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Catfish Feed Formula: How to Formulate Feed that Will Enhance Your Profit


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catfish feed formula

Feed formulation is an integral part of catfish farming business, especially in tropical Africa. This is due to the fact that imported fish feeds are always expensive due to the cost of logistics on importation and weak local currency, making the cost of such products skyrocket.

The environment in Africa allows individual farmers to formulate feed for their fishes in order to reduce the cost of feed production and also to enjoy flexibility in choice of feed ingredients for feed formulation. It has been observed that majority of catfish farmers have little or no knowledge of this aspect of their business. As a result of this, many gamble and some even depend on the judgment/choice of their feed millers who are ready to exploit them for the purpose of making more profit. Little wonder that some farmers fail at this critical point.

Ideally, your choice of feed ingredient and formula should be guided by the following;

  • Nutritional requirement of your fish stock
  • The presence or absence of anti-nutritional or toxic factor
  • Availability of preferred ingredient
  • Palatability of available ingredient
  • Cost and benefit of the available ingredients
  • Available processing technology or method

Nutritional requirement of your fish stock: Adequate knowledge of ingredients and nutritional value of various ingredients, coupled with the nutritional requirement of your feed at various stages, will help you as a farmer to formulate a quality feed. From ingredients combined, it is possible to calculate the crude protein, energy, and fat in your feed either manually or by inputting it on a dedicated computer program.

The presence or absence of anti-nutritional or toxic factor: Some ingredients are better not used due to presence of certain anti-nutritional element(s) in them. For instance, Soya Beans grain must be well processed to remove some anti-nutritional elements in them. Some ingredients like GNC can also encourage the growth of Aflatoxin, although this may not be a major concern in catfish farming business unlike in poultry.

Availability of preferred ingredient: Certain ingredients are preferred over others. This might not be unconnected with cost and availability of such ingredients. When such ingredients are not available, a farmer is saddled with the responsibility of choosing from a wide range of similar ingredients. For instance, when flour or dough is not available, a farmer is faced with the challenge of choosing from energy grains or processed tuber crops to complement the energy requirements of the fish.

Palatability of available ingredient: An experienced catfish farmer understands that catfishes have taste preferences, and he will ensure that he chooses from a variety of ingredients that will suit the taste of his fishes. For instance, GNC has better taste and aroma over its substitute Bernseed, and soya meal is preferred above cotton seed.

Cost and benefit of the available ingredients: Cost factor, as well as benefit of the cost, is an important factor that must be well considered in feed formulations. The cost of 72% fish meal against its benefit might not make it the best alternative where local fish meal is available, especially in a situation where most of the imported fish meals in the market are adulterated. Also, there may be many ways to meet up with the protein requirement for your fish but animal protein, especially protein from fishes, must not be totally removed from the feed; the quality and quantity must be well sustained regardless of your choice of ingredient.

Available processing technology or method: This is a crucial factor to be considered when formulating your feed. Some ingredients should not be used at all due to crude processing method which might have led to the loss of essential nutrients. Maize should not be used at all if the feed miller does not possess the technology to powder it because experience has shown that fish might not be able to fully digest maize grain that is not well milled.

Nutritional Requirement for Catfish Feed

catfish feeding

Catfish feed requires certain nutrients that will help the farmer optimize the growth as well as increase the profit on their catfish farming business. Below are the 4 classes of nutrients, in order of importance, essential in any feed formulation:

  • Protein: This class of nutrient is required for building body tissue and replacement of damaged tissue. It contains physiological molecules such as hormones and enzymes. It can be obtained from plants and animals.
  • Energy (Carbohydrate): This nutrition provides the energy needed for catfishes. Grains of cereals and cassavas are the major source of this nutrient.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Growth, health, and body process are controlled by this class of nutrition. For example, organic and inorganic chemicals are found in vitamin and minerals.
  • Fat: Fat contains vital fatty acids and also enhances energy delivery in feed.

There is a need to understand nutritional contents of available feed ingredients so as to understand and select appropriately ingredients that will meet the nutritional needs of your catfish. Each class of nutrition is analyzed separately below:

Nutritional Level of Animal Proteins

Animal Protein Energy Level (mj/kg) Crude Protein (%) Fats (%) Calcium/Phosphorus (%) Methionine (%) Lysine (%)
Meat meal 11.2 50 – 51 10 8 0.7 2.6
Blood meal 15.2 88 – 90 1 0.4 0.6 7.1
Feather meal 13.7 80 – 85 7 0.4 0.6 2.3
Poultry meal 13.1 60 – 64 13 2.0 1 3.1
Fish meal 5 55 – 75 3 1.0 1.5 2


Nutritional Level of Plant Proteins

Plant Protein Protein (%) Energy (cal/kg) Calcium (%) Lysine (%) Methionine (%)
Soybeans meal 44 – 48 2557 0.20 3.2 1.4
Cottonseed meal 40 – 41 2350 0.66 4.2 1.4
Sunflower Meal 46 – 47 2205 0.30 3.5 2.3
GNC 45.6 – 61.8 3860 1.7 3.2 1.0


Nutritional Level of Energy Base Ingredients

Ingredients Protein (%) Energy (cal/kg) Calcium (%) Lysine (%)
Wheat 13 3153 0.05 0.5
Sorghum 9.0 3263 0.02 0.3
Maize 8 – 11 3200 0.5 0.27
Cassava 2.5 1601 1.6 0.07


From the nutritional table of certain feed ingredients, a sample of simple catfish feed formula can be generated thus:

Sample 1:

Ingredients Quantity (kg)
Maize/Wheat/Cassava Flour (any of the three) 25kg
Soya/Sunflower/Cotton seed (Soya preferred) 30kg
GNC/Benseed (either of the two) 20kg
Fish (72%) 25kg
Fish Premix 0.5
Lysine 0.1
Methionine 0.1
Vitamin C 0.1
Salt 0.2
TOTAL 102kg


Sample 2:

Ingredients Quantity (kg)
Maize 20
Poultry meal 15
Fish meal (72%) 10
Blood meal 5
Soya 30
GNC 20
Fish premix 0.5
Lysine 0.1
Methionine 0.1
Vitamin C 0.1
Salt 0.2
TOTAL 102kg

Image Credit


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  1. oluremi osak

    I really love this site

      • oluremi osak

        Please can I use a floating feed for my fishes from juvenile till table size. I read in one of ur topics about the comparison btw floating and sinking feeds that sinking feeds if not carefully managed could be wasted inside the water. I am novice in this line of business. Please reply me

        • Dear Oluremi,

          It is not always profitable to use floating feed throughout a farming season especially in this part of Africa where almost every feed is imported. The best practice is to combine floating and sinking pelletized feed. You can gain more insight from articles on floating and sinking feed.


          • Michael

            what did you mean by sinking feed and how to formulate that feed am just into the fish farming business

        • Amoo isiaka

          I was encouraged to go into fishery but I need your advice eniola. Pls which one is better. the concrete or pond?

      • Thomas Aderogba

        Please what is DCP in the formulation

  2. Tola

    Hi Enny,
    Thanks for all the valuable info on your site. Very informative and helpful. I am in my 2nd production cycle and I expended a lot of money buying imported feeds during the first cycle. I only just got to know that I can mix the imported feeds with the locally produced feeds. I have fishes of about a month old now, which have been on the imported diet and I’m about introducing locally produced feeds using the following formula, kindly assist in checking if I need to make some adjustments by adding or subtracting materials/quantity.

  3. Tola

    Dear Enny,

    Thank you Enny. I will do exactly as advised.So I can go ahead to feed them with locally produced feeds now, right?. Thanks again.

    • Prince j

      I love his site nd thank you so much for educating us. Plz does this 0.3 means 0.3g or 300g. Thanks from amarangels farm

  4. Odunsi

    Do u sell fingerlings ? And @ wat price? Bcos like u said a good seed is d bedrock of profit making in fish farming.

  5. Adewale

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate this piece may God bless your business also but considering the price of locally made feed now to the imported once I think the imported is cheaper. I took the formula 1 above to a feed meal and it cost me abt #28,000 compared to the price of Durante which #6,600 per 25kg. So at this stage I am really confused I need your advice.
    Thanks so much once more.

    • victor

      SBM: 27KG.GNC: 27KG.FM: 30KG.FLOUR:4KG. MAIZE: 6KG. INDOMIE:4KG. BONE MEAL:1KG LYSINE: 0.2KG. METHIONINE: 0.1KG. SALT:.0.3KG.PREMIX: 0.5KG. VIT.C: 0.1KG. TOXIN BINDER: 0.1KG pls how many fishes Can I feed this quantity and for how long? Am trying t carry out studies to how many fingerling to stock

  6. Adewale

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate this piece may God bless your business also but considering the price of locally made feed now to the imported once I think the imported is cheaper. I took the formula 1 above to a feed meal and it cost me abt #28,000 compared to the price of Durante which #6,600 per 25kg. So at this stage I am really confused I need your advice.
    Thanks so much once more.

  7. Lily

    Mr Eniola God bless you. Can someone mix fish meal and feather meal, to get a cheaper yet higher protein content?
    What local fish is best for making a good fish meal?
    Sorghum and maize which would you recommend for source of energy?
    How can these feed be pelleted?
    I hatch my fries and feed coppens. Is 2 months after hatching too early for local feed?
    I anticipate your reply. God bless you.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for being part of this blog.
      1. You can mix feather and fish meal but you should not remove fish-meal completely.
      2. Use grade A-local fish
      3. Maize is better. Because of cost, I will like to recommend dough and flour waste.
      4. Take them to your feed miller.
      5. Two and half months is what I will recommend.

      • Lily

        Thank you so much for replying Sir Eniola. Is bonga fish part of grade A local fish?
        What would be the present cost analysis of making 102kg of this feed using the local fish as source Of fish meal?
        Someone told me of feeding his fish with ground crayfish waste can that be a source of protein and fish meal?
        Wouldn’t it be possible to make our local feed float by adding gelatin, baking powder or yeast. Pardon me I’m thinking of every possible means to evade foreign feeds and be cost effective as a fish farmer.

      • Damie

        Hello Mr Enny, pls do u have a contact for flour waste or dough?

      • Damie

        Can cornflour be used as energy component in fish feed instead of maize

  8. obada kevwe

    pls how can make d local feed float

  9. oluremi osak

    Good morning Enny, please when can I start introducing 4mm/6mm to my catfishes? I stocked 3rd of February, 2016. The reason for this question is because whenever I get to the market to buy 2mm or 4mm, I’m always told it’s finished. This made me change to 4mm and even right now they’ve started picking 6mm but I don’t know if there’s any implication regarding this. Also the water changed to black color after a serious downpour on Sunday and yesterday I saw two fishes dead on the river. I operate a earthen pond. Please what could have happened that led to their death? And please reply me towards the fish feed sizes. Also is there a way someone can treat the water in an earthen pond? Thanks and God bless u as I await your response Eniola.

  10. udoka

    God’s grace to u,sir, for sharing n d teaching…. thank you, mine is that I just finished making a pond (earthen type, but I used waterproof to cover all, and poured soil to cover the floor of the pond-due to the nature of the land, here),
    1.could this be effective?

    I noted from your teaching, here, the 3 key parameters for success in fish farming; water quality, feed quality and seed quality…(sir,I am thinking of getting any big sized male catfish at the market, and look for the female brood stock,probably from a known farm),
    2.could this be okayed,with regards to seed quality?

    From the nutritional table of certain
    feed ingredients, a sample of simple
    catfish feed formula can be generated
    thus….as you stated above,(sir,at the early or the first time to use this),
    3.which is meant to be used firstly, sample 1 or 2?

    For hatching, if I induce a female brood stock and place it together with a male brood stock, without sacrificing the male….(sir, targeting 3000-5000 fries),
    4.could it work out, say 1kg of the female brood stock?

    Thank you.

    • I will say YES to your number one question. Secondly, ensure you know the source and history of your brood stock. As regard third question, read my latest article on how to calculate crude protein in locally pelletized fish feed.Lastly, you will need to kill the male to fertilize the egg from female catfish. Thanks

  11. Abubakar

    Thanks for ur assistance.

      • gabriel

        Please Mr Eniola, i would want to discuss further as regards feeds propagation. mind if we get in touch ?

      • Chiz

        Sir eniola

        And u are wonderful..
        Take time responding to comments and questions..

        Good of u..

        Please I ask again..
        What is floating feed??


        And vitamins C..
        Is the one one for fish??


    Hi Eniola, i must really say u doing a great job and your article is very helpful. Nice work brother. This is a good way to encourage our youth to always learn to make something out of nothing and at the end become a successful entrepreneur.

  13. kazeem

    If floating feeds is produced locally can I use it throughout ie from juveniles to adult.because I saw one. Man on Internet that says he can fabricate floating machine in Nigeria

  14. kazeem

    Pls ingredient for floating feeds from juvenile to 2months

  15. kazeem

    Which one is costlier sir fishmeal or feathermeal
    Where can someone get hauthentic,unadulterated feathermeal.a guy called that he import eather meal from u s and its sold for 400k per tonne

  16. kazeem

    Pls I need ur number sir.are u on Whatsapp pls d number

  17. Sadiq Oluwatoyin

    God day sir. i came across ds site 2day. d in4mtn are highly loaded. i want 2 know if i can use formula 2 4 my juveniles stocked may 14th.

  18. sampath

    Hi sir,I’m from India.What does GNC means?

  19. jide k

    Goodday and welldone for your well informed article,i am really impressed ,fishfarmers should start looking for alternative to fishmeal alone has animal source of protein,u can replace up to 50% of your fishmeal 72% protein with feathermeal of 80-85% protein with excellent growth performance.
    we imported some from Italy of excellent quality that could be used also for pet food,
    for bulk buyers in lagos area.

    • Thanks for your contributions….You can advertise your catfish related products on this site @ a very cheap price. Thanks- looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Oyedele Kazeem

      Hi Jide, where can we get the feathermeal to buy in lagos here for people staying around Iyana-ipaja , Alimosho Lagos. Thanks


    I’m in Tanzania, want to make catfish feed ….. what is ben seed in feed formula,

    • Hello my bro East of Africa! Benseed is another oil seed rich in protein. The remain of the fruit after oil extraction is used in catfish feed just like GNC (Groundnut Cake)

  21. Good work. I am learning here.

  22. Good job sir. I do appreciate your impacted knowledge God support in everything you are doing

      • Ahmed mohammed kabir

        Plenty people have pray for you for ur success, I just Google to get more information on catfish feed (locally made) that can float, prior my arrival to this site, may all above prayers be answers ameen

      • Chiz

        Good morning
        Mr @oniola Abiodun
        Am very grateful for finding my way here, through the help of google….
        Thank you very much much,
        Am just a novice on this business..
        Who wants to gain more knowledge on fish farming,
        Rit now, I have paid for my Tapoline and space, and half payment of my fish from the seller…
        But need to gain more knowledge..
        On how to produce local feed, currently am on poultry Birds but everything I sold goes back to feed, a relative of mine ask me to go in to fish, but right now I want to make different

        Because I need to gain knowledge on how to make local feed to support my fish…..
        Please help me on how to produce the local feed,
        Most of the name…
        I don’t know the meaning..
        I sad where Some one asked you the meaning of GNC….
        U said is grandnut nut cake…
        .. And I know that… Please help a sister….
        Am in need of it…

  23. Mrs. Are, O.

    Thank you Mr. Eniola, Pls, how can I produce floating feed locally.

  24. Taj

    Good day Eni, for a couple of weeks crumbles for Catfish fry are not easily come by. Can we compound our own feed for fry and if yes what composition of materials can we use. I sell Coppens starters and i also hatch but feed is difficult to get these days. Pls reply. Thanks. Taj.

  25. hello sir,I really appreciate ur effort in helping the youth with basic information pls can I get ur numb or are u in whatsup

  26. Ogungbade Kazeem

    Pls sir can I remove gnc from my feed formulation and replace it soya beans

  27. Juliet

    Good day sir pls sir can I use this your table of feed formula to make for my juvenile fish thanks hope to hear from you soon thanks sir.

  28. Michael

    i have been following your blog for sometimes now and i must commend your good works for your informations are very educative.
    i have some questions to ask.

    * do you have an idea as to how much some certain numbers of catfish can consume until maturity (table size) or (melanche).

    *how can blood meal be used as part of feed formulation and where can it be bought , if at all you have the idea of how much it is sold, please share .

    *the feed formulation you posted, what category do they fall on, starter,grower or finisher… or i can use this formula in all step.

    * sometimes some service providers compromise the quality of these produce thereby affecting fish growth and performance. so if you have any one you can recommend, it will be great.

    Thanks… hope to hear from you