Tilapia in Texas Ponds

By Brad Metzler

Largemouth bass have a ferocious appetite, and in order for a pond to grow fat, healthy bass there must be plenty of forage available.

Tilapia, while native to the Nile River in Africa, have a tremendous aquaculture value and are an excellent supplemental forage food for your bass. As an added bonus, tilapia is the number two fish in the world’s food industry, and can be enjoyed by you and your family.

When Did Stocking Tilapia for Ponds Become Popular?

The concept of stocking tilapia in your bass pond is a relatively new idea beginning around five years ago. However, it continues to gain attention with the levels of success it has achieved.

Benefits of Stocking Tilapia in Private Ponds

Tilapia is more tolerant of high water temperatures, high salinity, low dissolved oxygen levels, and high amounts of ammonia concentrations than other forage fish.

Tilapia Spawn and Brood Habits

They are sexually mature at around six inches, which they can achieve in only a couple of months if ample food is available, and will spawn every 3-5 weeks producing up to 500 young.

Fish swimming in a cloudy pondMan lifting fish out of water to examine it

The offspring are kept safe in the mother’s mouth starting from eggs, and even shortly after hatching. This mouth brooding will protect the eggs and fry from early predation, yielding a high survival rate, and enabling them to quickly reach 3-5 inches, making them excellent forage for your 14-16 inch bass. 

Tilapia will not compete with your other fish for food as the majority of their diet consists of vegetation and detritus, especially filamentous algae. Therefore, their diet can result in less organic build up, and can even help prevent algae from covering your pond, which many pond owners know can be one of the largest problems in maintaining a pond.

Ideal Conditions for Stocking Tilapia in Lakes and Ponds

You can begin stocking tilapia when your water temperature is consistently over 60 degrees. Since tilapia are great at utilizing the natural resources of a pond, especially Mozambique Tilapia, they are able to sustain their numbers with relative ease. This is especially true in a well-fertilized pond with plenty of plankton for them to feed on. 

They will also eat pellets from fish feeders if you have one available. You can increase the feeding time to accommodate any additional fish.

Tilapia Stocking Rates Are Dependant on Pond Needs

If you are stocking tilapia primarily for all-natural algae control about 10-20 pounds per acre is sufficient. 

If maximizing the growth potential of your bass is the goal, then plan on stocking 30-100 pounds per acre.

Fish being caught with a net

Tilapia Become a Major Food Source in the Fall

When the water temperature drops below 60 degrees in the fall, the tilapia juveniles become sluggish, making them an easy meal for your bass, which will allow your bass to enter the winter in great condition. Also, by mid to late fall, the originally stocked tilapia should have put on several pounds and make for large triangular filets, and you can now begin to harvest for your own dinner table.

How to Catch Tilapia

Tilapia can be caught at fish feeders using a variety of baits that resemble the food pellets. You can get pretty imaginative on different baits to catch them on, but bread balls seem to work just fine.

Texans Trust Pond King, Inc. for Tilapia Stocking and Pond Management

At Pond King, our fisheries biologists care about our client’s private pond ecosystems. Not only are they important to you, but we also take great pride in our management practices, recommendations we offer and the fish we grow here at our facility.

You can be sure you have chosen the right partner to help manage and create a quality fishery on your property! Give us a call or contact us today and ask about stocking Tilapia in your pond this Spring!

Happy Fishing!
Brad Metzler, President

NOTE: As of January 2021, TPWD requires you to have a permit to stock Tilapia in certain counties. You can read more here


Tags: Fish and Fishing

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