Importance of Protein in Aquaculture Feed
In aquaculture, feed represents 40-50% of the production costs and with protein requirements for fish ranging from 18-50%, the importance of protein in aquaculture feed is readily apparent. The percentage of required protein varies by species with tilapia, one of the most common fish raised in aquaculture, in the 32-38% range and hybrid striped bass needing 38-42% protein in their diet. Fish rely on the amino acids that comprise protein versus the protein itself as they cannot synthesize the amino acids or synthesize them at a rate that is adequate for cellular requirements.
Reaching the appropriate protein level, comprised of necessary levels of amino acids, benefits the fish but also has positive effects for the aquaculture ownership and the environment. Feeding the appropriate amount of protein cuts down on the amount of ammonia released by the fish which is a major water pollutant. Additionally, eliminating excess, unneeded protein cuts down on the cost of feed which as mentioned is a significant production cost in aquaculture operations while still raising healthy fish on a well-balanced diet.
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