The alkaline proteolytic activity in the gut of African catfish larvae was studied during short time ranges from 30 min to 4 h after ingestion of decapsulated Artemia cysts. The variation in total protease and trypsin activities during the day was monitored during starvation, after one single meal ingestion, and during continuous feeding. In starved larvae the enzymatic activity was low and did not change in time. No significant endogenous secretion of digestive enzymes was detected. The level of alkaline proteolytic activity found in starved larvae was further considered as the basal level. In larvae fed only one meal during the day, the enzyme activity significantly increased from 3 h post-feeding up to a maximum level found 12 h after feeding. In the larvae receiving a meal every 4 h, the effect of feeding on the proteolytic activity was significantly different from the one in fish fed only once a day. The total protease activity in this dietary treatment changed according to the time of feeding and fluctuated around a constant level, which was intermediate between the maximum and the basal level. No rhythmic cycle of enzyme production in the fish was observed when the proteolytic activity was studied during a cycle of 24 h. When specific trypsin activity was measured, a similar pattern was found as with the total protease. The contribution of digestive enzymes from Artemia to the total digestion of food by the catfish larvae was calculated to be less than 1% of the total amount of the proteolytic activity measured in the larval gut.
García Ortega, A., Verreth, J., & Segner, H. (2000). Post-prandial protease activity in the digestive tract of African catfish, Clarias gariepinus, larvae fed decapsulated cysts of Artemia. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 22(3), 237-244. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007893223006