Knowing the right feed ingredient will reduce costs and boost production. Catfish need proper nutrition to thrive so the constitution of the feed is very important. Fish feed accounts for 70% of the total cost of catfish production.
Therefore finding an alternative source other than commercially manufactured formulated feed is a good idea. There is no single formula that effectively covers the entire nutrients the fish require but there are basic nutritional requirements.
Each stage of fish development from the fry, fingerlings, juvenile and adults require different nutritional composition. And a well composed formula provides rapid weight gain, good food conversion and healthy fish.
No two feed ingredient has the same composition but they should contain protein supplements like animal of plant protein. Fish meal should have meat and bone meal including catfish offal which are considered animal protein.
High protein feed are best suited for young catfish like fry or fingerlings. A list of feed ingredient that are found in catfish feed include catfish oil, corn feed, rice bran and wheat middling.
Other ingredients are distiller’s grain poultry byproduct, catfish offal, fish and peanut meal including soybean meal.
When composing your fish meal use the major ingredients like fish/bone meal, rice bran, and soybean meal. More ingredients you can introduce are soybean cake, oils, canola meal and peanut meal.
Fish meal is easy to purchase and is found in large quantities in an open market. You can also make your own fish meal using available resources and by processing some of your catfish.
Fish meal is expensive but the good part is that it constitutes only a small percentage of the nutritional requirements. The major protein source is your soybean meal which constitutes about 50% for fry, 44.2% fingerlings and 35% adult fish.
A video on local feed production
Feed ingredient found formulated fish feed
1 soybean meal
2 rice bran
3 wheat middling
4 fish offal
5 meat and bone meal
6 distillers grain
7 yellow corn grain
8 poultry byproduct
9 corn gluten feed
10 fish oil
Formulated feed is used in both large and small fish production to achieve maximum growth. A good formulated feed should supply energy and body building nutrients to the fish. A well formulated Feed comprises lots of vitamin, protein and energy supplements.
Most feed ingredients are cheap and easily sourced in the local market making homemade formulas a cheap and effective resource. It effectively reduces the cost of feeding your stock while providing an alternative to ready made feed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feed found in the market they are good and should be your primary source.
Formulated feed should comprise certain ingredients such as fish meal, rice bran, soybean meal, catfish offal and other ingredients. Catfish such as fry/fingerlings with a weight average of 5 to 25 g needs protein feed content of about 40 percent, while the least value of protein advisable for catfish feed is 28 percent.
Other formulated ingredients you can add to your feed are essential amino acids, non fish animal protein, grain or grain byproducts, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C.
Formulation of feed for catfish
The least allowed protein content is 28%
List of ingredients are Crude protein 20%, crude fiber 7%, lipid 6%, digestable energy 5.8%, lysine1.7%, and grain 26%. Others are xanthophylls 11%, non fish animal protein3%, whole fish meal 3% and cotton seed meal 15%.
Feeding schemes and additives
The fry and fingerlings stage need proper attention if you want to reduce the mortality and increase growth rate. Feeding frequency in fry and fingerlings stage is recommended a minimum of three times daily.
Fry are very fragile and they have a high mortality rate compared with young adults. Apart from their high mortality fry like their parents are cannibalistic and eat each other.
The quality of the feed also plays an important role in the fish development. Young adults weighing about 500g upwards can grow on one or two meals daily.
Additives generally used by catfish farmers are bacteria enzymes to boost digestion. They also introduce premixes that contain vitamins and other essential minerals.
Premixes add to any catfish food will argument any shortfalls in feed storage, handling and manufacturing processes. The feeding scheme you choose depends on the quantity of fish you stock and the size of the catfish.
When you have a stock weight ratio of 100grams you can feed them 5% of their body weight. This weight ratio usually occurs during the first two months of growth.
About five to six months down the line you fish should have an average ratio of 800grams. At these last stages of growth they only need to be fed 2.5% of body weight.
Remember the feed frequency for smaller fish is higher than that of larger fish, three times daily for fingerlings and twice daily for adult fish.
Some farmers practice either the restricted feeding regime or regimented feeding regime. The restricted feeding regime is when intense feeding is applied for a duration like three days then they stop feeding for a couple of days.
The regimented technique is when the fish are fed at the same time daily. This alternate method is the most common method practiced by farmers.
In a scientific study not much difference was noticed using either of the two methods in weight and growth. In my personal opinion you should refrain from using restricted method especially when your fish are fingerlings.
I noticed that the most crucial period in catfish development is between fingerlings and young adulthood. So I apply intense regular feeding at this developmental stage for best result.
If you stop the process too soon you might notice a slight retardation in growth.
Structure of the feed
A good Catfish feed should be made into pellets, water stable and float. It needs to have all the essential nutrients to aid fast growth and development of your fish.
The common method used to manufacture fish feed pellets is through extrusion techniques. Local farmers sometimes make steam pellets which are heavy sinking pellets.
The best type of feed is the floating pellets so farmers should use them more frequently than the sinking ones. Good high quality fish feed and proper feeding including good water management and you will achieve fast growing fish.