for my research project this year at school my question is whether farmers can utilise there dams on there farms for fish farming I stocking a dam with rainbow trout I’m wondering weather you could give me any tips about keeping them alive

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Joseph,
      While farmers certainly can utilise their dams for fish farming, Rainbow Trout are unfortunately not greatly suited to your area. Since trout need to be kept cool, they tend to prefer to live in areas such as Tasmania and the Southern and Highland regions of Victoria.
      Your best bet would be to contact the Australian Trout Foundation or, for specific fish help in your area, you can try contacting one of the below organisations who will be able to point you in the right direction:
      RecFish SA
      SAFFA
      SAFWAA

  • dave wrote...

    Hi. We have a dam, about 3000m2, on a small creek that flows into the Mary river up behind the sunshine coast. Down stream there is a water fall that prevents fish, like bass, from moving up the creek to the dam. Its been suggested that we stock the dam with bass to help improve water quality and cut down on insects. My concern is that the bass would just migrate downstream to breed when big enough, leaving the dams fishless again. Is there point in stocking such a dam if you cant control the fishes exit? Or is there a different type of fish that wont want to migrate?

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Dave,
      If your aim is to improve water quality, you might be better off installing some aeration and commencing a biological augmentation plan. Fish can provide some benefits in this regard but they require good conditions to thrive and as such, we probably wouldn’t recommend stocking your dam unless you’re sure you’ll have adequate oxygen levels in the water.
      Aeration can also help with reducing your insect population, especially if your issue is mainly with mosquitos, as they prefer still, stagnant water so by nature will generally tend to avoid a dam that is being constantly circulated.
      Without further information as to your situation we can’t provide any more specific information but if you’d like to get in touch via our Contact page or on 1300 283 387 we can help you get an action plan into place to help your dam be healthy again.

  • Adam wrote...

    Hi There. What’s the smallest size dam you could stock fish in? We have a very small dam (maybe 5 meter diameter and a couple of meters deep), and I love the idea of having some Silver Perch in there…. but is this area too small? Maybe we should just stick to yabbies or glass shrimp?

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hey Adam,
      You could certainly keep a few Silver Perch but with a water body of this size, both aeration and filtration would be necessary to keep things nice for your fishy friends.
      If you’re hunting some biodiversity, Freshwater Catfish would be a good option for you as they adapt their size to their environment.
      If you’d like to fill out a contact form or give us a call on 1300 283 387 we can have a bit more of a chat about this and provide more rounded, personalised advice 🙂

  • hugh dalton wrote...

    Hi,i have a dam that is 20 meaters lenght and 10 mearters wide it is in central vic and i was thinking of putting some yellowbelly,silver perch and aussie bass together would they get along
    thanks

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Hugh,
      Thanks for your questions!
      In regards to fish that get along well together, Silver Perch and Catfish are a great combo.
      Diet wise: Golden perch are a larger meat eater than Silver Perch.
      In regards to breeding, unfortunately many fish species (including Perch) will not successfully breed in dams as the eggs will sink to the bottom and die.
      If you’d like to have babies in your dam, Freshwater Catfish are one of the few species that can successfully breed in a domestic environment and they’re an endangered native species so you’d be doing your bit for preserving their species as well!
      https://waterqualitysolutions.com.au/why-freshwater-catfish-are-the-perfect-addition-to-your-water-body/
      Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you’d like to discuss this further.

  • hugh dalton wrote...

    sorry forgot to ask you do goldenperch and silver perch eat the same thing

  • hugh dalton wrote...

    sorry one more question will silver perch and golden perch breed together in my dam

  • john wrote...

    hi I live in vic and i was wondering what the best type of fish would be the best the dam is 20×10 i was tossing up between silver perch,freshwater catfish,aussie bass,golden perch or redfin i am leaning towards the redfin what would be the bast optin

  • David Hayward wrote...

    Iam in the Inverloch area in Victoria and have a 3 meg dam and have just found approx 30 silver peach dead around the banks
    They are approx 30 to 40 cm in length
    Can you tell me what would be the problem with our water please
    David Hayward
    04** *** ***

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Fish kills are usually due to lack of oxygenation, poor circulation and poor water quality.
      Luckily, these situations are usually improved by aeration and applying biological treatments to the water.
      If you’d like to give us a call we can discuss further and provide personalised advice.

  • Jakob wrote...

    Can golden perch survive and breed in farm dams

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Jakob,
      Golden Perch can survive happily in farm dams but as most fish need specific conditions to breed they will not colonise your dam.
      If you’re looking for fish that you can breed check out the Tandanus Tandanus, they’re a freshwater catfish native to Australia.

  • Helen kaminski wrote...

    I want to stock my large dam\recently re-filled wetland with a mosquito-eating native fish. The dam is still water.. What fish suit and where can I buy them please ?

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Helen,
      Mosquitos love still, stagnant water so adding fish won’t be the best solution for your issue (we also don’t recommend putting fish in still dams).
      The best course of action for you would be to aerate your water. By circulating it you will take away the appeal for mosquitos to make their home in your dam and the oxygen will be great for your aquatic ecosystem.
      If you’d like to give us a call on 1300 283 387 or fill out an enquiry form we’d be happy to discuss the best option for your situation.
      We’d also be happy to source and supply your fishy friends once your dam is ready for them 🙂 in the meantime, check out this blog post about raising happy, healthy fish in your dam: https://waterqualitysolutions.com.au/how-to-raise-fish-in-your-dam/

  • Michael wrote...

    Hi

    Thinking of putting some native silver perch or bass in dam. I have 2 and I know there are some Redfin /Eels in one already left over from previous owners stocking. My son recently hooked a 45cm plus one and some smaller 20cm ones. This is the larger of the two and has good fishing access. Its open with minimal structure but plenty of weed and feed.
    I am thinking its a waste of time to stock in this one given Reddies appetite?
    Other one I believe is free of Reddies but has great structure and cover.
    Any thoughts
    Thanks
    Mick

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Mick,

      You’re correct in that we wouldn’t suggest placing other fish in with the Redfin, however if you really wanted to, you could give it a go with a small number (be prepared to lose them though).

      Your best bet would be to stock the other dam and release fish into the first dam once they are larger if you would like to increase its biodiversity. Otherwise your new friends should be quite happy in the separate dam.

      Please also be aware that if you are located in NSW your Redfin friends are not approved for stocking so you may wish to look into this: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/species/redfin-perch

      If you’d like to have a deeper conversation about this please give us a call on 1300 283 387. We’d be happy to help you with sourcing and homing your new fishy friends.

  • Kyle wrote...

    Hi, I want to put fish, that are edible, in a dam that is 3000 yard dam on a farm that runs sheep off it. I was wondering what type is the best to buy. I live in W.A. and was wondering if you know or recommend any place to buy these fish from. Thanks

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Kyle,

      You’ll need to refer to your local council restrictions to be sure of whether you need any licenses or if there are any restrictions specific to your area but Silver Perch and Freshwater Catfish are always good options.

      They’re both native and Freshwater Catfish are one of the very few species that can successfully colonise a dam so if you’re looking to be fishing them for food, I would say they’re your best option simply so you don’t have to keep restocking.

      More info can be found about Freshwater Catfish here: https://waterqualitysolutions.com.au/why-freshwater-catfish-are-the-perfect-addition-to-your-water-body/
      You will also find a section on Silver Perch here: https://waterqualitysolutions.com.au/best-fish-to-stock-in-your-dam/

      As for sourcing your fish, feel free to give us a call or fill out a contact form and we’ll be happy to sort them out for you.

  • Wallace Feirer wrote...

    Your article is really helpful. thnks…

    http://supremesearch.net

  • Fran wrote...

    Hi
    We have successfully stocked our 1/4 acre dam with both silver and golden perch . Both of which have done very well.
    We believe stocks have significantly reduced after 10 yrs of fishing & no restocking .
    My question is we are thinking of restocking with both silver perch & eel tailed catfish fingerlings . However someone mentioned to us that the eel tails may eat the silver s ?
    If we can only stock one species which would you recommend ? we live in southern Victoria . Keen to try the eel tails however also wondering eating quality out of a turbid dam ? We have the fish for recreational fishing & do eat what we catch . Thanks Fran

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Fran,

      You’d be right in assuming that your numbers have dropped as Silver and Golden Perch aren’t generally capable of breeding in dam environments.

      I see no issue with stocking both Silver Perch and Eel Tailed Catfish, in fact, we often recommend them together. Although I can’t make any guarantees since they’re living creatures with minds of their own, Silver Perch aren’t very high on the menu for Eel Tailed Catfish, they prefer to scour the bottom of your dam for much smaller, easier food and will generally only go after your Perch if they are dead or dying.

      If you were to choose only one I’d go for the Eel Tailed Catfish simply because they’re one of the few species that can successfully colonise a dam but you’d be quite safe to put both species in.

      As for eating them, you would simply need to relocate your catch to a holding tank of clean water for a few days to allow them to “purge” any undesirable flavours they may have acquired if this is a concern for you.

      If you’d like to give us a call on 1300 283 387 or fill out a contact form one of our specialists would be happy to go through this further and assist in getting your fish to you. We can also assist with your turbidity if desired and any other water quality issues you may be having.

  • ian mcduff wrote...

    actually a question.hi just like a lot of others i was considering stocking my medium sized dam with a suitable species of fish.the dam is quite murky and sheltered by gumtrees does this cause a problem.what would you recomend. also the cost and availabitity thanx Ian.

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Ian,
      If correctly managed this won’t be an issue but we would definitely suggest taking steps to improve your water quality before putting your fishy friends in. Aeration is always going to be your best option for long-term quality improvements and biological treatments will assist in cleaning up the murkiness.
      As all our systems are personally tailored, price and availability would depend on the specifics of your dam, could you please fill out a contact form or give us a call on 1300 283 387 so we can have an obligation free discussion about how to get things rolling for you?

  • john wrote...

    hello there,
    wondering what fish and how many to stock got a dam up in matches that has 562,500 litres in it,

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi John,

      Our top recommendations for Aussie dams are Silver Perch and Freshwater Catfish.

      For the perch we would suggest adding approximately 100 fingerlings per surface acre and the amount of catfish you would then add would depend on how many perch you have chosen to stock.

      We would also suggest checking out our blog on how to raise happy, healthy fish in your dam.

      If you’d like you fill out a contact form or give us a call on 1300 283 387 we would be happy to discuss this further with you.

  • Henry wrote...

    Hi John,

    Just wondering what fish would be suited for a man-made dam on a farm for livestock in NSW along the hasting river.

    Cheers

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Henry,

      We recommend stocking native species whenever possible.

      Our two favourites are Silver Perch and Freshwater Catfish but you could also mix in some Golden Perch if you’re looking for a bit of variety.

      We suggest checking your local legislation before purchasing fish to stock as different councils have different regulations, however you are generally fairly safe with native species.

      If you’d like to find out how to make sure your dam is perfect for your new fishy friends, please click here.

      When you’re ready to start the process, give us a call on 1300 283 387 or fill out a contact form and we can organise getting your fish and anything else you need for you.

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