Shifts in the food of Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L.) in Lake Victoria, Kenya
Owuor, J. B. Okeyo
Cowx, I. G.
MetadataShow full item record
Studies of the food of introduced Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L.) with respect to size, habitat and season were conducted between November 1998 and October 2000 in Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria. Stomach contents of 1980 specimens collected by demersal trawl and seining were analysed. Nile tilapia originally known to be herbivorous, feeding mostly on algae has diversified its diet to include insects, fish, algae and plant materials. The major diet of fish <5 cm total length was zooplankton whereas bigger fish included a wider range of food items in their diet. There was spatial variation in diet with insects and algae dominating in the gulf and open water habitats respectively. There was no seasonal variation in the food items ingested and diel feeding regime indicated that O. niloticusis a diurnal feeder. The shift in diet could be due to ecological and environmental chan- ges in Lake Victoria, which have been associated with changes in composition and diversity of fish and invertebrate fauna, emergence and dominance of different flora including water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms-Laub., and algae communities. The feeding habit of O. niloticus is discussed in the context of changes occurring in the lake.