Algae in aquafeed: an overview |

Algae In Aquafeed

Within the aquatic food chain, you’ll find that algae are at the bottom of this chain. Fish are used to consuming this type of food, but there are different types of algae that all offer various benefits to fish and farmers. Algae in aquafeed help the growth performance and feeding efficiency of fish. While fishmeal is commonly used for fish feed, studies suggest that this is no longer an environmentally sustainable solution. Today we’re going to discover whether algae in aquafeed are good for fish to consume and the different types of microalgae in aquaculture.

Is Algae Good For Fish? | Microalgae in Aquaculture | Macroalgae in Aquaculture

algae in aquafeed

Is Algae Good For Fish?

When searching for fish feed solutions for the future, any ingredient that’s used must be able to offer fish the nutritional components they need to thrive without costing a fortune. The low cost of grains and oilseeds have made these popular for many years, and they are sometimes used instead of fishmeal. However, you’ll find that they can impact the quality of fish that’s produced for consumers. For that reason, both macroalgae and microalgae are now thought of as good alternatives to fishmeal. When discussing the answer to the question is algae good for fish, you’ll find that they both offer many nutritional and environmental benefits. When we talk about algae, it’s split into two categories. Macroalgae are usually referred to as seaweeds, whereas microalgae are invisible to the naked eye, such as phytoplankton.

As algae sit at the base of the aquatic food chain, algae fish feed isn’t something new to these animals. However, many farmers and individuals don’t realise that algae are even more diverse than plants that grow on land. When speaking about the nutritional benefits of algae, it’s important to consider this diverse group as individual algae. If you find the right algae food for fish that is tailored to the species you care for, you can reap all the benefits of algae food for fish. Of course, both types of algae work hand in hand to offer great advantages to farmers and fish. Let’s take a look at microalgae and macroalgae and their uses within aquaculture.

Microalgae in Aquaculture

Microalgae are those algae that can’t be seen by the human eye. However, it’s shown in some research that fish benefit from directly ingesting microalgae. The Diagnosis and Control of Diseases of Fish and Shellfish shared, “In aquaculture, several recent studies have showed the potential of algae for the treatment of pathogens or to improve fish fitness.” The good thing about microalgae is that the process to create them is quite simple but does need some monitoring. They grow thanks to photosynthesis, which is where sunlight, CO2 and nutrients combine to create biomass. Microalgae are already used in aquariums, as they help to keep anything living in this environment healthy. Microalgae naturally occur in oceans and lakes, so many fish would consume them in the wild on a daily basis.

Aquarium owners can now purchase powder or paste to increase the consumption of microalgae. As microalgae are naturally part of the larval fish diet, they help to improve their overall health and enhance the nutritional value of the fish. Algae are rich in bioactive molecules, which helps to improve fish fitness. Algae in aquafeed are something more and more farmers are starting to consider, and it’s likely to be one of the top fishmeal replacement solutions for the future to ensure their impact on the environment doesn’t get too out of hand.

algae in aquafeed

Macroalgae in Aquaculture

The other type of algae to consider in regards to the role of algae in aquafeed are macroalgae. Macroalgae, which we commonly refer to as seaweeds, are an incredible biological resource for fish feed. They offer a variety of benefits when used in aquaculture but also reduce the impact on the environment. At the current time, this is the fastest-growing area within aquaculture globally, and innovation and technology improvements are only looking to push this industry further in the next few years. While you are probably aware of macroalgae being used for functional food and pharmaceuticals, it can also benefit fish and their farmers.

While macroalgae are generally added to formulated fish diets, you’ll find that it offers additional nutritional benefits. Seaweed can be collected or farmed, so there are multiple ways to incorporate this ingredient into fish feed. When we discuss macroalgae, it’s often split into red, brown, and green algae. Macroalgae can be divided further into their species, and each of these will be found in different locations and offer various benefits. Farmed fish will benefit from their storage compounds and metabolites, which can help to improve the quality of commercial fish. In previous studies, the muscle quality of the fillet and fish growth was much improved. The fish had a stronger immune system and were more resistant to stress, which is something that’s key for a healthy fish farm. Of course, more research is still needed in this area. However, with the improvements in technology, we expect to see more interest in algae aquaculture in the future.

Algae in aquafeed are slowly getting more attention around the world, but we believe this is only the beginning of this movement. For fish farmers, both microalgae and macroalgae offer the opportunity to improve the quality of the fish fillet within commercial farming. As technology improves, we hope the growth of algae will become easier and that more research will suggest the best applications of algae in aquaculture. We are excited to see what the future holds for the aquaculture industry as we see constant change in this field. Check back here soon for more updates and research into this field, as it’s something we are excited to share as we discover more sustainable feed solutions for the future.

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