Raising bass at home has become a popular option for those looking for sustainable farming methods. Homesteading and farming your own fish is an attractive proposition, especially in light of factors such as inflation and rising food prices, along with less availability of affordable options.
With the right practices and techniques, you can successfully produce delicious, healthy fish with minimal effort and cost.
In this article, I’ll outline the basic steps required for farming bass at home in your own tank, pond or pool that can help you enjoy fresh seafood while helping sustain your household and even local economies.
We’ll look at not only how to get your aquaculture system ready for bass, but we’ll outline some of the many challenges with sustaining a pool or pond filled with bass.
Table of Contents
Can You Raise Your Own Bass?
You certainly can raise your own bass in your backyard with a relatively low start-up cost and few barriers to entry. Raising bass can be done in a tank, pond or pool either in your backyard or even in your home, though it’s best to be aware of some of the main challenges you’ll face in the process.
While it is possible (and even popular) to grow your own bass at home in a pond, pool or tank, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
First, it is important to ensure that the pond, pool, or tank is large enough to support the growth and development of the bass. Bass are hefty fish and can grow to be quite large, so they will need plenty of space to swim and thrive.
Second, you will need to provide the bass with a proper diet. Bass are carnivorous and will need to be fed a diet rich in protein, such as worms, insects, and small fish.
Third, you will need to maintain proper water quality in order to keep your bass healthy. This includes regular testing and adjusting the pH level, maintaining a proper temperature range, and ensuring that there is enough oxygen in the water.
Finally, it is important to be aware of any local regulations or restrictions on raising bass in a backyard pond or tank. Some areas may have laws or ordinances that prohibit or regulate the keeping of certain types of fish, so it is important to be familiar with these rules before setting up a bass pond or tank.
How Big of a Pond is Needed to Raise Big Bass?
As a general rule, it is recommended to provide at least 10-20 gallons of water per inch of fish in a pond. This means that a pond for largemouth bass should be at least 200-400 gallons PER FISH, while a pond for smallmouth bass should be at least 150-300 gallons per fish.
The size of the pond needed to raise largemouth or smallmouth bass will depend on a number of factors, including the number of fish you plan to raise and the size you want them to reach.
Largemouth bass are larger than smallmouth bass and while a typical size is around 5 lbs and 16 inches in length, they can grow to be over 35 inches in length and weigh more than 20 pounds.
Smallmouth bass, on the other hand, are considered fairly big if they grow to be around 15 inches in length and weigh around 4 pounds.
However, these are just rough estimates and the actual size of the pond needed will depend on a variety of factors, such as the size of the pond, the quality of the water, and the availability of food and shelter for both predators and prey. It is always best to consult with a local fish expert or a professional pond builder to determine the optimal size for your particular situation.
It is also worth considering that the size of the pond will need to be larger if you plan to raise multiple fish or if you want to keep a mix of different species, as this will require more space and resources.
In general, it is best to provide as much space as possible for your fish to ensure their health and well-being.
How Do I Make a Bass Pond?
It’s best to stock bass in a pond that is no less than 1 acre in size and preferably 3-6 acres in order to ensure a more complete ecosystem that can potentially sustain itself without too much need to interfere with extra food, water conditioning/filtration, etc.
Some crucial elements to consider when creating a bass pond would be to ensure that the:
- Surface area of the pond should be bigger than half an acre for a long-term, quality bass and bluegill sport fishery (bluegill are excellent prey for Largemouth Bass)
- Slope of your shoreline should be at an approximate ratio of around 3:1 (30% incline) to minimize erosion, limit the excessive growth of aquatic plants, minimize surface area fluctuation, and provide shoreline fishing access.
- Maximum depth should be greater than 7 feet in the Southeast U.S. and deeper than 13 feet in semiarid portions of the U.S. (Arizona, Nevada, etc.) to provide adequate permanent water during a dry season.
- Overflow pipes or emergency spillways should be installed and maintained to handle excess water.
- Clay content of the soil is sufficient to hold water. Digging a test hole is absolutely imperative to avoid costly mistakes going forward.
- Choice of vegetation is importantly considered. For example, cattails are an aquatic plant that can quickly grow out of control, so it’s often best left out of the bass pond plans.
If you’re thinking of a smaller pond to raise fewer bass, you’ll need to care for it in a different manner than a larger pond of 1 acre or more. You’ll need to carefully control all factors including food quantities (feed manually) and quality among many other factors (filtration, aeration, etc).
Here’s a basic construction method for smaller bass ponds:
As far as the area or dimensions of the pond are concerned, the larger the pond, the better. It’s not good to have such a small pond that fish can hardly move.
A good suggested size would be that of a medium-sized swimming pool of around 450 feet as a surface area (approx. 15′ x 30′) and an average depth of 8 feet or more in the SouthEastern U.S. and over 12 feet in drier areas of the SouthWest.
To make your own pond, it’s best to have some knowledge of backhoe operation and digging/construction procedures, and protocol.
You’ll have to contact the local authorities to find out if there are any restrictions to making a pond as well as any potential problems with pre-existing buried cables.
After you’ve dug the pond and finessed the shape and base, walls, etc. it’s best to line the dirt floor and walls with fine concrete (assuming the pond is not larger than about 1/5 of an acre.
Mason’s concrete is a good example, but nearly any concrete will do. As the next step, some suggest lining the concrete (especially if it’s roughly finished with stones and other rough protrusions) with landscape fabric.
The fabric will be a barrier between the rough concrete surface and the next (and final) layer.
The final layer of your bass pond will be a pond or tank liner to hold all the water efficiently. Once you’ve completed the pond itself, you’ll need a way to add oxygen to the water.
The best way to do that is by using either an aeration kit or a pond pump which is used to create an artificial waterfall that oxygenates the water.
PRO TIP – When filling the pond with a hose, but sure to allow the water to gently enter the pond rather than blasting a concentrated flow in one place. The concentrated stream can damage the thin concrete layer under the liner.
You can let it gently seep in from a hose on the edge of the pond until there is enough water to shoot it directly onto the surface.
IMPORTANT: It’s noteworthy to consider that many landowners looking to create a bass pond will have the option of sculpting the features of the pond with a backhoe or bulldozer to create optimal bass habitat.
For example, to provide the best scenario for bass would be to add creek channels, standing timber, flooded humps, brush piles, mid-pond humps and shallow areas with lily pads.
All these features provide cover for both predators (bass) and prey (minnows, bluegill, and other smaller bass).
Can You Raise Bass in a Swimming Pool?
It is not recommended to try to raise largemouth bass in a swimming pool. Largemouth bass are big, predatory fish that require a significant amount of space to swim and grow. They also have specific water temperature and pH requirements that may be difficult to maintain in a swimming pool. Additionally, bass produce a lot of waste and can quickly contaminate the water if not properly cared for.
In general, it is best to raise bass in a pond which will naturally create its own relatively correct pH levels, food sources, water quality, and all other environmental factors that contribute to a healthy ecosystem for bass.
Even with a large pond, it is likely you’ll have to add lime to keep pH levels in order every few years.
If you insist on raising (or more appropriately, temporarily keeping) bass in a swimming pool, here are some guidelines;
As far as the area or dimensions of the pond are concerned, the larger the pond, the better. It’s not good to have such a small pond that fish can hardly move. A good suggested size would be that of a medium-sized swimming pool of around 450 feet as a surface area (approx. 15′ x 30′) and an average depth of 6 – 8 feet, though your above-ground pool is likely closer to 2-3 feet.
It’s best not to keep bass in a swimming pool as a permanent home unless it’s a large pool, you have only a few bass and you feed them enough (likely by hand on a daily basis).
The pool will need to be aerated and filtered with the proper water (which is not tap water given the chlorinated content of municipal water sources).
Depending on your location, you may not need to regulate a pool temperature too much. Smallmouth bass prefer a cooler water temperature (like 65ºF – 70ºF) than Largemouth bass (which prefer water temps over 80ºF), so that will suit most pools in the Northern U.S. during warmer months (if you’re raising Smallmouth bass).
Where Can I Get Bass to Raise?
There are quite a few hatcheries throughout the country that will sell fingerling (small) sized bass to start raising. It’s important to note that all bass in a specific enclosed environment like a pond or pool should be about the same size so the larger ones won’t immediately eat the smaller ones.
Prices can range quite a bit, but as a starting point, you’ll be able to buy small bass (3-4 inches) for just under $2 each, while big ones over a foot in length are upwards of $17. Intermediate sizes are, of course, available.
Can You Raise Bass in a Fish Tank?
Bass can be raised in a fish tank, but because the ecosystem is so small, water quality factors and water volume, size of tank, and other factors need to be strictly controlled.
The standard wisdom regarding how big a fish tank you should have for a pet fish indoors is about 1 gallon of water for every 1 inch of total fish in the tank. That would mean one 15-inch bass would require a 15-gallon tank right?
NO WAY! Bass definitely break that rule for a number of reasons.
First of all, they eat a lot more than other species and create more waste. Secondly, they grow so quickly (and to unknown exact sizes) that your calculations can be way off.
It’s best to assume bass will get as big as 15 or more inches and base your tank size on this loose size estimate.
A good general rule of thumb would be a 200-gallon tank for 2 Largemouth bass that are fed as much as they’d like to eat in order to maximize growth.
Here’s a well-featured 220-gallon fish tank you can have right next to your kitchen for the ultimate convenience in bass-raising
If you’re considering an aquarium to raise your own bass for high-quality protein, you’ll need a few other aquarium items like a filter and oxygenator. You’ll find some great options I like right here:
An ideal range for raising Largemouth bass is between 65ºF and 90ºF in an aquarium. This is a very wide range not applicable to most other species of fish you might grow for eating.
If your aquarium is located in an environment that is exceptionally warm like a greenhouse in Florida in the Summer, it may be necessary to have a method of cooling your tank. You may need a 200-gallon aquarium chiller like the one here:
Best Species of Bass to Raise
There is little doubt that Hybrid Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Smallmouth Bass are the most common and popular species of trout to farm at home. Even so, the vast majority of farmed bass are Largemouth Bass and Hybrid Striped bass.
Hybrid Striped Bass
Hybrid striped bass, also known as wiper or sunshine bass, are a cross between striped bass and white bass. They are widely distributed throughout the United States and are popular sportfish due to their aggressive behavior and willingness to bite on lures.
Hybrid striped bass are typically larger and hardier than either of their parent species, and they can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. In fact, they were basically bred to be the perfect bass for aquaculture environments.
In terms of appearance, hybrid striped bass have a similar shape to striped bass, with a sleek, streamlined body and a slightly forked tail. They have a dark stripe running down the length of their body, which gives them their name. Hybrid striped bass are generally silvery in color, with a white belly and a greenish-blue back.
Hybrid striped bass are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.
Largemouth bass are a popular sportfish that are widely distributed throughout the United States and Canada. They are known for their aggressive behavior and large mouths, which give them their name.
Largemouth bass are typically greenish-brown in color and have a distinctive dark stripe running down the length of their body. They have a large, slightly rounded body and a slightly forked tail. Largemouth bass can grow to be quite large, with some individuals reaching over 20 pounds.
Largemouth bass are typically found in freshwater lakes and streams, although they can also be found in brackish water. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of cover, such as weeds, logs, or brush, and they are often found near the edges of streams or in the shallows of lakes.
Largemouth bass are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects. They are active predators and are known for their strong fighting ability when hooked, which makes them a popular target for anglers.
Smallmouth bass are popular sportfish that are also found generously throughout the United States and Canada, much like Hybrid Striped Bass and Largemouth Bass. They are known for their distinctive small mouths, which give them their name.
Smallmouth bass are typically bronze or brownish in color and usually don’t have a distinctive dark strip on the side of their bodies like Largemouth Bass. They have a smaller, more streamlined body compared to Largemouth Bass, and their tail is more deeply forked.
Smallmouth bass can grow to be quite large, with some individuals reaching over 5 pounds.
Smallmouth bass are typically found in clear, cool freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes. They prefer to live in areas with rocky bottoms and moderate to swift currents, and they are often found near the edges of streams or in the shallows of lakes.
They are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including smaller fish, crayfish, and insects. These active predators are known for their strong fighting ability when hooked (they often launch out of the water unlike Largemouth Bass who rarely break the surface of the water in such spectacular fashion as a Smallmouth), which makes them a popular target for anglers.
Best Water Conditions for Raising Bass
One of the easiest bass to farm or raise in your backyard pond or pool is the Largemouth Bass. To stock Largemouth bass in your pond you will usually need to have a water pump (to circulate stagnant water) an air pump and a water filter. You also need to provide fish with lots of underwater cover as well as moderate vegetation. Water quality and temperature are very important considerations for keeping bass healthy, and the ideal temperature is somewhere between 87ºF – 92ºF.
Bass can handle lots of water quality variations (especially Largemouth bass) but some water quality conditions need to be addressed. Water pH levels need to be kept as close to 7.0 as possible, but unlike most other species (ie. Salmon, Trout, Perch), bass can deal with pH levels anywhere from 5.0 to 10.0 and still thrive.
However, to keep proper levels of pH and to control other factors (ie. ammonia, nitrite, etc.), it may be helpful to use a protein filter if raising bass in a small pool or pond (especially if it has a liner).
Protein filters or skimmers deal with waste such as fish poop and forgotten food, etc. This can be helpful in smaller ecosystems that may not be able to compost enough of those proteins to keep the water clear.
Can You Farm Bass Anywhere?
Because bass require water temperatures between 65ºF and 90ºF (no more than 70ºF for Smallmouth), you’ll be able to farm them anywhere where you can be sure water temperatures won’t go above this range significantly and/or for a prolonged duration.
Much of Southern Canada and all of the U.S. mainland is suitable for raising bass in a backyard pond.
However, the right conditions need to be met to successfully raise large and healthy bass. We’ve talked a bit about the technical quality of the water (pH levels, potential pollutants, etc.) but it’s important to know how to maintain your bass pond even after the environmental and water conditions have been optimized.
For example, how many fish do you stock or leave in a pond? Do you feed them? With what? Should you remove a certain number of them annually, and if so, how many, and what size? That’s just the start of the questions that can arise and should be dealt with after your pond is operational.
A great resource on the specifics of those questions and more can be found HERE:
Learn more about pond maintenance, slot limits, and population management in this video:
Do I Need to Oxygenate a Trout Pond, Pool, or Tank?
A bass pool absolutely needs oxygenation, while a large pond likely will not. Bass are a hearty species that do not require as high a dissolved oxygen level as do trout or salmon (or most other species).
If your bass are living in a swimming pool, you’ll need to use some method of circulating the water and adding oxygen. Without some form of oxygenation, there won’t be enough dissolved oxygen for bass to survive more than a week or so in a 10-foot diameter swimming pool.
There are many ways to oxygenate the water, but one of the nicest and easiest ways is to install an artificial waterfall (or just a suspended hose that allows pumped water to drop into the pool to create turbulence and water flow) that is fed by a water pump from the pool. One of the better pond pumps from Alpine is pictured below.
How Many Bass Can I Raise in my Pool, Pond, or Tank?
There are several factors that will determine how many bass can be successfully raised in an enclosed containment system environment, but a good rule of thumb would be about 60 – 100 bass in a 1-acre pond with a depth of at least 8 feet of water – preferably 12 feet or more.
Many ponds will experience a drop in water levels during the hottest months and water clarity and oxygen levels can be negatively affected as well. This will endanger fish populations and fewer fish will be better than more in a pond experiencing such conditions.
Remember that the very general rule of 60 – 100 Largemouth bass per 1-acre pond can vary greatly based on factors like pond depth and oxygen content. Be sure to understand that in that 1-acre pond with let’s say 75 bass, you’ll also need to add lots of baitfish like bluegill and fathead minnows.
With a healthy population of all those baitfish (and even more), a 1-acre pond will still be able to nicely support up to 100 Largemouth bass.
What Do You Feed Bass in a Pond?
In a healthy pond of 1 or more acres in size, bass often will not need to be fed (depending on how many bass live in the pond). However, adding baitfish like shad, sunfish, minnows, etc. will serve well to feed the bass. Alternatively, you can successfully feed them food designed for other predator species like Salmon and Trout.
Bass will thrive on any of their natural food sources like smaller fish, but they will also thrive with predator species pellets.
One of the better options we’ve found in our research (and limited experience) is Purina’s AquaMax SportFish food.
How Long Does it Take to Farm Bass?
In cooler habitats (like Northern U.S. and Canada) bass typically grow to be close to 12″ in 4-6 years. This growth rate is far slower than salmon, trout, perch and some other species. Their lifespan can stretch to as long as 15 years. In warm climates like Florida, bass can reach 14″ in 2 years.
Remember that variables like food availability, water conditions, and fishing pressure (all of which will be managed by the owner of the pond) will dramatically affect sizes and timing of growth and maturity.
Will Bass in a Pond Reproduce?
Bass living in a pool or pond will eventually reproduce once they reach the stage of reproduction. Most ponds conducive to bass reproduction will include shallow areas with a variety of gravel conditions to facilitate and encourage spawning activity.
To maximize the odds of having your bass spawn in your pond or pool, you’ll want to be sure the water clarity is high, the temperature is cool (50ºF – 80ºF spawning), there is a moving water inlet (ie. stream or artificial injection of recirculated water) and that the area near the flowing water is relatively shallow 6″ – 18″ and has a gravel bed.
These conditions best simulate a natural spawning bed and will increase your odds of a successful spawning season in your pond.
Bass Pond Maintenance Basics
Once you have a successful bass pond operating (preferably well over 1 acre with no upper size limit), it’s crucial to understand some basic maintenance concepts. pH levels need to be maintained, though, as mentioned earlier, the variance of pH that can be tolerated by bass is quite wide (pH between 5 and 10 is tolerated with 7.0 being ideal).
The addition of lots of food fish (bluegill is often the main source) is also vitally important. Proper pH levels and fertilization will ensure adequate plankton populations for bluegill food.
A great pond fertilizer is Perfect Pond Plus by BioLogic.
Another great option is from PondWorx. Click the photo of the Pond Bacteria containers to learn more.
Key Takeaways – Raising Your Own Bass at Home
While raising bass in a pond or pool is not for everyone, it can be an exciting and rewarding way to produce fresh seafood at home.
Bass are one of the easier species of fish to maintain in your backyard, but you’ll still have to know a bit about management procedures like water conditions, food types and quantities, and how to harvest or add bass to maintain and sustain populations of healthy fish.
By following the guidelines outlined in this brief, you can enjoy delicious fish while helping support local economies by farming responsibly. All it takes is some dedication, effort, and knowledge of farming practices to make your dream of farming bass come true! Good luck!