Livestock Research for Rural Development 28 (11) 2016 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Growth and nutritional performance of African catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) fed varying inclusion levels of dietary Moringa oleifera leaf meal

Oluyemi K Gbadamosi and Nelson R Osungbemiro1

Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology, P.M.B 704, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria.
1 Department of Biological Sciences, Adeyemi University of Education, Ondo, Ondo State, Nigeria.


The growth and nutritional performance of Moringa oleifera leaf meal as an ingredient in the diet of African catfish,Clarias gariepinus, of mean weight 11.54 2.1g was evaluated over a 56-day growth period. Moringa leaves were treated by soaking in water for 5 days and sun-dried. The graded level of Moringa oleifera leaf used were 0.00% (control) 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% replacement of fish meal in diet 1,2,3,4,5,6 respectively. All diets were isonitrogenous (40% protein). The 56-day feeding trial was conducted in glass tanks, each treatment having three replicates. Fish fed the control diet, recorded the best growth performance in body weight gain and Specific Growth Rate (SGR).

There were no significant differences between fish fed the control diet and those fed 5 and 10 % Moringa leaf meal replacement of fish meal in treatments 1 and 2 (P>0.05). However, significantly reduced growth and nutritional performance were recorded in diets with elevated inclusion levels of Moringa leaf meal especially in treatments 4, 5 and 6. Feed–related mortality was not recorded during the feeding trial. The study revealed that Moringa oleifera leaf meal may be included in the diets of Clarias gariepinus at inclusion levels of up to 10% replacement of fish meal therefore reducing the cost of fish meal in aqufeed. Therefore, Moringa oleifera leaf meal may be used to partially replace the expensive fish meal in the diets of Clarias gariepinus.

Keywords: feed, mortality, specific growth rate


The aquaculture industry has been globally recognized as the fastest growing food producing industry (Food and Agricultural Organisation 2010). Aquaculture production has continued to show strong growth, increasing at an average annual growth rate of 6.5 percent, from 6.8million in 2002 to 50.3 million metric tonnes in 2007 while capture fish production remains stagnant since 2001 (FAO 2010). This increase in aquaculture production further brings about higher growth in the number of aquaculturists, which was more than 10 million people in 2005 (FAO 2010). However, the major challenge with the growth recorded in aquaculture is the overdependence of aquafeeds on fish meal. Fish meal is one of the most expensive ingredients of aquaculture diets. Aquaculturists have therefore, begun to evaluate alternative diet ingredients to replace fish meal with readily available inexpensive plant sources. Considerable emphasis has been focused on the use of conventional plant protein sources, such as soybean (Jackson et al 1982; Sadiku and Jauncey 1995), groundnut (Jackson et al 1982), cottonseed (Jackson et al 1982; El-Sayed, 1999) and rapeseed meal (Jackson et al 1982) to replace fish meal in the diet of fish. However, their scarcity and competition from other sectors for such conventional crops for livestock and human consumption as well as industrial use make their costs too high and put them far beyond the reach of fish farmers or producers of aquafeeds (Fasakin 1997). The Moringa oleifera tree is widely distributed in the tropics. It holds a considerable potential for becoming an ingredient for animal and fish because of its high nutritional quality that is comparable to other feed protein source (Becker 2003; Abo-State et al 2014) Moreover, Hammed et al (2015) revealed that C. gariepinus infected with bacteria (Aeromonas spp.) can be effectively treated with M. oleifera leaf extract at 50% concentration without adverse effect. A major family of catfish that is of commercial interest in Nigerian is the family claridae. Two important members of this family Clarias gariepinus and Heterobrachus bidorsalis are prominent in African aquaculture due to their fast growth rate, resistance to diseases tolerance to high density culture, ability to grow on a wide range of natural and low cost artificial feeds and ability to withstand low oxygen and pH levels (Fagbenro et al 1999).There is scarcity of information regarding the utilisation of Moringa leaves in the diet of African catfish C. gariepinus. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine the effects of dietary Moringa oleifera supplementation on the growth and nutritional performances of African catfish (Class gariepinus) fingerlings.

Materials and methods

The study was carried out in the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture research laboratory, Obakekere. Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria. The experiment consisted of six treatments with each representing different inclusion level of Moringa oleifera. These treatments were replicated thrice. The control had no inclusion of Moringa oleifera. The graded level of Moringa oleifera used were 0.00% (control) 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% replacement of fish meal in diet 1,2,3,4,5,6 respectively.

Experimental fish

Clarias gariepinus fingerlings with average weight of 11.54 2.1g were obtained from the hatchery of Ondo State Agriculture Development Programme, Akure, Nigeria. The fish were first conditioned to the water temperature in the laboratory for proper acclimation to reduce stress. The fingerlings were not fed for 24 hours before they were started on the experimental diet to maintain a uniform stomach condition of fish and to induce their appetite for the commencement of the feeding trial (Fasakin 1997). The fishes were weighed weekly and the average weight recorded.

Preparation of experimental diet

Leaves of the Moringa oleifera were collected from Ipinsa community farm, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria and was identified at the department of Forestry and Wood technology, Federal University of Technology Akure. After collection the leaves was cut into small pieces, soaked in water for 5 days and sun dried. The sun dried leaves was grounded into fine powder and analyzed for crude protein, fat, moisture, ash, crude fibre using (AOAC 2010). Moringa oleifera leaf meal was measured out and mixed with basal feed of 40% crude protein (Table 1) based on the formulation defined for African catfish C. gariepinus (Fagbenro et al 1999).

Table 1. Composition of the experimental diet in g /100g containing various inclusion
levels of Moringa oleifera leaf for Clarias gariepinus.


Control 1






Fishmeal (70%)







GNC (45%)







SBM (42%)







M. oleifera leaf














Vegetable oil





















Starch (Binder)







Analytical procedure

The chemical analyzed of diets and fish carcasses used in the experiment were performed according to the procedure of the AOAC (2010). The factor of 6.25 was used to convert the nitrogen to protein, fat, ash, fibre and moisture contents of the above method as described by AOAC (2010).

Percentage nitrogen free extracts

% NFE =100 – (moisture + crude protein +crude lipid + crude fibre +ash)

Performance evaluation

Fish performances during the experiment were based on productivity indices on growth performance and nutrient utilization efficiencies as described by Fasakin (1997) as follows:

Total feed intake

This was estimated by adding up the weekly feed intakes during the experimental period.

Total weight gain

This represents the difference between the initial weight and the final weight gained.

Total weight gain = final weight – initial weight

Total percentage weight gain (%)

This was calculated using the formula

TPWG = Total weight gained / Initial weight x 100%

Specific growth rate

Specific Growth Rate (SGR) was calculated from the relationship of the different in the weight grain of fish within an experimental period. Hence

SGR % = Loge W2 – Loge W1 / T2 - T1 X 100

Where W2 = weight of fish at time T2 (final) days

W1 = weight of fish at time T1 (initial) days

Loge = natural log

T2 – T1 = experimental period in days /56 days

Feed conversion ratio

From the weight gained and feed consumed by each group of fish the feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated using the following expression.

FCR = Feed Intake / Net weight gain.


Proximate composition of feed

The proximate composition of the experimental feed shown in Table 2. The experimental feed used for the six treatments had varying levels ofMoringa oleifera leaf meal T0 (0) %, T1 (5) %, T2 (10) %, T3 (15) %, T4 (20) %, T5 (25) %, and T6 (30) % replacement of fish meal.

Table 2. Proximate composition of experimental diet (% DM)








Crude protein
















Crude fibre
















Moisture content








Nitrogen-free extract (NFE)








Table 3. Proximate composition (wet weight) of the carcass of Clarias gariepinus fed experimental
diets containing varying inclusion levels of Moringa oleifera leaf.













































The proximate composition of the experimental diets and carcass of Clarias gariepinus fed the experimental diets are presented in Table 2 and 3 respectively. There was an upward trend in the moisture and ash content of fish with increasing Moringa inclusion at the end of the study, however crude protein content was similar in all experimental groups. Although slight increase was recorded in the final proximate composition of fish over the initial in the study except the moisture, the moisture contents of fish at the end of the study were lower than the initial moisture content.

Growth performance and nutrient utilization of C. gariepinus fed Moringa oleifera diet

The result of growth performance and nutrient utilization of Clarias gariepinus fingerlings fed varying inclusion levels of Moringa oleifera meal is presented in table 4. In the feeding trials, growth parameters like weight gain, percentage weight gain and specific growth rate in treatment 3,4,5 and 6 were significantly lower than the control (P < 0.05), whereas there was no significant difference in treatment 1 and 2 and the control. The Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) in treatment 4, 5 and 6 were significantly different from the control, however there was no significant difference between treatments 1 and 2 and the control. The FCR increased with increasing Moringa leaf meal inclusion. The fish in the control, treatment 1 and 2 fed better during the entire period of the experiment than in other treatments. Mortality was not recorded throughout the 56-day feeding trial.

Table 4. Cumulative growth performance and nutrient utilization of C. gariepinus fed varying M. oleifera leaf meal inclusion levels


Treatment 0

Treatment 1

Treatment 2

Treatment 3

Treatment 4

Treatment 5

Treatment 6


Final Weight

34.6 ± 0.64d

34.1 ± 1.22d

33.6 ± 1.02d

25.8 ± 0.66c

21.6 ± 0.87b

21.1 ± 1.44b

18.9 ± 0.18a


Initial Weight g)

11.4 ± 0.68a

11.6 ± 0.20a

11.2 ± 0.10a

11.7 ± 0.10a

11.2± 0.20a

11.5 ± 0.30a

11.8 ± 0.20a


Weight Gain

23.2 ± 1.32d

22.5 ± 1.12d

22.3 ± 1.89d

14.0 ± 0.6c

10.4 ± 0.70b

9.6 ± 1.73ab

7.10 ± 0.02a


Weight Gain %

203 ± 1.85e

195 ± 1.26d

198 ± 1.51d

119 ± 1.74c

92.3 ± 1.84b

83.5 ± 1.72ab

60.1 ± 1.23a


Feed Fed

25.28 ± 0.82c

24.97 ± 1.90c

25.20 ± 1.28c

20.78 ± 1.27b

19.65 ± 1.20ab

19.30 ± 0.30a

19.21 ± 0.7a



1.09 ± 0.78a

1.11 ± 0.35a

1.13± 0.35a

1.48 ± 0.36ab

1.89 ± 0.34c

2.01 ± 0.71d

2.71 ± 0.10e



1.98 ± 0.12d

1.91 ± 0.50d

1.95 ± 0.30d

1.39 ± 0.30c

1.17 ± 0.71b

1.13 ± 0.28b

0.80 ± 0.01a


Mortality %









Figures in each row (mean ± SEM) having different superscripts are significantly different (P< 0.05)


This study has confirmed that the M. oleifera leaves have the potential to partly replace fish meal and greatly reduce expenditure on fish meal, without reducing growth and nutritional performances of the African catfish. In view of the favourable amino acid profile of Moringa leaves and their wide and ready availability throughout the tropics and subtropics, Moringa can be considered as a possible feed component with high nutritive value for fish (Becker 2003). Likewise Abo-State et al (2014) conducted a 75-day feeding trail to evaluate the effect of feeding different levels of raw Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam.) leaves meal (0%,8%,10% and 12%) on growth performance, feed utilization and carcass composition of Nile tilapia ( Oreochromis niloticus) fingerlings diets. They found that raw Moringa leaves meal might be used up to 8% level of dietary protein in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fingerlings diets without negative effect on growth performance, nutrient utilization and carcass composition. It was then concluded that Moringa is one of promising plant protein sources for aquaculture. The results of this study on nutritional quality of Moringa leaf meal as partial replacement for fish meal in fish diets indicated that up to 10% replacement of fish meal with Moringa leaf meal can be included in the diets of African catfish. Richter et al (2003) revealed that Moringa leaf meal in the diets of Oreochromis niloticus at 10% inclusion did not affect growth, however, at high levels of inclusion, 20% or more, the growth of O. niloticus was negatively affected. In the current study, replacement of fish meal with Moringa leaf meal at level as high as 10% did not reduce the growth rate but increase weight gain in Clarias gariepinus juveniles. No mortality was recorded in this study, this may be due to the fact that Moringa inclusion did not have any adverse effect on the fish used this study. Adverse effects in growth and nutritional performances were recorded with the inclusion of Moringa leaf meal at 25% and 30% which suggested that at higher concentration, inclusion of Moringa leaf meal may impair the growth the fish. The reduction of growth performance and nutritional parameters could likely be attributed to several factors, among which the presence of antinutrients is important. A high level of saponins and phytic acid were responsible for growth retardation in O. niloticus fed Moringa leaf meal (Richter et al 2003). Afuang et al (2003) reported that saponins and tannins present in the Moringa extracts are known to have a bitter taste that might have acted as a feed restraint. Avoidance of feed in fish can be caused by the bitter taste of the phenolics binding to saliva mucopolysaccharides, epidermis or chemosensory receptors (Madalla 2008).

It has been reported that saponins in lupin seed meal and alfalfa impaired the growth performance of rainbow trout (Higuera 2002) and tilapia (Olvera-Novoa et al 1990; Yousif et al 1994). The negative effect of saponins might be because of their well-known effect as a surface-active component on the biological membrane by which the permeability of the intestinal mucosal cells is increased and the active nutrient transport hindered (Johnson et al 1986). Phytate, on the other hand, can reduce the bioavailability of minerals, reduce the protein digestibility by the formation of phytic acid–protein complexes and damage the pyloric caecum by depressing the absorption of nutrients (Francis et al 2001). It has been reported that 5–6 g of phytic acid per kilogram diet can impair the growth of rainbow trout (Spinelli et al 1983) and common carp (Hossain and Jauncey 1993). Ritcher et al (2003) reported that a minimum level of 0.5% of phytic acid caused reduction in O. niloticus growth when fed Moringa leaf meal diet. However, at lower inclusion levels, there is a physiological mechanism in fish that could compensate for the presence of antinutrients, hence their negative effect may not be felt, but at higher inclusion when the limit has been surpassed , then the negative effects of these antinutrients will be pronounced (Francis et al 2001). Becker and Makkar (1999) reported that 2% inclusion of quebracho tannins (condensed tannins) were shown to be tolerated without any adverse effect on growth, whereas similar levels of hydrolysable tannins (tannic acid) reduced the feed acceptability after 4 weeks of feeding. A relatively higher concentration of total phenolics from mucuna beans (< 0.72%) in common carp diet has also been shown to significantly reduce the growth performance and feed utilisation in common carp (Afuang et al 2003). Protein digestibility and amino acid availability can also be reduced by the existence of antinutrients in fish feed (Fasakin 1997). Another reason for low growth at high Moringa inclusion levels might be combination of the antinutrients with fibre causing significant reduction in growth and nutritional performance of fish in treatment 3, 4 5 and 6. This is in agreement with the work of Ritcher et al (2003) on O. niloticus when more than 10% a-cellulose was included in the diet. Hilton et al (1983) also reported a similar reduction in growth performance of rainbow trout when fed with a high fibre diet. Hilton et al (1983) reported that this phenomenon was associated with a decrease in gut passage time and diet digestibility. Furthermore, Shiau (1997) reported that dietary fibre apparently influences the movement of nutrients along the gastrointestinal tract and significantly affects nutrient absorption. Another worsening effect might be a change in enzyme activity, possibly through adsorption or immobilization of enzymes by dietary fibre. It has also been shown that fibre can bind nutrients like fat, protein (Shah et al 1982) and minerals (Madalla 2008), and reduce their bioavailability. Feed Conversion Ratio, (FCR) decreased with higher dietary inclusion of Moringa leaf meal in this study. De Silva and Anderson (1995) stated that FCR ranging from 1.2 and 1.5 is suitable to guarantee adequate growth and health of fish. The FCR of fish fed 5 and 10% Moringa leaf meal in the current study are within this range. This may be related to the suitability of the inclusion of dietary Moringa leaf meal at these percentages, it is also in agreement with earlier works on Moringa inclusion in the diet of fish (Francis et al 2001; Ritcher et al 2003). Ogunji (2004) used fish meal diets and reported that the most efficient utilisation of feed by Oreochromis niloticus fingerlings (average initial weight 4 – 5 g) was found in diets with FCR of 1.19 and SGR of 3.39. The processing technique in this study which include soaking and drying might have reduced the soluble antinutrient in the Moringa leaf meal, therefore increasing acceptability this agreed with the work of Madalla (2008) and Fagbenro et al (1999) which found that different processing techniques resulted in better palatability and growth in fish. For instance, Ritcher et al (2003) stated that freeze-dried Moringa leaf meal could replace 10% fish meal in the diet of Oreochromis niloticus without any deleterious effects on the growth of the fish while Afuang et al (2003) reported that solvent –extracted Moringa leaf meal replaced 30% fishmeal in the same fish. These works showed that fish meal could be replaced at low levels by leaf meal protein without causing any adverse effect on fish growth.



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Received 13 July 2016; Accepted 23 September 2016; Published 1 November 2016

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