SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science

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Seasonal variations determine diet quality for Oreochromis niloticus L. (Pisces: Cichlidae) in Lake Tana, Ethiopia

Getachew Teferra, S. H. Bowen, Eyualem Abebe, Zenebe Tadesse


The diet composition and its use by Oreochromis niloticus in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, were studied from monthly samples taken over 13 months. The composition of the diet varied seasonally, with dramatic increases in quality following seasonal climatic events (rainfall, vertical mixing) that bring plant nutrients to the photic zone. Thus, organic matter in the diet increased four-fold, from 150 to 600 mg g-1 of diet. Protein content increased from 71 to 256 mg g-1 ash free dry weight (afdw). Assimilation efficiency increased from 8.3% to 43.2% for afdw, and from near 0 to 45.8% for protein. The fraction of organic matter that is refractory declined from 800 to 27 mg g-1 afdw. Condition factor followed the same pattern, but lagged 1 to 2 months behind changes in diet quality. It was concluded that seasonal pattern of rainfall and temperature affect pelagic food resources, hence heterogeneity in diet quality is temporal to a great extent for O. niloticus in Lake Tana.

SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science Vol. 23, No. 1 (June 2000), pp. 13-23

Key word/phrases: Assimilation efficiency, condition factor, food quality, Lake Tana, protein-energy ratio

AJOL African Journals Online