“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:
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, 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 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 (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