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An increasing number of animal feed manufacturers are now producing feeds designed for locally grown species of fish and shrimp. Some companies specialize in the production of feeds for aquaculture alone. In addition, feed brokers may specialize in this field; general feed brokers also deal in aquaculture feeds.

A greater range and variety of commercial feeds are made for salmonids (mainly in Europe and North America) and channel catfish (in the USA) than for other aquaculture species. However, in those countries where shrimp culture is active, there are many alternative feedstuffs available for them too. The extreme case is in Taiwan, where there are now more than twenty feedstuff companies producing shrimp feeds. Many aquaculture feed companies export their finished (compound) feeds, concentrates (which can be diluted with locally available ingredients), or premixes to other countries. There are major aquaculture feed producing companies in Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, most EEC countries, Scandanavia and the USA. Other countries will become major producers as their aquaculture farms use more intensive techniques.

Lists of feed manufacturers could be obtained from the commercial attaches at embassies. Fish feed manufacturers in the USA are listed in the annual reference issue (usually published in July) of the agribusiness weekly 'Feedstuffs', which contains a Buyers Guide covering ingredients, equipment and services. Aquaculture feed manufacturers are also listed in the annual Buyers Guide usually published in November/December by the American journal 'Aquaculture Magazine'.

If you do not know if or where you can buy commercial feeds for fish or shrimp in your country, ask your local feedstuff manufacturer, if there is one. If he does not make them himself he will be able to put you in touch with someone who does, or he may be able to arrange to obtain feeds for you. Your local feed ingredient broker may also be able to help. Approach the Fisheries Department of your Ministry of Agriculture for guidance.

A list of some fish and shrimp feed manufacturers is given in Appendix VIII.

If no fish or shrimp feeds are available from commercial sources locally, or buying or importing them is too expensive, you should consider two other alternatives. One is to re-consider making your own. It is to be hoped that section 5 of this manual will have shown that, at least for feeds made with simple readily-available equipment, making your own feeds on the farm is not too difficult. Good results can be achieved with reasonable care. The other option is to utilize commercially available feeds designed for other types of animals.

Ask to see the stated composition or chemical analysis of the feeds for other livestock which are sold locally. See if any match reasonably closely with the requirements of the aquaculture species which you are growing. If so, buy some and try it on a small scale first, before applying it to the whole of your farm. Chicken feeds are usually the most applicable. Fresh-water prawns have been successfully grown on chicken feed in Hawaiian pond culture, despite its poor water stability. This form of feed will still, even though not designed for your species, almost certainly be better than feeding a single ingredient and definitely will help you to achieve a greater production than not feeding at all. This is especially true if your stocking density is low and some natural food is available. The exact compliance to known nutritional standards for your species becomes more important as stocking density increases and it becomes the sole or 'complete' feed available to the animals. Petfoods, such as semi-moist dog foods can also be used to provide a floating fish feed but usually, except for the rearing of post-larval shrimp or fish fry in nurseries, prove too expensive for aquacultural purposes.

If you decide to use feeds designed for other species on your fish farm, try to obtain feeds which do not contain special additives. Some chicken feeds contain high levels of arsenical compounds and other expensive chemicals designed to combat poultry diseases; some pig feeds contain high levels of supplementary copper. Do not expect to get such good feed conversion ratios (AFCR) as you would get with a feed designed specifically for your species. Don't forget that you should not make a direct cost comparison between the cost of a feed designed for your aquaculture species and (say) a local chicken feed. It is not the cost of the feed that matters, it is the cost of producing a unit weight of the species you are feeding with that feed which is important, together with the rate of growth produced. A feed which costs half as much as another is actually more expensive to use

a) if you need more than twice as much of it to achieve the same result and/or

b) the animals do not grow so quickly, thus wasting time, labour, facilities, water, etc., and perhaps causing you to miss a seasonally valuable market for your product and/or

c) the animals do not survive so well on it.

If no fish feed is available a broiler chicken starter feed would probably be the most applicable alternative for catfish, tilapia, carps and freshwater prawns. The use of high protein concentrates designed for other livestock could be considered for other aquatic animals, such as marine fish or some marine shrimp, which have high protein requirements. These can only be considered if the exact composition is known. Excess quantities of minerals and vitamins, such as might be found in some animal concentrates, may have detrimental effects on the growth and survival of your stock.

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