The shrimp feed industry is constantly looking for opportunities to minimize the dependency on expensive fish meal and to keep the industry profitable and sustainable. In this sense we present a work that investigated the optimal levels of fish meal (FML) and dietary methionine (Met) required for maximum growth performance of juvenile Litopenaeus vannamei with economic efficiency.
Industrially compounded shrimp feeds are among the largest global consumers of fish meal within the aquaculture industry. As a result, replacement of fish meal by other proteins has been the subject of a number of publications.
Most studies have supported that dietary fish meal levels can be significantly reduced without adverse effects on shrimp growth performance. Further reduction or complete withdrawal of fish meal from shrimp feeds has been achieved under experimental culture conditions.
“However, effective replacement levels vary according to culture conditions, substitute protein, feed formulation, and sources of supplemental amino acids.”
The most common proteins adopted to replace fish meal in shrimp feeds are commodity by-products from the animal slaughtering industry (poultry by-product meal; meat and bone meal; porcine meat meal) and agriculture (soybean meal; soy protein concentrate; canola meal; corn meal; cottonseed meal; peanut meal).
Regardless of the protein sources chosen, studies have shown that formulation of low fish meal diets relies on a balanced supplementation of essential amino acids, fatty acids, and feed attractants.
Methionine (Met) is considered the most impacted essential amino acid (EAA) when fish meal is challenged. Recommended dietary Met levels in shrimp feeds have ranged between 0.7% and 1.0% of the diet (as-fed basis) depending on shrimp species, source of supplemental Met, growth stage, culture conditions, and dietary protein level.
“However, very little information is available on the optimal dietary Met levels in response to graded levels of fish meal in order to support maximum shrimp growth performance with economic efficiency.”
The present work evaluated the growth performance of juvenile Litopenaeus vannamei, the feed digestibility, and the economics of fish meal (FML) reduction with the dietary supplementation of DL-methionyl-DL-methionine (DL-Met-Met) under intensive culture conditions.
Material and Methods
The study consisted of two separate experimental stages. The 1st stage was designed to evaluate shrimp growth performance fed graded levels of FML and Met. A 2nd stage determined the apparent digestibility coefficients (ADCs) for crude protein (ACPDCs) and amino acids (AAADCs) of diets with graded levels of FML using a fixed dietary Met content. For the growth performance evaluation, an outdoor rearing system was used.
The shrimp species used in this study was the Pacific whiteleg shrimp, L. vannamei, purchased as post-larvae (PLs) from a commercial hatchery (Aquatec Aquacultura Ltda., Canguaretama, Brazil). A commercial grower shrimp feed with 39.25% CP and 6.90% total lipids was used as a reference (CTL).
For the economic analysis the cost of formulation of each individual diet was first calculated by using local market prices of each ingredient and feed additives.
In outdoor tanks, shrimp final survival was high (92.7 ± 4.7%) and unaffected by dietary Met content,
inclusion level of FML, or their interaction (p > 0.05, Table 1).
Additionally, final survival did not differ between shrimp fed the experimental diets and the CTL (89.7 ± 2.8%). Gained shrimp yield increased progressively with higher levels of FML, from a low of 1,090 ± 54 (0% FML) to a high of 1,166 ± 66 g/ m2 (12% FML).
However, yield did not differ statistically when shrimp were fed diets with 18, 12, or 6% FML, regardless of the dietary Met content. The elimination of FML did not affect yield when compared to shrimp fed 6% FML (1,121 ± 68 g/m2 ), but it was significantly lower than those fed 12% and 18% FML.
“The increase in the dietary Met levels from 0.58 (1,127 ± 56 g/m2 ) to 0.69 (1,145 ± 45 g/m2 ) or 0.82% (1135 ± 84 g/m2 ) had no statistical effect on gained yield or a significant interaction with FML level. Shrimp fed the CTL (1,040 ± 33 g/m2 ) achieved a lower yield compared to those fed diets containing 0.69% Met at all levels of FML, except the highest (18%).”
At 0.58% Met, higher FML levels were required (12 and 18% FML) to significantly increase yield beyond the CTL. In comparison, at 0.82% Met, there was no significant difference in yield between shrimp fed the CTL and the experimental diets, except when 18% FML was used.
In this case, yield was higher for the latter compared to the CTL. Shrimp weekly growth rate exceeded 1.1 g regardless of the dietary treatment. No difference or significant interaction was detected in growth between shrimp fed different levels of dietary Met and/or FML (p > 0.05).
“Shrimp fed experimental diets also grew at a similar rate compared to those fed the CTL. Apparent feed intake (AFI) did not differ statistically as a result of FML level or dietary Met content (p > 0.05).”
FCR was generally low, between 1.15 to 1.22. FCR was also not affected by variations in FML or dietary Met. FCR for experimental diets was within the range of the CTL (1.23 ± 0.02). Exceptions were diets with 6% FML containing 0.69% Met and 18% FML with 0.58% Met, which resulted in statistically lower values compared to the CTL.
Final shrimp BW (Body Weight) at harvest ranged between 12.61 ± 0.92 (0% FML and 0.58% Met) and 13.92 ± 0.51 g (12% FML and 0.58% Met; Figure 1).
Dietary Protein and Amino Acid Digestibility
There was an increasing trend to wards in apparent crude protein digestibility (ACPDC) with higher dietary inclusion levels of FML (Table 2). ACPDCs varied from a minimum of 81.1 ± 1.7% for shrimp fed a diet without FML to a high of 88.6 ± 2.1% for 18% FML.
The apparent amino acid digestibility coefficients (AAADCs) followed a similar fashion for both EAAs and non-essential AAs (NEAAs). In indoor tanks, shrimp fed a diet deprived of FML achieved the highest final survival compared to other dietary treatments.
“Survival reached a mean of 87.5 ± 7.8% (p 0.05). At harvest, shrimp fed 0% FML grew at 0.62 ± 0.04 g/week and achieved 12.69 ± 0.55 g final BW, both significantly lower than other dietary treatments (p < 0.05). However, no statistically significant differences were detected for gained shrimp yield (557 ± 80 g/m2 ) and FCR (2.68 ± 0.37).”
There was a significantly lower AFI when shrimp were fed 0 and 6% FML, but the later did not differ statistically from 12% and 18% FML (p > 0.05).
Total shrimp production cost, gross revenue, profit, and return on investment (ROI) were driven by FCR, yield, shrimp final BW, and formula costs, i.e., feed sales price.
Formulation costs ranged from a minimum of 0.706 (0% FML with 0.56% Met) to a maximum of 0.943 USD/kg (18% FML with 0.82% Met). The dietary inclusion of FML and total Met content both affected formula costs. A reduction in FML from 18 to 12, 6%, and 0 at 0.69% dietary Met resulted in formula savings of 6.2, 13.3, and 23.1%, respectively.
The increase in dietary Met content within the same level of FML also raised formula costs. However, the increase was less critical. Raising total Met content from 0.58 to 0.69 and 0.82% in diets deprived of FML impacted formula costs at 0.7 and 1.5%, respectively.
A similar increase in formula cost was observed with 18% FML. Raising shrimp with a diet containing 18% FML led to the lowest ROI, at 14.3 ± 6.4%. Interestingly, the highest ROI was obtained with diets containing no or only 6% FML (33.2 ± 8.4% and 26.5 ± 7.9%, respectively).
At no FML, ROI was significantly higher than 12% and 18% FML. At moderate levels of dietary inclusion, i.e., 6% and 12% FML, no differences in ROI could be observed.
This study has demonstrated that dietary FML levels and Met (Met + Cys) content and their interaction significantly impact final shrimp BW.
The responses in BW as a function of FML level varied according to the dietary Met (Met + Cys) content. At the lowest dietary Met (Met + Cys), i.e., 0.58% (1.05%), it was observed that FML could only be reduced from 18% to 12%. Further reductions led to a reduced shrimp BW at harvest.
“At moderate levels of dietary Met, i.e., 0.69% (1.16%), FML could be completely eliminated without any impact to shrimp BW, but with an adverse effect on yield. In comparison, at the highest dietary Met, i.e., 0.82% (1.29%), FML could be reduced from 18% to 6%, but complete withdrawal negatively impacted BW.”
Therefore, the levels of dietary Met (Met + Cys) required to maximize shrimp BW at 0 and 6% FML ranged between 0.69 (1.16) and 0.82% (1.29%), while at 12% and 18%, only 0.58% (1.05%) was needed. Under outdoor and indoor tank conditions, the optimal dietary FML level without an adverse effect on the growth performance of L. vannamei was reached at 6%.
“This finding is corroborated with the work of Suárez et al. (2009), who raised juvenile L. vannamei (0.3 ± 0.1 g) under clear-water conditions for 95 days.”
From the economic point of view, eliminating FML was as competitive as including 6% FML, with both being more advantageous than 12 and 18% FML. The production costs of diets containing lower levels of FML exceeded the benefits of a higher revenue, resulting in greater profit and ROI.
The cost of FML was the main driver for a higher production cost recorded for diets 12 and 18% FML. In comparison, total dietary Met content had no effect over economical parameters, including production costs.
Results show that a correct balance of FML and dietary Met has a critical effect on whiteleg shrimp performance. Shrimp final survival, growth, FCR, and the dietary protein and amino acid digestibility were not negatively affected by a reduction or complete elimination of FML with a proper balance with CAAs, including Met.
However, while gained shrimp yield is reduced when FML is withdrawn, dietary inclusion levels of 12% or higher leads to increased costs, which are not offset by higher revenues. In conclusion, the total amount of dietary Met needed to maximize shrimp growth performance depends on the amount of dietary FML.
“Higher amounts of supplemental DLmethionyl-DLmethionine reduces the reliance on FML. A total dietary supplementation of DL-Met-Met of 0.34% can reduce FML inclusion from 18 to 6% without any negative effect on shrimp performance.”
Overall, results indicate that the use of FML can be minimized or completely eliminated without major detrimental effects on shrimp performance, as long as methionine requirement is met with proper supplementation of CAAs.
Feeds with 0 FML or with only 6% with levels of dietary Met (as-fed basis), i.e., 0.69 and 0.82%, respectively, deliver the highest shrimp growth performance, profit, and return on investment compared to diets with higher levels.
This is a summarized version developed by the editorial team of Aquaculture Magazine based on the review article titled “OPTIMAL LEVELS OF FISH MEAL AND METHIONINE IN DIETS FOR JUVENILE LITOPENAEUS VANNAMEI TO SUPPORT MAXIMUM GROWTH PERFORMANCE WITH ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY” developed by: NUNES MAREL, A.J.P. – LABOMAR, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brazil; MASAGOUNDER, K. – Evonik Operations GmbH, Germany. The original article, including tables and figures, was published on DECEMBER, 2022, through ANIMALS.
The full version can be accessed online through this link: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010020