What Do Gizzard Shad Eat? - Feeding Shad

What Do Shad Eat?
Do you need to Feed Shad in Captivity?

In the Wild Gizzard Shad eat algae and disintegrated or eroded matter and material (detritus) off the bottom as evidenced by the occurrence of both plankton and sand in their digestive tracts (Kutkuhn 1958; Pierce et al. 1981).

Bodola (1965) found that digestive tract contents of adult gizzard shad captured in open waters consisted predominantly of free-floating phytoplankton, whereas shad captured in littoral vegetation contained Cladocera, Copepoda, Rotifera, and small aquatic insect larvae and those captured in very turbid waters contained mostly mud.

Gizzard shad grow quickly and attain a much larger size than Threadfin Shad some adults reaching 18 inches and weigh 2-pounds.
This rapid growth means that largemouth and smallmouth bass are able to eat Gizzard shad for only a short time each spring.

Little has been published on the feeding and care of Gizzard and Threadfin Shad in captivity.

In one laboratory experiment, Threadfin Shad were maintained in 40-gallon tanks on a diet of live daphnia, chironomid larvae (bloodworms), and tubifex worms or micro-pellets.

I have been successfully using Tetra Tetra Fin Goldfish Flakes for many years

Aquarists at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson that has a display of Gizzard Shad admit that the fish are delicate and that few of the shad they catch -- about one in 200 -- survive the journey from stocking ponds to the aquarium.
The few that do survive, however, readily accept prepared food and live a long time.

 The feeding selectivity of gizzard shad for plankton is determined by the size of the plankton relative to the gill raker spaces (Mummert 1983; Drenner et al.1984) as well as the escape ability of the plankton (Drenner et al. 1978, 1982a).

Abundance and diversity of items eaten may vary widely with season and locality (Bodola 1965) with apparent variability in food preferences among age groups and populations being the result of capture location or availability of prey items (Bodola 1965; Jester and Jensen 1972; Pierce 1977).

Shad and young bass actually compete for the same limited planktonic food.

Zooplankton is at the base of the food chain, feeding on microscopic plants and being fed upon by aquatic insects, fish and salamanders.
Their sizes usually range from one-tenth of a millimeter to four millimeters, which is smaller than the head of a pin.

Food Consumption by Larval Gizzard Shad:
Zooplankton Effects and Implications for Reservoir Communities
John M Dettmers and Roy A. Stein

Larval gizzard shad subsist on yolk material for the first few days of life (Bodola 1965), then begin feeding at 4 to 5 days after hatching.
for the first few weeks they eat mainly protozoans, rotifers and entomostracans (Warner 1940; Miller 1960; Bodola 1965).
In lakes, young fish 1 1/2 in. total length feed almost exclusively on zooplankton while larger fish consume detritus, phytoplankton, zooplankton 
and insect larvae and exuviae.
Gizzard shad consume fingernail clams in a pool of the Mississippi River.
In a Kentucky stream, gizzard shad ate principally tendipedids, oligochaetes, diatoms, and Spirogyra (Minckley 1963).

(Warner 1940; Kutkuhn 1958; Dalquest and Peters 1966; Cramer and Marzolf 1970; Barger and Kilambi 1980)
(Tiffany 1921a, b; Kutkuhn 1958; Bodola 1965; Baker and Schmitz 1971; Jester and Jensen 1972; King et al. 1977; Hendricks and Noble 1979; Barger and Kilambi 1980; Pierce et al. 1981). Jude (1973)

OK, if you have read this far you must have an interest in feeding Shad.
As a striper guide I primarily use shad as bait.
In my shop I have 1000 gal round bait tanks where I keep 200 to 600 shad per tank.
The expense of catching and keeping shad is extremely high and involves a lot of work.
The less we have to get shad the less expense.
I have been able to keep shad for several months at a time, which also involves returning of the shad to tanks after a trip.
We take between 24 to 50 shad per fishing trip - depending on size of shad and time of year.
To keep them in good shape and active I have been feeding and medicating shad successfully for several years.
It can be done.
Sometimes experience is the best teacher.
Ben Sanders.

Zooplankton collected in Dardanelle Reservoir from 1975 to 1982
Build a Plankton Net
Aquatic Research Instruments
Fred Berry Conservation Education Center

Daphnia: Pronounce Daphnia Rotifers: Pronounce Rotifer Baby Brine Shrimp:,  Blood Worms:, Tubifex Worms:,  

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Use of Live Bait and Transportation of Live Bait Laws in Arkansas Effective October 1st 2018.
Always check your states laws on the use of live bait.

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Growing Phytoplankton

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