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The Art Of Fish Feeding: How Much Feed, When And How Many Times Should You Feed Your Fishes

Feeding is a critical aspect of fish farming.  It is one of the basic principles of profitable fish farming.

Profitable  catfish or tilapia farming require the knowledge of high-quality feeding, timely feeding and feeding the right amount for fast growth. 

The art of feeding catfish and tilapia for maximum growth involves

  • Feeding high-quality feeds required for the specific growth stage and health condition of the fish
  • Feeding the right size of feeds( e.g 1.8mm, 2mm, 4mm, 6mm etc.)
  • Feeding the right quantity of feeds
  • Feeding the fishes at the right time 
  • The number of times fishes are fed in a day (frequency of feeding fish)

Feeding High-Quality Feeds Required For The Specific Growth Stage And Health Condition Of The Fish

 Fishes at the different growth stage- fry, fingerling, juvenile, grow-out, broodstock etc. have different nutritional requirements that has to be met for maximum growth and development.

The younger fishes (fries, fingerlings, and  juveniles) require higher crude protein content to support their fast growth.

Poor growth and nutritional disease of catfish is always the result of feeding low-quality or substandard fish feed. This should be taken seriously.

⇒ Read more on how I made my own catfish feed and basic principles to profitable Catfish and Tilapia farming business

Feeding The Right Size Of Feeds( E.G 1.8mm, 2mm, 4mm, 6mm Etc.)

 Fishes have a specific size of feed pellets they can swallow at a particular time due to the size of their mouth and age.
The feed pellets with smaller sizes have higher crude protein content and are fed to younger fishes of usually 3 months and below.

Feeding The Right Quantity Of Feeds

 One of the major challenges of most catfish and tilapia farmers is feeding appropriately without overfeeding or underfeeding the fishes.

Here Are Some Factors That Affect The Quantity Of Feed To Be Fed A Fish

  •  Water temperature: Fishes are cold blooded animals whose body temperature depends directly on the water temperature. Naturally, rate of feed intake  and digestion by fishes is higher at higher water temperature than at low water temperature.

  • Age or growth stage of the fish:  Fish at early stage of their life have higher metabolic rates and hence their growth rate is fast at this early stage. So they are fed controlled rations for up to 12 to 24 times daily. Compared to adult stage where feeding could be 1 to 3 times daily. The quantity of feed fed to younger fishes is smaller than that fed to bigger adult fishes or grow-outs.

  • Water quality: The better the water quality such as dissolved oxygen, water pH and dissolved nutrients the better the feed consumption.

  • Feed quality: Everybody likes a good meal; fishes do too. The highere the feed quality, the high the acceptance and quantity of feed they intake.
  • Weigh of fish: The higher the weight of fishes in the pond (stocking density),  the higher the feed consumed.  Scientifically, it is recommended to give feed about 2.5% of the total body weight of the fish in a pond per day, in Tropical Africa depending on the fish age. For instance, a fish pond containing of 1000kg of fishes will eat around 25kg of feed per day based on this recommendation. 
 However, because of uniqueness of different species of catfish and tilapia, ''spot feeding'' is recommended  because it ensures the fishes are fed to satisfaction while preventing wasting of feeds by dumping in water.
Read more on how water quality and feed quality affect catfish and tilapia growth

 Feeding The Fishes At The Right Time Of The Day Consistently (Feeding Pattern)

To make sure your fishes feed well, you need to feed your fishes at specific times of the day. This will make them anticipate their feeding and always get ready to eat. With this they will always eat more and grow fast.
Grow-outs or table size of  greater than 600g could could be fed two times or three times daily at an interval of say 9-12 hours.

It is advisable to maintain a regular feeding pattern

The Number Of Times Fishes Are Fed In A Day (Frequency Of Feeding Fish)

Fish at early stage of their life have higher metabolic rates and hence their growth rate is fast at this early stage. 
So fries, and fingerlings are usually fed controlled rations for up to 12 to 24 times daily.  Compared to adult stage where feeding could be 1 to 3 times daily.
It takes certain number of hours before fishes digest their feed depending on the quality and age of your stocked fishes. So time interval should be give for fishes to digest the already taken feed before another is given.
Make sure you don’t overfeed when the number of hours interval is not due. This destabilizes your feeding pattern and leads to feed waste.
 You cannot afford to waste your feed by overfeeding, especially now that the costs of input are sky high.
So Friend, I will like to stop here for now. Do you have something to add to this or questions to ask, please I will like to hear from you. Please use the comment box below.
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