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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21 Comments
21 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.

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