Catfish Feeds And Feeding | Types, Nutrition, Ration And Method

The success of any catfish farming venture like other livestock is determined by the quality and quantity of feeds given to the animals. Proper and adequate feed shorten the production period and ensure good size fish which command high market value. Not only the feeds, Catfish feeding method and the frequency of feeding also play a significant role in the success of the business.

In other words, under feeding can cause stunted growth of the fishes while overfeeding can lead to wastage and also leaving of excess feed which can lead to poor water management.

Proper feeding touches the area of the type of feed, the rationing or quantity given, the frequency of feeding, the methods of feeding and the nutritional state of the feeds.

This is one of the Secrets Of Fish Farming for Beginners that every farmer must learn to maximize profit in his farm.

However, in this post, we will be discussing all these parameters under two subheading which are  catfish feeds and catfish feeding.

Catfish Feeds

The feeds itself defines a lot to how well you will achieve your desired goal in your fish farm. In that regards, consideration is put on the type of feeds your Catfish eat, the nutritional value, the pellet size and the feeding behavior.

Types of feed for Catfish

Catfish is naturally a carnivorous animal, which means they feed more on animals in the pond than the plants. But, the intensive fish farming can not provide it with a holistic opportunity of being carnivorous. Hence, they adapt to eating artificial or commercial feeds. However, it is important that your catfish feeds on live baits as a normal feeding routine at least twice in a week. This will help provide them with some nutritional advantage and also make them feel like its their natural environment.

There are 3 types of feed that can be used for fish farming;

1. Natural food:

These are foods from  natural sources such as; bacteria, plankton, detritus, worms, insects, snails, aquatic plants and other fishes. The fish production type that is based on only natural foods is called Extensive fish farming. The disadvantage of this farming type is that the food is not readily available and therefore cannot be used for a very large commercial farm; natural food is also expensive.

2. Supplementary feeds:

They usually consist of cheap materials locally available such as terrestrial plants, kitchen wastes or agricultural by-products. It is called semi-intensive fish farming. This type of farm is very cost effective, however the growth rate of the fishes cannot be compared to fishes on the other types of fish farming.

3. Complete/commercial feeds:

This is the widely practiced type of feeding in commercial fish farming. They are produced by a mixture of so many ingredients in a proportion to meet with the daily body requirement of the fishes. This type of farming is called the intensive fish farming. It is the widely used type of feeding because of the numerous advantages it has over other types of fish feeding.

Advantages of using complete/commercial feeds

  • They can easily be sourced.
  • Commercial feeds meets the nutritional requirements of fishes and enhance growth.
  • It can be formulated to meet the needs of the fish such as pellet size, pallatability and acceptability.
  • Medicated feeds are formulated to help treat sick fishes.
  • The expense of feeding can easily be calculated or estimated.
  • Complete feed pose lesser risk of water pollution unlike natural food or supplementary feeds.
  • Feed rationing is easier to calculate to avoid over feeding or under feeding.

Nutritional Requirements for Catfish feeds

The catfish feeds require a mixture of some certain classes of food items for energy and growth. It does not matter if it is home made feed or commercial feed. But, i suggest as a farmer, for you have to learn how to produce locally made feeds because it is more cost effective and it is flexible.

Notwithstanding, a typical catfish feeds should contain, Protein, Carbohydrate, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and other feeding supplements you may wish to add.

For example, Protein is very essential ingredient in catfish feeds since it helps in growth, development, production of hormones, enzymes and also helps in other physiological activities.

Catfish feeding is designed such that smaller fishes requires higher protein proportion than bigger fishes. E.g., Catfish fry in hatcheries are fed meal containing 40-50 % protein.  Larger fingerlings should be fed 35 % protein while  Advanced fingerlings (5-6 inches) are 28-32 % protein. The protein requirements in their meal decreases as the fishes grow bigger.

An example of a catfish nutritional requirements is in the table below


1. Fish meal                                                            20kg
2. GNC                                                                   35kg
3. Soya bean                                                          23.07kg
4. Maize                                                                 16kg
5. Wheatoffal                                                         2kg
6. Methionine                                                        0.50g
7. Iysine                                                                 0.50g
8. Vitamin premix                                                  0.5g
9. Bone meal                                                         1kg
10. Binder                                                             2kg


1.GNC                                                                   25kg
2. FF soya                                                              20kg
3. Maize                                                                20kg
4. PKC                                                                   20kg
5. Bone meal                                                        2kg
6. Fish meal                                                          10kg
7. Dicalcium sulphate                                          0.5g
8. Vitamin C                                                         0.5g
9. Salt                                                                   0.5g
10. Premix                                                            0.5g
11. Red oil                                                            1litre

Catfish Feeding

One thing is to have the right feeds for your fishes and another thing is to have the right feeding skills. The mistake most farmers make especially beginners is to think that overfeeding is proportional to the growth of the fishes. However, at a point there is waste and negative impact of overfeeding to the fishes.

Consequently, avoid overfeeding to prevent fouling and pollution of water by unconsumed feed which decomposes to form smelly and harmful gases like Ammonia, Hydrogen Sulphide and Carbondioxde. These chemicals have adverse effect on fish growth and survival.

How To Calculate Quantity Of Feed For The Fishes

The quantity of feed required to feed fishes daily can be calculated if the stocking density and the average weight of fish can be estimated. This can be done by sampling the fish either biweekly or monthly.

To know what quantity of feed to give your fishes per Ration, here is the formula;

F = W X P X S

Where F= Weight of feed to be given
W = Average Weight of fish
S = Number of fishes
P = Percentage body weight

Example: if a fish farmer has 1000 fingerlings of 10 g average weight in 1 hectare of fish farm. The daily feed requirement at 5% feeding rate will be

F= 10 g x 5/100 x 1000

F= 500 g of feeds

That is, 500 g of feeds should be weighed out for the day.

Catfish Feeding timing and frequency

The timing and frequency of feeding greatly depends on factors like farm size, availability of manpower, ability to manage water and fish sizes. Therefore, it depends on the production size and also a factor subjective to the farmer.

However, in general practice, most large farms feeds once in a day while smaller farms can feed twice per day. There is no iron clad rule on the number of times to feed your fishes per day. Generally, growth and feed conversion increase with feeding frequency but you have to also consider the labor and the capital of the frequency of feeding.

It is recommended that fish should be fed regularly, at least twice daily at specific times (usually 10.00 am and 5.00 pm) at specific feedings spot and by gradual broadcast till the fish ceases to come up to feed.

In addition, smaller fishes such as fingerlings requires more frequent feeding than the growers types of fishes.

Catfish Feeding Methods

There are different methods of catfish feeding which depends on the size of the fishes such as spot feeding, Multiple spot feeding and broadcast feeding. But, in this post, i will only highlight  on broadcast method of catfish feeding. This is  because it is easier and more flexible for the farmers to adapt.

What is broadcast method of fishing?

It is a method in which the farmer spreads the food on the surface of the pond mechanically or manually for fishes to take. The farmer continue to broadcast the feed until the fishes are no longer coming up for the feeds.

Broadcast method of feeding is efficient and have many advantages over other types of feeding;

  • They help the farmer to monitor feeding behavior of fishes.
  • It reduces waste of feed and water pollution.
  • The method mimics the type of feeding in fish natural environment.

However, the disadvantage unlike the spot method of feeding is that the fish farmer can hardly notice fishes that are not healthy.

Feeding Efficiency Assessment For Fishes

This is simply a method most farmers use to determine if actually the feeds they give to the fishes are making impacts. This is important because most feed production recipes is subjective to what the producers wants and also adulteration maybe possible.  Therefore, you as the farmer have to know which feed works better in your farm through the feed efficiency assessment.

Two parameters are usually used for this purpose;

Feed Conversion ratio (FCR) = Weight of Feed fed to the fish/ weight of fish growth

For example, if fish are fed 100 kg of feed and then exhibit a cumulative growth of 50 kg weight gain, the FCR
is 100/50 = 2.

An FCR of 1.5-2.0 is considered good growth for most species like Catfish. Trout, salmon, and tilapia tend to have lower FCR values ranging from 0.9 to 1.3.

Feed efficiency (FE) is simply the reciprocal of the feed conversion ratio (1/FCR).

In the example above where FCR is 2

FE is (1/FCR) = 1/2 = 50 percent.
An FE greater than 50 percent is generally considered acceptable for catfish farming.

You can also read our other posts on Fish Farming;

Learn The Secrets of Fish Farming

Fish Pond Construction And Types

Fish Pond Preparation And Treatment

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