Several types of feeds are available for commercial catfish production. They vary in nutrient and ingredient compositions, forms, and pellet sizes, depending on fish ages, sizes, and stages of culture. Fry and fingerling feeds contain higher protein than food fish feeds because small fish have a higher protein requirement than large fish.
Fry feeds In the hatchery, catfish fry (once the yolk sac is absorbed) are typically fed a trout or salmon starter diet containing about 50 percent protein supplied mainly by marine fish meal. Once stocked into the nursery ponds, they are fed finely ground feed powder (Fig. 1) from catfish fingerling or food fish diets. During this early stage of life catfish fry depend mainly on natural foods (large zooplankton, insect larvae, and small insects) for normal growth and survival.
Fry feeds are used as supplements until they reach a size of 3 to 5 cm. Fingerling feeds Small fingerlings are fed small floating pellets (3 mm in diameter) containing 32 to 36 percent protein. A typical fingerling feed contains soybean meal, cottonseed meal, animal proteins (such as porcine meat and bone meal, meat and bone/blood meal blend, or poultry by-product meal), corn, wheat middlings, animal fat/fish oil, and vitamin and mineral supplements.
Food fish feeds Channel catfish grown from advanced fingerlings to market size are typically fed a 28 or 32 percent protein floating diet approximately 5 mm in diameter.
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