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Importance of carotenoids in coloration and health

management of ornamental fishes.

Presented by: Precious Suting M.F.Sc 2nd yr

Ornamental fishes form an important commercial component of aquaculture that provides for aesthetic requirement and upkeep of the environment. Have an Immense commercial value in the export trade world over. They are characterized by a wide diversity of colour patterns and success in the ornamental fish trade is very much dependent on the vibrant colour of the fish.

Colour is one of the major factors, which determines the price of aquarium fish in the world market. The World trade of the ornamental fish is estimated to the tune of US$ 4.5 billion. Annual growth rate 10%. Color of the ornamental fishes fades slowly under intensive culture condition. Fish do not synthesise carotenoids, so they need dietary carotenoid for the coloration. Hence a direct relationship between Carotenoids and pigmentation exist.

Carotenoids are group of over 800 natural fat soluble pigment that are primarily produce in phytoplankton, algae and plants. Carotenoids are the primary source of pigmentation in ornamental tropical fish, responsible for various colours like yellow, red and other related colours. They are absorbed in animal diets, sometimes transformed into other carotenoids and incorporated in tissues. Also play an important role in the health by acting as biological antioxidants.

Astaxanthin powder (extract from rose)

Fish feeds contain carotene to enhance the color of ornamental fish. M-Color contains spirulina that brings out the reds in ornamental fish

Group of Carotenoids
Carotenes (purely hydrocarbon & no oxygen) Xanthophylls ( contain oxygen) The carotene groups includes alpha, beta & gamma carotene, whereas xanthophylls includes astaxanthin and zeaxanthin.

Source of Carotenoids
Carotenoids derive from natural sources contain mixture of several Carotenoids like: -carotene, -carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, cryptoxanthin, etc whereas, Synthetic processes provide only specific carotenoids like: -carotene

Natural ultra marine pigment

Synthetic pigment

Natural carotenoids
Plant based carotenoids Marigold
Chlorella Yeast Sea weed Corn gluten Alfa Alfa

Animal based carotenoids Crab meal

Crayfish meal

4,000mg/kg 1,000mg/kg 390-900mg/kg 290mg/kg 280mg/kg


Shrimp meal 100-130mg/kg Shrimp oil 25-125mg/kg

Plant based natural Carotenoids

Mainly derived from micro algae pigment. Commercially available product of the Astaxanthin rich yeast Phafia rhodozyma & fermentation product of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous are being used widely. Feed Ingredient such as : Yellow corn, Corn gluten meal & alfa alfa are also used as a source of carotenoids in aqua feed formulation.

The fresh water macro algae haematococcus pulvialis and Dunaliella salina has been commercially exploited for aquaculture primarily due to its rapid growth and high astaxanthin Cracked and dried Haematococcus pluvialis algal biomass content (10-30%) .
H. pulvialis is the primary source of pigmentation in ornamental fish, responsible for various species- related yellow, red and other colours.

D. salina is a source of -carotene, under appropiate culture condition, some strains were reported to accumulate upto 10% carotenoid. Other carotenoids rich ingredient: Marigold meal (lutein) and red peppers (Capsicum sp.) extract.

Marigold flower extract

Carrot- ricg in alpha carotene


Animal based natural carotenoids

They are rich sources of carotenoid astaxanthin and are used in aqua feed formulation as additive. However , animal based natural carotenoids are limited in supply.

Crab meal

Besides, they are very expensive sources of carotenoid and thus feed production becomes costlier.

How carotenoids work?

Four main group of pigments: Melanin: Responsible for dark coloration Carotenoids: lipid soluble dominate in giving yellow coloration to red colors. Pteridines : water soluble compounds that are result in bright coloration. Purines : responsible for silver shine and white colour. These basic compounds can be combined with other components, like protein to produce blue, violet and green colour ranges seen in fishes.

Xanthophyll pigments are responsible for the yellow color of the popular cichlid, Labidochromis caeruleus.

Spirulina algae is a source of pigments to enhance blues, as in this Pseudotropheus demasoni.

A diet rich in carotenoid pigments will help this Labeotropheus trewavasae maintain the brilliant redorange hue.

Carotenoids in fishes
Carotenoids commonly occuring in fishes with their colours are: Tunaxanthin(yellow)-common pigment in marine fish. Lutein(greenish-yellow) Beta-carotene(orange) Doradexanthins(yellow) Zeaxanthin(yellow-orange) Canthaxanthin(orange-red) Astaxanthin(red)- dominant carotenoid. Tetraxanthin(yellow)

Though fishes do not synthesize carotenoides but certain fishes have the capacity to convert one form of carotenoid into another carotenoid or they are able to modify carotenoids. Based on this capacity, fishes are classified into three types: 1. Red carp type: in this group lutein is converted into astaxanthin molecules. 2. Sea bream type: lutein and carotene remain in the tissues and cannot be transferred in any other form inside the bodies. 3. Prawn type: beta-carotene can be converted into astaxanthin molecule.

Therefore fishes must get carotenoids from their diet.

Improvement of colour in fishes

Dietary supply of carotenoids can improve the skin colour as well as market value of ornamental fishes. Examples : gold fish and koi is improve by addition of carotenoids and are found to be capable of metabolizing zeaxanthin to astaxanthin. Skin pigmentation in tiger barb(Barbus tetrazona) has been reported to increase when fed with diet carotenoids from shrimp meal, marigold petal and annatto seed extract. Blue green algae have also been use as a source of pigmentation for koi carp.

In red velvet sword tail(X. helleri), topaz cichlids(Cichlasoma myrnae) the intensity of coloration significantly improve when fed on a diet containing 1.5-2% of carotenoids rich strain of spirulina platensis for three weeks.

The use of carotenoids as pigments in aquaculture is well documented. Their broader functions include a role as an: Some fishes change their colour pattern that can match the background and protect themselves from enemies. Attractant for the sperm. Colour attractant in the skin of males at breeding. Fertilization improving agent, resulting in a higher proportion of fertilized eggs. Reproductive role through deposition in the flesh and skin of the growing fish, presumably to make it sexually attractive. Subsequent mobilisation from the flesh to the reproductive organs and the eggs. Effects of anticancer and antioxidant. Pro-vitamin activity Immune enhancement Growth Maturation

Function of carotenoids

Carotenoids for health of fishes

Protection against to environmental effects (harmful light, high temperature, low oxygen tension ammonia etc., thus reducing mortality during embryonic development. Providing protect against to stress. Increasing survival and growth rate addition larval feed. Growth and development Carotenoids acts as a vitamin Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-oxidant Protection against lipid membrane peroxidation of essential PUFA and protein, DNA damage and UV light effect, also immunological defense.

Application of carotenoids is an essential needs for the enhancement of color and health of fish in the ornamental sector but the high cost of commercially available carotenoids is one of the major problems.

Therefore, farmer can get benefit by using carotenoids which can be derived from the natural resources which are locally available. There is a need to standardize the dose of locally available source for the carotenoids supplementation.
Scientist should focus on this area to enhance the ornamental fish production at the greater level.

Traditional aquaculture is being replaced

with the modern manner. This, can be applied for various ornamental fishes through coloration to gain more income from a smaller area.

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