Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery
Southeast Region
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About Us


Who We Are

Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery was established in 1912. It consists of two separate units, the Orangeburg main station and the Orangeburg substation. The main station is located just outside the city limits of Orangeburg. The substation is located seven miles southwest of Orangeburg. Orangeburg NFH is one of over 60 Federal hatcheries located throughout the country.


What We Do

Orangeburg is a warm-water fish hatchery. Fish are reared in earthen ponds and the water temperature ranges from 60 to 85˚F. The hatchery has the capability to produce a variety of freshwater fish:  striped bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegill sunfish, and shortnose sturgeon, etc. Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery stocks four to five million fish annually in reservoirs, lakes, and coastal streams across the southeast region.


How We Do It

Pond Preparation

Before stocking ponds with fish, they are filled with water and organic and inorganic fertilizer are added. Fertilization increases the natural food production which is vital for fish less than 1” in size.                         


Number of Fish in a Rearing Pond

The number of fish stocked into a rearing pond is determined by the size of the pond. Striped bass are stocked at a rate of 100,000 to 150,000 per surface acre of water. Redbreast and bluegill sunfish broodstock (mature fish that lay eggs) are stocked at a rate of 50 to 60 pairs per surface acre. Ponds at the hatchery range in size from 0.5 to 1.5 surface acres.


Size of Fish

Striped bass are stocked into ponds when they are less than 10 days old and less than 1 inch in length and remain in ponds until they reach a size of 2” to 12” depending on stocking requirements. Fish such as redbreast and bluegill sunfish are produced from broodstock that are placed in a pond and allowed to reproduce naturally. They are harvested at an average size of 3”.


Feeding Fish

While in ponds, fish feed on naturally occurring organisms (phytoplankton and zooplankton.) Commercially prepared fish foods are fed to them by hatchery workers 3 or more times a day. The size and type of fish determine the number of times they are fed.


Harvesting Fish

Fish are harvested from ponds by lowering the water level and concentrating the fish into a concrete basin that is part of the pond. A seine (a long net) is used to catch and         move fish to a tank containing water and oxygen.                                                                                         


Transporting Fish

Fish are hauled to rivers and/or lakes in a special designed tank (called a distribution tank) that contains water and a supply of oxygen. The number of fish that can be hauled is determined by the size and distance to the release site. On average 50,000 to 100,000 are hauled per trip.




Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery Staff Directory
Name Position Email Address
Byron Hamilton Assistant Hatchery Manager








About our Fish

Shortnose Sturgeon

The shortnose sturgeon is listed as an endangered species throughout its range from Canada to Florida.  Reasons for this are, destruction of habitat, damming of rivers, and commercial overfishing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been investigating culture techniques of the shortnose sturgeon since the early 1980s. Adults and fingerlings are held at Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery for research purposes.



Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase a fishing license?

To review South Carolina fishing regulations and to purchase a license, please contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 1-866-714-3611 or visit them online at

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service does not issue fishing licenses. 


Why do we need federal hatcheries and who pays for them?

This is a national fish hatchery which is supported by tax dollars. Fish raised on Federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support Federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law. These include fish for restoration where, for example, man-made dams have altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability; or to restore threatened or endangered populations. Fish are also used to support recreational fishing programs in Federal and state waters.


How many fish are raised at the hatchery? Where do you get the fish?

Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery raises between three to four million striped bass yearly. We receive striped bass fry from South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Redbreast and bluegill sunfish are raised from broodstock maintained on station. Shortnose sturgeon broodstock are also maintained on station.


Where are the fish stocked?

The striped bass are stocked in Corps of Engineers Federal water projects and coastal streams for mitigation and restoration.


Where are the striped bass and redbreast raised?

The striped bass, bluegill and redbreast are raised in earthen ponds. The hatchery is a warm water facility, meaning that the fish raised here are in water temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Where are short nose sturgeons raised?

Shortnose sturgeons are raised in circular and rectangular tanks with continuous flow of water.


What is at the hatchery to see?

The hatchery has a nature trail and bird watching. You can see the types of fish raised here in the aquarium.


Is the hatchery open every day? What hours? Is there a charge?

The hatchery is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. There is no charge to visit the hatchery.



Economic Impact

Local Impact

(2010 data to be added soon)

American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009


Last updated: October 17, 2014