SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING OF BREAM
Watch a video on the supplemental feeding of fish in a pond.
Proper pond management can result in a sustainable, healthy fish population as well as providing excellent angling opportunities for family and friends. While proper pond construction, stocking, liming, fertilizing, and fish harvest are the cornerstones of pond management, pond owners may also utilize supplemental feeding. Supplemental feeding will enhance bream and bass growth. Although bass will not readily consume the supplemental feed, they will benefit from improved bream production. Supplemental feeding will also improve catch rates by concentrating fish in feeding areas. These feeding areas make it easier for young anglers to catch fish.
Guidelines for providing supplemental feed for bream are as follows:
- Use a small (i.e., BB size) fingerling catfish pelleted feed with at least 25% protein. The small size is necessary so the bream can easily consume the feed. Higher protein feeds (i.e., 32-36%) are more costly and are not necessary since enhanced growth can be achieved with lower formulations.
- Keep your feed in a plastic storage bin to prevent rodents and moisture from ruining the feed.
- First task is to train the bream to readily consume the floating feed. Start by feeding the bream a small amount of feed (i.e., several handfuls of feed) from the same location and at the same time daily.
- Once the bream are readily consuming the feed, provide no more than they can consume in 15 minutes. A floating type feed will make this observation easy.
- Do not exceed the maximum daily feeding rate of 10 lbs. per acre. Supplying more than this amount could lead to a fish kill due to oxygen depletion from decomposing food. In highly fertile ponds, (i.e., ponds with a high calcium content or otherwise known as "prairie-soil" ponds) the recommended daily feeding rate is 3-5 lbs. per acre.
- Feed the bream daily throughout the growing season beginning in March or when the water temperature stabilizes above 60oF through November. However, decrease feeding to 3-4 times each week during the hot summer months.
- Winter feeding is not necessary as the metabolic rate of fish decreases in relation to the decreasing water temperatures. Few benefits are achieved from winter feeding.
- Although not necessary, some pond owners are choosing to use automated feeders to feed the bream. One automated feeder is adequate for every 5 surface acres of water. This is a general rule and is really dependent on how much the pond owner is willing to spend on supplemental feeding.
Feeding fish can yield better fishing in larger bream and faster catch rates. Feeding over deeper water also makes feeding bream vulnerable to predation, resulting in larger bass.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System maintains a list of fish feeders.