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Feeding Catfish in Your Farm Pond

Oklahoma Fishing News

Channel catfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything. With this in mind, you might ask yourself why would you want to purchase fish food to give to channel catfish? The answer is quite simply that you can increase the growth rate of your catfish by ten to 25 percent.

Feeding your channel catfish a good quality floating feed also allows you to visually observe their body condition, size and numbers. Also many people simply enjoy just watching them feed for the pure pleasure of it. Of course feeding fish requires a good watchful eye to maintain optimum water quality. The key to maintaining optimum water quality in your pond is not to overfeed.

Unused decomposing feed can create low dissolved oxygen in the water. Low oxygen levels in the water will depress fish feeding activity and even kill them if the oxygen level gets too low. The dissolved oxygen level in most ponds is lowest just before
sunrise and can remain lower throughout the early morning hours just after the sun rises, so it is best not to feed in early morning for this reason. The best times to feed are between mid-morning and midafternoon and on the up wind side of the pond unless a feed ring is used to keep the feed from floating across the pond due to the wind.

How much to feed your catfish depends in part on their size. Prior to purchasing any feed, do some fishing and determine what the average size of channel catfish are in your pond. The size of the catfish will Feeding Catfish in Your Farm Pond
By Gordon Schomer, Durant Hatchery Manager also help guide you in purchasing feed that best fits your catfish. Catfish food should have a minimum protein level of about 28 to 32 percent that can be purchased from most local feed stores.

Another vitally important factor in determining how much to feed is water temperature. The optimum water temperature for catfish growth is 85 degrees
Fahrenheit, so as temperatures decreases, food consumption decreases proportionally. Generally catfish don’t feed consistently in ponds when the water temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, when their digestion efficiency and metabolism drops markedly. When water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, channel catfish may still feed some, but at a greatly reduced level and frequency, so it is not recommended to feed them very much or very often throughout the colder winter months.

To determine the actual amount of fish food needed a general rule of thumb is three percent of the total weight of fish in your pond when the water temperature is 70 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

For example: If you stocked 100 channel catfish in your pond and the one you caught weigh on average one pound you would feed three pounds of food per day {(100 fish x 1 pounds) x .03 = 3 lbs.}. You can adjust your feeding as your fish grow by sampling your fish every two weeks to see how much they average in weight.

When your water temperature is between then 60 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you should feed two percent of their body weight; when the water temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you should feed one percent. Floating feed is used most efficiently by channel catfish when the water temperature is warmer, such as 65 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Sinking feed should be used when the water temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A combination of floating and sinking feed can be mixed and fed when the water temperature is between 60 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit to allow for more efficient use of the feed.

The end result of a quality feeding program for channel catfish, will likely be bigger fish in a shorter time period than would normally take. Many families enjoy just watching their fish feed especially when the fish begin getting larger and they may see fish weighing eight to ten pounds or more, gracefully skimming the surface of the water while eating. At that point they may almost seem like pets to some folks, but for the real catfish angler, this sight may give you more incentive to want to catch one of those big brutes for supper or maybe just for bragging rights among your family and friends.

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