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Researchers find reducing fishmeal hinders growth of farmed fish
Date:5/3/2012

When it comes to the food used to raise fish in aquaculture "farms," it seems that you may get what you pay for. In a new study,* researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) looked at the health effects of raising farmed fish on a diet incorporating less than the usual amount of fishmeala key but expensive component of current commercial fish food products. They learned that reduced fishmeal diets may be cheaper, but the fish were less healthy.

Commercial aquaculture is one of the fastest growing areas of food production, produces about $100 billion of revenue annually and accounts for nearly half of the world's food fish supply. Aquafarmers currently rely heavily on fishmeal as a protein source but it's expensive to produce and the resource from which it's derivedfish captured in the wildis being rapidly depleted. One proposed remedy is to substitute cheaper and more environmentally friendly foods that replace some fishmeal content with other sources of protein.

SCDNR designed a study to evaluate the efficacy of diets with reduced and full amounts of fishmeal fed to cobia**, a popular marine aquaculture fish, during the period when juveniles mature to adults. One diet contained 50 percent and another 75 percent less fishmeal than that found in commercial food products. A third diet contained 100 percent of the conventional fishmeal content. A fourth group of cobia ate off-the-shelf fish food as a control.

To determine whether or not the three experimental diets provided adequate nutrition for fish growth, the SCDNR teamed with NIST's nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy experts at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) in Charleston, S.C. NMR spectroscopy, a technique similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used by doctors, allows researchers to isolate and identify specific nutrients after the fish have metabolized thema quant
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Contact: Michael E. Newman
michael.newman@nist.gov
301-975-3025
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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