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How to improve efficiency on your fish farm

March 18, 2020
Fish feed

Getting the right start on-farm is key to optimal fish performance throughout their lifecycle. Each species of fish or shrimp requires a nutritionally balanced aquaculture feed that is tailored for each specific stage in their development. Providing nutritional solutions for the particular needs of larvae — their most critical life stage — benefits the fish during their entire lifecycle. An ideal start begins with optimal nutrition that supports the healthy development of all organs. Not meeting these nutritional requirements can potentially lead to deficiencies and deformities, such as poor growth and increased mortality, and, ultimately, result in decreased producer profitability.

Advantages of using a high-quality, nutritionally balanced aquafeed:

  • Minimal nutritional deficiencies
  • Optimal development and foundation for future growth
  • High digestibility for optimal performance and water quality

Creating an optimal fish ecosystem

In fish farming environments, some variables can affect production, including temperature, oxygen, ammonia levels and water quality. Modern recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) give greater control over these factors. The same can be said for aquafeed production; the quality of raw materials, nutritional formulations, transportation, performance, climate and feed mill operation can all impact the performance and productivity on-farm. Fish will perform best when an optimal environment is maintained; aquafeed and aquaculture supplements play a critical role in this.

Creating an optimal environment relies heavily on water quality. It is crucial for maximum growth, health and survival throughout the production cycle. Ingredient quality and nutrient availability aids digestion and nutrient absorption and utilization, resulting in healthier fish, but also lower feces production and less pollution in the systems and the environment. Getting the foundations right as early as possible helps fish reach their maximum potential.

Maintaining water quality

Maintaining water quality is largely connected with the quality of aquafeed. Any uneaten or undigested feed that is excreted into their environment is not only wasted but also causes unnecessary pollution and additional, unnecessary stress. For this reason, the feed must be highly palatable and suitable for the correct species and their developmental stage. Not meeting these needs from the start can have adverse effects on fish health.

Recent research completed at the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre displayed the improvements in growth and performance when feeding two of Alltech Coppens’ starter feeds to rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) during the hatchery phase. The results of this benchmark trial are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Results of a starter feed benchmark trial performed in the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre.


Supporting internal defense systems

A fish’s skin, gut and gills are the primary points of interaction with the external environmental factors that can impact on their health. Both internally and externally, these organs must be protected. Included in all Alltech Coppens feed is a premix known as Aquate®. Aquate has been specially formulated to meet the specific requirements of each aquatic species and life stage. It encourages healthier and more robust populations and boosts natural defense systems, aiding gut function. The best farm results are seen when feeds containing the Aquate package are fed throughout the entire life of the fish, as this feeding strategy creates continuity in the supply of their nutritional requirements.

Advantages of sustainable aquaculture

We live in a rapidly changing environment, with pressure on nature, wild fish stocks and food security. This should not be underestimated; we have an obligation to produce sustainable, well-balanced animal protein responsibly. This is a commitment that we take very seriously in Alltech.

A key element in producing sustainable fish and seafood is the reduction of fishmeal and fish oil in feed production. When reducing these key ingredients, close attention must be paid to the nutritional balance of the feed to ensure it meets the essential nutrient and energy requirements of farmed species. The cost of aquafeed in aquaculture is the single highest operational cost for a producer in the industry. Any small change can have a significant impact on profit yield. It is necessary to look at the nutritional profile and quality of raw materials to find a balanced feed for each farm.

Innovative research in the Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre has led to lowering our carbon footprint, lowering phosphorus and nitrogen emissions and a low inclusion of fishmeal and fish oil in feed formulations with no impact on the growth and performance on-farm.


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