Potential use of high levels of vegetal proteins in diets for market-sized gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata)

The effect of partial or total dietary substitution of fishmeal (FM) by vegetal protein sources on growth and feed efficiency was carried out in on-growing gilthead sea bream (mean initial weight 131g). The Control diet (FM 100) contained FM as the primary protein source, while in Diets FM 25 and FM 0 the FM protein was replaced at 75% and 100%, respectively, by a vegetable protein mixture consisting of wheat gluten, soybean meal, rapeseed meal and crystalline amino acids. Diets FM 25 and FM 0 also contained krill meal at 47g/kg in order to improve palatability. At the end of the trial (after 158 d), fish survival was above 90%. Final weight and the specific growth rate were statistically lower in fish fed the Control diet (361g and 0.64%/d), compared with 390-396g and 0.69-0.70%/d after feeding vegetal diets. No significant differences were found regarding feed intake and feed conversion ratio. The digestibility of protein and amino acids (determined with chromium oxide as indicator) was similar in all diets. The blood parameters were not significantly affected by treatments. The activity of trypsin and pepsin was significantly reduced after feeding Diet FM 0. In the distal intestine, the villi length in fish fed Diet FM 25 was significantly longer and the intestine of the fish fed the FM 100 diet showed a smaller number of goblet cells. In conclusion, a total FM substitution by a vegetal mix supplemented with synthetic amino acids in on-growing sea bream is feasible.

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