The availability of marine ingredients of extracted origin will limit the development of aquaculture of fed species in the coming years. For this reason, in order for fish farming to continue to grow, it is important that food manufacturers have access to alternative ingredients of high nutritional value equivalent to fish meal and, above all, fish oil.
Although many place hopes on microalgae for being able to incorporate significant stores of protein, vitamins and carotenoids, and especially rich polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 EPA and DHA types, into the cell, replacement still poses economic challenges. and functional nature.
Studies conducted in recent years show that photosynthetic microalgae added to aquaculture feed have shown good nutritional and functional properties, and despite the economic barrier posed by the cost of cultivation, drying, and extraction of compounds, researchers have no doubt Not that microalgae will play an essential role. role so that aquaculture continues to grow rapidly in a sustainable manner.
To improve understanding of this new challenge, the scientific journal Reviews in Aquaculture publishes a review in which they describe what is known globally about the benefits of microalgae incorporated into feed.
As noted in the review, microalgae are used in aquaculture for a variety of purposes: as live food for the larvae and juveniles of fish and shellfish; for the production of algae-based meals and oils that replace extracted marine ingredients in aquafeed; and for the production of astaxanthin, the carotenoid that gives salmon its distinctive orange color.
There is a significant and growing amount of experimental data demonstrating the importance of compounds produced by microalgae in enhancing larval survival and improving the growth and welfare of fish and shellfish.
In the review, the authors describe and discuss how microalgae should be processed for use as ingredients in aquaculture feed, the beneficial health compounds present in microalgae, and their effects on reproduction, larval development, immunity, and fish and shellfish diseases. His role in the resistance.
Furthermore, they critically analyze the main barriers to the commercial use of microalgae in aquafeeds, as well as future prospects for research and development.
As he explains, the most commonly used algae in aquaculture belong to the genera of Chlorella, Nannochloropsis, Tetraselmis, Arthrospira, Pavlova, Haematococcus and Thalassiosira.
Microalgae from these genera are used in feed for their potential effects on larval performance, improved intake and nutrient utilization. Thus, improvement in growth performance, disease resistance and resistance to diseases has also been observed.
However, the balance between the cost of producing microalgae and the benefits of its use has yet to be found. These costs are associated with low productivity in photobioreactors and large tanks, compared to the high energy demands for their cultivation and extraction.
Another problem associated with some species of microalgae is their cell wall, which makes it difficult to digest. Microalgae are low in protein and high in carbohydrates. This means that the inclusion of microalgae is limited to 10 to 15% of the protein requirement in the diet.
Due to all of the above, and despite the fact that microalgae have great potential in aquaculture, the authors of this work believe that more studies are necessary to ascertain the feasibility of the species to be used. As the research continues, he says, “there is no doubt that microalgae will play an important role in the transition towards a more sustainable aquaculture.”