What Do Bluegill Eat?

By Pond King

Coppernose Bluegill are without a doubt the backbone of any healthy and thriving Bass population. If you’re wondering how to make Bass grow bigger in ponds, you need to make sure they have plenty to eat, and stocking Bluegill will provide that primary forage. 

But what do you need to stock in your pond to provide forage for your forage fish?


Let’s Take a Look at What  Bluegill Eat? 

Bluegill Like to Eat Microinvertebrates and Phytoplankton

Bluegill are very opportunistic feeders. Bluegill fish like to eat just about anything that they can fit in their tiny mouths. Luckily there is most often a wide variety of forage options for your Bluegill already in your established pond or will begin to show up within a few months in a newly built pond. Newly hatched Bluegill will begin to consume microinvertebrates and phytoplankton until they reach a size where they can begin to graze on periphyton.


What is Periphyton?

Periphyton is a combination of algae, fungi, bacteria and rotifers, as well as the macroinvertebrates that use this periphyton as a food source. Bluegill like to eat this periphyton throughout their juvenile and adult stages. 

Bluegill Food Options Increase as the Fish Grow

As these fish grow, their options for food sources continue to grow in size and variety as well, widening out to include unhatched eggs and terrestrial insects that have made their way into the water along with other fish.

Trophy Fish Management Requires Specific Feeding Needs for Bluegill

As we said before, all of the normal Bluegill forage sources occur naturally in most ponds and will sustain a base population of Bluegill. But if you’re trying to grow bigger Bass, you’ll need to improve the growth rates of the Bluegill, carrying capacity, and reproductive potential of the Bluegill within your pond by increasing the forage available to them. 

There are a couple management steps that can be implemented that will make sure your Bluegill have enough to eat.

Bluegill Like To Eat Pelleted Fish Food for Supplemental Feeding

The first food option for supplemental feeding is probably the easiest and most common; the addition of a pelleted ration. 

Bluegill sunfish like to eat pelleted fish food, and this can be fed either by hand or by an automated feeder. Either way, it needs to occur at the same time and location every day to train these fish on when and where to find this additional resource. (Yes, fish are trainable!)


Add Aquatic Fertilizer to Your Pond to Improve Nutrient Balance

Another management aspect that could be considered in larger ponds (greater than 2 acres) is adding aquatic fertilizer. This will increase the amount of phytoplankton, which will increase the number of available micro and macroinvertebrates for your Bluegill to eat. See more about fertilizing your pond.


Bluegill Sunfish Like to Eat Other Forage Fish

An option for a short-lived increase in resources is a supplemental stocking of Fathead Minnows. These fish stay small enough throughout the majority of their life cycle to be consumed by your Bluegill. This option has a short term effect because these minnows are slow swimmers and have a hard time evading predation, meaning that they are quickly consumed by both your Bluegill and your other predator species.



As you can see, when everything is out to eat you, you can’t be too picky about what you like to eat for supper! Read more about creating a steady supply of Bluegill fish in your pond.

Contact Pond King for Bluegill and Fish Stocking for Private Lakes

If you have any other questions on stocking Bluegill or management efforts to improve your Bluegill population and growing bigger Bass, feel free to contact us anytime or call to ask a pro how to better manage your lake!  We’ll see y’all down at the pond.


Tags: Down at the Pond, Fish and Fishing, Pond Management

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