Genotyping existing tilapia

Genotyping existing tilapia (O. niloticus) in tilapia hatcheries/fish farms and, evaluation of growth performance of the different farmed Nile tilapia strains

Project Background

The Lake Victoria Crescent Agro-ecological Zone (LVCAZ) is endowed with natural resources that favor enhanced aquaculture production. However, lack of affordable and good quality Tilapia seed/fry has kept productivity at a relatively low level. Therefore aquaculture scientists at MUZARDI sought to address constraints of poor quality tilapia seed/fry through isolation and selection of high potential strains. The objectives of the project included to: genotype and separate existing strains of tilapia in the LVCAZ hatcheries; and improve farmers’ access to quality tilapia fry through selection of high performance breeders.

Key Project Results

  • Three different strains of niloticus from three different lakes in the Lake Victoria Crescent Zone were identified using phenotypic characteristics. In terms of growth weight and size variation, the Kyoga, Nabugabo and Victoria strains exhibit differences in growth (weight gain), fecundity and feed efficiency. The Nabugabo strain registered up-to 19.51% more daily weight gain compared to the next fastest growing strain (Victoria), while Victoria strain exhibited 30.76% more fry yield, thus proving the one with higher fecundity. The implication here is that with further research, a faster growing fish with higher fecundity could be obtained from crossing these two strains.
  • Effective strain segregation was attained by deployment of electronic tagging using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. This base population has been used to build a 5,836 strong population of breeding stock that can be accessed for further studies, fry production and dissemination to hatcheries. This Implied that there’s sector transformation, strains purity, and more potential for further research)
  • Infrastructure development: The aquaculture unit has a total of 9 ponds (5696 cubic meters), one D-ended concrete tank (168 cubic meters) and 3 concrete circular tanks (each 60m3) total volume (180m3). Also put in-place are access points for power to run, pumps aerators, instruments and equipment; flood control barriers; a new drainage system and a new water intake and outlet designed and constructed. The unit also has fry/fingerlings production infrastructure and installed capacity production stands at 200,000 Sex Reversed Tilapia fry monthly (1,200,000).


  • Feed raw materials: Other than good quality seed (fry), feed is a pressing issue for the fish farmers in the Lake Victoria crescent zone. Aquaculture scientists at MUZARDI therefore assessed locally utilized raw materials which were subsequently analyzed for nutritional value. Altogether, 36 raw materials were tested for proximate nutritional composition. The results were disseminated to farmers through a training sessions and site interactions. They are also available for farmers who are willing to utilize them.
  • Farmer trainings and management practices: Three training sessions were conducted altogether covering topics like feed and feed utilization, management in grow out, record keeping, fry and fry handling among others.
  • The unit was able to utilize and use rain water harvested in its fish tanks and ponds, while reserving nutrient laden, fish effluent water, for application in crop fields at Mukono ZARDI.
  • MUZARDI has been able to provide the fish used at Rock Springs Fish Farm Hatchery in Tororo, which is one of the leading suppliers of fry and fingerlings to the Lake Victoria Crescent Zone with an Installed capacity of over 1000,000 fry/fingerlings per month. Fingerlings have been grown at high density on commercial scale at Pearl Aquatics and NAM Fish farms on Lake Victoria attaining 16.6 and 14.3% faster growth rates compared to those from their other suppliers.
  • The Aquaculture scientists at Mukono ZARDI managed to link small scale producers to sell their products along with commercial producers hence facilitating them to tap into regional and international prices. This is a developing partnership that we hope to continue harnessing.
  • Direct project beneficiaries: so far include 116 farmers were supported by the aquaculture project and these include 92 males and 24 females who either participated in research, seed multiplication or in technology up-scaling through demos.

Future Plans

  1. To be a reference training center with accredited training programmes
  2. To be a NARO incubation center for agricultural innovations and technologies
  3. To be a referral source of foundation seed and planting material for NARO technologies, especially for horticultural crops, poultry, piggery and fish
  4. To be a NARO technology expo-center through demonstrations and scheduled exhibitions
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