Bait Tank for home

Discussion in 'LOCAL SOUTH CAROLINA TALK' started by ron16, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. I'm looking at setting up a bait tank at my house to keep bream and other bait fish alive in between fishing trips. Would a 500 gallon stock tank work for this as long as I kept it in the shade and kept oxygen in it? If this won't work, what does anyont suggest? Also, could I expect the fish to live throughout the colder months in this tank?
  2. youll have more trouble keeping the fish alive in the warm i would think. also so kind of filtration system would be needed or your gonna get some really dirty water. it can be done just gotta get it done right

  3. maybe you should make a trip to one of the local bait shops and look at one of there tanks and see how theres are done santee general store, the rivers store, hill landing or blacks camp would be a good place to look at
  4. shad and herring are virtually impossible.

    I have well water. I used to keep a big white plastic barrel under a spigot on the shady side of my house. I put a regular aquarium aerator on it and let a little water drip in non-stop. Every few days I would dip about half the water out and let it slowly refill. No chemicals are filters. I'd keep about 20 bream in it this way. You'd lose one along and along but I could go to the pond in betwean trips and restock. I also took them out to fish and then brought home any I didn't use over and over. The main thing was keeping the water clean and not letting the dead ones stay in very long.

    Last year I built a livewell for my boat out of a 120 gallon black stock tank. I don't put it in the boat unless I'm going to a tournament or something so it is just sitting under the boat shed. I don't keep bait all the time anymore because I'm to busy to keep the tank clean. If I know I'm going I'll go to the pond a few days ahead of time and catch a few bream. I just throw them in the tank and treat it the same way I used to treat the drum.

    I also put a bigger bait tank in the boat so that freed up my little keep-a-live to haul bait around in the back of the truck.

    ....all this being said, I don't think it's made me any better at catching catfish but having a well setup boat sure does make it easier to sleep on the boat.
  5. If it doesn't freeze, cold will only help you.

    If you keep relatively few fish in a big tank like that, it will be easy to keep them and you'll need less equipment. You might get away with only a pump to circulate the water when it's hot.
  6. krowbar

    krowbar New Member

    How can you catch fish when your sleeping Lawrence?:laugh1:
  7. Besides, I've got to give my wife a chance to catch one every now and then.:curl-lip:
  8. I made a bait tank out of a 55 gallon plastic drum. I made a homemade carbon filter and use a swimming pool pump for circulation. They keep all summer long in the shade. I use it for bluegills and chubs. Shad are extremely high maintenance to keep alive, so I dont even try anymore..I'm sure a big stock tank will work as long as you put a screen over the top of it to keep them from jumping out. The filter I made is as follows. for the outter sheel I took a short length of 4" pvc pipe, glued threaded collars on the ends, and drilled small holes in the outter shell. Holes need to be a bit smaller than the charcoal that will fill it. Put threaded caps on both ends. on the top cap find exact center and drill a hole the same size as the outter diameter of a 1" pvc pipe. cap a length of 1" pipe and slide the threaded cap with the drilled hole over it and screw it onto your assembly. slide it all the way in until it bottoms out against the bottom of your assembly. Then lift it out about 1/4 inch for clearance and mark the pipe above the top cap. and pvc cement it in place. make sure you leave enough to attach a threaded elbow or barbed fitting for the hose. Then drill holes in the center tube. Again, smaller than the charcoal. screw it together and fill it with carbon from the bottom. I buy ammo carb from the pet stores in half gallon containers. It has chemicals in it that remove ammonia and chlorine. The idea is the water comes in the top of the filter diffuses out of the center pipe, washes over the carbon media and fountains out of the assembly aerating the water as it splashed in your tank. Works great. keeps the water crystal clear and ammonia free. I use old swimming pool pumps wherever I can find them. For the outlet hose I drilled a hole in the side of the tank at the bottom. When I cut my lid out I made a couple gasket/spacers for the hole in the bottom of the tank. I found and arranged all the fittings I needed drilled the hole, then using a galvanized pipe nipple I added a pvc fitting on the inside and a barbed hose fitting on the outside for the hose. Added my homemade gaskets and sealed it all together permanently with marine epoxy. for the pick up tube I simply ran a short length of pvc pipe across the bottom of the tank with holes drilled in the topside of it. it keeps from sucking your fish into the pump inlet. When you need to fill it with carbon, you simply turn it over and remove the bottom cap and fill the space between the center inlet tube and the outter shell. Make sure you run some water through it before you put it back over the tank or when you turn your pump on it will turn the water black.
    ron16 likes this.
  9. There have been some good posts here on the topic. In this instance, I think it is best to look at your bait tank as a big old aquarium. I am somewhat of an aquarium lover and have kept both traditional aquarium fish and bait fish alive on a permanent basis in my living room for years. Talking about water temp control and ph levels is outside of what I'm want to talk about right now. I am going to talk about how to filter your tank.

    You are going to need 2 forms of filtration to have a successful at home tank and ill do my best to describe each.

    1. Mechanical Filtration-
    That is the filtering of things that get in your water from the outside, the food, and the fish themselves. This sort of filtering can be accomplished by any number of do it yourself projects that result in the water in your tank being sent through some physical filter material to remove progressively smaller and smaller particles the closer to your pump. Sample filter media can be anything from the "find something to make it work" materials like pillow stuffing, to commercially produced aquarium activated charcoal filter pads. You are going to want some coarse filtering (for scales sticks etc) down to fine particulate filtering before your water hits whatever pump you are gonna use.

    2. Biological Filtration- AKA The part where most everyone screws up.
    Fish produce ammonia. The problem with ammonia is that it is poison. It comes from predominately from their waste and decomposition of any biological material in the water. A large source can be from uneaten food. The solution to the ammonia creation problem is found in naturally occurring ammonia feeding bacteria. These bacteria turn ammonia from a poisonous state into a harmless state. Another bacteria turns this harmless ammonia into phospates- basically fertilizer. Too much phosphates can harm fish, so you should still change out a portion of you tank's water every now and then. Use the phosphate laden water to water your garden for some crazy results. Bacteria is the only way to remove bad ammonia from the water. Contrary to popular belief activated carbon does not remove ammonia.

    So, in order to turn your poisonous water into basically fertalizer, you are gonna need to start bacteria creation in your tank BEFORE YOU PUT A BIG LOAD OF FISH INTO IT. These bacteria can come from the water where you caught the fish, however, so can a lot of other things that you dont want like super fine slime that will grow all over everything. I would rather start a system with tap water that has been de-chlorinated (you can buy products to do this at a pet shop) or well water. You are going to need to feed the tank things that will produce ammonia before anything alive goes into it. This might sound tedious, but if you want to actually keep fish alive for more than a day or two you have to do it. If you have a large tank planned, you could plant only a few fish in the tank to start it off. I would not put more than 1 small fish per 25 gallons to jump start.

    In order to keep a tank full of fish you are going to have to have a high enough concentration of bacteria to filter all the ammonia produced. The biggest mistake people make is to just dump a load of hundreds of fish into a new system. The ammonia spikes and all the fish die within a day or two. Bummer. You are going to have to work the bacteria levels to a range that will eat all of the ammonia a big load of baitfish will produce before it gets to a toxic level. The bad news is that baitfish like shad and bluegills are champion ammonia producers.

    IF YOU ONLY REMEMBER ONE THING ABOUT THIS POST PLEASE LET THIS BE IT- If you want to have a bait tank you are also going to have to have a bacteria farm. You need to think of the bacteria when you do things like remove all the fish from your system. KEEP FEEDING YOUR TANK. Put fish food into it. Put dog food into it. Pee into it. Whatever you do just add some stuff that will produce ammonia when there are no fish to do it. If there is nothing producing ammonia in the tank, the bacteria numbers will decline. If you remove the fish and don't feed the tank or worse drain it, the next load of fish will almost certainly die because the population of bacteria will decrease to a point where it will not be able to keep up with the ammonia production of a crowded tank.

    The bacteria grows extremely fast if it has 1. a moist place to call home 2. ammonia to eat and 3. high levels of dissolved oxygen to breathe. You can help your bacteria with a good place to live if you add an area to your mechanical filter that will act sort of like a bacteria high rise apartment. This bio filter area should include porous materials that the water passes through after it has gone through your mechanical filtration. The bacteria will live on any surface that the water in your tank keeps wet. However, if you use the the right kind of materials you can grow many 100s of times the bacteria per square inch. There are a lot of commercially available things that are made with microscopic texture to allow more bacteria per square inch and the best place to find them is your local pet store. Of course you could go see what the "bio filter media" look in the store and then go find your own to use. Most anything will work, but some things work better than others. The key is establishing an area where high concentrations of the bacteria can attach themselves that has oxygenated ammonia-tainted water flowing over/through it. They do not need light. Your mechanical filter will provide a lot of area for the bacteria to live, but if you want to heavily load your tank, you should consider a supplemental bacteria zone. DO NOT CLEAN YOUR FILTERS OR TANK WITH CHLORINATED WATER or let your tank dry out or run out of ammonia or you will have to start over.

    After a time of feeding your tank organic things that are breaking down, or starting with a very small number of fish, you can start stocking your tank. Honestly it is much better to add a few at a time until you get up to the numbers you would like to have. Testing your bacteria growth by dumping a whole ton at once might not work out well. There is a maximum load of fish any tank will be able to keep alive. If you have adequate mechanical filtration and oxygenation a very very crude guideline is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water max. You could probably have success right at max load, or even more if you have crazy filtration, but it really is best to not overdo it. Make two tanks if you really need to have 300 baitfish on hand :)

    Well hopefully this will help you avoid the typical mistake of overloading and poisoning your fish.

    Flatline out.
    ron16 likes this.
  10. WylieCat

    WylieCat New Member

    Flatline made a good post.

    One things is for sure, there is no one way that will work for everyone. The combination of location of the tank, type of water (chlroinated or well), condition of the fish, and many other factors all play a part.

    One important point folks should note is LONG TERM STORAGE versus SHORT TERM STORAGE. If you are only planning to keep bait a few days, like a bait store would do, then you can get away with large amounts of aeration and fresh water. However, if you plan to keep the fish for weeks or months, then you need to establish a biological filtration system like Flatline talked about.

    Again, this can take some trial an error due to varying conditions and circumstances.

    Here are some things I have learned:
    1) The darker the tank the hotter is gets in the summer, and the hotter it gets the harder it is to get rid of ammonia. So, avoid dark colored tanks.

    2) If kept outside, keep the tank in the shade and covered. Shady spots reduce heating and a cover keeps leaves, dust, pollen, etc out of the tank. Any additional debris affects the pH of your tank.

    3) If you plant to run the tank 24 hours a day like I do, then spend the money on the best aerator you can buy. The Wal-Mart brands last about a year the way I use them.

    4) Pond pumps are readily available at Lowes and Home Depot and are designed to run all the time and will give you years of service. The filter media serves as both a mechanical filter and it allows for biological organisms to grow to assist in biological filtering.

    5) Make sure you walls are solid and do not allow light light in. Light will facilitate algae growth, and while some algae is good, what happens is the entire tank is consumed by it and I have never been able to keep fish alive in a tank covered in algae.

    6) Charcoal filters work well, but they require more maintance than a well balenced tank. For carbon tobe effective it needs to be changed out every couple of months.