Developing low cost feed and transferring the technology to relevant actors for sustainable intensification of Tilapia culture



Tilapia is a suitable fish species to grow in the coastal areas as it is well adapted to salinity changes and can be grown with crop as well. However, one of the major challenges for tilapia culture is to profit maximization for the producers as the production cost increased in last decade due to higher fish feed price, while the fish sale price remained stable.

Happy farmers family with the big Tilapia


The objectives of the project were:

  • New tilapia feed composition to reduce price.
  • Develop efficient feeding techniques to grow more fish with less feed.
  • Develop extension materials and build capacity of the water management group WMG) members of the working area so that they can disseminate it.

Description of the Innovation

  • The new feed composition reduced some of the expensive and scarce ingredients in tilapia feed that already are present in the natural food produced in the pond.
  • Adopted low feeding level and stocking density allowing fish to grow faster.

Farmer feeding his pond

Key findings

Feed manufacturing cost can be reduced upto 10% by adopting low protein diet. Tilapia production cost can be reduced upto 30% by stocking 120 fish per decimal and using low protein feed, and reduced feeding. With this limited input feed conversion ratio (FCR) can be 1 and the annual productivity can be upto 11 metric ton per ha.

Lessons Learnt

The key lesson learnt in this project is that over feeding is always risky and will not increase productivity. Nursing fish fry in a smaller pen within the pond for 2-3 weeks can greatly increase fish survival. Precaution is needed to protect fish from predators. Strong opportunity exists to strengthen national and international collaboration for improving fish feed sector in Bangladesh. Community feed centers (CFCs) and local services providers (LSPs) can play a bridging role for small scale farmers to access the newly formulated feed produced by the large industries/companies. This will help in business expansion for all the parties. Existing structure of WMG can be a vehicle to scale the research findings to other polders in southern Bangladesh.

Farmers field guidebook based on the learnings


Linkage was established and in some case strengthened between farmers, LSPs, CFCs, WMGs, fish feed ingredient sellers, fish feed dealers of commercial companies, national and international industry and department of fisheries (DOF) extension agents with demonstrated benefit for each stakeholder. We expect that for developing own business all these parties will work together to sustain the activities.

Upscaling potential

Fish is the major product to increase water productivity in coastal landscapes. Technology appeared adoptable for both small scale and commercial farmers and new feed already created demand to the industry. It can be scaled to the vast 300.000ha coastal aquaculture ghers. Fish production will increase substantially and can increase economic benefit and employment opportunities. For industrial production of this feed, several companies expressed their interest already.

Gher aquaculture in coastal Bangladesh

Challenges and opportunities

The two major challenges implement the findings at its full scale: Firstly, the farmers in Bangladesh have a perception to go for over stocking density and excess feed use in their aquaculture. Secondly, existing “Feed Act” doesn’t allow producing commercially the recommended low protein feed. It requires amendment in the Feed Act.
The first issue can be addressed by organizing activities for both technical capacity building coupled with awareness creating campaign to change farmer’s attitude for feed management to grow fish. The second one requires policy dialogue with government to foster the change in the Feed Act.

WorldFish Bangladesh Office, Kazi Ahmed Kabir
House 22B, Road 7, Block-F, Banani, Dhaka 1213
Tel: (+880-2) 881 3250, (+880-2) 881 4624, Fax: (+880-2) 881 1151, Email:

Download a PDF version: WorldFish – Tilapia Feed v3