Fish require quality feed for healthy growth

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Most communities in Kenya enjoy eating fish. It is an important source of animal protein. Fish provides food, generates income and remains a crucial part of many rural livelihoods especially those living in the Western and coastal regions of Kenya and even parts of central Kenya where many farmers have put up fish ponds.

Many urban dwellers are now constructing fish ponds to take advantage of the growing urban populations. The reason is that fish farming is neither demanding nor costly to set up and maintain. To have a good fish harvest, feeding and controlling the quality of water is key. To understand the dynamics of fish feeding, a farmer needs to ask these key questions- which are the natural available sources of fish food in pond water? How do you stimulate natural food production for fish and how can you supplement the natural feed for fish?

Use natural or formulated feed

ish can be fed from both natural and formulated feed. Natural feed include small floating plants like algae known as plankton (algae or fish food) and small animals like worms and insects in the water. The colour of the water indicates the availability of plankton in the water. When the water is green it means there is food for the fish but when the water is clear it indicates scarcity of food for your fish. It is easy to check whether your fish have enough feed. This can be done by putting your arm in the water. If you can clearly see your arm in the water, it means there is not enough feed. You can also put pond water in a clear glass. If you see twenty to twenty-five tiny creatures then it is an indication that your fish has adequate feed.

Control run-off water

With heavy rains, run-off water easily washes into the ponds when the banks have no ground cover making the water muddy. This can mean trouble for the fish farmer because the tiny free floating plants also known as plankton needs sunlight and nutrients to grow. When this plankton receives sunlight, they grow and release oxygen into the water. But if the pond water is muddy, it blocks sunlight and the plankton cannot grow or produce oxygen.

Managing your fish pond

To mitigate against mud washing into ponds, grass can be planted around the pond to hold the loose soil. If your pond is big, you can plant trees on the banks. But be sure they are suitable for fish culture so that they do not shed leaves on the water. It is important to seek advice from an Agricultural extension officer in your locality on the ideal trees which grow in your area and can also give you an additional income.

Use lime

If your pond water still gets muddy, add diluted lime in the water. Soak the lime for twenty four hours and sprinkle it in the pond. The lime makes the mud to settle at the base of the pond. The tiny free floating plants are crucial in producing oxygen for the fish in your pond. When you see the fish gulping in the surface, it means they lack oxygen. You can add oxygen by circulating water with a pump.

Apply manure

Apart from sunlight, plankton also needs nutrients. You can apply manure in the water to help plankton to grow. Put manure in a sack and tie both ends tightly then submerge the sack in the water. Keep monitoring the colour of the water and if it turns dark green remove the sack immediately. Make sure not to over fertilize your pond for this will block the sunlight and there will be less oxygen available for the fish. In that case, pump additional water into the pond to supply oxygen to the fish.

Fish can also be given supplementary feed in addition to the natural organism in the water.

Such feed is important especially when there is no enough plankton or when you want to produce more fish. One such example of feed you can formulate at home include a mixture of milled maize, milled rice and soya bean oil cake.

Give them feed balls

The ingredients can be mixed with water and made into balls then dried. To hasten fish growth, you can throw these feed balls at particular points in the pond. The fish will learn where to find the feed thus little of the feed is wasted. Dried feed balls break much slower and helps reduce waste. It is advisable to buy the feed from the shop because the ingredients are mixed in appropriate ratios and in some cases multi-nutrients are added to the feeds. With well-managed good quality water and feed, you can significantly increase your profit from fish culture.

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