How often you feed your fishes will differ depending on a lot of factors, but for the results I get – an average of 1.5kg to 2kg fish size in 6 months – here’s what I recommend:
- Fingerlings (3 to 4 grams): twice daily
- Post-fingerlings (4 – 6 grams): once or twice daily
- Juvenile (6 – 10 grams): once or twice daily
- Post-juvenile (10 grams and above): once daily
- Anything above post-juvenile: once daily
All things being equal, I feed my fishes daily until they reach the 6 months mark when I sell them; this is absolutely essential if you want optimal results.
Types of Catfish Feeding
There are two feeding types I use for my fishes:
Broadcast Feeding: This basically involves me going round my ponds and spreading floating feed all over the pond to ensure all the fishes in the pond can eat.I use this for my fishes if they are in the fingerlings to post-juvenile stage, and I do this because they just got introduced into a large body of water, often from somewhere significantly smaller, and not all the fishes can come to the same spot to eat.By spreading the floating (or extruding) fish across the pond, I’m ensuring they all get to eat.
Once my fishes become more mature, often this is in the post-juvenile stage or around 30 – 50 grams, I instantly switch to spot feeding.
Spot Feeding: Spot feeding is less time-consuming and more effective, since it is less stressful and I can carefully monitor how my fishes are eating.
Spot feeding is basically me feeding my fishes in one spot.I try getting my fishes to eat in one spot once they reach 30 – 50 grams, or after 2 – 3 weeks of stocking them from juvenile stage.
At first, if they are used to eating using the broadcast style, most of the fishes won’t come to a particular spot to eat; however, by ONLY feeding them on that spot for a few days, they’ll be conditioned to come to that spot and eat.
Buying Catfish Feed vs. Making Your Feed
In the short time that I’ve been in this business, I’ve realized that you’ll be more profitable if you make your own feed as opposed to buying feed from major producers.
Some farmers rely on floating feed from producers like Durante and Aqua Feed to grow their fishes, but due to the expensive nature of these fishes, it can be unprofitable on the long term.If you learn how to make your own feed, though, you’ll save a lot more money and you can have more impact on your fishes since you can easily control what they are eating. That said, I recommend buying feed from feed producers like Raanan or Aqua Feed until your fishes reach 200 – 300 grams, and then giving them local feed.
Protein is the main ingredient in fish feed, and every good feed formula contains a significant amount of protein; however, fishes still need energy, mainly found in carbohydrate, to process and digest the feed so a protein-only feed isn’t going to be best.
My Fish Feed Formula
That said, here’s the formula I use for my fishes depending on the stage they are at; this formula uses the Hhanstholm 72% fish meal; I use local fish that can be gotten here in Nigeria depending on availability, but there is a lot of fluctuations in their availability, which became especially pronounced during the 2015 elections, ensuring there hasn’t been local fish that fish farmers can use for over 2 months now at the time of writing this, so I’m giving a formula based on the Hanstholm 72% fish meal, since this is always available:
Feed Formula for 200 – 600 Grams Catfish
Your catfishes are still very small and tender at this stage, so they need quality nutrient in their feed; this formula results in a feed rich in good protein but it is a bit expensive; it is not as expensive as using floating feed, though.You should only have to use this feed formula for around 1 – 2 months.
- Fish meal (Hanstholm, 72%): 25%
- Soya Meal (or full fat soya): 30%
- GNC (Groundnut cake): 20%
- Dough/Maize/Biscuit (or other main forms of energy/carbohydrate): 20%
- Molasses: 5%
(Based on this formula, 1 ton of fish feed will have: 250kg fish meal, 300kg soya meal, 200kg GNC, 200kg Dough, 50kg molasses)The above are the main ingredients; you can then use other ingredients such as DCP (Dicalcium Phosphate), Methionine, Lysine, Salt, Vit. C, Fish Premixes, Antibiotics, etc. according to your preference.Feed Formula for 600 Grams and Above
- Fish meal (Hanstholm, 72%): 10%
- Soya Meal (or full fat soya): 40%
- GNC (Groundnut cake): 20%
- Dough/Maize/Biscuit (or other main forms of energy/carbohydrate): 25%
- Molasses: 5%
(Based on this formula, 1 ton of fish feed will have: 100kg fish meal, 400kg soya meal, 200kg GNC, 250kg Dough, 50kg molasses)The above are the main ingredients; you can then use other ingredients such as DCP (Dicalcium Phosphate), Methionine, Lysine, Salt, Vit. C, Fish Premixes, Antibiotics, etc. according to your preference.PS. In my own case, for 1 ton of feed I use the following: DCP (Dicalcium Phosphate): 10kg, Methionine: 1kg, Lysine: 1kg, Salt: 2 – 3kg, Vit. C: 1kg, Fish Premixes: 5kg,Antibiotics: Optional, unless my fishes are sick (in which case the quantity depends on the antibiotics used; it’s often around 500g to 2kg for 1 ton of feed, though)
How to Know When to Stop Feeding Your Catfishes
Knowing when to stop feeding is something the inexperienced catfish farmer has to deal with; it took me months to know when my catfishes are well-fed, and I only truly mastered this after around a year.Knowing when your catfishes are okay becomes a bit tricky once you switch to spot feeding, but you don’t have much to worry about.If using floating feed, try to avoid having excess feed on the surface of the water; carefully observe your fishes to see what will satiate them.If floating feed must remain on the water, it should be something that the fishes can finish within 5 minutes of you stopping their feeding; anything more is potentially a waste.For sinking feed, carefully observe the response of your fishes; they will eat excitedly while their reaction reduces as they start to get satiated, but it’s safe to stop if you can barely see them pop their heads out of the water to eat. If you stocked 1,000 fishes into a pond and can only see 5 – 10 fishes eating after awhile, it is safe to stop; with sinking feed, anything more could be a waste.
I tried to include everything I believe you need to know about feeding, that can help you grow your catfishes from fingerlings stage to several kgs.I might have missed a few things, so please let me know about questions bothering you in the comments below.