Aquaculture involves various methods adopted by man in order to improve the natural production of aquatic organisms in an enclosed water body or the rearing of aquatic organisms under semi controlled system.
In recent times, there has been great interest in fish farming by both the government and private organizations in the country this may be a reflection of the desire to produce high protein food in the country. However, this noble goal may not be achieved if all the facets of fish culture namely nutrition, desired water quality, breeding seed multiplication and pathology are not understood. In a bid to fight protein deficiency many countries, the world over including Nigeria have been making significant advance in fish farming with nutritional studies as an important aspect.
Clarias gariepinus belongs to the family clariadae. This family of catfish is appreciated by consumers for its quality meat (Pruszyriski 2003) it utilized natural food and supplemental feed for fast growth. In addition, it commands high price in the market because of its tastes and texture of flesh. It is recognized by its long dorsal and anal fin which gives it a rather eel like appearance. This catfish has a slender body and flat pairs of barbells. This prominent barbells gives it the image of catlike whistlers.
Feed development studies is an aspect of applied nutrition and the zeal for understanding of the nutrition of animal species has been restricted to relatively few species beyond man himself. In U.S.A., the success of channel catfish farming is based among other factors on the nutritional requirements. In Philippines and other far and Middle East countries, agricultural facilities are regular features of the rural economy. In these areas, the development of pelleted balanced diets gave a tremendous boost to the development of the industry (Bardach et al., 1972).
Jamua and Ayinia (2003) reported that feed accounts for at least 60% of the total cost of fish production which to a large extent determine the variability and profitability for cheap alternative source of protein that aim to reduce production cost without compromising fish quality. This is so because the dissolved nutrient that promote primary and secondary production in the natural environment are seasonal and might be insufficient or may not occur in required proportions to meet the nutritional demand of cultured fishes (Ugwumba and Ugwumba, 2003). There is therefore the need to develop and encourage fish farmers to make use of locally available nonconventional feed resources (Ibiyo and Olusegun, 2004).
In Nigeria, attempts to articulate fish feed studies have been haphazard. Efforts so far, include the work of Dim (1982) on Clarias species; Workers at the Nigeria Institute of Oceanographic and Marine Research (NIOMR) Lagos (Igbinosun et al., 1983) have also been contributing significantly towards the understanding of the requirement of a few species such as Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus. The foregoing research work therefore, underscores the realization the expected role of aquaculture in providing cheap protein food, may not be achieved if we allow our cultured species to depend on the natural productivity of the pond water for growth. Huet, (1972) and Loveil, (1979) appreciated this fundamental fact when they observed that yield usually increased significantly when supplementary diets are fed to fish.
Generally, Large Scale aquaculture production facilities would have to contend with several factors which include high investment cost, fish seed and feed supply as well as skilled manpower among other. Of these, it appears that adequate feed supply situation would invariably play a leading role in ensuring an economically attractive return on aquaculture investment. Hence, cheap and high quality feed would help to ensure economical production of table fish with a reasonable period of time.
This research work is one of the several effort aimed at developing pelleted feed for C. gariepinus from local feed stuffs. It is hoped that the result of this work would provide illuminating information militating against aquaculture development in Nigeria and form a springboard for further research and development in various aspects of nutrition for C. gariepinus and other related species.
1.2 Objective of the Study