By the Pond Boss, Bob Lusk
Feeding those hungry fish…just exactly what should you do, and how do you do it? Job One is to have your goals sharply in focus. Job Two is to think about your feeding program, and Job Three is to follow the program.
Here’s some help with Job Two. Learn as much as you can about each species of fish you intend to feed. The more you know about them, and the products available, the more likely you are to reach your goals. In pond management, there are basically two types of fish you’ll be feeding.
CARNIVOROUS SPECIES—Feed-trained largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, bluegill sunfish and trout require high protein, nutrient dense diets to promote healthy growth. Feed these fish Purina’s AquaMax Sport Fish products.
OMNIVOROUS SPECIES—Catfish and tilapia are the major species for this category and don’t require the higher protein levels or nutrient density of carnivores. These fish grow well on the AquaMax Pond Fish products.
For starting young fish and early growth phases, use AquaMax Starter diets for both species groups. For fingerling fish or larger, follow the recommendations below.
Begin feeding bluegill each spring when the water temperature rises into the low 50’s. Continue feeding into the fall or early winter until feeding activity stops. Feed what the fish will consume in five minutes. Activity will vary based on weather and temperature. To grow the biggest bluegill you can, feed up to three times daily. As consistent as your feeding program, that’s how consistent your bluegill will be. The best product? AquaMax 500.
“Feed-Trained” largemouth bass are a trend in pond management today. By nature, largemouth bass are predator fish. If you currently have largemouth bass that haven’t been conditioned for fish food, they aren’t likely to eat pellets. If you’ve purchased feed-trained largemouth bass from a hatchery, use AquaMax 600. Feed-trained largemouth bass are most active at temperatures between 55° F and 85° F. They will consume an average of 3% of their body weight daily in fish food and continue their role as predator in the pond. Feed these fish two to four times daily during the peak months of consumption.
Hybrid Striped bass are a nice choice to diversify the fishery of a sport fish pond or as a stand-alone fishery. They readily eat AquaMax Sport Fish food and grow rapidly. Begin feeding Hybrid Striped bass when water temperatures are approaching 50° F. These fish will eat aggressively into water temperatures in the mid-80’s. Feed them near the deepest water you can. Feed what they will consume in no more than five minutes. Feed one to three times per day.
For feeding rainbow trout, peak temperatures are mid-40’s into low 60’s. Rainbow trout are cold water fish. They’ll readily eat Sport Fish feed and consume an average of 3% of their body weight each day. Feed one to four times daily, based on consumption.
Channel catfish do quite well on AquaMax Pond Fish food, a grain-based diet. They feed best between water temperatures of 55-85°F. Feed one to two times daily.
These feeding rates are general guidelines based on landowner goals, water temperatures, fish size, and stocking rates. Local conditions and variations in management style may call for adjustments to these recommendations.
A feeding program using Sport Fish utilizes excellent feed conversion rates which helps minimize the risk of water quality deterioration. But, follow good management practices and feed only what the fish will consume within 5 minutes. Excess feed increases the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) which, over time, can contribute to degradation of water quality for your fishery. Adequate dissolved oxygen (DO) must be maintained for sport fishing ponds, so aggressive feeding should be accompanied by an adequate aeration program. Store feed in a dry, well-ventilated area free from rodents and insects. DO NOT use moldy or insect-infested feed.
Texas Hunter fish feeders make it easy to grow bigger fish. Texas Hunter Products has engineered and built the industry’s premier line of directional fish feeders. Their patented, high efficiency fish feeders feature a dual motor system that delivers a consistent, metered flow of feed into the powerful centrifugal air blower system. This specially designed air blower system creates a high velocity air stream that projects the fish feed in a large wedge-shaped pattern up to 45-feet into the water.
The premium digital timer, a Texas Hunter Products’ exclusive, synchronizes the fish feeder’s two motors. This design turns the feed flow on and off while the air blower system is still running which prevents fish feed from dropping directly in front of the feeder and attracting varmints.
Texas Hunter Fish Feeders are available in three capacities: 70 lbs., 175 lbs., or 250 lbs. They are always in stock and available for same-day shipping. Texas Hunter Products has built a reputation in the automatic feeder industry for delivering reliable, long-lasting products meeting the real-life needs of outdoor enthusiasts for over 60 years. Visit them online to see their full line of fish feeders and their broad product line including a big selection of deer feeders, wildlife feeders, protein feeders and hunting blinds. For a complete product catalog call 800.969.3337.