The current status of global aquaculture production was reviewed with a special emphasis on Africa and in particular Egypt. The main species of interest in this study were tilapia Oreochromis niloticus and African catfish Clarias gariepinus which are gaining popularity and are of considerable importance in the market of farmed fish in this continent and of economic relevance to Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Research was principally directed to establishing the suitability of specific feed ingredients and materials that could be included in balanced diets for both species. Various animal and plant by-products were selected to evaluate their nutritional value for either species. The experimental protocols, materials and methods and techniques employed are described for nutritional investigations with tropical freshwater fish. These included the various parameters assessed in the growth and digestibility studies relevant to the species in question. These include Specific Growth Rates (SGR), Feed Conversion Ratios (FCR), Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) and Apparent Net Protein Utilisation (ANPU). An initial investigation to determine the coefficients of digestibility of protein, amino acids and energy was first undertaken using tilapia as the model warmwater fish species. This investigation was able to provide useful data and information as a prelude for successive growth trials with both tilapia and catfish. Fishmeal, soyabean meal, corn gluten meal, poultry by-products including feathermeal and blood meal were all tested at a variety of inclusion levels in successive trials. Apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC %) for tilapia fed diets containing 60% LT 94 fishmeal and 40% of each ingredient are reported. ADC of dry matter (DM) and protein (CP) and energy (E) for the reference fishmeal diet were 83.99 DM; 92.60 CP; and 93.31E respectively. For each test ingredient, these values were as follows; 1- PBM (56.99 DM; 69.30 CP & 73.47 E), 2- Feathermeal (54.09 DM, 45.53 CP & 49.11 E), 3- Blood meal (76.13 DM; 85.79 CP and 75.96 E), 4- Solvent extracted soyabean meal (85.83 DM; 93.46 CP & 82.16 E), 4- Full fat soyabean meal (75.86 DM; 86.99 CP & 74.84 E). The amino acid availability coefficients reflected the same trends as protein digestibility, and these varied from >87% on average for the essential amino acids in fishmeal, 83% for maize gluten and 85% for solvent extracted soyabean meal with an average of 63% for feathermeal and only 61% for poultry meat meal. The importance of plant protein sources and especially soyabean meal was the focus of a complete nutritional study with juvenile tilapia, The influence of full fat soyabean meal (FFSB) inclusion on growth performance, feed utilisation and the gastrointestinal digestive enzymes was also measured in this experiment. It was found that soyabean meal levels above 50% could reduce growth performance and adversely affect gut enzyme activities. Tilapia fed a series of diets with FFSB (58,63 and 63% + DLmethionine did not perform as well as the control group. SGR values ranged between 2.42 to 2.12, and ANPU between 39.41-34.46. Supplementation of the diet with methionine did not restore performance. Hepatic trypsin and amylase enzyme activity was affected with FFSB (from 12.64-1.43 Units and 4.99-2.76 Units respectively). No affects were detected on general proteolytic activity for stomach, intestine and liver. For studies with African catfish, it was first necessary to assess the different grades of fishmeal that could be employed in suitable reference diets for this species. A Poultry by-product meal (PBM) was further evaluated as a fishmeal replacement source (0- 100%) for this species. Catfish fed dry and wet diets of two types of fishmeal showed significant differences in growth performance. Catfish fed dry diets performed better than those receiving wet diets for both LT94 and white fishmeal sources. SGR were (2.80 and 2.75 dry) and (2.46 and 2.57 wet). FCR (0.97 and 0.80 dry) and (1.30,1.30 wet), ANPU (41.85,52.94 dry) and (31.43,30.9 wet) for LT94 and White fishmeal respectively. The PBM fed catfish showed significant differences in weight gain and feed utilisation. SGR was between 3.57 to 2.83, FCR between 1.61 to 2.25 and ANPU fell from 28.90 to 18.82 for groups' fed the control fishmeal diet towards the maximum level of PBM substitution. Histological examination of liver tissue showed alterations in hepatic morphology with respect to sinusoids and fat accumulation for catfish fed higher amounts of PBM. A restricted inclusion of up to 40% poultry by-product meal could therefore be suggested for practical diet formulations. Further investigations were undertaken to assess the potential for either maize gluten meal (MG) or soyabean meal as substitute protein sources for the African catfish Catfish fed higher inclusions of MG displayed SGR's ranging between 5.28 to 2.79, FCR between 0.81 to 1.53 and ANPU values from 52.33 to 24.99%. All lower performance data were obtained for 75% MG substitution of LT94 fishmeal protein. Further histological examination of liver tissue revealed alterations in hepatic structure associated with higher levels of MG. It was suggested that no more than 25% substitution of fishmeal with maize gluten meal is feasible under the present conditions. In a separate study, catfish fed diets containing different levels of FFSB (58,63 and 63% + DL-methionine) at the expense of fishmeal (LT94), showed significant differences in weight gain. SGR ranged between 3.11 to 2.78, FCR 0.82-0.83 and ANPU between 54.48 to 48.60. Also trypsin activities for intestine ranged between 2.75 to 1.71 Units, liver 1.37 to 1.05 Units and stomach 4.09 to 2.29 Units of activity for increasing levels of FFSB. Hepatic amylase was also reduced from 4.49 to 2.46 Units. General proteolytic activities however, did not show any significant differences between catfish fed different levels of FFSB for the stomach, intestine and liver. The conclusions from each of the nutritional trials were considered and comparisons between the response of tilapia and catfish were made. The advantages of plant based protein concentrates was stressed due to the problems currently existing for animal sources and the expense of fishmeal There were many similarities for the tilapia and catfish and it would seem that both fish species could greatly benefit from improved diet formulations that may meet with their nutritional requirements whilst minimising cost of production. A future strategy of research is presented that includes further work to identify more feed ingredients for potential use in these species.

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