Abstract

Mud Crab fattening is a relatively new business idea in Kenya and is highly lucrative due to the reasonable prices offered at tourist hotels. This study was aimed at developing appropriate culture techniques for Mud Crabs to maximize harvestable biomass by the local communities and avoid recruitment overfishing. Growth and survival rates for mixed sex Mud Crabs was investigated for a period of 230 days in Mida Creek, Kenya, using bottom and floating cages, and two feed types in a crab fattening experiment. Crabs attained harvestable weight by the third month for both floating (466.2 ± 137 g) and bottom cages (542.2 ± 109.3 g). There was no significant difference in mean total weight of mixed-sex crabs in the two culture systems (t = 1.75, p>0.05), however males showed significantly higher total weight gain compared to females. A higher overall survival rate was found for crabs cultured in floating cages (63.8%), compared to bottom cages (44.9%). There was no significant difference in growth performance between crabs fed gastropod tissues and those fed fish offal. The long-term specific growth rate for floating cages (0.69 g d-1) was not significantly different from that of bottom cages (0.92 g d-1). An analysis of potential return on investment showed the floating cages to be more profitable per production cycle compared to the bottom ones. The floating cage system and mono-sex male crab culture are recommended to farmers within mangrove tidal flats in Kenya.

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