Title: Assessing the feasibility of a selective breeding programme for African catfish in Nigeria

Final project
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Supervisors: Paul Vincent Debes
African catfish; selective breeding; feasibility; Nigeria


African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) is an important aquaculture species in Africa. However, this species has not yet been improved by selective breeding in Nigeria. This project assessed the viability of developing and maintaining a Nigerian selective breeding programme and broodstock bank for African catfish. Farmer’s perceptions of a programme were evaluated via questionnaires and a potential pilot breeding programme to facilitate implementing future selective breeding was outlined. The questionnaire showed a very positive response. Of 88 respondents 97% indicated willingness to participate in a breeding programme. Most respondents (98%) have experience in selective breeding. Furthermore, many (97%) are willing to serve as multiplication centres to produce selectively improved fingerlings and nearly all (99%) are willing to grow these. Willingness to support the programme was indicated through the purchase of fingerling (86%), feed supply (21%), provisioning of personnel (14%) or infrastructure (11%) and direct financial support (9%). A small pilot breeding programme is proposed. Specifically, a synthetic population with large genetic variation could result from crossings within and between four wild populations. Families could be raised as family units until individuals are tagged. Thereafter, individuals can be pooled in tanks to minimise environmental effects. Pedigrees can be recorded to track co-ancestry. The selection can follow a combination of between- and within- family selection, each based on animal-model-derived best linear unbiased predictors for both mass-at-slaughter and familial survival rate; this latter may negatively covary with cannibalism rate. Allocation of mating pairs among selected individuals could ideally follow optimal contribution selection theory, optimising genetic gain while controlling inbreeding.

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