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Optimal Foraging Theory, and why you should know about it.

Some people believe that in order to grow a big fish, all you have to do is feed it a lot. But it is somewhat more comlex than that. Knowledge of "Optimal Foraging Theory" is important when attempting to grow any gigantic fish.

OFT, or optimal foraging theory. Simply stated, E is the amount of energy (calories) from a prey item. h is the handling time which includes capture, killing, eating and digesting. h starts once the prey has been spotted. E/h is therefore the profitability of the prey item. MacArthur and Pianka are credited with the creating the original construct in 1966. When using pelleted feed to grow fish you essentially lowering “h” to a point that the profitability to the organism, in this case a bluegill, is huge.

In simpler terms--provide food for your fish, but don't make them work too hard for it. This is why pelleted feeds can be so valuable in growing big bluegill. Pellets aren't known for running away, so bluegill energy expenditure is nominal.

Now if you like stuff like this, you will see that an article coming up in the next issue of Pond Boss magazine will greatly expound on this subject. Don't miss it 'cause it's gonna be good!

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Comment by dick tabbert on October 11, 2011 at 4:39pm
Makes a lot of sense to me. If the fish is not expending any energy or (calories) everything is laid out in front of him all it has to do is come to the pellets that's just  in front of it now all it has to do is feed. I'm thinking the feedings will have to be in the same places every day this also will keep the fish in close proximity and again no energy  (calories) spent chasing.
Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on October 11, 2011 at 4:14pm
Makes sense to me. Turn your fish into couch potatoes, essentially aquarium fish, and you are bound to see the result in increased growth and body mass.
Comment by Rainman on March 24, 2008 at 4:36pm
Did you see the pics I posted on the the thread "How to grow out Tilapia" and "Tilapia Survey"? Both under the "Raising Forage Fish" topic on Pond Boss. I need to sell some of these fast, they are growing a .5 inches a week right now and I would hate to see them die in the aquarium.
Comment by Bruce Condello on March 24, 2008 at 4:21pm
Interesting to see what yellow perch think about tilapia forage. I know that big bluegill absolutely love eating fish. Their piscivorous nature rears it's ugly head. :)
Comment by Rainman on March 24, 2008 at 4:20pm
Also, depending on size, in 4 months you could have 100,000+ 1-3" fingerlings providing a fall forage smorgasboard.
Comment by Bruce Condello on March 24, 2008 at 4:20pm
Really? That would definitely get me an extra month, maybe even six weeks. That could make a big difference.
Comment by Rainman on March 24, 2008 at 4:17pm
Thats why I got the blues. They are supposed to live to 45 degrees.
Comment by Bruce Condello on March 24, 2008 at 4:15pm
Tilapia don't have a very long lifespan in Nebraska. I've been really wanting to experiment to them, but they may only be viable for 4 months out of the year.
Comment by Rainman on March 24, 2008 at 4:14pm
You could grow out a monster Mr. T (for tilapia)!
Comment by Rainman on March 24, 2008 at 4:13pm
Bruce, You ought to get some of my tilapia to add for your BG forage. I've only got 120 left.

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