Livestock Research for Rural Development 18 (11) 2006 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Haematological changes in the blood of Clarias gariepinus (Burchell 1822) juveniles fed poultry litter

B O Omitoyin

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Management,
Universityof Ibadan, Ibadan Nigeria


A twelve week  feeding trial was carried out to assess the effect of feeding poultry litter on haematological parameters of Clarias gariepinus juveniles as bio-indicator of health status. A control experiment was set up with fish fed a normal 40% crude protein diet.

Fish fed with poultry litter showed a gradual decrease in haematological values of parked cell Volume(PVC,15.00±0.15), Haemoglobin (HB,5.00±0.09), Red blood cell (RBC,2.60±0.06) Mean Corpusular Volume(MCV,57.69±0.62), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH,19.23±0.03), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC, 33.33 ± 0.02), White Blood Cell (WBC, 11,500 33.68) which were significantly lower (P<0.05) than  haematological values of fish fed the control diet with PCV (29.10 ± 0.30), HB (9.60 ± 0.20) RBC (3.80 ± 0.18)  MCV (76.32 ± 0.14), MCH (25.26 ± 0.14) MCHC (33.10 ± 0.06) and WBC (9,200 ± 0.20) which indicate poor physiological blood production.

Key words: Clarias gariepinus, haematological changes, poultry litter


Nigeria aquaculture industry is currently faced with the problem of inadequate supply and prohibitive cost of quality fish feeds (Omitoyin 2005). Fagbenro and Adeparusi (2003) reported increasing attempt to develop practical diets for farmed fish in Nigeria. However most fish farmers particularly in the rural area still depend on agricultural wastes including poultry litter for feeding fish. Omitoyin (1995) and Aderemi et al (2004) noted that Nigeria produces large quantities of agricultural and agro-industrial by products, which serves as alternative feed sources to conventional feed ingredients.

Poultry litter has been considered to have some nutritional values containing about 25.75% crude protein (Ndifon 1987). While Omitoyin (1995) noted that the concept of utilizing poultry litter is highly desirable since it will not only eliminate the problem of waste disposal but also provide cheap fish feed at little cost. Leray (1970), Shiloh and Viola (1973), Kerns and Roelofs (1973), Degani et al (1984) and Gallagher and Degani (1988) have fed different species of fish with poultry litters and other form of Non protein nitrogen with different results. However, the adverse effect of feeding fish with poultry droppings particularly on haematological parameters is very scanty. Blood is a good indicator to determine the health of an organism (Joshi et al 2002a). It also acts as pathological reflector of the whole body, hence haematological parameters are important in diagnosing the functional status of exposed animal to toxicants (Joshi et al 2002a).

This study therefore investigates the changes in haematological parameters of juvenile catfish fed with poultry litter.

Materials and methods

Experimental fish and management

One hundred and twenty Clarias gariepinus of average length (11.5 ±1.2cm) and weight (16.0 ± 0.2g) were purchased from Agodi Fish Farm in Ibadan, Nigeria. The fish were disinfected with 0.1% potassium permanganate as described by Joshi et al (2002b) and acclimated for 14 days in the laboratory in six 90m x 60mx 30m glass aquaria. Eighteen fishes were randomly distributed into each aquarium and fed with 40% crude protein commercial feed prior to the commencement of the experiment. The test fish were fed for 12 weeks with dried poultry litter collected from the battery cage system of the Teaching and Research farm of the University of Ibadan. The litter was sun-dried for two days before grinded and pelleted, while the control group were fed with 40% crude protein commercial catfish diet at 3% of their body weight.

Water quality parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH of the experimental set up were monitored using standard methods (APHA 1998; Boyd 1979). While the proximate composition of poultry litter and control diets was determined using the AOAC (1990) methods.

Haematological evaluation

1½ millilitres (ml) of blood were collected at the beginning of the feeding trial (week 0) and at the end of trial (week 12) from the caudal peduncle of both the test and control fish as described by Stockopf (1993) and Joshi et al(2000a). The blood samples were dispensed into tubes containing lithium heparin anticoagulant. Haemoglobin was estimated by cyanomethemglobin method. Red blood cells (RBC) and white blood cell (WBC) were counted by Neubauer's improved haemocytometer using Hyem's and Turks solution as a diluting fluid respectively. Packed cell volume (PCV), mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC); mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) and mean cell volume (MCV) were calculated respectively using standard formula described by Dacie and Lewis (1991) and Joshi et al (2002a).

Statistical analysis

Data obtained were subjected to one way analysis of variance (Steel et al 1997) while the means were compared for significant differences using Duncan's multiple range test (Duncan 1955).


The proximate composition of poultry litter and the control diet are presented in table 1. Poultry litter has a low value of 17.43% crude protein which was significantly lower (P < 0.05) to 39.27% for the control diet. While the ash and crude fibre content of poultry litter were significantly higher (P <0.05) than that of control diet.

Table 1.   Proximate analysis of experimental diets


Crude protein


Crude fibre



Control diet

39.3b 0.10

4.22b 0.11

5.88a 11

10.30a 0.1

9.96a 0.1

Poultry litter diet

17.4a 0.20

0.69a 0.15

35.88b 0.25

33.90b 0.23

9.45a 0.03

Means with the same letters along the columns are not significantly different (P > 0.05)

Table 2 shows the haematological changes in test fish and the control fish. Fish fed with poultry litter showed a significantly remarkable decrease (P <0.05) in haematological parameter values compared to the fish fed control diet and the initial values.

Table 2.   Haematological changes in Clarias gariepinus fed poultry litter and normal diet


Initial mean values

Final mean values of test fish

Final mean values
 of control fish

PCV, %

24.00 0.03b

15.00 0.15a

29.00 0.3b

Hb, g/100ml

8.00 0.04b

5.00 0.09a

9.60 0.20b

RBC, x 106/l

3.3 0.01a

2.60 0.06a

3.8 0.18a

MCV, fl

72.72 0.01b

57.69 0.62a

76.32 0.14b

MCH, pg

24.24 0.01b

19.23 0.03a

25.26 0.14b

MCHC, %1g/100ml

33.33 0.01a

33.33 0.02a

33.10 0.06a

Total WBC, x 103/l

9, 000 44a

11, 500 33.68b

9,200  145a

Mean with the same superscripts along the horizontal row are not significantly different (P > 0.05)

The water quality parameters of the experimental set-up are presented in table 3.

Table 3.   Water quality parameters of experimental set up


Test Fish

Control Fish


27.0 0.1

27.0 0.1


7.26 1.1

7.26  1.1

There were no differences in water quality parameter in both treatments.


Proximate composition of the poultry litter fed to catfish in this study revealed that it was less than half of the optimum level of 40% CP when compared with that of control diet as recommended by Faturoti et al (1986).

There was a remarkable decrease in the values of haematological parameters in the Clarias gariepinus fed poultry litter. This is in agreement with Joshi et al (2002b) that reported effect of toxicants on blood parameters in freshwater teleost fish Clarias batrachus. Bhatt and Farswan (1992) also observed that Red blood Cell (RBC), Total White Blood Cell (TWRB), Haemoglobin (Hb), packed cell volume (PCV) decreases with exposure of Barilius bendalensis (Ham) to plant toxicant. The increase in haematological parameters observed in control fish fed with normal diet agreed with the findings of Joshi et al (2002b) that survival of fish can be correlated with increase in antibody production which help in the survival and recovery. The reduction in haematological parameters is indicative of blood loss from fish fed with poultry litter compared to fish fed with normal diet. The values for fish fed poultry litter are lower than those reported for the African catfish by Agbede et al (1999) and Oyelese et al (1999).Although there were no significant differences between the initial haematological values of fish before the feeding trial and those fed the control diet, values recorded for both were within the ranges for healthy juveniles catfish (Oyelese et al 1999,Omoniyi et al 2002).Gabriel et al (2004) further reported a non significant differences in haematological values for apparently healthy C.gariepinus before and after acclimation which was similar to the observation in this study.

Increase in total WBC (leucopomia) as observed in the fish fed with normal diet is attributed to increased production of leucocytes in the haematopoietic tissue of the kidney and perhaps the spleen. Lymphocytes are the most numerous cells comprising the leucocytes, which function in the production of antibodies and chemical substances serving as defence against infection. The primary consequence of observed changes in leucocyte count in stressed fish is suppression of the immune system and increased susceptibility to disease (Wedmeyer and Wood 1974).

Decreased in RBC count, haemoglobin and haemocrit values in Clariasgariepinus juveniles fed poultry litter in this study is similar to the observations of Gill and Pant (1981), Joshi et al (2002c) in Puntiusconchonius and Clarias batrachus exposed to different toxicants. Sampathy et al (1998) also reported a decrease in haematological parameters of Oreochromis mossambrius exposed to copper and zinc. The anaemic condition of fish fed poultry litter in this study may however be due to its protein inadequacy to meet the fish nutrient requirements, which might have inhibited erythrocyte production or increase rate of destruction. Lower haemoglobin level according to Joshi, et al (2002c) might decrease the ability of fish to enhance its activity in order to meet occasional demands.

Water quality parameters of experimental set-up for both treatments were similar and within the optimum range recommended for culture of Clarias gariepinus (Viveen et al 1985 and Omitoyin 1995).



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Received 13 July 2006; Accepted 15 August 2006; Published 1 November 2006

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