Live Bait TT23
Published on May 12, 2014

For The Bait Shop: Simple Ways To Keep YOUR Bait Alive


Live Bait - Tech Talk 23

For The Bait Shop: Simple Ways To Keep YOUR Bait Alive

 1.Proper Oxygen Levels - Providing enough oxygen for bait is the single most important factor in keeping it alive. Diffused air aeration (air diffusers with compressors) are efficient, inexpensive to run and maintain, and very quiet. Flow-through systems that draw clean aerated water from a lake or stream also work well, if the pumping rate is high enough to maintain oxygen levels. To know, you must measure oxygen when full of bait. Oxygen is lowest when water is warmest.

2.Ammonia Control - Fish give off ammonia as a by-product of respiration. Ammonia is toxic to fish and is a primary killer of bait fish. There are four methods for reducing the likelihood of ammonia poisoning: 1) Do frequent water changes to dilute the ammonia build up; 2) Use ammonia-absorbing chemicals or chemicals that lessen ammonia toxicity; 3) Keep pH low; or 4) Establish a biofilter. Biofiltration is the removal of ammonia by bacterial conversion to a much less toxic form of nitrogen. Biofiltration is routine in fish farming and aquariums. It is less common in bait shops because of the widely fluctuating levels of fish (or shrimp) and the resulting fluctuations in ammonia levels. Bacteria in a biofilter depend on this ammonia as their food source. They have a difficult time playing catch-up to high levels of ammonia after even a few days of low or zero ammonia. Bait shops can profit from biofiltration technology, especially where a good water supply is not affordable or available.

3.Keep Bait Cool - Cooler temperatures slow the metabolism of fish so they don’t consume as much oxygen, don't give off as much ammonia, and the ammonia is less toxic. Cooler temperatures will reduce losses and headaches.

4.Salt - Freshwater fish get a boost out of having salt added to their water. It also stimulates mucous production that helps insulate baitfish from bacterial infection and parasites. Most of the dry bait-saving chemical mixes use Sodium Chloride (salt) as a major component of their formulas. A rough rule of thumb is 3 pounds of non-iodized salt per 100 gallons of water

5.Don't Feed Them - Unless you are prepared to flush a lot of water, feeding only creates problems with uneaten food, more waste from the fish, and disease.

6.Keep Tanks Clean - Everything you can do to keep the bait tanks clean will help. Remove dead or dying bait immediately, siphon or drain waste from the tank bottom and do occasional water changes (even with a biofilter) with dechlorinated water.

7.Commercial Additives - There are a number of quality bait-saving chemicals on the market that will assist in keeping bait healthy and as happy as they can be before they get fed to something bigger. You might have to experiment with a few to get the best results, so be patient.

8.Keep Customers Happy - Help your customers keep their bait alive. Make sure they have enough aeration in their bait buckets or live wells and don’t overcrowd. If the weather is hot, make sure they understand the importance of keeping bait cool, and if they are traveling long distances, recommend that they carry some extra water from your tanks to do a water change halfway through the trip.

Remember: “Fishing with dead live-bait isn’t fun.” Help promote the sport through good fish-keeping habits.