Catfish feed formulation is the process by which fish farmers combine different selected feed ingredients in varying proportions to meet the predetermined nutrient requirements of the catfish. A complete feed should be nutritionally balanced, palatable, water-stable, and digestible for the catfish. Feeds should be formulated to be dry with a final moisture content of about 6-10%, semi-moist with 35-40%water, or wet with 50-70% water content.
Catfish feeds should be formulated according to the size and species of the catfish reared to carry out the nutritional needs of the fish to maintain their physical quality and health generally. The feed should also be formulated to meet the protein nutrients, energy and minerals demand of the fish, it should be measured with measuring scales at equal proportion to ensure the feed’s water stability and ability to float on water.
Catfish feeds are basically classified into protein and energy nutrients produced feedstuffs. The protein level in the formulation of feeds is about 30 to 32 percent for fries and about 20 percent are given to fingerlings, the value of protein nutrients reduces as the fish increases in size.
The specific nutrient requirements of catfish are affected by many factors such as genetics, sex of the catfish, feed intake, energy density of the diet, digestibility level, nutrient balance and nutrient interaction in the diets, the presence or absence of anti-nutritional or toxins, the expected level of performance and environmental factors. Catfish feeds should be digestible because once digestion has occurred, absorption of the nutrients will take place.
ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS NEEDED FOR CATFISH FEED FORMULATION
Protein Nutrients are the most important nutrients that should be first considered in the formulation of catfish feeds. It is required to build the catfish body tissue because it contains physiological molecules such as hormones and enzymes. It can either be derived from animals and plants. Examples of animal protein feed ingredients are meat meal, blood meal, poultry meal, shrimps, and fish meal. Examples of plant protein ingredients are soybeans, groundnut, cotton seeds, and sesame seed cake.
Energy Nutrient is also an important component of catfish diets, a certain degree of energy-giving feedstuffs should be added when formulating fish feeds. Energy nutrients derived from carbohydrates provide catfish with enough energy to move around, swim, and carry out other activities. The energy feedstuffs are gotten from cassava, maize, wheat, rice meals, and sorghum.
Vitamin Nutrients are responsible for the control and maintenance of the catfish’s health and body processes. Vitamins are usually found in organic and inorganic chemicals like vitamins A, B, C, D, and K.
Mineral Nutrients help the catfish in building up the bones, teeth, and scales. Examples of mineral ingredients include shell, calcium, and phosphate
Fat and Oil
Fat and Oil enhances energy delivery in catfish and also contain fatty acids which are good for catfish nutrition and health.’
The primary aim of feed formulation is to provide catfish with an acceptable nutritional requirement at different stages of life, with the aim to maximize profit and reduce the production cost. Catfish feeds should be formulated according to the required crude protein level, energy level, and vitamin levels.