Fishmeal replacement by periphyton reduces the fish in fish out ratio and alimentation cost in gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata

Gilda Savonitto, Roy Barkan, Sheenan Harpaz, Amir Neori, Helena Chernova, Antonio Terlizzi, Lior Guttman

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Aquaculture threatens natural resources by fishing down the sea to supply fishmeal. Alternative protein sources in aquafeeds can provide a solution, particularly those that are waste from other operations and thereby reduce feed production costs. Toward this goal, we examined the waste biomass of marine periphyton from biofilters of an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) system as a replacement for fishmeal in diets of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Four isoproteic (41%) and isolipidic (16.7%) aquafeeds were formulated with increased content of periphyton and a corresponding decrease in fishmeal from 20 to 15, 10, or 0%. The growth and biochemical content of seabream fingerlings (initial body weight 10 g) were examined over 132 days. Replacing 50% of fishmeal by waste periphyton improved feed conversion ratio (1.2 vs. 1.35 in the control diet) without harming fish growth. The complete replacement of fishmeal with periphyton resulted in 15% slower growth but significantly higher protein content in the fish flesh (59 vs. 52% in the control diet). Halving fishmeal content reduced feed cost by US$ 0.13 kg−1 feed and saved 30% in the cost of conversion of feed to fish biomass (US$ 0.58 kg−1 produced fish vs. $0.83 in the control diet). Finally, the total replacement of fishmeal by waste periphyton in the diet reduced the fish in—fish out ratio to below 1 (0.5–0.9) as compared to 1.36 in the control diet. Replacing fishmeal with on-farm produced periphyton minimizes aquaculture footprint through the removal of excess nutrients in effluents and the use of waste biomass to reduce the ‘fish in’ content in aquafeeds and fish production costs. The present study demonstrates the great practical potential of this dual use of marine periphyton in enhancing the circular economy concept in sustainable fish production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20990
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2021

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