We receive so many great pictures, input, questions, and feedback from our customers and appreciate every email and phone call we get! It is fun reading and seeing all the great success stories and the results people see from feeding Optimal Fish Food. We wanted to start posting some feeding tips and continue adding additional information based on the questions we receive from all of you. This first post is related to feeding fish and more focused on those of you who are just beginning the great experience of throwing out fish food and watching your ponds come to life.
To start, you will want to locate an obstruction-free area at your pond or lake that is at least 3′ deep or deeper and preferably not a spawning area. While training your fish, you will want to feed in the same location and time of day because you are not only training them to eat commercial feed, but you are also training them to a location as well as your presence. Now that you have a location picked out, you will want to do your feedings either early morning or late afternoon, as you will get a better feeding response at these times. Begin feeding a ½ to 1lb of feed per day until you observe a strong feeding response; once you have achieved this, you can start to increase the feeding amount. It’s recommended not to exceed what the fish will consume in a 7-10 minute period per feeding. Do not feed the full ration at one time but rather feed a scoop or handful at a time, allowing the fish time to eat what was thrown before offering more. Until your fish are trained to your presence, you may need to broadcast the feed then slowly move away from the water, giving them time to feed without feeling the presence of a potential predator.
Unlike a commercial aquaculture facility where fish are separated by size when raised, your pond will have many different size fish coexisting together. This is why we felt the need to offer pond feeds that came in mixed lengths and different sizes. This enables you to feed your forage base fish from one bag of feed at a time while ensuring that multiple sizes of fish are given an opportunity at supplemental nutrition for improved health and performance.
Using Feeders when feeding fish:
Optimal Fish Food has proven to be compatible with numerous leading brand pond feeders. Utilizing an automated feeder can provide your fish with a consistent daily feeding regiment that may be hard for you to accomplish with a busy schedule. It is still essential to frequently observe your fish feeding from the feeder to ensure the correct ration is being fed. Overfeeding will lead not only to wasted money but also negatively impact water quality in your pond or lake.
Storage of Feed:
It is important to store your feed in a cool, dry place and free of rodents. Never feed spoiled, moldy, or rodent-infested feeds. We also recommend you do not store feed for longer than six months before using. If you have feed stored for a long time or in poor storage conditions and are not sure if it is safe to feed, it is better when in doubt throw it out. You have a lot of time and money in your fish, and it’s not worth it to feed spoiled or contaminated feed.
Hydrating Feed before feeding fish:
We have received several inquiries regarding the need to hydrate feed before feeding (soaking in water). It is our experience that with a quality feed and the correct size feed, there is no need to hydrate feed before feeding, but some say this technique has helped when feeding larger pellets to small fish by allowing them to pull the pellet apart to be able to feed. Others have used this technique to clump hydrated smaller pellets to make a larger single pellet or ball to feed to larger predator fish.
Feeding Rate and Water Quality:
It is recommended to only feed what the fish can consume during a single feeding period in a 7-10 minute period. A recommended daily ration is no more than 10lbs per day per acre of surface water. It is important not to feed more than the fish can consume as uneaten feed will lead to negative water quality, including a drop in dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Keep in mind the more feed you introduce into your pond or lake will increase the overall biomass of fish, and in return, the oxygen demand will increase. If your fish stop or dramatically slow down from eating their normal ration, there may be a water quality problem or fish health issue. It would be best if you suspended feeding until you can be sure what is wrong. Feeding fish that are stressed from poor water quality or health issues can lead to a fish kill.
When do I need help?
With every pond or lake comes unique circumstances and variables. So when it comes to feeding your fish and managing your pond or lake healthily and productively, there is not always a one size fits all answer. So when you’re not sure what to do or if you’re doing the right thing, you should seek the help of a reputable pond and lake management service in your area. They can come and look at your body of water and give you answers tailored to your specific needs and goals. We work with a wide array of pond and lake management companies throughout the United States, and if you need any help finding someone to contact, let us know, and we might be able to point you in the direction of some of the best in your area!