Do all farmed fish eat the same thing?

No. Fish nutritional needs vary by species. Herbivorous fish eat a feed mixture that may contain plant proteins (e.g., soy, corn), vegetable oils, minerals, and vitamins. In the wild, carnivorous fish such as salmon eat other fish. Therefore, feeds for farmed carnivorous fish (as well as many herbivorous fish) include fish oils and proteins as well as plant proteins, minerals, and vitamins that achieve the nutrition requirements of the fish and offer health benefits to humans. Traditionally, diets for carnivorous fish contained 30-50% fish meal and oil; however, continued research is leading to greatly reduced reliance on these ingredients.

Why use fishmeal and fish oil in the diets of farmed fish?

While fish and shrimp don’t need fishmeal and oil in their diets, these ingredients have almost a perfect balance of the 40 or so essential nutrients that animals need to be healthy and grow – the same reason that seafood is so good for humans as well.

Fishmeal is a natural and well-balanced source of high-quality protein. As ingredients in aquaculture feed, fishmeal and fish oil supply essential amino acids and fatty acids reflected in the normal diet of fish. Fish oil is a major natural source of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are not made by the fish but become concentrated in fish further up the food chain from the marine phytoplankton (microscopic marine algae and microbes) that do synthesize them.

Through research, we are learning that other combinations of ingredients can achieve the balance of the 40 essential nutrients. Affordable replacement ingredients for fishmeal and fish oil are becoming increasingly common, which is leading to declining percentage on those ingredients in farmed fish diets.

Including ingredients like oils from phytoplankton maintain the nutrient requirements of the final product without depending on fish oil. The economics of using blended oils is improving as fish oil prices rise and the technology to produce phytoplankton (and other replacement ingredients) improves.

Nadlex Canada offers a variety of nutritionally complete and balanced formulations in extruded pellet format, which help you create and maintain conditions for your fish to thrive.


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