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Using Tilapia Fishes to Feed Catfishes

I raised both Tilapia and Catfish together in one pond so that catfish can feed on the Tilapia. Do I need to provide them with any other feed? Find out

I want you to first know that catfish can only feed on Tilapia that are of smaller sizes than they are. So, it is not possible for all your catfish to be able to feed on the Tilapia. Also, feeding catfish on Tilapia only is not balanced.

Your fish will not have the desired energy to have a good size. So, always give the needed feed to your fish. As a matter of fact, Tilapia will also need to feed on something before becoming feed for catfish.

Catfish / Tilapia Feeds and Feeding

1) Nutrition

Using Tilapia Fishes to Feed Catfishes

Catfish farmers are able to feed a nutritionally complete diet that provides required levels of nutrients and energy in a readily digestible form. It is essential to provide a complete diet because catfish can synthesize only a small portion of the required nutrients and the quantity of nutrients from natural food organisms in the pond is relatively small. Forty nutrients have been identified as necessary for the normal metabolic function of channel catfish.

Based on current knowledge, a digestible energy to crude protein (DE/P) ratio of 8.5-10 kcal/gram is adequate for use in commercial catfish feeds. Ratios above this range may lead to increased fat deposition and if the energy ratio is too low, the fish will grow slowly.

Catfish feeds contain grain or grain by-products that are rich in starch. In addition to providing an inexpensive energy source, starch helps bind feed ingredients together and increases expansion of extruded feeds so that the feed pellets are water stable and float in the water. A typical catfish feed contains 25 percent or more of digestible carbohydrates.

Lipid levels in commercial catfish feeds rarely exceed 5-6 percent. About 3-4 percent of the lipid is inherent in the feed ingredients, with the remaining 1-2 percent being sprayed onto the finished pellets to reduce feed “fines”. Both vegetable and animal lipids have been used for pellet coating.

Considerable work has been conducted over the last 10 years concerning the level of dietary protein and amino acids needed for cost effective growth. Data from these studies indicate that the dietary protein requirement for various life stages of catfish ranges from about 25-50 percent. Recent studies have indicated that a protein level of 28 percent is adequate for growout when fish are fed to satiation.

Catfish feed are generally supplemented with a vitamin premix to meet dietary requirements and to compensate for losses due to feed manufacture and storage. Catfish feeds are also supplemented with phosphorus and a trace mineral premix. However, there is evidence that supplemental trace minerals may not be need in diets using animal proteins.

Read Also: Diseases Fishes can get from Feeds

2) Feeds

There are various types of catfish feeds. The type being used at any particular time is a function of size of fish being fed, whether the fish are feeding at the surface or in the water column, and if an antibiotic is incorporated.

Catfish fry in hatcheries are fed finely ground meal- or flour-type feeds containing 45-50 percent protein. Fines or crumbles from 28 or 32 percent protein feeds for food fish growout are suitable for fry stocked in nursery ponds until they reach 1-2 inches in length.

Larger fingerlings should be fed small floating pellets (1/8 inch diameter) containing 35 percent protein. Advanced fingerlings (5-6 inches) and food fish are generally fed a floating feed of approximately 5/32 – 3/16 inch in diameter containing 28-32 percent protein. Some producers switch to a slow-sinking feed during the winter.

Antibiotics are administered to catfish through incorporation in feeds. Depending on the particular antibiotic chosen, the feed may either be floating or sinking.

3) Feeding

Despite considerable research, feeding catfish is far from an exact science. It is a highly subjective process that differs among catfish farmers. The variation in feeding practices is a product of numerous factors such as cropping system, fish size, ability to manage water quality, experience of feeding labor, and difficulty in estimating fish inventory.

In general, fish should be fed once a day as much feed as they will consume without adversely affecting water quality. However, depending on water quality variables and the health of the fish, it may be advisable to restrict the daily feed allowance or to feed less often. Long-term feed allowance should not exceed 100-125 pounds per acre per day.

Most catfish producers feed once a day, 7 days a week during the warmer months. Although feeding twice a day may slightly improve growth of fingerlings, the logistics of multiple feedings on large catfish farms make it impractical.

Feed is typically blown onto the surface of the water using mechanical feeders. Feeds should be scattered over as wide an area as possible to provide equal feeding opportunities for as many fish as possible. Feeding with prevailing winds allows the feed to float across the pond and minimizes the amount of feed washing ashore. Overfeeding should be avoided since wasted feed increases production costs.

Read Also: Reasons why Fishes Refuse to Eat their Feed and How to Correct it

5 Alternative Classes of Feed for Catfish

Don’t neglect this piece because it can help you improve on your performance as a catfish farmer. It will also enhance returns on your investment if you can get them cheap. Below is the list of supplementary feeds for catfish classified based on where they come from:

1. Poultry Waste

  • Offal and internal organs of poultry: Perhaps, offal is the most important of all complementary feed for catfish. It is one of the foremost feed used by catfish farmers in late nineties to feed their fishes. Sometimes in early nineties, offals and other internal organs of poultry are treated as waste product and often dumped at the outskirt of the town where they are produced. Following the discovery of this waste as an alternative feed for catfish, value was placed on offals and it became an important complementary feed for catfish. Sometimes they are sold above the price of pellets.
    You can feed your fish with offals and other internal organs of chicken but do not buy when the cost is too much (above N70 per kg). Be careful not to feed your fishes with other waste like gloves disposed alongside with offals to avoid mortality.
  • Poultry Mortality: It is a common occurrence to have one or two mortality per week in a big poultry farm. Sometimes the rate of mortality may increase due to infections or epidemics e.g. flu. These mortalities are not waste because they could be used to feed catfishes by boiling them to avoid spread of infection. Make sure you prepare them well and cut them into sizes to make them easy for the fishes to eat.
  • Cracked Eggs: You don’t need to dispose your cracked eggs as waste any longer. Poultry farmers who also raise catfishes can boil their cracked eggs to feed their fishes or use the egg paste to mix their catfish feed ingredients.
  • Maggots: Maggots are common in poultry farms, especially poultry farms with battery cage. Maggots can be packed and used as supplementary feed for growing fishes of about two weeks old from juvenile. If you have maggots in large quantity, they can be preserved by drying and used when needed.

2. Hatchery Waste

  • Day Old Chicks/Mortality: This may not sound nice, but day old chick is another feed that can complement pellets for catfish. Many at times, the supply of chicks is more than demand in the market. When it happens like this, the remaining chicken is regarded as waste. The unsold chicks are sometimes sold to catfish farmers as waste to feed their fishes. It is always fun to see fishes of three months old and thereabouts fighting to pick live chicks. In order not to violate animal rights, it is better for those chicks to be killed before being used to feed your fishes. Also under this category are chicks with deformity and mortalities.
  • Unhatched Eggs: It is not uncommon to have certain number of eggs set in incubator tray to come out as partially hatched/unhatched egg. Some of these eggs and other waste from hatchery can be boiled and used to feed catfishes. You need to see how fishes fight to have a taste of this delicacy.
  • Infertile Eggs: Some of these infertile eggs are sold as normal table egg or sold to catfish farmers who will prepare them to feed their fishes. Sometimes, paste from unhatched egg can be used to mix fish feed inputs before they are pelletized.

Read Also: How to Control Feeding Struggle among Fishes in the same Pond

3. Abattoir Waste

  • Blood Waste: Blood is one of the notable wastes in abattoir. It comprises of high concentration of fluid and protein that can be used to feed catfishes. Some use it raw after coagulation but I will suggest you boil the blood before you use it to feed your fishes. Dry blood is also used as blood meal to make delicious pellet for catfishes.
  • Intestine and other Internal Organs of Ruminants (cattle, goat, sheep): Because of the preparation involved in making internal organs of ruminants palatable for human consumption or as a result of split of bile into the internal organ of ruminants, intestines are sometimes treated as waste. To catfish farmers, these are never waste. They can be used to feed their fishes.
  • Meat and Bone Marrow Waste: This can also be used as supplementary feed for your catfishes provided they are not too expensive. Dry bones (bone meal) are also one of the most important inputs in catfish feed.

4. Dead Domestic Animals

I have seen many farmers using dead cow, sheep, goats, etc, to feed their fishes. I have never loved this practice but you will not want your animal that was killed by vehicle, or those that died naturally, to be a waste. I want to suggest that if you cannot boil your dead animals, please burn them properly before using them to feed your fishes in order to prevent transfer of diseases to your fishes and ultimately to man.

5. Others

  • Tilapia fish: You can use live tilapia fish to feed your catfishes. Due to breeding ability of tilapia fish, a mature male and female tilapia fish, when introduced into ponds, can breed thousands of tilapia to be used as feed for catfishes of about three months old plus. Catfishes of an average size of 500 grams are introduced into the ponds where tilapia fishes are bred to avoid mortality due to tilapia bone.
  • Earthworm: If found in large quantity, earthworm can be used to feed your fishes though as a supplementary feed.
  • Toad and Frog: Toad and frogs use ponds that have not been stocked as breeding points. Sometimes, farmers intentionally allow pond to rest so as to encourage toad and frogs to breed into such ponds. Then fishes of reasonable size are introduced to feed on the tadpoles bred.

Here are more fish farming books to guide and assist you further below:

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