Keep Wild Fish Out Of The Pond

When you need to restock the pond, it can be tempting to walk down to a river, catch a few fish, and toss them in. However, in many states this practice is illegal – and can be harmful to the other pond fish.

Andy Goodwin is the Fish Health Program Manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says wild fish species may unbalance in farm ponds by overpopulating or interfering with the predator-prey ratio. They can also introduce disease. Wild fish are exposed to all kinds of parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

"If you bring that fish home, you might bring that disease or that parasite along with those fish. Fish that come from a hatchery, fingerlings you would buy to stock your pond, are fish that are grown in controlled circumstances where the farmers are very careful to control diseases and to test for diseases," says Goodwin. "Wild fish are not raised under those controlled conditions and you don't know what they might be carrying."

Gizzard shad, common carp, and other wild undesirables should not be stocked in private ponds, but even fish species normally found in ponds should not be moved from one body of water to another. As an example, Goodwin says people are tempted to bring home big bass from other places and put them in their ponds.

"At the same time they may bring home leeches that affect bass, and they might bring home the largemouth bass virus which is a bad thing, and there's several other parasites and diseases that could come with those fish," he warns. "That is another fish that is also likely to be regulated, and where taking that one from the wild and moving it home is illegal in your state."

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