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Rice paddy herb (Limnophila aromatica) has long been used in Thai traditional medicine for the treatments of inflammation, digestion and fever. However, the use of L. aromatica in aquaculture diets as a natural growth stimulant has not yet been investigated. Therefore, the aims of this research were conducted to examine the effects of dietary supplementation of rice paddy herb extract (LAE) on growth performance and intestinal morphology of hybrid catfish (Clarias macrocephalus × Clarias gariepinus). Fish (6.55±0.20 g) were fed with the diets containing 0, 1, 3 and 5% (based on dry basis) of LAE for 8 weeks. The results demonstrated that dietary LAE produced a significant increase in weight gain, specific growth rate and feed utilization efficiency when compared to the control diet (P<0.05). In addition, intestinal villi width, intestinal villi length, goblet cell number and the thickness of intestinal smooth muscle observed in the intestines of fish fed the diets incorporated with LAE were significantly higher than those of the control (P<0.05). There were no changes in survival rate, feeding behavior, palatability, feed acceptability and external characteristics of dietary LAE supplementation compared to the control. The optimal level of LAE observed in this present study was 1%. Thus, it is concluded that LAE may be effectively used as a natural feed supplement in aquaculture diets for improving growth performance and feed utilization of cultured fish species.
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