Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (3) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Growth, survival rate and condition factor of Heteroclarias hatchlings fed cultured Moina micrura, shell free artemia and combination of both as starter feed

S A Okunsebor and V Ayuma

Faculty of Agriculture, Shabu-Lafia Campus, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
P.M.B. 135, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria.


Percentage weight gain, specific weight gain, total body length, survival rate, and condition factor of Heteroclarias fry fed shell free Artemia,  cultured Moina micrura and mixture of both as starter feed were investigated. 30 individual fry were placed in a 4-litre plastic bowl in three treatments of 3 replicates in Fish Hatchery in a 25-day trial. Individual water quality parameters (Water pH, Temperature, Dissolved   Oxygen, Total Alkalinity and Free Carbon dioxide) for each treatment were monitored.

Heteroclarias fry fed live M.  micrura had the highest percentage weight gain (496%), specific weight gain(3.09), percentage survival rate (88.83%) and condition factor (39.75) but these results were not significantly different (P>0.05) from those of shell free Artemia.  The highest total body length was observed in shell free Artemia treatment group although not significantly different (p>0.05) from others. Shell free Artemia and live M.  micrura combination treatment group was observed to have the lowest fry weight gain (428.30%),. specific growth rate (2.54), % survival rate (85.50), condition factor (24.39) and total body length (1.52cm). Individual water quality parameters for each treatment were not significantly different (p>0.05) from each other

Live M. micrura can be used for rearing Heteroclarias fry  in the hatchery because it  favours the growth, survival , and condition factor of the fry as shell free Artemia and it is  readily cultivable  in fresh water.

Keywords: fry, fresh water, hatchery, live food


Fish culture with particular reference to Heteroclarias has become an important sector in terms of its potential for contributing to food and family income. It is very profitable as a result of their high resistance against diseases and environmental stress (Khaleg 2000). Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (2007) noted that in more than two third of the world where 60% of the people live in poverty, fish culture with particular reference to Heteroclarias culture has become an increasingly important sector in terms of its potential for contributing to food as well as family income.

Heteroclarias fish culture in ponds started in Nigeria in 1973 and the fish combines the fast growth traits of Heterobranchus species  and early maturing traits of Clarias gariepinus (Adeogun et al 1999). Favoured catfish species in Nigeria Aquaculture include: Clarias gariepinus, Heterobranchus bidorsalis, Clarias X Heterobranchus hybrid (Heteroclarias) and Clarias nigrodigitatus. Heterobranchus species is the commonly cultured fish in the South Eastern parts of Nigeria (Adewumi 2005).

Khaleg (2000) opined that farmers should take Heteroclarias culture as the main stay of their family income because Heteroclarias culture is a profitable business which is capable of assisting people to alleviate poverty and get extra income. Heteroclarias production should be encouraged world wide by educating the local fish farmers on the economic benefits of the species. Khaleg 2000, advocated that instead of culturing only Clarias or heterobrachus species, a combination of  the species (Heteroclarias) should be encouraged for food production purposes.

Heteroclarias, has high economic value however, the issue as stake is how to ensure that the fry of said species survive the condition under which it is cultured by attending to feeding demands. The focus of this study is to find out some growth indices, condition factor and survival rate of Heteroclarias fry fed on shell free Artemia, live M. micrura, and mixture of both as starter feed. Although shell free Artemia  has been reported as good source of food nutrient in fish culture (Sorgeloos and Beard-More 1980) but they are costly preserved marine products and not available locally in Nigria. It is based on the above implications; this study intends to find out alternative of Heteroclarias fry feed in freshwater.

Materials and Methods

The experiment was carried out in the Fish Hatchery, Fisheries Unit of the Faculty of Agriculture Shabu-Lafia Campus, Nasarawa State University, Keffi. 30 individual fry of 3 days of age were placed in a 4-litre plastic bowl in three treatments of 3 replicates in 25 days in Fish Hatchery. Initial average length (cm) and weight (g) of the fry were recorded.  The bowls were static but aerated continuously. 1/3 of the water was changed with fresh water daily. The following feeds were fed to the fry in the bowls: shell free Artemia (I) live M.  micrura (II) shell free Artemia  & M. micrura (III).

The M. micrura was collected from Moina culture in Research Teaching Farm of Faculty of Agriculture Lafia Campus, 40 M. micrura each were distributed into two ponds of 2x2x1m each and covered with mosquito net (Okunsebor and Ofojekwu, 2009). Each pond was fertilized every day at concentration of 4.00ml/L of the prepared manure solution from grounded chicken droppings(7.5kg/L), single super phosphate fertilizer (1.5g/L), Groundnut cake (1.88g/L), rice bran ( 1.87g/L) (Okunsebor and Ofojekwu, 2009). The population growth of each treatment were monitored daily. Harvest was done according to (Rottmann et al 2003; Okunsebor and Ofojekwu 2009).

Hatchery raised gravid brood stocks, Heterobranchus bidorsalis and Clarias gariepinus were selected and prior to injection, the brood stocks were kept singly in aerated pond with 200 litres of aerated water. The brood stocks were weighed with weighing balance in order to determine the amount of hormone to be used. The volume of hormone, 0.5ml of ovaryprim was used for each 1kg of female brood stocks with 2ml syringe. The injection was done intramuscularly above the lateral line toward the anterior end of the fish.  The injected fish were returned into their various tanks (Hamffa and Sridhar 2002).

Stripping took place 9 hours after injection at 280C while the male fish was sacrificed and the milt was prepared for fertilization of the stripped eggs .using cleaned normal saline. The eggs were carefully stirred with chicken feather for fertilization to effectively take place. The eggs were spread evenly on pre-treated  Kakaban in bowls kept in controlled temperature.  After 24 hours, hatched eggs were collected. The fry were not fed until the third day. The water was aerated continuously to increase the dissolved oxygen of the water and one third of the water in each bowl was changed with clean water daily. M. micrura was collected from the Moina culture using plankton net (100 μm). These organisms were rinsed in clean water before they were used for the feeding of the fish fry according to treatments.

Percentage weight gain of Heteroclarias fry within the period of the experiment    was calculated according to Cheikyula and Ofojekwu 2003 ; Adewolu et al 2008)

Percentage weight gain (PWG) = 100(W2-W1)/ W1

Where W2 = final mean body weight and W1 = initial mean body weight

Specific growth rate of Heteroclarias fry tested in the period of experiment was estimated (Adewolu et al 2008).

Specific growth rate (SGR)= (Loge w2 – loge w1)/(T2 – T1)

Where w2 = final weight, w1 = initial weight, Loge = Natural log to base e, T2 = time of final weight in days, T1 = time of initial weight in days .6

Total body length of Heteroclarias fry fed shell free Artemia, Moina , Moina  and shell free Artemia  mixture was measured in centimeter. The fry were placed with water into transparent glass to determine the total length with the help of a measuring tape (Karl et al 1977).      

The condition factor of Heteroclarias fry was calculated according to (Madu et al 2003). Condition factor (CF) K = 100w/L3.  Where w = weight of fish in (g), L = length of fish in (cm)         

The percentage of survival of Heteroclarias fry within the duration of the experiment was calculated (Cheikyula and Ofojekwu, 2003; Odedeyi , 2007))

Percentage survival rate  =   100(No. of fry that survived)/Total No. of fry that start the treatment in each bowl

Temperature (C), pH, Alkalinity (mgL-1), Free Carbon dioxide (mg/L) and Dissolved Oxygen (mL-1) in water used for each treatment  were collected  at 25cm below the water surface. The methods of APHA/AWWA/WPCF (1985) were employed.

The data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics, analysis of variance and Duncan’s multiple range method to test for the level of significance at 0.05 probability level.

Results and Discussion

The result showed that dissolved oxygen in all the treatments were not significantly different (p>0.05) from each other. Similar results were recorded for Carbon dioxide, Total alkalinity, Temperature and pH throughout the period of the experiment. Results for each treatment were not altered by water parameters in this experiment as they were not significantly different in the treatments. The results for survival rates and condition factor of Heteroclarias fry are presented in figures 1 and 2, respectively.

Figure 1: Effect of treatments on percentage survival rate of Hetroclarias fry

Figure 2: The effects of   the treatments on condition factor (K) of Hetroclarias fry   

Treatment II (M.  micrura ) had the highest survival rate (88.83%). Treatment 1 (shell free Artemia ) recorded survival rate of 87.36% while treatment III (M.  micrura and shell free Artemia mixture ) had survival rate of 85.50%. Treatment I and II were not significantly different (p>0.05) from each other but were significantly different (p< 0.05) from treatment III. The best condition factor (39.75) was recorded in treatment II while those of treatment I and III were 32.74 and 24.39 respectively. The results of these condition factors were significantly different (p< 0.05) from each other. The results of the treatments  could be attributed to the differences in the contents of essential nutrients released to the fry in the diets.. In treatment III, shell free Artemia may not have been readily acceptable in the presence of  live M. micrura. This result agreed with Madu et al (1990)  who reported feed preference of fry in his studies. Uneaten shell free Artemia absorbed water and increased in volume thereby creating a hide out for some of the available live M. micrura which would have been seen easily and eaten by the fry. The results of treatments I and II can be related to that of  Ovie and Ovie (2002) which showed that Clarias anguillaris larvae fed on M. micrura, mixed zooplankton and 40% artificial diet did not show significant difference in growth or survival rate of the fry.

Percentage weight gain and weight gain pattern of Hetroclarias fry are presented in figure 3 and 4 below. Heteroclarias fry in treatment II exhibited the highest percentage weight gain (496%) followed by that of treatment I (496%) and treatment III (428.30%) in this investigation (figure 3). Treatment II and I were not significantly different (p> 0.05) from each other but they were significantly different (p< 0.05) from treatment III. Percentage weight gain of Heteroclarias fry of all the treatments shown that, at day 20 to 25 had better performance in Moina treatment group compared to other treatments. This may be due to released nutrient in diet and utilization of the M.  micrura as live feed by fry over period of time. The treatment III  which had the lowest percentage weight gain is as result of gradual set back in growth due to nutrient content of diet utilized by the fry throughout the period of the experiment. . Hongendoorn (1980) discovered that poor growth performance of Clarias lazara fed on artificial diet is due to poor digestion of the feed.

Figure 3:  Percentage   weight gain of Hetroclarias fry

Figure 4: Weight gain pattern of Hetroclarias fry

The finding of percentage weight gain from day 3 to day 15  of the experiment agreed with the Cheikyula and Ofojekwu (2003) that observed that there were no significant different in percentage weight gain of gold fish fry fed on Moina/Cyclops and mixture of fish meal and artificial feed. Shell free Artemia  or Moina used separately for fry may not have significantly different (p<0.05) in their percentage weight gain because the fry get used to the available feed right from the time they started accepting the feed. The mixture of shell  free Artemia  and M.  micrura  brought about choice of the live food (M.  micrura ) as carnivorous fish is concerned. Madu et al. (1990) revealed in his studies that with the first week of life, the food of mudfish fry was predominately zooplankton. Sufficient live food at early stage of fry was considered as one of the factors for successful nursery management of fish hatchling (Okunsebor et al 2008).

Figure 5 and 6 shows the results of the effects of the treatments on specific growth rate while figure 6 represents  percentage  total body length of Heteroclarias fry during the experiment. There is no significant difference (p>0.05) in the results of the effects the treatments on specific growth rate of Heteroclarias fry in  treatment I and II but they were  significantly different (p<0.05) from that  of treatment III.  Results from Treatment I and II which are shell free Artemia and M.  micrura live food respectively shown that these two feeds enhanced well been of the Heteroclarias fry in the hatchery. The treatment III which is mixture of Artemia and Moina brought about selectivity and preference of the feed by fry.  Madu et al (1990) supported feed preference of fry in his studies. Although all the treatments supported increase in the total body length of the fry but there was no significant difference (p>0.05) among the treatments. This result was similar to that of Madu and Ufodike (2001); Okunsebor et al (2008).

Figure 5: Effect of treatments on Specific growth rate of Hetro clarias

Figure 6: Effect of treatments on total body length of Hetro clarias fry




The author appreciates Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Faculty of Agriculture and Nasarawa State University, Keffi for providing hatchery for this investigation.


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Received 11 October 2010; Accepted 6 February 2011; Published 6 March 2011

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