Can I Breed Fish In My Dam?

Breeding fish in your dam can be quite rewarding and people often come to us with grand dreams of dropping a few fingerlings into their water and ending up with a fully-fledged fish farm.

Unfortunately, if this is your goal, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

If you’re looking for a quick guide, click here. If you’d rather have a better idea of the what, how and why, read on.

Most fish species require very specific environmental parameters to breed and no matter how good your water quality is, unless you’ve got your own private river system and a lot of time and money to spend making things perfect, you can talk to your fish about the birds and the bees all you want but, as a general rule, you’re probably not going to get anywhere.

There are, however, a few exceptions: Yabbies, Freshwater Catfish and Murray Cod.



Now obviously we know that yabbies are crustaceans not fish but they’re a great addition to your dam if you’re hunting a food source for yourself and your fish that will easily replenish its own population.

Common yabbies, scientifically known as Cherax destructor, are native to Australia and tend to be pretty abundant in the wild (and in dams they’ve wandered into or found themselves plopped into). They’re not too fussy about the temperature of water that they live in and although these little critters are mostly vegetarian, they’ll also munch on any organics that find themselves on the bottom of your dam (including dead or dying fish).

Your yabby population will happily breed as long as they have sufficient water quality and room to grow their family but stocking a fairly decent amount to begin with is always recommended to ensure that your new friends have a large enough population to colonise your dam if there are no pre-existing yabbies in it.

Just be aware that as yabbies love to burrow, they may not be best friends with your dam liner if you have one.

Yabbies from Mrs Fellows on Vimeo.


Freshwater Catfish

Tandanus Tandanus, also known as Freshwater Catfish, are the most popular fish species that can colonise a dam. Native to Australia, these little guys are currently endangered so stocking them in your dam can be helpful to conservation efforts.

We’ve written a fair bit about Freshwater Catfish in the past so we won’t go too in depth here but essentially, these bottom dwelling fish can help improve water quality by munching away at organics that find their way to the bottom of your dam and will happily breed under most standard dam water conditions.

You can also eat them if you feel inclined (apparently they’re quite tasty) but it’s recommended that they be moved to a tank of fresh water for a few days prior to cooking to allow time for any “muddy” taste to dissipate.

Baby Freshwater Catfish - Tandanus Tandanus Juveniles


Murray Cod

These guys are big and have a hell of a mean streak so if you’re looking to create a community dam, leave the Murray Cod to its river namesake. If you’re after a large, tasty fish to stock that has the potential to maintain its own population within your dam, however, then go right ahead.

Murray Cod are capable of breeding in your dam, BUT they require solid water quality and the adults are prone to eating their own young since they’re an apex predator. This means that breeding them won’t be as simple as pairing up males and females and if you want to see any significant reproduction, you’ll need to intervene.

If you’re a hope for the best type of person, you can do this by ensuring that there is always plenty of food available and supplying hiding places (like plants, habitats and floating wetlands) for baby Cod.

If you’d rather intervene properly, however, you’re going to want to catch babies and move them to a safer water body until they’re big enough to not get eaten by mum or dad.

Just remember not to put them in with any fish you’re particularly fond of as even juvenile Murray Cod can be quite mean.

Murray Cod by Codman at English Wikipedia [Public domain]


So there you have it, the three best fish for breeding in dams.

If you’d like more information about how to raise happy, healthy fish in your dam, click here.


Too Long, Didn’t Read?


Q. Do Silver Perch Breed In Dams?

A. No.


Q. Do Golden Perch Breed In Dams?

A. No.


Q.  Do Aussie Bass Breed In Dams?

A. No.


Q. Do Freshwater Catfish Breed In Dams?

A. Yes, these native fish will breed happily in most dam environments.


Q. Do Murray Cod Breed In Dams?

A. Yes, but they’ll most likely eat their young.


Q. Can I Breed Anything Else In My Dam?

A. Yes: Yabbies will breed quite happily in most dams.

Frogs will also happily breed in and around your dam if the environment is in good shape.

Tardigrades might also be present in your aquatic ecosystem but these guys are super tiny so you probably won’t notice them.