Catfish should be given a feed that is nutritionally complete and provides all required levels of nutrition and energy that can be easily digested by them. It is very important to give a complete diet because these fish can digest only a small amount of the required nutrition. The quantity of natural food occurring in the ponds or rivers is usually less and is deficient in many essential nutrients. For a catfish to perform normal metabolic functions, at least 40 nutrients have been identified.
For commercial catfish feed a DE/P ratio of 8.5-10kcal/gm is sufficient. Any ratio above this range may enhance the fat deposition. When energy ratio is very low, it will lead to slow growth of the fish. Catfish feed normally comprises of grains and its by-products that have enough starch. This is basically meant to provide inexpensive energy source. The starch also helps in binding all other feed ingredients and as a result the pellets are stable in water and do not disintegrate. In fact, they can easily float in water.
Catfish feed mostly contains at least 25 percent of easily digestible carbohydrates. The lipid levels in the commercial catfish feed is almost 5-6 percent. Out of this 5-6 percent, the initial 3-4 percent is present in the feed ingredients itself and the remaining 1-2 percent is sprayed externally on to the prepared pellets so that it can minimize the feed fines. For this external lipid coating, both vegetable and animal lipids are used. Additionally, vitamins are premixed to meet the dietary recommendations.
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