Background to the Study


Fish plays significant role in the diets of people. Fish are the superior source of animal protein (62-72%) protein, depending on the species. Fish contribute about 40% of animal protein intake of an average person in Nigeria (Babbit, 1990)

Nigerians are large fish consumers with total consumption estimated at more than 1.3 million metric tones per year. With only some 450,000 MT of domestic catch, Nigeria is one of the largest importer of fish and import some 800,000  MT annually, contributing to a loss of jobs to overseas fishermen and this has unconstructive impact on the balance in trade (Miller and Atanda, 2004).

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) cannot be synthesized by animal and often remain inadequate but are needed for growth and tissue  development  (Sogbesan, and Ugwumba, 2008). Fishmeal is known to contain complete Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) profile that is needed to meet the protein requirement of most fish species. Since fish meal is expensive as a feed ingredient, the use of non-conventional feedstuffs has been reported with good growth and better cost benefit values (Sogbesan, Ugwumba, 2008)

Fish feeds are used to amplify production and maximize profit, nonetheless fish feeds are often the most expensive item of most fish farming operations amounting to about 60% of the production cost (Akiyama, 1988).

Protein is a basic component of animal tissues and therefore an essential nutrient for both maintenance and growth. At maintenance level  the  fish requires it for replacement of worn out tissues, such as internal epithelial cell, enzymes and hormones, which are vital for proper functioning of the body and are recycled quite rapidly. The requirement of protein is therefore obvious since protein constitute 45-47% of tissue dry matter (Muria,1985).

The chronic shortage and escalating price of conventional fish meal leads to search for alternative unconventional agro-industrial by-products, for inclusion  in fish meal; which are unsuitable for human consumption.

African catfish, Clarias gariepinus, from a biological perspective, is undoubtedly the ideal aquaculture species in the world. It is widely distributed, thrives in diverse environments (temperate to tropical), and is hardy, adaptable, and an ecological pioneer species, principally as a major consequence of its air-breathing ability. It feeds on a wide array of natural prey and can adapt its feeding habits depending on food availability. It is able to withstand adverse environmental conditions, and is highly fecund and easily spawned under captive conditions. Nyina-Wamwiza et al. (2007) noted that the lack of appropriate feed and presence of predators are more likely causes of mortality or poor and erratic fish survival rates curtailing the need to produce enough fingerlings using the quickest way possible to the high demand of fish in ponds. Hence, there is need to address the issue of faster growth rate performance so as to meet the high demand of fish and to favour high a shorter growth span. Thus, this research aimed at determining the growth performance of three feed types (freshwater rotifers plus Artemia nauplii, freshwater rotifers plus fishmeal, and freshwater rotifers plus maize bran of Clarias gariepinus fry and their survival rates).