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Developing a plant-based diet for Cobia Rachycentron canadum

Developing a plant-based diet for Cobia Rachycentron canadum

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Aquaculture reached a landmark in 2009, supplying greater than half of the total fish and shellfish for human consumption (Naylor et al. 2009). With global fisheries in decline and human population increasing, the gap between protein supply and protein demand is widening. Aquaculture must continue to expand to meet these growing needs, and it must do so in a safe, sustainable manner that decreases the world’s reliance on harvesting fish for fishmeal while still producing a high quality product. There are several difficult hurdles the aquaculture industry now faces if this needed growth is to occur.
Aquaculture reached a landmark in 2009, supplying greater than half of the total fish and shellfish for human consumption (Naylor et al. 2009). With global fisheries in decline and human population increasing, the gap between protein supply and protein demand is widening. Aquaculture must continue to expand to meet these growing needs, and it must do so in a safe, sustainable manner that decreases the world’s reliance on harvesting fish for fishmeal while still producing a high quality product. There are several difficult hurdles the aquaculture industry now faces if this needed growth is to occur.

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Published by: International Aquafeed magazine on Jan 11, 2012
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International Aquafeed is published five times a year by Perendale Publishers Ltd of the United Kingdom. All data is published in good faith, based on information received, and while every care is taken to prevent inaccuracies,the publishers accept no liability for any errors or omissions or for the consequences of action taken on the basis of information published.©Copyright 2012 Perendale Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any formor by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1464-0058
 January | February 2012Feature title: Developing a plant-based diet for Cobia Rachycentron canadum
quaculture reached a landmark in 2009, supplying greater thanhalf of the total fish and shellfishfor human consumption (Nayloret al. 2009). With global fisheries in declineand human population increasing, the gapbetween protein supply and protein demandis widening. Aquaculture must continue toexpand to meet these growing needs, and itmust do so in a safe, sustainable manner thatdecreases the world’s reliance on harvestingfish for fishmeal while still producing a highquality product. There are several difficulthurdles the aquaculture industry now facesif this needed growth is to occur.
These include, but are not limited to; thecontinued heavy reliance upon capture andreduction fisheries to supply fishmeal and fishoil as the major base componentsfor aquatic feeds, build-up of con- taminants from these wild caughtingredients in the final products, andpublic perception that aquaculturein its current state is not sustain-able and is a detriment to localecosystems (Naylor et al. 2009).Tacon and Metian (2009) reported that 36.2 percent of total worldwidecatch in 2006 was destined for non-human consumption, meaning thereduction to fishmeal and fish oil for aquaculture diet formulation, thepet food industry, or as bait.The aquaculture industry cur-rently consumes roughly 68.2 per-cent of global fishmeal productionand 88.5 percent of global fishoil production (Tacon and Metian,2008). These trends are not sustain-able given the state of the world’sfisheries and alternatives to fishmealand fish oil must be found to ensure the sustainability and expansion of  the industry as well as the conserva- tion of wild populations and ecosys- tems. Replacement of fishmeal andfish oil in aquaculture diets has beena goal for several decades but hasmet with limited success often duesimply to the cost and inconsistency in thequality and quantity of the product produced.Replacing fishmeal and fish oil for freshwater species without loss in production is easier toaccomplish than it is with marine species.This may be due in part to the fact thatmany freshwater fish are extensively culturedand enjoy a much deeper knowledge andexperience base than their marine counter-parts, but it may also be a result of mostfreshwater species in culture being herbivores,omnivores, or scavengers in their naturalsystems. Most marine species that are soughtfor intensive culture on the other hand, arecarnivorous, which precludes different dietary habits and requirements.Our research has centered on replacingfishmeal with a blend of plant protein sources to completely eliminate the need for fishmealin diets for Cobia, Rachycentron canadum,and other high-value marine carnivores. Cobiaare a highly carnivorous species (Franks et al.1996; Arendt et al. 2001) found tropically andsub-tropically around the world except for theeastern Pacific, are highly fecund and can bespawned both naturally and through artificialinduction in captivity, display rapid growthrates and high natural disease resistance, andare adaptable to a variety of culture and tank conditions (Holt et al. 2007).This species is a prime target in the need to increase aquaculture production and servesas an excellent model species due to itsrapid growth and limited competition froma wild fishery. Several physiological issues arepresented however, with the use of plant pro- teins as opposed to other alternative proteinsources such as animal meals. Digestibility of 
Developing a plant-based diet for Cobia
Rachycentron canadum 
by Aaron M Watson MSc, George Wm Kissil PhD, Frederic T. Barrows PhD, and Allen R. Place PhDThe Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Baltimore, USA
Table 1:
Composition of diets used for determination of individual ingredient digestibility.Diet FM1FM2WGBMCGSPCSMWF
Component (g kg-¹)
Fish Meal 1978678678678678Fish Meal 2978678678Wheat Gluten300Barley Meal300Corn Gluten300Soy Protein Concentrate300Soybean Meal300Wheat Flour300Algal MealVitamin Pre-Mixa1414141414141414Chromium Oxide88888888
Proximate Analysis (g kg -¹ DM)
Crude Protein593656647456642599611515Crude Lipid1659519110375777373Ash200160130148130135157152Gross Energy (MJ kg)20.2719.3819.1720.0520.9219.113.6113.95
Contributed per kg diet; vitamin A, 13510 IU; vitamin D, 9.2 IU; vitamin E, 184.4 IU; menadione sodiumbisulfite, 6.6 mg; thiamine mononitrate, 12.7 mg; riboflavin, 13.4 mg; pyridoxine hydrochloride, 19.2mg; pantothenate, DL-calcium, 141.5 mg; cyanocobalamine, 0.04 mg; nictonic acid, 30.5 mg; biotin,0.46 mg; folic acid, 3.5 mg.
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plant proteins, possible anti-nutritional factorspresent, palatability, and lack of essential aminoacids all must be solved to successfully replacefishmeal with plant proteins. Digestibility canbe examined on a species-specific basis, oneprotein source at a time as we have done with juvenile cobia utilizing an inert marker such aschromium oxide (Table 1).This process involves feeding experimentaldiets containing a fishmeal base along witheach individual protein source, gently strippingfeces and analyzing them for protein, lipid, andenergy content in relation to the concentra- tion of the inert marker, and comparing results to those obtained from diets only containing the fishmeal base (Lupatsch et al. 1997).Through this process, digestible protein, lipid,and overall energy can be determined for the test ingredient. It is important to note how-ever, that the ability to digest plant proteinsmay be different at different developmentalstages depending upon the species’ comple-ment of digestive enzymes and intestinal flora.In our examination of six plant proteins(wheat gluten, barley meal, soy protein con-centrate, corn gluten, soybean meal, andwheat flour) with juvenile cobia (400-700g),only one plant source (barley meal) wasdeemed to have too low a digestibility to beconsidered a via-ble replacementcandidate, with the rest of theplant proteinshaving digest-ibility’s similar tofishmeal sources(Table 2), indi-cating that for  the most part,digestibility itself is not a primary obstacle. Thelack of knownessential aminoacids from plantprotein sourcescan easily beremedied by  their additionduring the for-mulation andmanufacture of  the diet, a com-mon practicein the industry already for lysine,methionine, and threonine, alongwith other com-ponents known to be lacking infishmeal replace-ment sources, or as additives simply toenhance growth, health, and palatability.The biggest issues have arisen whenattempting complete fishmeal replacementas opposed to simply reducing the amountof fishmeal utilized in favor of plant proteins.Many researchers and growers have encoun- tered lower growth and survival rates whenreducing the percentage of fishmeal inclusionin diets for marine fish below 10-20 percent,depending on the species. There appears tobe at least one essential component found in
Figure 1. Growth of juvenile cobia(30g initial weight) during 9 weekgrowth trial. 120 fish per tank, 27°C, 25 ppt salinity. Average weight ± s.d.Figure 2. Growth of juvenile cobia(120g initial weight) during 8 weekgrowth trial. 60 fish per tank, 27°C, 25 ppt salinity. Average weight ± s.d.
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fishmeal and other animal meals that is lackingin plant sources that is responsible for theinability to formulate plant based diets withcomplete fishmeal replacement.Taurine, an amino acid that is not incorpo-rated into any proteins but plays critical rolesin lipid metabolism, oxidative stress responses,muscle activity, and photoreceptor protection(Schuller-Levis and Park 2003) is found inhigh concentrations in many tissue types incarnivorous fish and their prey (Satake et al.1988), as well as fishmeal (Kim et al. 2005).Taurine is not found in high concentra- tions however, in many fishmeal replacementsources, most notably plant protein sourcessuch as wheat flour, soy protein concentrate,and corn gluten. Due to its water solubility, taurine is also often found in low concentra- tions even in fishmeal based diets and other fishmeal replacement sources, as large quanti- ties of taurine are often lost in the processingof these ingredients.The re-addition of the stickwater by-product, which is high in taurine and other free amino acids, back to the manufacturingof diets has been shown to increase growthin Atlantic salmon (Kousoulaki et al. 2009).Several researchers have noted increasedfeeding and growth rates in marine fish feddiets supplemented with taurine, especially when attempting to replace fishmeal either partially or completely (Martinez et al. 2004,Matsunari et al. 2008, Lunger et al. 2007,Gaylord et al. 2007).Based on the digestibility of the individualingredients examined, two experimental plantprotein based diets (EPP1 and EPP2) wereformulated (Table 3) with equivalent protein(~45%) and energy (~20Mj Kg-1) digestibility  to commercially available feeds. Grow-out trials were conducted at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET)in eight foot diameter, four cubic meter,recirculating systems sharing mechanical andbio-filtration as well as life support systems.Both trials were conducted at 27°C and 25ppt, with 120 fish per tank in the first trial and60 fish per tank in the second.The results of the first growth trial withEPP1 resulted in poor feed conversion,poor percent weightgain, and poor spe-cific growth rate (4.66,199%, 1.09 respec- tively, Table 3). Topcoating EPP1 pelletswith attractants didnot improve accept-ance. Fish being fed the commercial feedhad normal perform-ance indices (FCR 1.32% weight gain900, and SGR 3.65) that indicated that thisbatch was healthy andgrew at similar rates asother batches of cobiaraised in our facility,and were larger uponcompletion of the trial(ANCOVA, p <0.001,with diet as covariate,Figure 1) than fish fedEPP1.In the second trialwith EPP2, a plant-based trout diet(Gaylord et al. 2007)was modified for usewith marine spe-cies. The changes informulation betweenEPP1 and EPP2 includereducing the lipid con- tent from 15 percent toeight percent, replac-ing barley meal withwheat flour becauseof the low digestibil-ity of barley meal, andreplacing wheat glutenwith solvent extractedsoybean meal. Taurinewas absent in the for-mulation of EPP1, anddue to taurine’s known
Table 2:
Apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC) of individual ingredients.Apparent Digestibility (%)IngredienFM1FM2WGBMCGSPCSMWFCrude Protein9184835392857689Crude Lipid9791521637252932Gross Energy9084622786433837DCPa(g kg-¹)54056768596736558387152DLb(g kg-¹)1558524519566DEc(MJ kg-¹)181513519976
aDigestible crude protein,Digestible lipid,Digestible energy 
Table 3:
Diet formulations and performance indices for plant baseddietsDiet Ingredient (g kg)EPP1aEPP2bSoy Protein Concentrate364.3269.3Corn Gluten201.0211.0 Wheat Flour-226.5Barley Meal104.5-Soybean Meal, Solvent Extracted-121.0 Wheat Gluten82.3-Menhaden Oil146.084.0Di-calcium Phosphate40.723.7 Vitamin Pre-mixc10.010.0Lysine-HCL21.515.5Choline CL6.06.0Trace Mineral Pre-mixd1.01.0Magnesium Oxide0.50.5Stay-C3.03.0DL-Methionine3.45.8Threonine2.12.1Potassium Chloride5.65.6Taurine-15.0Proximate CompositioneCalculatedMeasuredLipid, % dm15.17.87 ± 1.07 Ash, % dm4.54.98 ± 0.03 (5.15)Protein, % dm47.449.50 (47.3)Carbohydrate, % dm by difference32.6735.14Fiber, % dm(0.33)(2.51)Moisture, %5.37.14 (9.96)Energy Content, MJ Kg-120.719.30 ± 0.77Performance IndicesEPP1iEPP2jFCRf4.661.35 Weight Gain (%)199379Hepatosomatic indexgnt2.34 ± 0.001Specific Growth Rateh1.092.36Survival95%98%
aExperimental Plant Protein 1Experimental Plant Protein 2Contributed per kg diet; vitamin A, 9650 IU; vitamin D, 6.6 IU;vitamin E, 132 IU;menadione sodium bisulfite, 4.7 mg; thiamine mononitrate, 9.1mg; riboflavin, 9.6 mg; pyridoxine hydrochloride, 13.7 mg;pantothenate, DL-calcium, 101.1 mg; cyanocobalamine, 0.03 mg;nictonic acid, 21.8 mg; biotin, 0.33 mg; folic acid, 2.5 mgContributed in mg kg-¹ of diet; zinc 37; manganese, 10; iodine,5; copper, 1Values in parentheses were determined by New Jersey Feed Labs,Inc Feed conversion ratio (g fed/g gained)gLiver weight/body weight*100 ± standard deviationhSGR=specific growth rate= ((lnBW2-lnBW1)*(days of growth trial- 1))*100 Initial Weight 30g, final weight 62g, 27°C, 25ppt, 8 week growth trial Initial Weight 120g, final weight 572g, 27°C, 25ppt, 8week growth trial 
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