The effects of feeding rates on growth, feed conversion, protein deposition and carcass quality of fingerling Catla catla (3.61 ± 0.03 cm; 0.71 ± 0.04 g) were worked out by conducting a 16-week feeding trial. Fingerlings were fed with a casein-gelatin-based purified diet (40% crude protein CP; 14.95 MJ kg−1 digestible energy; DE) at 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 6% and 7% body weight per day. The absolute weight gain (AWG; 10.50 g fish−1) and feed conversion ratio (FCR; 1.41) were highest at the feeding rate of 5% body weight per day. However, protein gain (PG; 0.36 g fish−1) and carcass protein content attained the maximum values at 4% BW day−1. Quadratic regression analyses of AWG g fish−1 and PG g fish−1 at 95% maximum response indicated that these parameters attained the best values at 4.19% and 3.81% BW day−1. On the basis of the above results it is recommended that the feeding rate in the range of 3.81–4.19% BW day−1 with a P:E ratio of 26.69–27.74 mg protein MJ−1 DE is optimum for maximum growth, efficient feed conversion and best carcass quality in fingerling C. catla.