Effect of Different Fish Feed Sources on Growth and Economic Performance of Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) Within Subsistence Setup in Liberia
The wide adoption of O. niloticus for farming, particularly among smallholder farmers, can be attributed to its feeding versatility. However, its production in Liberia remains low, despite possessing desirable culture characteristics. This limited yield hampers the potential for commercialization and delays the overarching goal of utilizing fish farming to alleviate poverty and hunger. One of the primary challenges faced by fish farmers is the utilization of subpar feeds. To address this issue, we conducted a study to evaluate the effects of various feed recipes available to Liberian farmers, including two feeds formulated by farmers themselves (FF1 and FF2) and two commercially manufactured feeds (CF1 and CF2). These feeds were compared with a research-formulated feed designated as PF. The growth and economic performance of O. niloticus were assessed over a six-month period using fifteen Hapa nets. The findings of our study revealed that the feeds formulated by farmers and commercial feed CF2 exhibited inferior performance in terms of Specific Growth Rate (SGR), Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR), and Weight Gain (WG). In contrast, PF and CF1 demonstrated significantly higher values (P<0.05) with FCR scores of 7.87 and 8.27, and SGR values of 1.08 and 1.05, respectively. The present study also introduced a production cost index (PCI) that can be used as an indicator of fish feed performance in fish farming, while holding the other costs constant. PF and CF1 feeds displayed the lowest PCI of 0.92 and 1.57, surpassing the other tested feeds. The lower PCI values were associated with higher economic returns compared to alternative feeds. This study concludes that feed quality is a major factor sustaining poor O. niloticus production, however with right formulation of the locally available materials farmers can achieve optimal yields for commercial aquaculture.
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