Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery
Southeast Region

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Questions and Answers

What are fish hatcheries?

Federal fish hatcheries have been part of our nation's conservation and natural resource management efforts for more than 100 years. Hatcheries can be warm water, cool water, or cold water facilities. Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is a warm water hatchery that spawns, hatches, and raises young fish to a size and age which provides them with the best chance of surviving in the natural wild environment of rivers, lakes and ponds across the southeast part of the country. These fish are raised to help sustain populations in the wild until suitable habitat can be reestablished and the populations can sustain themselves.

What kind of fish do you raise?

Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery raises five species of fish. We work with Alligator gar, largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish. The bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and catfish are raised to promote recreational fishing on national wildlife refuges and the many federal waterways in the southeast such as the Red River and Toledo Bend Reservoir. The Alligator gar are raised to restore depleted populations of these species in the Lower Mississippi River basin. Click here for a list of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries approved gamefish suppliers for your pond.

What good are mussels?

Freshwater mussels are ecologically important on many levels. Mussels are like living water filters on the bottom of lakes and rivers. Mussels can filter up to 8 gallons of water each day, and by doing so they can remove dangerous bacteria such as E. coli from the water.

Another way mussels are important is that they are living substrate for other aquatic animals to live on and around. Mussel shells make good homes for aquatic insects that attract small fish, these small fish attract big fish and the big fish attract fishermen and women like you and me. For more information about freshwater mussels please check out the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society.

Do you sell fish to private land owners?

Although once a function of the National Fish Hatchery system, "farm pond" stocking is no longer considered a Federal responsibility. The state fisheries and commercial hatcheries provide for private stocking. In addition, enough private aquaculturists began raising farm pond species that free stockings were affecting business. In 1989 the Fish and Wildlife Service officially ended the Farm Pond Program. To obtain a list of local and statewide fish farmers who can provide fish for your farm pond .

Can you eat a freshwater mussel?

We know from archaeologial digs of Native Americal sites that freshwater mussels were a part of their diet. Along with the meat inside, the shells were used as tools and jewelry. However, these days there are not a lot of recipes that use freshwater mussels. Remember, before you go out and try your own attempt at a freshwater mussel cookbook, many freshwater mussels are endangered and collecting them is against the law.

Last updated: July 10, 2020