What to Feed Barramundi? A Glimpse about Barramundi Farming

Barramundi is one of the most popular saltwater fish in Australia. It is sustainable fish farming in any environment and does not need many other fish meals.

How to feed Barramundi? The farms provide the fish with trash fish, pressed pellets, and high-energy, extruded pellets. Pellet size increases, while the frequency decrease as the fish size increases.

net cage fish farm
Net Cage Fish Farm. Credit: canva

Why do people farm Barramundi? And what are in the pellets? This blog will tell you about the Barra, what makes it unique, cultivate it, and how to feed it.

What is a Farmed Barramundi?

About Barramundi in Northern Australia

Lates calcarifer, known as Asian Seabass and Barramundi in Australia, is a sizeable euryhaline fish that lives throughout the Indo-West Pacific region. You can find it in the Arabian Gulf, China, Taiwan Province of China, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia.

It is a popular fish, and its range extends northwards from southeast Queensland’s Mary and Maroochy River systems to Shark Bay in Western Australia, throughout Australia.

The fish is known as pla kapong in Thai and bhetki in Bengali. In the 1970s, people started to farm this fish in Thailand. In a short time, it spread all over Southeast Asia. 

Barramundi Feed reproduction

Barramundi is catadromous, meaning they spend most of their lives in freshwater and go to the ocean to reproduce.

It is a protandrous hermaphrodite, which means they may change gender when they get to a specific size.

Biological features

  • Body elongate, compressed, with a deep caudal peduncle.
  • Head pointed, with concave dorsal profile becoming convex in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Mouth large, slightly oblique, upper jaw reaching behind eye; teeth villiform, no canines present.
  • Lower edge of the pre-operculum with a strong spine; operculum with a small spine and a serrated flap above the origin of the lateral line.
  • Lower first gill arch with 16 to 17-gill rakers.
  • Scales large, ctenoid.

Freshwater Fish Habitat

Barramundi lives in freshwater, brackish, and marine environments such as streams, lakes, billabongs, estuaries, and coastal waters.

They are opportunistic predators. Primarily adult Barra’s diet consists of crustaceans and fish.

Sustainable

Barramundi is a sustainable fish, which is caught or farmed in such a way as to protect the long-term viability of harvested species and ocean well-being.

They may be farmed in any environment and require fewer antibiotics than other types of fish.

Barramundi also eats low on the food chain. They consume a largely vegetarian diet with a small amount of sustainably sourced fishmeal. That gives it a fish-in fish-out ratio of 1:1.

This ratio means we’re not taking more fish from the environment than we produce. And it makes people love Barramundi and can eat it without feeling guilty.

How to Farm Barramundi?

fish farm thailand
Barramundi farm in Thailand. Credit: canva

Why are Barramundi ideal for farming (aquaculture)?

There are several reasons why it is ideal for the Barramundi aquaculture production industry:

  • First, it’s a hardy fish that can handle crowding and has broad physiological tolerances.
  • Because female fish are so fertile, they provide a never-ending supply of material for hatchery production of seed.
  • Hatchery production of seed is relatively simple.
  • Barramundi thrives on pelleted diets, and the juvenile Barramundi is readily weaned to pellets.
  • The barramundi growth rate is rapid, taking six months to two years to reach a harvestable size of 350 g – 3 kg.
  • Barramundi eats low on the food chain. It is on a largely vegetarian diet with a little sustainably sourced fishmeal. As a result, we’re not depleting the environment of more fish than we create.
  • Barramundi is a robust fish species that we can keep without hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. It’s also good for you and them.
  • Finally, we keep our Barramundi at low densities to ensure that they are well-cared for. As a result, they take up just 1% of the area in their sea cages, minimizing environmental impact.

What is the optimum temperature?

Barramundi requires water temperatures of 20–30°C and clean water quality.

The water requirement for commercial growth rates, on the other hand, is above 25°C. It is because Barramundi requires less feed as the decrease in water temperature. And it slows growth.

How long does it take for Barramundi to grow?

Barramundi can reach a harvestable weight (350 g – 3 kg) in six months to two years.

The culture of Barramundi can develop from a hatchery juvenile of 50 to 100 mm in length to a table size of 400-600 grams within 12 months and 3.0 kg within 18-24 months.

One central area where there is a recognized need, but to date, little effort is genetic selection programs targeting faster growth and disease resistance for disease outbreaks. 

How big do Barramundi grow in captivity?

In captivity, growth depends on various factors such as feeding frequency, feed quality, stocking density, and temperature (between 28 and 32°C).

At low temperatures in Australia (22-27°C), 500 g barramundi are produced in one year in tanks, while 800 g fish are made within the same time frame at higher temperatures. Thus, it takes roughly two years to create 3 kg of fish.

Source: fao.org

The perfect size for the market

Barramundi is readily available in the Australian market, and imported Barramundi is frequently less expensive than Australian goods.

The size of the market-ready fish will vary depending on market demand and end-use, but it can range from 300g to more than 2kg per fish.

The primary markets are plate-sized fish weighing 400–800g and larger fish weighing 2–3kg (commonly for fillets).

Plate-sized Barramundi can be produced in a year. But larger fish, weighing 2kg or more, will require a second growth out the season.

Source: agrifutures.com.au

What size tank for Barramundi?

Barramundi-breeding is unusual in a home aquarium since there are several water variables for each cycle or stage of reproduction throughout the breeding and spawning process.

To grow out in ponds or recirculation production systems, fingerlings must be at least 30mm and up to 100mm long. Fingerlings may be stocked at a maximum of 15kg per cubic meter of water.

The majority of barramundi culture is done in net cages. Both floating and fixed cells are utilized, ranging from 3×3 m to 10×10 m and 2–3 m depth.

You’ll need a substantially larger tank if you want to maintain Barramundi in an aquaponic system or care for it as a pet. Barramundi can reach up to 1 m in length. Begin with a 500-gallon tank, which should be enough for five Barramundis.

What to Feed Barramundi?

Types of Feed

Barramundi – Lates calcarifer may be fed with several types of feeds, viz. trash fish, pressed pellets, and high-energy, extruded pellets. 

Most Barramundi is now fed on compounded pellets, although ‘trash’ fish is still used in areas where it is cheaper or more available than pelleted diets. 

The most significant environmental problems with this type of aquaculture industry are uneaten fish feed and fish waste, including excess nutrients. This nutrient input may cause localized water quality deterioration, sediment accumulation, contributing to disease outbreaks and jeopardizing sustainability.

Feed Ingredients

Barramundi thrives on pelleted diets, and the juveniles are readily weaned to pellets.

Barramundi feeds a variety of foods in fish meals and pellets. The major components in barramundi feed pellets include (percent as used): fish meal (40 percent), feed grade cereals (30 percent), meat meal (10 percent), soybean meal (10 percent), fish oil (5 percent), and others (5 percent).

Animal protein sources

Barramundi diets must include a high amount of fish meal, which can aid excellent growth at up to 60 percent inclusion rates. Meat meals have also been effectively used at inclusion levels of 40%.

Plant protein sources

Plant proteins can partially replace fish meals.

  • Soybean meal (SBM) has been tested and extracted, and it was shown to promote good growth at a 10% fishmeal protein replacement level.
  • In fish fed with a mix of fishmeal, shrimp head meal, scrap squid meal, SBM, and kangkong leaf meal as protein sources, there was weight gain (1.7:1) and FCR (1.7:1).
  • Green mung beans, black-eyed peas, and cowpeas have been used as protein sources in natural diets at 18 percent inclusion without affecting growth.
  • Corn gluten meal can be included at up to 10% of the diet.

Lipid sources

Soybean oil may replace fish oil without affecting growth because of its adequate ω3:ω6 ratio. In addition, the replacement of fish oils with vegetable oils (soybean, canola, and linseed) has no significant effect on the fish carcass’s lipid, moisture, or protein content.

Carbohydrate sources

A carbohydrate source may also be added to the feed as a component of many cereal bowls.

Source: fao.org

 Feeding schedules

When they’re little, barramundi fingerlings are fed a semi-floating pellet 5-6 times a day. This decreases to 1-2 times a day as they get bigger.

The size of the pellet increases as the fish grows larger. So until all feeding is stopped, farmers provide their fish with pellets.

Barramundi-fed pellets are generally given twice each day in the summer and once each winter.

Barramundi-fed ‘trash’ fish are fed twice daily at 8–10 percent body weight for fish up to 100 g, 3–5 percent body weight for over 600 g, and once daily after that.

Feeding methods

Hand-feeding

Hand-feeding is common in ponds and cages where labor is cheap. Trash fish are frequently chopped and released by hand in Southeast Asia. It may be cooked fresh or kept for later usage.

Automatic feeder

In intensive larval culture, live food, pellets, and microalgae are fed by hand in some cases. Still, automatic feeders are frequently used to maintain constant feeding frequencies and ensure proper densities of microalgae and live food in the tanks. In addition, feeding regularly enhances growth and reduces cannibalism during the hatchery phase.

In larger systems (cages, tanks, or ponds), feed blowers, feeding rings, and automated feeders are used to supply each day’s meal.

FAQ

What does Barramundi eat?

Barramundi eats various foods in the form of fish meals and pellets. The major components in barramundi feed pellets include (percent as used): fish meal (40 percent), feed grade cereals (30 percent), meat meal (20 percent), soybean meal (15 percent), fish oil (12 percent), and others (12 percent).

Can Barramundi survive in freshwater?

Barramundi spends most of their adult life in freshwater, as long as the water temperature is between 20°C and 32°C.

How much space does Barramundi need?

You’ll need a substantially larger tank if you want to maintain Barramundi in an aquaponic system or care for it as a pet. Barramundi can reach up to one meter long. Begin with a 500-gallon tank, which should be enough for five barramundis.

What fish can I keep with Barramundi?

You may keep the Barra with a wide variety of fish, including guppies, goldfish, and catfish.

Requirements for Caring for Barramundi in Aquaponics Systems

The barramundi is generally considered aggressive fish and when given the proper conditions can survive and give you many nutrients in return.

Common diseases

Barramundis can have various parasitic and pathogens. In viruses, the norovirus is more commonly seen, and for bacterial bacteria it is streptococci; and for fungal it can turn into red spots. Parasites like cryptocaryonose eodiniosis may also cause complications when raising Barramundis.

Can they be mixed with other breeds?

Barramundis are predators by nature so they won’t hesitate to eat smaller species of fish. The two also started eating one another as a kid. Finger grading is done to maintain the same size of the salmon and keep them separate from the smaller fish.

Temperature of water

Barramundi loves warm water so keep your water temperature between 78 C and 86 C. Barramundi is suitable for warm areas, but in cold regions, it may make sense for people to buy a water tank. Then you can choose to install solar swimming tanks to keep tank temperature steady and cool.

Tank size

Barramundis have an area that is more than a meter high, which requires very large tank housings.

Stocking density

I recommend that each fish has five-10 gallons. Generally, the recommended quantity of water needed to maintain Barramundis is 10-15 gallons per fish. Stock density can also differ by the size of the aquaponics operation.