Catfish Farming Step 3: Feeding Your Fishes

GET PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT CATFISH FARMING: Due to a VERY BUSY schedule, I haven’t been able to update the series on catfish farming or respond to comments, but I have something better for you; you can learn directly from my teacher, who has recorded up to 120% profit in 6 months. Visit Profitable Fish Farming to learn directly from him!

This article is part of the series on how to start a catfish farming business.

We already covered preparing your catfish pond and stocking your pond, but today’s article will be about how to feed your fishes.

6mm catfish feed

One of the things my teacher emphasized to me when he was teaching me was the importance of quality feed for your fishes; according to him, good feed is there on the same level with quality water, and it is often what determines the profitability of a farmer.

While most fish farmers focus only on getting inexpensive feed for their fishes, feeding your fishes should be less about the cost but more about the profit margin; so, you might be spending 3 to 4 times more than the average farmer on feed, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it makes your fishes 5 to 6 times bigger than their fishes, significantly increasing your profit margin.

In the last article on stocking your pond, I said you can stock your pond with mainly 4 types of catfishes:

  • Fingerlings (3 to 4 grams)
  • Post-fingerlings (4 – 6 grams)
  • Juvenile (6 – 10 grams)
  • Post-juvenile (10 grams and above)

When it comes to feeding catfishes, there’s no one-size-fits all feed; there’s a lot of variations and factors to be considered depending on the size of your fishes.

Types of Catfish Feed

Since there are different stages of catfish growth, there are different stages of fish feed; fish feed are often denoted in mm, so you’ll see/hear about 1.5mm feed, 1.8mm feed, 2mm feed, 4mm feed, 6mm feed etc.

There’s also extruded (or floating) and non-extruded (or sinking) feed.

Extruded (floating) catfish feed

Extruded (floating) catfish feed

What I recommend is to give your fishes extruded (or floating) feed for up to 2 months before switching to the non-extruded (or sinking) feed.

Non-extruded (sinking) catfish feed

Non-extruded (sinking) catfish feed

Catfishes are mostly bottom feeders, so by their very nature they are designed to be eating non-extruded (or sinking) feed, but the reason I recommend giving them floating feed at the early stage is because they are more fragile then.

With floating feed, you can put the feed on the pond gradually and let them eat it; the risk of overfeeding is significantly reduced, thereby ensuring there is no water pollution that can lead to high mortality in your very fragile juveniles.

Furthermore, due to their fragile nature, giving your juveniles feed that isn’t rich with the right nutrients can affect their long-term growth; going with floating feed from recognized producers like Durante, Cargill Aqua Feed, Raanan, and Coppens will ensure optimal growth of your fishes, even when you later switch to sinking feed comprising of your own formula.

That said, the top feed producers that I recommend and have used are Aqua Feed, Durante and Raanan; I’ve heard that Coppens could be the best, but there are lots of adulterated versions of it here in Nigeria, so I won’t recommend it since the inexperienced farmer could fall victim to these adulterated versions.

From my research, I have also noticed that Aqua Feed, Coppens and Raanan are available internationally, so my recommendation isn’t restricted to just Nigeria.

What Feed Size to Give Your Catfishes

Like I said earlier, there are various fish feed sizes, whether you go for floating or sinking feed; sinking feed is usually bigger, and longer, than floating feed.

From my experience, here are the different sizes I’m currently aware of:

1.5mm, 1.8mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, etc.

The bigger you fishes, the bigger the feed size they can pick.

Here’s what I recommend if you just stocked your ponds, if your fishes fall into the following categories:

  • Fingerlings (3 to 4 grams): 1.5mm feed size
  • Post-fingerlings (4 – 6 grams): 1.8mm feed size
  • Juvenile (6 – 10 grams): 2mm feed size
  • Post-juvenile (10 – 50 grams): 2mm feed size

As your fishes grow, the size of feed they can pick will increase. Here’s the feed size I recommend for bigger fishes, based on their size/weight, if you’re to give them floating feed:

  • 10 – 50 grams: 2mm feed size
  • 50 – 150 grams: 3mm feed size
  • 150 – 400 grams: 4mm feed size

All things being equal, your fishes should be around 200 – 300 grams in 2 months with floating feed alone, if they are being fed properly; after then, you can switch to sinking feed and give them the following feed sizes:

200 – 300 grams: 2mm feed size

300 to 600 grams: 4mm feed size

600 grams to 1kg+: 6mm feed size

If your fishes exceed 1kg in weight, and you’re able to get bigger feed sizes, then you can consider giving them 8mm, or even later 10mm, feed sizes. 3 to 4kg fishes eat 6mm sinking feed just fine, though, so don’t worry too much if you can’t find bigger feed sizes.

How Often Should You Feed Your Fishes?

2 months old catfishes eating

2 months old catfishes eating

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.

Conclusion

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.

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52 Comments

  1. Amarachi Atizara

    This is lovely! Pls how do I get in-touch with you for feed production training. I stay in Port Harcourt. Hoping to hearing from you. Thanks

    • fredrick lgbodo

      I appreciate your informative write up. please i am base in port Harcourt,is there anyone you know there that can give me a practical guide on the feed formulation?

  2. Collins Akpos Uwhalogho

    My brother your is lovely, how do I get more infortion from you. Do you have training CDs on how to process or make fish feed just as you have explain in your write up. Thanks

  3. adegoke

    Pls is it compulsory to sort fish?

    • If you get your fishes from the right source (that is, if they are of almost equal size when you got them) and if you feed them well, you don’t have to sort.

      I don’t sort my fishes. My teacher doesn’t sort his, either.

  4. Bala_Eleniyan

    Thanks

  5. james

    Thanks Bamidele,
    i find this piece really enlightening.
    how can i practically learn details of feed compounding.
    and are you certain that feeding mature fish once daily is better than twice?
    i hope to hear from you
    thanks once again

  6. james

    thanks a great deal. i find this delightsome and enlightening.

    i need n=hands on training on feeds formulation, etc

    can you help?

    thanks

  7. Adebayo

    Thanks so much for this great effort you’ve put in here to encourage prospective farmers. I will like to ask this question, if I follow this feed formular you recommended, am I going to have a good result or there are other hidden details? And if I must raise hybrid fishes from fingerlings to 4kg sizes, what tonnage of feed will be required to have this required weight.
    Thanks as I await your prompt response.

  8. Komolafe Temitope

    Please which of the feed is good in feeding the fish among the floating feed. Coppen, Aqua, Raanan, Durante, Cargill

  9. Tobi Benjamin

    God bless you greatly sir. This is a great training piece.

  10. IYORIOBHE CHARLES

    Thank you very much sir, I will appreciate if i can take lectures on the production of the fish feed so that i can be producing by myself. My fish is costing me a lot of money. This will help me if i can also receive a reply to this message on the production of fish feed

  11. Mide

    I am a fish farmer and I have been in this business for like 6years now; meanwhile there are some local feeds more or less of foreign standard I can vouch for e.g AQUAMAX FEED by uac) which has a very good feed formulation and also economical, blended with Aqual feed can infact save you from different sorts of imbalances and uncertainties.

  12. Idemudia

    How do you turn the milled feed into pelletised feed since it cannot be fed to the fishes in the mash form?

  13. Shina

    I learnt it is good to feed them with warms also. At what stage can I start giving them warms?

  14. Neyric

    Hello mr. Bamidele! Thanks so much 4dis tips u share wit us am so glad…i need ur help 2 known more better/ practical aspect about fish farming(pls share ur phone no wit me 2ru my email. U’re bless

  15. Akinbitan Olusola

    Thank you so much, this piece is so insightful. My only concern here is the molasses, i am not sure if it should be added to the tonnes. please correct me. However, can i use the first formula, for the first 2month when they start local, which will make them 4months at the end. Then, use the last formula for another 1month, which makes them 5month. And then feed them with weight for the last one month, if there is anything like weight in feed formulation. Meanwhile at the end of the 6month they should have consumed 4tonnes. From your experience as a farmer, how many bus\barf can one expect to harvest??? Thanks in so much anticipation.

  16. Samuel Adu Addo

    Greetings from Ghana Brother Bamidele.I am an amateur catfish farmer with a lot of questions on my mind about the business. Most of key questions have been answered by your article. Thanks and God bless you for helping us .A glance at the comments shows you the farmer’s main concern is the feed. Thanks for your guide. We shall continue to knock on your door for help. S.A.Addo

  17. ak silas

    At what age should i start feeding the fry after breeding? please inform me because you have not included this. Thank you

  18. Cynthia

    this has been really helpful. i’ve been thinking of delving into this business. please can you give me an estimate of how much it will cost to start assuming I already have a pond (apart from the digging/excavation).
    thanks a lot. God bless..

  19. Koblafegha Q.

    A comprehensive package we have here. I have been greatly educated on a problem free cat fish farming. Thank you and be blessed.

  20. Ejiofor ceejay

    please sir iam grateful for the direction.please how will some know that fish is sick and the treatments?

  21. friday

    A beautiful write up. Even a novice will understand it.
    Thanks a lot.

  22. Peter

    Thanks, this is a beautiful piece. However, I observed the author had not been answer the heart bugging questions of the readers. Or maybe he answers thru their private mail. But i think answering thru this medium will give others the oppurtunity to learn as well and if financial commitment is needed, its ok, lets know about it. Some are willing to part with something to get the rightful info. Thks.

  23. mr sunady

    may the lord reward u for sharing dis deep secrete.

  24. Olabakefish

    After going through a lot of different write ups, I find this most enlightening for being so simplified, explanatory and straight to point on one of the most crucial aspect of fish farming.

    More ‘FISH OIL’ to your elbow and God bless.

  25. Oladayo

    please how many kg of feed will be enough to feed 1000 fingerlings to an average weight of 1kg/ 1 @ maturity, and how will they be eating the feed as they are developing as in what quantity will they be fed with daily. thanks

  26. Adegbesan korede

    is it not going to be more interesting and good if we can have this group on whatsapp and facebook

  27. ivy

    thanks so much, pls did u have tarning center on fish farming? I live in Kaduna

  28. Muktesh shukla

    I am i fish feed producer from india .Contact me if u have requirements of fish feed with protein % 34/32/30/28/26/20

  29. Benjamin Bassaw

    Stock my catfish April 2015 i feed them with COPPENS only
    Up December 2015.average of my fish 100 to 500gram
    Plz need help

    • That’s very poor performance, and could be due to the following reasons:

      1. Poor juveniles and fingerlings (If this is the case, there’s little you can do. I’ve also been a victim of poor juveniles, and fishes that should be around 1.5 – 2 kg in six months barely weigh 1 – 1.2 kg in the same period)
      2. Fake/Adulterated coppens feed used (over 90% of Coppens feed out there is fake, so this is highly likely)
      3. Poor feeding schedule (How often do you feed your fishes? Once a day or once a week?)
      4. Poor environment (Is water being changed frequently? What kind of pond do you use? People get the best results from earthen ponds, but other kind of ponds can work well too with the right depth and width)
      5. Feeding with floating all through (this is least likely to be the case: feeding with floating all through might result in little to no profitability, but your fishes shouldn’t be weighing an average of 100 to 500 grams in 8 months. That’s VERY poor.)

      Which of the above do you think it is?

      Best Regards,
      Bamidele

      PS. It isn’t a habit for me to respond to comments here due to a very busy schedule, but I felt compelled due to the seriousness of your complaints. If you want more effective advice about successful catfish farming, read my teachers blog at http://www.profitablefishfarming.com

  30. Benjamin Bassaw

    Bro thanks lots
    I brought brood stock for my self in some place
    Hatchery for myself i don’t know weather is fake broodstocks

  31. Benjamin Bassaw

    Feed them 3 times a day

  32. Benjamin Bassaw

    Bro thanks lots
    I brought brood stock for my self in some place
    Hatchery for myself i don’t know weather is fake broodstocks
    Juveniles or fingerlings i feed them 3 times day
    The time i brought the broodstocks the weight is 600 to 800gram
    Since that time form April 2015 to February 2016 weigth of broodstocks is still 600 to 900 not even 1kg

    • From my little experience with breeding, the problem seems to be with the broodstock. Usually, broodstock of 600 to 800 grams is too small to breed healthy fishes. The breeders that provide me with the best fishes usually use quality broodstock that weigh at least 4kg.

      That said, I have no knowledge of the feed you used, so I can’t say what part that could have played.

  33. Igbakpor

    That is a good one, as a bee-ginger, how do i handle related deasiss tha affect cat fish, is concrete pound harmful to fish

  34. Emma

    How often should water be changed on a fish tank of 5 weeks old fingerlins?

  35. Abdul Auwal mahdi

    Thank you so much i find your write-up educative. I base in Bauchi state of Nigeria, and i want to start catfish farming business and i have one confusion of whether i should mix with tilapia fish farming also. If so, i don’t know where i will get healthy stocks of fingerlings for both cart fish and the tilapia. Also i need your humble advice on how to mix poultry farming business with that of fish farming business. Is There any benefits of mixing the two farming business? If yes i want you to please help me out. Thank you so much. My email is [removed] please do respond to me through. Thank once again.

  36. Omage idowu

    Thank so much for this wonderful info.
    pls could you just advice me. I used Coppens to feed my fish for 2 months before changing to local feed. but recently I could not get coppens to buy.

    so I got ALER AQUA which they told me is also imported which I bought .
    pls I need you to advice me if I should continue feeding my fish with ALER AQUA or I should go back to coppends

  37. Joshua

    Thanks Mr Bami dele for the insightful article. There is a question asked on this post which u haven’t replied. And it is whether one can feed the fishes with worms basically from poultry waste. I will appreciate if u can enlighten us on this…Thanks.

  38. Ola

    Thank you so much Mr Bamidele for such insight,I have really gained from you,This has truly enlightened me on how best to start.
    God Blessings bro

  39. Rugah precious Tunani

    Pls my fish are three month old, and I have introduced them to 4mm. But the last time I went to the market to buy another, there was no 4mm except 2mm. And decide to buy it. Pls is there any bad effect on this?

  40. christie

    Thanks Mr Bamidele. God Bless you. You have been very helpful and very staright forward. We need more people like you, who not only succeed, but also wants others to succeed. My husband and i are practicing Catfish farmers for over ten years and i can see you have given out good informations to help upcoming farmers. Remain lifted.

  41. Edmund

    You are a very good teacher

  42. Harbey

    Pls how can I get best local fish feeds in osun? My fishes are just few days over a month and they have finished 2 15kg of coppens and and on third bag of 15k ranaan. Hope it’s still normal?
    Thanks for the write-up

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