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I got 15 new catfish yesterday (6 inch) and the seller told me to just start off with half a dozen pellets to see if they eat them and then remove the rest if they don't eat them. I put the 6 pellets in today and waited a few minutes and none of the fish came up to eat them. I have air stones and a water return pipe and the return pipe from the bell siphon--all of which constantly break the surface of the water. I was wondering if this wold prevent the fish from noticing if feed is being placed in the water. Note: the feed is the same exact kind the seller uses (he gave me a bag) and I placed them in the tank yesterday evening. Also, doesn't 6 pellets for 15 fish leave 9 fish without food? The tank is 25" high. The temp, pH and all the other parameters seem normal, and the fish seem to be acclimating well. I just don't know how to get them to eat the pellets so any help in this area would be greatly appreciated!

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Hi Bill, no need to worry.  Typically after transport and being introduced to a new environment, fish are very stressed and may not eat for a period of time.  I wouldn't be alarmed if they go a week without eating.  Your sellers' instructions were good as far as the little amount to introduce and to wait and then remove them if uneaten.  As they start eating you can gradually increase the amount of feed.    They can easily and safely go a couple to a few weeks without food as they get use to their new surroundings.  

As the surface disruption is a great way to oxygenate your water and should not be a deterrent for feeding.  Catfish are typically bottom feeders as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see them eating at the surface.  There are others on here that have far more experience with catfish then I, I can tell you plenty about Tilapia feeding habits, but perhaps look to TCLynx or Sahib for some more great info regarding cats.  Good luck!

Fish don't like road trips and it doesn't matter what species!! They have been netted out of their home, transferred to a temporary container, transported, netted again and finally put into a new environment. All that action freaks out the fish and their usual response is not to eat for a while. Don't worry, they will eat once they become comfortable in their new home. It may take up to a week or more.

Thanks for the quick responses!

Sure!  :)

As Gina and Chris said, after transport fish generally need time to settle in before they eat.  Letting them go a bit hungry won't hurt them and I generally advise at least a day or two before feeding fish that have been transported.  And then follow the guidelines like your supplier recommended.

What kind of catfish bill?

What is the water temperature?

Is there a cover on the tank?

I have channel catfish and I call them scardy cats cause they don't like the come up to the surface to eat if they think you are watching but they will definitely eat floating feed off the surface if they think no one above is watching.  I like to have people peak under the edge of the fish tank cover as I feed the fish and I usually manage to get people splashed in the face as the fish come up and then turn tail at them.  Anyway, if the water is above 60 F the fish will probably come eat after a few days, I find my catfish seem to eat best at dusk and if it's warm enough dawn. 

You might toss some feed (a half dozen pellets) in and stand back so the fish don't see you looming over them and if they come up for food, then you can throw enough pellets in that each fish might get one.  If they don't come up for food right away you might wander away for a few minutes and see if the food is still floating when you come back, if it is then scoop it out.  Once you see them actually eating up the feed, then you can slowly start increasing the amount of feed but making sure they eat it all.

If the water is cold, they may not eat much at all and I wouldn't feed at all when the water is below 50 F and very minimal feeding if they are actually eating it when the water is below 60 F.  My Channel Catfish eat between 60-70 F but they are real pigs when the water is over 70 F.  (Imagine snorting and sucking sounds as an 8 lb catfish trys to suck pellets out of the feed shoot of the automatic feeder.)  But always be careful about overfeeding because excess uneaten feed collecting in a fish tank is the biggest cause of fish disease I know of.

Hey TC,

They are also channel cats (scardy cats seems about right, too!). The temp is hovering around 74, but lowering. I had the temp up to 90 a few days ago (before I added the fish) to establish the cycle bacteria. Now I turned the heaters to its lowest setting (I think 65) and it slowly going down. There is a wooden cover on the tank. 

I put 6 pellets in yesterday and right away they didn't bite; one pellet actually started to sink because the current from the return pipe submerged it and one of the cats ate it. The other 5 stayed floating and about 10 minutes later I came back and they were gone. I looked to see if they sank to the bottom but I didn't see any so I'm assuming they ate it! 

I will be sure to try standing back and/or closing the lid next time I feed them. Normally, how long do you think I should wait to see if they ate before I scoop the pellets back up?

 

Thanks!
 
TCLynx said:

As Gina and Chris said, after transport fish generally need time to settle in before they eat.  Letting them go a bit hungry won't hurt them and I generally advise at least a day or two before feeding fish that have been transported.  And then follow the guidelines like your supplier recommended.

What kind of catfish bill?

What is the water temperature?

Is there a cover on the tank?

I have channel catfish and I call them scardy cats cause they don't like the come up to the surface to eat if they think you are watching but they will definitely eat floating feed off the surface if they think no one above is watching.  I like to have people peak under the edge of the fish tank cover as I feed the fish and I usually manage to get people splashed in the face as the fish come up and then turn tail at them.  Anyway, if the water is above 60 F the fish will probably come eat after a few days, I find my catfish seem to eat best at dusk and if it's warm enough dawn. 

You might toss some feed (a half dozen pellets) in and stand back so the fish don't see you looming over them and if they come up for food, then you can throw enough pellets in that each fish might get one.  If they don't come up for food right away you might wander away for a few minutes and see if the food is still floating when you come back, if it is then scoop it out.  Once you see them actually eating up the feed, then you can slowly start increasing the amount of feed but making sure they eat it all.

If the water is cold, they may not eat much at all and I wouldn't feed at all when the water is below 50 F and very minimal feeding if they are actually eating it when the water is below 60 F.  My Channel Catfish eat between 60-70 F but they are real pigs when the water is over 70 F.  (Imagine snorting and sucking sounds as an 8 lb catfish trys to suck pellets out of the feed shoot of the automatic feeder.)  But always be careful about overfeeding because excess uneaten feed collecting in a fish tank is the biggest cause of fish disease I know of.

15 minutes.

And if you find that they do seem to be coming to eat and you are not seeing feed on the bottom of the tank, you can probably start giving them say 15 pellets for a few days and if all your water quality numbers stay good, then you might slowly up the feed amount provided they are eating all you give them.

(and if you have a little gap where you can drop the feed in without having to really lift the lid and if you can peak under the lit carefully as you do it, you might get to watch them eat if they don't notice any movement from you that startles them.)

Fed them today through an opening in the cover and within a minute they came up and ate it. You're a genius!! I also slowly opened the cover and left it open for a few minutes to let the get acclimated to the cover being opened and tossed in 3 pebbles and they came up to eat it! It's simply amazing. Thank you.

Now you just keep checking your water quality tests to make sure things stay good as you slowly increase the amount of feed given each day until you are up to as much as they will eat in 15 minutes.

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