Clarias liocephalus, an important small fish in the diet of rural households, is threatened by wetland degradation and overfishing for use as live bait. This study aimed at establishing the survival, condition, growth rate and feed utilization indices of C. liocephalus wild fingerlings reared outside the wetland environment through a feeding experiment. Fingerlings were fed with an isocaloric feed with four levels of crude protein for eleven weeks. Results showed that C. liocephalus could endure wide ranges of water temperatures, low levels of dissolved oxygen and could efficiently utilize artificial feeds. The 35% crude protein diet was the best utilized with a feed conversion ratio of 4.18. The mean specific growth rate was 2.2 to 2.5%, which is comparable to that of other reared Clariidae. Fish condition was best with the 30 and 35% diets and mean survival was 46.44% (±3.159SE) and not significantly different (p<0.05), for the four diets. This new information is useful as reference in recommending the species for aquaculture. Rearing C. liocephalus could also reduce rural malnutrition and fish-protein deficiency especially in rural poor communities. Rearing trials for longer periods and measurement of other key production indices required in aquaculture of C. liocephalus were recommended.
Key words: Wetland habitats, micronutrients, hapas, fish feeds.
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