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
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
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-¹)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.
-January-February 2012 | IttIol