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Do I really need to feed my fish? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I really need to feed my fish?

Do I really need to feed my fish? Joe – Little Rock, AR

Come And Get It
Those of us pond guys and gals that own large farm ponds have been feeding our fish for ages. Over the years, some of us have pondered, “Do I really have to feed my fish?”

“Fish” Food Versus Fish Food
There are two ways to keep your fish well fed: properly stock your pond or use fish food. We suggest both.

Properly Stocking:
To properly balance your pond, you should stock the water body with 3 prey fish, like Perch or Bluegill, for every 1 predator fish, such as Bass. This will ensure that your predator fish will have a bountiful selection of prey, while still giving the prey fish a sporting chance to mature and reproduce. If you stock too many prey fish, you will experience a very small number of big predators and a ton of tiny pan prey fish. If you stock too many predators, you will end up with very small predators and only a few big prey. When your pond is properly stocked, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. We suggest starting out with 300 bluegills and 100 bass per acre. You can add some feeder minnows into the pond to provide a nice snack that will be able to replenish itself. However, it is not uncommon for the fish in your pond to make short work of the feeder minnows you add to the pond.

Fish Food Pellets:
So you feel your fish should have a little more selection than their regular diet of … well … each other? You can control what your fish are eating by feeding them quality fish food like Game Fish Grower. Foods that are high in protein and low in filler promote rapid fish growth and optimum overall size. Pellet feeding also provides an opportunity to turn feeding your fish into an opportunity to have some fun. Pellet training your fish takes some patience and persistence, and while it can be trying at times, it is truly enjoyable once you get it right. Try to establish a daily routine feeding time and place so your fish will begin to expect your pond side presence. Start by throwing some pellets in the water from a distance, waiting for the fish to venture to the water surface to take the food. Repeat this process until your fish willingly greet you at feeding time. As time progresses, you can close the distance between you and the pond’s edge. Avoid making sudden movements, as this will scare the fish and they will be more hesitant to approach you at feeding time. You can then begin placing your hand into the pond with a fist full of food, opening your hand slowly to release the pellets which will float to the surface. You may not have any takers the first few days you try this, but if you are patient, they will eventually figure out where this food is coming from. As they grow more comfortable to your hand being in the pond, they will start eating from it. If you do not have the time or desire to feed your fish by hand, you can place a feeder, like the a directional feeder, at the pond’s edge to release food at programmed intervals.

What’s On The Menu?
While your fish always eat the food you throw in the pond like they haven’t eaten in years, the truth is, if your pond is stocked properly, they really don’t need any outside assistance. On top of having other fish in the pond to eat, they will also eat bugs from the surface of the pond, leaches at the bottom, and basically anything else they can find in the water. Try to catch some of the fish in your pond each season and record how many of each type you are pulling out of the pond while inspecting them for healthy color, weight, and size. Occasionally checking up on your fish will decrease the frequency and severity of population issues, while making your pond an enjoyable addition to your home with fun activities for the entire family.

POND TALK: How often do you feed your fish?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

12 Responses

  1. Great information. I have two Grass Carp will they make my pond a muddy color?

    Feeding fish pellets several times a week now Grass Carp are eating the pellets, as well as the Bluegills, is this normal?

    • In reality the bigfish will eat the little fish. With them being pellet fed as well they will be less likely to consume all as many other types of prey, though pellet feeding may not eliminate it. Wether or not your pond will become muddy depends on the size pond you have a how many are in there. In a large pond with just a few you may not notice as much of a muddy color as a smaller pond or ponds containing many carp but it will be in their nature to stirr up the bottom of your pond.

      • do you stock yearly

      • Check your fish population by catching or trapping. Record the types of fish you are catching, and note their size and overall health. If you are pulling up nothing but tiny prey fish, like Bluegill or Redear, you may want to consider putting some predator fish, like bass, in the pond. You are trying for a 3:1 ratio; 3 prey fish for every predator to achieve a healthy balance. If that balance is naturally maintained into your next pond season then no, there is no reason to stock again. You can add feeder minnows each year to give your fish a nice treat and implement a replenishing food source if you notice a lack of their presence in your pond from season to season.

  2. […] You can also find some helpful information on the pros and cons of feeding your fish with fish food or properly stocking the pond to let them feed themselves here. […]

  3. My pond is about 100ft x 50ft sand in the beach area, 12 to 13 ft deep on the other end. there is water lillys and arow head plants and some cattails arround the edge otherwise the bottom is free of weeds I have pearch over 13″, nice sized bluegills, a few crappie which don’t seem to reproduce and 1 largemouth bass. the pond is 7 or 8 years old. the bass and large pearch seem to keep the gills under control, ” i can only eat a few fish dinners per year The big perch are very reluctant to bite. I know there in there because i catch one every so often. the balance of predator to prey is way off, but it seems to work for my pond, so far! Any coments???

    • Hi Ron!

      It sounds like you could use a better ratio of predator to prey fish. Try also to add some spawning habitat if there are not many plces to hide or spawn, but other than that your pond sounds great!

    • try some old Christmas trees for cribs for the crappie they will have a home and reproduce over time ours does great we have three trees in the bottom of our bowl two real and one artifcial

  4. […] food like Game Grower Fish Food. If you are not quite sure what or how to feed your fish read our Fish Food Blog. Also for some great tips on adding habitat to your pond click over to our Creating Habitat […]

  5. I am wondering if you have any information regarding a fake eagle, as we are experiencing a problem with an osprey eating our fish from our pond. I found out that the osprey has two enemies……pesticide and the eagle. I looked in your catalogue and did not see an eagle…..do you have any suggestions as to where I might be able to find one?

    • Hi Bonnie,

      Unfortunetly we do not have any eagles, I’ve not ever seen them as a decoy. You may want to just search online for an eagl decoy.

  6. I feed my bass/hybrid bluegills minnows 4-5 times a year. I add fathead minnows and golden shiners. I give them 7 gallons at a time (roughly 10-20k minnows). It is true that there is a feeding frenzy with the minnows but I feel it is best for the fish.
    First, my sportfish do not associate me with food.They have to “work” for their meals. It is as “natural” as you can get with supplemental feeding. If you walk the bank the fish will evacuate the shallows quite quickly. I feel this is a good habit for the fish to be in when the pond is visited by the occasional heron looking for a meal. Plus it makes catching them seem more “sporting”
    Second, the fish get quite fat after the feedings. Even small hybrid bluegills can eat fathead minnows. To me girth=growth. The fatter the bellies the faster they grow. We stocked 6″ bass two years ago and they are now approaching 12-13″. This growth was BEFORE we started putting in the larger golden shiners.
    I would recommend feeding minnows if you can. My fish are healthy and growing rapidly. Here in Michigan the growing season is pretty short. Anything I can do to boost the growth rate helps.

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