One piece of information that is of importance to catfish farmers in Nigeria is the cost of catfish feed. Catfish are carnivorous animals and so can eat grains, vegetables, worms and flesh of other fish or animals.
A farmer can mill their own catfish feed or they can choose to buy feed produced by commercial feed millers. Whichever option of feed source a farmer uses to grow his fish he must ensure the feed is of good quality. Buy good quality I mean that the feed must contain the nutrients the fish needs to grow optimally and in the right proportions. The fish feed should also not pollute the pond water easily as this will lead to increased use of water.
While fingerling and juvenile catfish need feed with relatively high protein content (about 42%), as they grow they can do with less of protein and more of other components like fat and carbohydrate. Commercially bagged fish feed is a common choice among farmers in Nigeria, especially smallholder farmers, because it avoids the expensive overhead costs incurred in milling their own fish feed. They are available in containers or bags of 5kg, 15kg and 25kg.
Some common ingredients of fish feed are fish products, oils and fats, cereal grains, concentrates, and additives. A typical feed nutrient composition by percentage is crude protein (42%), crude fibre (4.5%), crude fat (12%), crude ash (8.4%), phosphorus (1.0%), calcium (1.3%), lysine (2.0%) and methionine + cysteine (0.9%).
The bagged fish feed are usually in pellets which can be sinking pellets, floating pellets, or extruded feeds.
Sinking pellets are usually tightly compressed with almost no air space within. It is easy to pack nutrients in sinking feed and it is the least expensive feed type. However, they sink quickly and often dissolve in the water before they are picked up by fish and so it tends to pollute the pond water. Also because they sink in water forcing the fish to feed at the bottom of the pond it is difficult to know when the fish are satisfied during feeding.
Floating pellets are loosely compressed and are filled with small air pockets which make them buoyant and float on water. They float for a relatively long time before they soak up enough water to make them sink. They are usually more expensive than sinking feed but this is compensated by decreased feed waste as the farmer can easily detect when the fish are satisfied and can stop feeding the fish.
Extruded feeds are ground feeds that are forced through a die under pressure and steam heat. They are thought to be more digestible for catfish. This is the choice of feed for farmers who mill their own feed.
Farmers should take time to read the nutrient composition of the bagged feed they choose to buy. Some factors that determine the farmer’s choice of feed are:
- Cost of feed;
- Nutrient quality of feed;
- The degree to which the feed pollutes the fish pond water;
- Availability of the feed in the farmer’s locality.
Below are popular brands of commercially available feeds and their price ranges as of November, 2019. The prices are for 15kg bags in floating pellet sizes of 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 6mm, and 9mm. The smaller pellet sizes are usually more expensive than the larger pellet sizes due to nutrient composition and ease of manufacture.
- CHI Feeds: N5500 – N6500;
- Vital Feeds: N5800 – N6800;
- Blue Crown: N5300 – N6300;
- Topfeed: N4800 – N5200;
- Ecofloat: N4200 – 4500;
- Skretting: N6000 – N9300;
- Aller-Aqua: N7600 – N9000;
- Coppens: N8000 – N12500.
What are the prices of bagged fish feed near you? Feel free to share with us so others can learn. Thank you.