Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Information System

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. What are the natural feeding habits of the mandarin fish?

Mandarin fish consumes live foods at all life stages. Feeding depends largely upon the visual and auditory stimulations produced by moving objects; non-moving food may be rejected. The susceptibility of potential prey items to mandarin fish is determined by their height, which is related to the size of the oral opening of mandarin fish. Therefore in the selection and preparation of live foods, the size must be considered. Newly hatched mandarin fish fry attack live fish from the tail end, but after 10 days of feeding, visual capacity is developed, and live food is consumed starting with the head.

2. What are the common live foods for mandarin fish?

Common live foods for mandarin fish include mud carp (Cirrhinus molitorella), Wuchang fish (also called Chinese bream, Megalobrama amblycephala), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), bighead carp (H. nobilis), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), crucian carp (Carassius carassius), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), stone moroko (Pseudorasbora parva) and other wild and trash fish. Wuchang fish fry is preferred at the start of food intake, then feeding bighead and silver carp follows. When body length reaches 25 cm, common and crucian carps are fed.

Size of live food for mandarin fish:  
Mandarin fish (cm) 3–7 8–14 15–20 21–26
Live food (cm) 1.5–4 5–8 8–12 10–18
3. What could be a typical feed composition for mandarin fish including different types of live food?
Different live foods Food composition (%)
Rosy bitterling (Rhodeus ocellatus ocellatus) 32.5
Shrimp 35.5
Crucian carp 8.8
Loach 6.8
Spotted steed (Hemibarbus maculatus) 2.9
Redfin culter (Chanodichthys erythropterus) 2.9
Common carp 2.9
Freshwater anchovy (Coilia spp.) 2.9
Icefish (Salangidae) 2.9
Total 100
4. What could be a typical feed formulation for a mandarin fish diet?

Feed formulation for mandarin fish juveniles:

Ingredients Composition (% as fed basis)
Fishmeal, topmouth culter1 49
Cod liver oil 5
Yeast meal 2
Calcium phosphate 1
Mixture of inorganic salts 1
Mixture of vitamins 2
Carboxy methyl cellulose 5
Fresh fish meat (dry wet)2 35
1Culter alburnus
2Calculated on the basis of dry matters without water content

Feed formulation for mandarin fish grow out:

Ingredients Composition (%)
Fishmeal, topmouth culter 40
Maize protein meal 4
Cod-liver oil 2
Chicken fat 8
Yeast meal 2
Calcium phosphate 1
Mixture of inorganic salts 1
Mixture of vitamins 2
Carboxy methyl cellulose 5
Fresh fish meat (dry wet) 35
5. What are the basic nutritional requirements for mandarin fish?

Nutritional composition of mandarin fish is 60–62 percent protein, 15-16 percent fat, 16–18 percent ash and 2–7 percent carbohydrate. However, research shows that the protein content of mandarin fish is higher than that of grass carp and silver carp. It has been reported that the total amino acids in the muscle from mandarin fish accounted for 78.4 percent, as compared to 67.9 percent for grass carp and 64.1 percent for silver carp, while essential amino acids accounted for 31.1 percent, 28.4 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively. Therefore, the mandarin fish demands a quality protein food higher than that of the other Chinese carps (grass carp, silver carp etc.). It is mostly fish as live foods that can satisfy the needs at different life stages of the mandarin fish. Therefore, development of feed formulation for this fish should closely follow the needs of the required nutrients.

6. What is the protein and amino acid composition of typical live food used in mandarin fish diets?
Composition Chinese bream fry Nile tilapia fry Sharpbelly minnow fry
Moisture 70.20 82.60 71.10
Protein 66.50 62.00 45.30
Amino acids
Proline 5.34 3.18 2.39
Arginine 5.46 4.27 3.52
Histidine 1.89 1.64 1.19
Isoleucine 4.53 2.73 2.25
Leucine 8.30 5.08 4.21
Lysine 9.59 5.02 4.24
Methionine 1.70 1.73 1.52
Phenylalanine 3.60 2.94 2.40
Threonine 3.82 2.90 2.29
Valine 5.27 3.23 2.51
7. What could be possible approaches and strategies for live food production in mandarin culture?

Mandarin fish depends completely upon live foods, regurgitation occurring when the food is not alive. There are a number of approaches to live food production. These two most common ones:

Independent culture: in this system, live foods are cultured separately in different ponds; the supplies prepared normally being three times greater than the demand.

Concurrent culture: this approach is quite efficient in making use of the fish pond as a dimensional system. The fish and the live food are cultured simultaneously in the same confinement.

8. What could be a typical growth performance of mandarin fish in a cage culture farming system?
Parameter   Test period (weeks)
0 6 12 18 24 28
Stocking density (No./m2) 40 18
Body length (cm) 11.5 19 22.3 25 27.1 28.5
Body weight (g) 50 81.4 130.5 217.7 360.8 492