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Videos & Installation

 

 

  Part Six: How to determine if your habitat is working- Over the last decade, artificial fish habitat has been placed in hundreds of waters from coast to coast, but astonishingly there has been little evidence provided that they live up to the claims made by their installers. We continue to ask, where are all the pictures, videos or even screenshots from fish finders proving and showing us that they work as well as the advertisements and PR articles claim? Doesn’t the claim of protection for small fish require seeing the small fish inside the habitat being protected? In this series, we felt it was important to provide more than bold assertions and proclamations, and actually show you Fishiding Artificial Fish Habitat models performing underwater. There must be a reason why the industry as a whole hasn’t done the same. It’s fairly easy to assemble some kind of artificial habitat in the garage, stand back admiringly and declare that it’s awesome and will work, but how do you really know that it will? When we observed our various model prototypes underwater in the field, we were often humbled by how little we really understood the needs and behavior of the fish we were designing the structures for. Because we can never really get into a fishes head and our own intuition about what should work is unreliable, testing is imperative to physically see what the fish prefer. There’s four ways of trying to determine if your habitat is working. Each has limitations and drawbacks that should be considered. The most popular and least effective way is to fish around the structure. It can be tempting to declare success, if even a single fish is caught around newly placed habitat. Because artificial habitat is often placed in productive fishing spots to begin with, all that can be said is it doesn’t seem to repel fish. Another method is to try marking fish on a fish finder. The information you can collect with this method is also limited. You won’t see if any organic growth has taken place or if small fish or invertebrates have taken up residence. Larger fish may be spooked by the presence of your boat directly overhead and may not be counted. Underwater cameras lowered over the side of your boat will give you a visual idea of what things look like, but the angle of view is so narrow that it’s never really possible to view the habitat in its entirety. You may miss things just above, below or otherwise out of frame. The last and best method of evaluation is by scuba diving. This is the method we use to appraise Fishiding Artificial Fish Habitat. There’s no substitute for being in the water with the habitat and seeing it with your own eyes. It gives you the most complete picture of what’s happening within the habitat and how fish are relating to it. While we typically film fish underwater by scuba diving, even here, there’s a caveat. We learned quickly that the mere presence of a diver can alter how fish behave. Often fish are attracted to a diver simply out of curiosity. To eliminate the possibility that fish were more interested in our cameraman than the habitat, we needed to film the fish alone to see what they were doing “when nobody was watching them”. That was the inspiration behind setting up cameras to surreptitiously film how fish interact with Fishiding habitat. We also weren’t satisfied with only getting a glimpse of them in a brief period of time, so we set up a time lapse camera. The following video, although only a minute in length, was filmed over the course of hours of real-time. This approach gave us better insight into the amount of traffic that occurred at a Fishiding Habitat site over a longer period of time. We’ve learned so much by watching the fish and we challenge anyone who works with artificial habitat to do the same. It’s this kind of observation that will expand our knowledge, propel the industry forward and give birth to more effective future designs and applications. Designing and building effective fish habitat is a genuine science. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With today’s deep interest in artificial fish habitat, we’re eager to share our findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. In this continuing series, we’ll show you underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. If you’ve missed any part of this series you can catch up at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Krzy... For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com

  Part Five: Location and placement- After design, the single most important aspect of creating successful artificial habitat that fish will use is location. In testing Fishiding habitat, we’ve spent a great deal of time studying placement and there seems to be three obvious but often overlooked tenets that can make the difference between success and failure. The three aspects concern location, bottom substrate and constellation. 1) Location: Success depends largely on depth. When artificial habitat is placed shallow enough to let sunlight reach them, they can quickly grow algae and other organic material. This serves as a food source for juvenile fish and also makes the structures fuller and denser. If deployed in the littoral zone, they become much more accessible to newly hatched fry that will quickly colonize them and use them for shelter and protection which may help to improve survival rates. When placing any habitat in deeper water, it’s important to know what the dissolved oxygen profile is. If placed in water too deep where DO levels are insufficient, they’ll naturally go unused. Therefore, it’s important to have a good understanding of the target lake’s topography, recruitment history and bio-chemical character. This will ensure that the habitat is placed in a location where it will be best used and where the employment of additional habitat would serve a purpose beneficial to the fish. When we’re testing Fishiding artificial habitat, we’re also mindful of precise placement sites. Placing fish habitat in known fish locations or areas where fish are regularly caught is not a good way to prove their effectiveness. If fish are already congregating under a dock for example, placing any artificial fish habitat in that same location and catching fish, does nothing to authentic their ability to attract fish. All you’re doing is demonstrating that the units don’t seem to repel fish. We prefer to test and evaluate Fishiding habitat in areas that fish aren’t already using. In doing so, we can evaluate whether fish are truly attracted to the newly placed habitat models. When they are, we’ve then created an additional and useable habitat site for them, not unnecessarily bolstering a spot they were already using. 2) Bottom Substrate: To maximize the effectiveness of Fishiding artificial fish habitat, whenever possible, they should always be placed in areas with a hard bottom substrate. If placed on a lake bottom with 12 inches of muck let’s say, any habitat type will sink into the mire and you’ll effectively lose a foot of height. Since the vertical height aspect of fish habitat is critical, you certainly don’t want to diminish that attribute. You also don’t want any part of the construction buried or otherwise covered where it can’t perform the functions it’s designed to. 3) Constellation: Artificial habitat units located in very close proximity to each other, always outperform single units standing alone. Fish will treat the combined individual units as one large, meandering reef. By creating limitless variety in the largest habitat complex you can assemble, the term “bigger is better” truly applies. In addition, by employing multiple units in a single location, you create a mosaic or tapestry of true habitat that amplifies the effectiveness of the entire grouping. Typically, fish managers may want to place fifty structures in ten different locations, comprised of five units each. Understanding the desire to cover as much ground as possible, we encourage you to resist that impulse. Instead in this scenario, create a single giant complex of 50 units all at one site. This creates so much more synergy and dynamism. The more complex and dense the habitat is in any one location, the better, for the fish. Designing and building effective fish habitat is a science. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With today’s deep interest in artificial fish habitat, we’re eager to share our findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. We’ve come a long way since the days of throwing discarded Christmas trees into our lakes and calling it a day. Stay tuned. In this continuing series, we’ll show you more underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. If you’ve missed any part of this series you can catch up at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Krzy... For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com

  Part Four: Evaluating Performance- When we’re testing a new model of Fishiding Artificial habitat in a lake setting, we always let the fish make the basic decisions. No matter how much we may like a structure we design, if the fish don’t respond to it, it’s shelved. We’re not interested in deploying constructions that masquerade as habitat but do nothing in the lakes. If fish reject them, so do we. There’s no guessing involved. All our habitat is literally fish tested and approved. It can be difficult to determine if fish really like a certain piece of habitat or not. When evaluating the effectiveness of artificial fish habitat, one important metric we use is something we call the allegiance score. In marketing, it’s similar to what advertising people refer to as brand loyalty. Simply put, this means the degree to which adult fish linger in, or hold onto, any particular piece of cover, and how reluctant they are to leave it. This observed behavior is graded subjectively on a scale of zero to five. For example, in the spring, many Centrachids will absolutely refuse to vacate their nesting sites, even when molested. We can say that the allegiance score for the nesting site is 5. Nesting crappies aren’t nearly as immovable in the same situation, so their allegiance score in their own nesting site would be a 3. Catfishes in this same scenario typically score a 4. If we place a piece of habitat in the water and fish swim by it as if it’s invisible, it gets an allegiance score of zero. Basically, we reason that if fish ignore our structures or won’t stage on them, something has failed. We feel that scores of 5 can’t realistically be expected for any fish that’s not protecting fry or eggs. So we’re looking for allegiance scores of 3 or 4. Today’s video gives you a visual idea of the process described. The video shows a single large bass staging on a group of our bunker complexes. Almost immediately, the fish becomes aware of our cameraman approaching in SCUBA diving gear. The bass has every opportunity at this point to flee but remains with the habitat. The bass is approached more closely to determine her allegiance to the structure. By this point, there is some measure of danger to her, and her body language signals some alarm. As we circle her and explicitly invade her comfort zone she turns and has yet another opportunity and a clear path to flee. However, she retains position close to the habitat even in the face of undetermined threat. It’s almost as if she’s tethered to it. We interpret this behavior as a genuine reluctance to abandon this fish habitat structure. We would therefore assign an allegiance score of 4. This tells us that this model is accepted by the fish and is performing as intended. The allegiance score is one of the tools we regularly use to determine if our artificial habitat passes the fish test. In case you think that fish will stage on basically any structure, we can assure you this is not the case. We’ve discovered that fish are much more discriminating than we would have ever imagined. In fact, we’ve tested many artificial habitat models that scored a zero on this test and failed miserably in other evaluations we use to determine performance. These duds (if they were made by Fishiding) were all scrapped. While we don’t do the stringent testing the FDA does on pharmaceuticals, we do like to know if our habitats actually work as advertised. We certainly wouldn’t be using any that didn’t perform exceptionally. Designing and building effective fish habitat is a genuine science. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With today’s deep interest in artificial fish habitat, we’re eager to share our findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. We’ve come a long way since the days of throwing discarded Christmas trees into our lakes and calling it a day. Stay tuned. In this continuing series, we’ll show you underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. If you’ve missed any part of this series you can catch up at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Krzy... For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com

   Part Three: Taking Cues from Nature Human beings like their world to be tidy, neat, and straight. We mow our lawns to look like the 18th green at Pebble Beach. The rooms in our homes are perfectly rectangular. We even park parallel to each other. On our farms, the corn is planted and grown in flawlessly even rows. Our city downtowns resemble blocks of box-like structures that are uniform, neatly organized, and composed of straight lines. We use levels relentlessly. If something falls askew or deviates from our rigid conception of order, it’s immediately corrected. Nature, on the other hand is all about apparent chaos. Trees and plants left unattended grow in whichever direction they like. There is no symmetry to an oak tree or to a patch of wild blackberries. A walk in a thick forest is kaleidoscopic, filled with seemingly limitless angles and lines in every direction. Nothing appears arranged or choreographed. Ultimately, perhaps, this is how we discern what’s man-made from what’s natural. When we started making Fishiding Artificial Habitat, we realized we had to resist the natural human tendency to make these structures geometric. After all, they weren’t going to be placed on our back-yard patios for friends to admire. Instead, they were going to be used in nature—in wild underwater worlds where the currency of uniformity and precise geometry that pleases our human eyes is worthless and alien. To be fully embraced by the fish they were intended to serve, artificial habitat would have to possess the hallmark of natural design. In short, apparent chaos. Today’s underwater video does a great job of showing you the disordered and untidy non-design of Fishiding artificial habitat. As in a wild forest, you can see how the structures are deliberately created to be random and chaotic. While there are some vertical and horizontal angles, almost all the panels are slanted, twisted, and tilted into a complicated labyrinth imitating coarse woody habitat. The structures offer hidden passageways with dark shadowy hideaways, and they challenge predators with heavily obstructed sight-lines that work to insure the safety and protection of foraging fish. Additionally, there’s a maze of tight spaces that larger fish cannot penetrate. Effective fish habitat must be constructed with a labyrinth of pockets and retreats that are completely inaccessible to larger predators. While it appears that all the advantage goes to forage species and juvenile fish, predator fish like the smallmouth bass in this video patrol the perimeter. They’re able to penetrate some of the interior but have to sacrifice important ambush speed to navigate the maze. This handicap allows small fish to easily hide or escape. While they’re prevented from unobstructed views or making torpedo-like attacks, large bass patiently linger in the open water nearby where outliers might venture to be picked off. The goal is to create low predation risk and reduce the attack-to-capture ratio but not eliminate it entirely. There’s a real distinction between form and function. For artificial fish habitat to have any legitimate purpose at all, it needs to be genuinely functional and cannot just occupy space on the lake floor. Does your artificial habitat provide fish with shade, cover, safety, refuge, and food as well as natural habitat does? We believe this can only be achieved by effectively mimicking the chaotic designs we see in nature. They will always outperform the constructions that look like they would be more at home in our human world than in the home of a fish. Designing and building effective fish habitat is a genuine science. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With today’s deep interest in artificial fish habitat, we’re eager to share our findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. We’ve come a long way since the days of throwing discarded Christmas trees into our lakes and calling it a day. Stay tuned. In this continuing series, we’ll show you underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com

 Part Two: Integration There’s no such thing as a single artificial habitat that does it all. That’s why Fishiding habitat comes in various and many different design models. Each habitat model is conceived to achieve a specific purpose or to serve in a specific range of depth. In this time-lapse video, you see several of our “Bunker” models combined with two “Small Stake” units. Every Fishiding habitat is designed to mimic something in nature. When it comes to artificial habitat, our research shows that fish prefer complex designs that resemble natural elements like macrophytes or coarse woody habitat; they shy away from assemblages that look foreign and out of place. Since they mimic cattails, the “Bunker” and “Small Stake” models are best in shallow littoral zones where fish would naturally expect to find such environments. In these locations, they get plenty of sunlight and quickly grow algae. This gives them a fuller and bushier appearance and helps to create more caverns in the interior core that small fish use for concealment. Every Fishiding habitat model provides tight nooks and crannies completely inaccessible to larger fish; this feature ensures genuine protection for juvenile fish. This video shows the seamless integration of the habitat and the Chara that grows on the floor of the lake. It’s always desirable to combine artificial habitat with natural elements whenever it’s possible. When you marry the right artificial structure to natural components, it becomes part of the mosaic of the lakescape instead of intruding into or disrupting the ecology. Even in lakes devoid of aquatic vegetation, other naturally occurring elements can usually be incorporated to add dynamism to the structure. Centrachids are particular fond of these habitats and will orbit them persistently—in exactly the same way they relate to cattails in the lake. For young of the year fish, these structures are homes in a literal sense. They provide essential cover, harbor invertebrates, and give the young fish a good head start. At this time, the other types of artificial habitat available simply lack the complexity to provide these vital benefits. These habitats are often spindly exposed frames and possess nothing that can be used for concealment or refuge. Effective fish habitat must have a labyrinth of pockets and retreats that are completely inaccessible to predators. The most impressive part of this video is what you can’t see. Nearby, and just out of camera range, is a wide assortment of brush piles, coarse woody habitat, rich beds of aquatic plants, and other elements that nature abundantly provides in healthy, vibrant, natural lakes. Even with this Camelot so near, fish still deem our Fishiding artificial habitat worthy of attention. We don’t maintain that artificial habitat is better than natural habitat, but by trying to mimic nature in our designs, we demonstrate that it’s possible to create credible surrogates. Designing and building effective fish habitat is a genuine science. It’s still in its infancy, but we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With today’s deep interest in artificial fish habitat, we’re eager to share our findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. We’ve come a long way since the days of throwing discarded Christmas trees into our lakes and calling it a day. Stay tuned. In this continuing series, we’ll show you more underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and reveal why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com)

    Part One: How They Work Fishiding Artificial Fish Habitat isn’t designed in and of itself to attract game fish. Instead, its purpose is to provide indispensable cover for juvenile and YOY fish. It’s this congregation of juvenile and forage fish that interests game fish. Other artificial fish habitat models attempt to attract larger piscivores, but because they lack the intrinsic tight spaces and crevices to provide real protection for juvenile fish, game fish don’t develop any allegiance to these structures. Imagine an open McDonald’s restaurant with no fresh food available. Customers may stop by, but they won’t stay. Conversely, Fishiding habitat presents a perpetual 24/7 buffet of potential available forage, but they ensure that adult centrarchids still have to work to eat. If the habitat structures are designed and installed in a way that don’t reduce the attack to capture ratio, they provide no benefit for forage species and consequently won’t hold any fish at all. The key is protection. Artificial structures must be complex enough microhabitats to afford genuine fortification for small fish. In the evaluation of other types of artificial fish habitat, this is the most critical and most often overlooked aspect of design. Effective fish habitat must be constructed with a labyrinth of pockets and retreats that are completely inaccessible to larger predators. One of the things that separate Fishiding Artificial Habitat from other designs is the amount of research that has gone into observing the units after they’ve been deployed in the lakes. We spend hundreds of hours a year photographing, filming and observing how fish respond to various designs. We’re constantly testing and discarding design aspects that serve no function or purpose while enhancing other elements that we’ve learned are preferred by the fish. Through constant observation, we can determine which features are important to fish even if we don’t yet entirely understand why. It turns out that when it comes to accepting artificial habitat, we’ve discovered that fish are much more discriminating than we would ever have imagined. Because of that, every aspect of Fishiding habitat structures has a purpose or utility that the fish have shown us they prefer. We don’t merely guess at what we think the fish will like. We actually let them tell us. In this sixty-second time-lapse video recorded over thirty minutes of real time, you can see the abundance of life that surrounds the Fishiding habitat. Once deployed, Fishiding structures quickly become assimilated into the environment by developing thick organic growth both on the panels and in the center cores. Several units placed closely together form a complex mosaic of habitat. As you can see, location placement is also important. We didn’t just toss them into the lake. In this instance, we’ve purposefully placed the units where they can be enveloped by a colony of Chara on the lake floor—a great platform to use if you can find it—and away from any other useful, existing habitat. The synergy of this natural element and the dark center core of the structures provides authentic sanctuaries for young fish. A myriad of shady, narrow passageways and small compartments provides an abundance of additional cover. When largemouth bass approach, it’s remarkable to see how effectively and quickly the forage fish are able to employ this cover for concealment. They seem to disappear before your eyes. Fishiding Habitat structures also include some features designed to aid predator fish. Wide panels are bent to provide both vertical and horizontal planes that are cleverly utilized by larger bass as surreptitious ambush stations. In future videos, we’ll show you how bass use these ambush planes and why their exact width and placement are vital. Designing and building effective fish habitat really is a science, and while it’s still in its infancy, we’re learning a great deal every day about the nuances of design and deployment. With so much interest in artificial fish habitat today, we’re eager to share our research findings with fisheries professionals who want to learn more. We’ve come a long way since the days of throwing discarded Christmas trees into our lakes and calling it a day. Stay tuned. In this continuing ten-part series, we’ll show you additional underwater video of how fish utilize artificial habitat and why so many popular designs are completely ineffective. For more information contact David Ewald at https://www.fishiding.com Phone: (815) 693-0894 Email: sales@fishiding.com) 

 

 

Click on the installation video to see how to bend and install your fishiding artificial fish habitat. There is no wrong shape or design, experiment with mixing sizes, types and variety of structure types to give fish choices on different days.

 https://www.youtube.com/user/pelagicbldr

Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery Musky habitat study

Here's a few videos taken of our products underwater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Geneva

Wave action

Healthy habitats