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Aqua feeds
and feeding

by Dr B. Laxmappa,
Officer, Department
of Fisheries, India

n aquaculture production India is the

second largest country in the world
after China. The terrestrial and aquatic
animal farming sectors are rapidly
expanding and intensifying in the country.
Aquaculture, which counts for almost two
thirds of fish production in India, has shown
significant growth in the last two decades
and has transformed itself into an industry
contributing substantially to food production.
A wide range of freshwater, brackish water
and marine aquatic organisms are produced
in India. The major groups are freshwater
fish (carp, catfish, snakeheads, tilapia) and
prawns (Macrobrachium sp.), penaeid shrimps
(Penaeus monodon, Litopenaeus vannamei)
crabs (Scylla sp.) and brackish water fishes
(seabass, milkfish). Freshwater aquaculture
production in India is about 4.2 million tonnes.
Most of this production is carp, which account
for about 90 percent of total freshwater production in India.

Aqua feeds

In India extensive fish culture is done in

large freshwater bodies on natural food available without the application of external inputs.
In semi-intensive and intensive fish production
systems, supplementary feeding is provided
in addition to the application of fertilisers to

improve natural productivity. Less expensive

feed ingredients such as rice bran, wheat bran,
corn fibre, corn meal, corn grains, broken rice,
groundnut cake, cotton seed cake etc., are
extensively used for feeding carp in freshwater
aquaculture. Fishmeal and defatted oilseed
cakes (soybean, mustard, and sesame) are also
used when higher protein feeds are needed.
Trash fish, poultry offal and other animal byproducts are used for carnivorous fish cultures
in the country.
In Indian aquaculture, use of industrially
manufactured feeds started in the early 1990s
when feeds were imported from Taiwan
Province of China, Southeast Asia and the
United States of America for shrimp production. Currently, India has more than sufficient
capacity to produce adequate volumes of
feed for freshwater prawn and marine shrimp
farming. There is an adequate domestic feed
ingredient resource base for most of the
animal feed requirements of the aquaculture
and animal production sectors (Table 1).
Fortunately, India is one of the biggest exporters of soybean meal in the world and enjoys a
competitive position as far as most aqua feed
ingredients are concerned.

Feeding trends

In India, large fish culture ponds are fertilised with poultry or cattle manure throughout
the production cycle. Fertilisation is well
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managed and farmers routinely sample pond

water to observe plankton production and
add fertilisers when necessary. The fish are
fed with de-oiled rice bran (90 percent) and
groundnut or cotton oilseed cake (10 percent). The feedstuffs are blended with mineral
mixtures and packed in plastic bags containing
holes. These feedbags are suspended from
ropes/poles in the culture ponds. Some farmers broadcast de-oiled rice bran (DORB) only
in their culture ponds daily in the morning
and evening.
In Indian aquaculture de-oiled rice bran
is the major ingredient of all fish feeds and
is used either singly or in combination with
other ingredients. In Andhra Pradesh, one or
more of the following seven ingredients are
mixed with rice bran to feed carp: rice polish,
broken rice, groundnut cake, cottonseed cake,
sunflower cake, meat meal and soybean meal.
A recent survey showed that the majority of
farmers use a blend of rice bran, groundnut
oilseed cake and cotton oilseed cake.
Catfish culture has recently expanded in
the country. While India has a number of
endemic catfish species including Clarias batrachus, Ompok pabda, Heteropneustes fossilis,
Pangasius pangasius etc., the faster growing
African catfish Clarias gariepinus and sutchi
catfish Pangasius hypopthalmus, imported
from Southeast Asia, have become the most
widely farmed species in recent years. Pacu

fish is also cultured in some
pockets of India, particularly
Andhra Pradesh and West
Bengal. But farmers typically
use high stocking densities
and mixed feeds composed
of rice bran, oilseed cake
residues, cooked maize grains,
kitchen waste, poultry processing waste and others. Mud
crabs are fed on a variety
of diets including low-value/
trash fish, slaughter wastes, fish
wastes, mussels, snails, shrimp
heads, small bivalves etc.
Today, owing to non-availability of commercial feeds and
for economic reasons, more
than 90 percent of farmers use
farm-made feeds of cake-bran
mixture or improved versions
of the feed mixture in carp
culture. Farm-made feeds are
prepared based on ingredient
availability and feeding experience. In Andhra Pradesh, farmers use defatted rice bran and
groundnut oil cake in a 7:3 ratio, with feed
additives mineral and vitamin mixtures. Interlinking of artificial feeding with natural fish
food organisms has been found beneficial as
it influences dietary efficiency and economic
utilisation of the former. There has been a

rapid shift from traditional feeding to pellet

feeding of nutritionally complete diets.
In India, farmers frequently topcoat feeds
with vitamins, minerals, squid oil, soya lecithin,
Spirulina, probiotic bacteria and yeast, immuno-stimulants and feed attractants. Some farm-

ers topcoat every feed they use. However,

the majority only topcoat their feeds for use
during specific production phases when they
consider growth rates to be declining or when
environmental conditions are unfavorable.
Today Indian farmers are using various types


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Table 1: Major conventional and non-conventional feed ingredients producing states in India
Rice bran

State producing major quantity

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Asom, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka Kerala, Madhya
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.

Groundnut cake

Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya

Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha.

Sunflower cake

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana,

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar.

Mustard cake

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,

West Bengal, North East Region.

Cotton seed cake

Soybean meal

Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.

Fish meal

Maritime states

Shrimp waste

Maritime states

Silkworm pupae
Poultry offal

Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu,
Asom, Madhya Pradesh, North East Region.
All states

Table 2: Type of supplementary feeds used for commercially important aquaculture species in India.


Major Carps


Catla catla

Improved farm made feed

Labeo rohita

Improved farm made feed

Cirrhinus mrigala

Improved farm made feed

Clarias batrachus

Formulated feed

Clarias gariepinus

Poultry offal

Pangasius hypopthalmus

Feed type

Poultry offal, Cooked maize grains, Pellet feed.

Channa striatus

Chopped chicken intestines, trash fish

Channa marulius

Chopped chicken intestines, trash fish

Channa punctatus

Chopped chicken intestines, trash fish

Salmo trutta fario

Formulated feed

Oncorhynchus mykiss

Formulated feed

Schizothorax sp.

Formulated feed

Tor putitora

Formulated feed



Tor tor

Formulated feed

Tor mussullah

Formulated feed

Tor khudree

Formulated feed


Oreochromius niloticus


Macrobrachium rosenbergii

Formulated feed, Pellet feed

Macrobrachium malcolmsonii

Formulated feed, Pellet feed


Penaeus monodon

Pellet feed

Litopenaeus vannamei

Pellet feed


Pellet feed

Scylla serrata

Minced trash fish

Scylla tranquebarica

Minced trash fish

Piaractus brachypomus

Formulated feed, Minced trash fish

Chanos chanos

Formulated feed

of feed ingredients in different compositions

to feed species to get better yields in their
farming systems (Table 2).

Aquafeed industry

Poultry offal

Lates calcarifer

Until recently, India was an insignificant

player in the global fish feed sector due to
its reliance on traditional feeding based on a
few nutritionally poor agricultural by-products
and the use of animal manure for plankton
production. American Soybean AssociationInternational Marketing (ASA-IM) decided in

2003 to create a niche for better aquaculture

feeds, linking the development to an array
of better aquaculture practices to grow fish.
Initial work focused on commercial feeding demonstrations that showed economic
returns to the industry.
India has a well-established capacity to
produce feeds for shrimp and prawn culture.
Until 1990 the sector relied solely on farmmade feeds. With the advent of large-scale
semi-intensive shrimp culture in the early
1990s, vast quantities of shrimp feeds were
22 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | July-August 2015

imported from Taiwan Province of China

and Thailand. However, imports have gradually been replaced by domestically-produced
feeds. Currently, the domestic shrimp feed
manufacturing capacity exceeds demand. India
has about 28 feed mills dedicated to the production of freshwater prawn and shrimp feeds.
Out of these, 10 mills are subsidiaries to international aquafeed companies. Collectively,
these companies account for 90 percent of
shrimp and prawn feed sales in India.
Stakeholders and potential entrepreneurs
have also been also exposed to feed-based
technologies in practice elsewhere in Asia.
As a result of these efforts and excellent
participation by private companies and entrepreneurs in the fish-farming sector, India has
emerged as a significant producer of soybased extruded floating feeds, as well as sinking pellets for fish. The industry has invested
in imported extrusion machinery to produce
floating fish feeds.


In India semi-intensive and intensive freshwater fish production systems are predominantly based on farm-made feeds. An
estimated 6.83 million tonnes of feed ingredients are used for producing farm-made
feeds, while only 10,000 tonnes of industrially
manufactured feeds are used in freshwater
aquaculture. Preliminary data suggests that
the use of manufactured feeds could bring
about significant savings in carp production.
Food conversion ratios (FCR) could be
reduced from three to 1:1 when manufactured feeds replace farm-made feeds.
There are additional benefits associated with
manufactured feeds in the form of cleaner
ponds and less labour for feed preparation
and feeding.
The principal constraint to the use of
manufactured feeds in fish production is the
perception that such feeds are not costeffective. Once feed manufacturers and farmers realise that it is possible to profitably
produce and use feeds in fish farming, the use
of manufactured feeds will increase. It is likely
that the current use of manufactured feeds
in freshwater fish farming will increase from
10,000 tonnes to at least 0.25 million tonnes
within the next couple of years.
Both farm-made and compound feeds are
used extensively and the proportion varies by
species. In shrimp feed the main ingredients
are fish and soybean meal, wheat, rice and fish
oil. In fish feed the main ingredients are oilseed meal, maize, bran, blood and bone meal.
It is estimated that annual consumption of
concentrated feed by the aquaculture sector
is approximately 8.3 million tonnes, ranking
third in the consumers of concentrated feeds
in India, behind dairy and poultry.
References available on request



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In each and every country, our teams progress is led by the most advanced scientific outcomes as well as the field input of
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