A balanced diet is necessary for the overall health and proper body function. Does this apply to catfish diet? What constitutes a balanced catfish diet? Does the catfish diet affect human health? Let’s take a look.
Catfish diet varies according to their age, location and available feed types. It includes soyabeans, bloodmeals, fish bones, groundnut cake, worms etc. The nutrients required for a healthy catfish diet is not available in their natural environment which implies that they need to get it from the alien diets they are being fed with.
A balanced diet is a diet nutritionally complete having all the necessary nutrients in the classes of food in the right proportions for a total well being and proper body functions. Classes of food include carbohydrates, proteins, mineral salt, fats and oil etc.
Catfish Diet And Energy
A catfish diet that is balanced will give energy, lipids, adequate blood cells among others. These are gotten from each class of food which is present in plants and animals. Some catfish are small in size but weighs more simply because of a diet composition of too much carbohydrates due to cutting costs by the catfish farmers.
Energy is one of the most important reasons for diets and the energy needs varies from animals to animals according to their feed. In catfish, feeding is more of what quantity the catfish are allowed to eat and not the energy concentration of the feed.
It is important to regulate and strike a balance when formulating catfish diets. Too high energy to protein ratio will affect the process outcome especially the frozen method of preservation and too low will result in less intake of essential nutrients.
Classes of Food For A Balanced Catfish Diet
Carbohydrates are energy giving foods which is obtained from seeds, tubers and roots of plants. Animals are known to produce carbohydartes naturally from lipids and proteins therefore, they do not need carbohydrates in their meals directly.
However, for catfish growth, it is essential for catfish diet to have adequate amount of grains and its by-products such as wheat grains, and wheat middlings because they are rich in starch.
Starch is a cheap source of energy that also aids feed manufacture. A conventional catfish diet contains about 25 percent digestible carbohydrates and about 3 to 6 percent more of cellulose.
Catfish are not keen to crude fiber as they find it hard to digest so catfish farmers and feed manufacturers should keep fibre low.
Lipids, a form of fats and oils, are an easy to digest source of concentrated energy with twice as much energy as equal quantity of carbohydrates. Lipids are not necessarily required but being a cheap source of energy, a little should be included in catfish diet.
They help in animal metabolism, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, supply of essential fatty acids and a host of others. Lipids that are stored in catfish body tissues affects the flavor of the fish. There is a recommended type and amount from one country to another, quality of the fish meat required etc.
Catfish diet require between 0.5%- 0.7% omega 3 fatty acids. High concentrated lipid feed will make it difficult to pelletize, it can therfore be sprayed on pellets. Too much lipid in catfish diet would result in huge fat deposit in the catfish and this would affect the quality and outcome when processing them.
Over the grill or while been roasted, it becomes extremely oily and can affect the shelf life of the finished product. Essential fatty acids can also be obtained from marine fish oil with menhaden oil as an example as they tend to give the carfish a good flavour.
Protein and Amino Acids
Protein is the main body of the catfish and the major class of food obtained from it by humans. About 70% of the dry weight of the fish muscle is protein and a continual supply of protein is also needed for growth in catfish.
Catfish needs more amino acids than they do protein. Catfish diets have to be balanced by including a mixture of proteins in feedstuff. The requirements of catfish still remain a debate especially in the area of cost. It is a daunting task to have a protein level for all circumstances as protein requirements varies daily as a result of water quality, size, natural food and management practices.
However, optimum dietary protein level should be changed as fish and feed prices change in other not to run at a loss. In realistic terms though, catfish farmers tend to feed the same all season although fry and small fingerlings require more protein.
Catfish diet is usually a combination of plants and animal proteins while amino acids can be obtained from plant prptein alone. Sources of protein in catfish diets include soyabeans, cotton seed, bone and blood meal, fish meal etc. Caution is to be taken when giving beef product or to be safer, not used at all.
Vitamins are organic compounds required in minute amounts in feed for normal healthy growth, reproduction, immunity and overall body functions. It is a requirement in animal feed and catfish diet is no exemption.
Some vitamins are naturally produced in the body making them not to be required in diets while others are obtained from diets or supplements.
The amount of vitamins which varies in structure and function needed by catfish species also varies. A supplement is usually added to catfish diet to meet up for their requirements.
Just like other animals and man, catfish also need the same minerals for metabolism and bone development. Catfish need about fourteen minerals that is essential to maintain a balance between their body fluids and their environment. They also absorb some of these required minerals from the water.
There are mineral deficiency symptoms in catfish just like other animals. An essential mineral they can not afford not having is phosporus, needed in bone development.
Catfish diet is supplemented with trace mineral premix filled with enough of essential trace minerals to meet or exceed their dietary requirements.
A catfish diet should be balanced for a profitable catfish business. Balanced diet is not only needed in man, it is important in catfish as well. A balanced diet results in a balanced and healthy life.
From fish needing protein to minerals, it is important to pay attention as these affects the catfish after leaving the catfish farm and it determines if such business will continue or not.
Catfish with too high fat content, becomes oily when processing and it reduces the shelf life of the finished product and is a potential risk to human health.
Have any experience with catfish processing due to diet that is not balanced? Leave your comments below!