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Microalgae as Aquafeed

Aquafeed Microalgae Replaces Fishmeal to Save Expenses
Microalgae has become a staple food source for many who feed aquarium-kept corals, bivalves, and other animals including rotifers. There are many species of microalgae, and it is known that certain strains produce and flourish better than others as well as contain the best protein. They supply feed comparable to the protein-rich fishmeal. By changing environmental factors in their production such as temperature, carbon dioxide supply, nutrients, salt, et cetera, the end desired products may be obtained. These become the basic feeding products for aquaculture including filtering bivalves such as clams, oysters, cockles, mussels, and scallops. They serve to supply fatty acids and vitamins to bivalves who cannot produce these themselves. Fish actually accumulate their omega-3 fatty acid by consuming microalgae.

Fishmeal Prices Increase Over the Years
As fish farming has increased worldwide, the demand and the limits in wild fish catch have created an uncertain market for fishmeal with prices rising by almost 300% in the past ten years. Nutrient-rich and high in protein, fishmeal is made from cooking, pressing, drying, and grinding industrial-grade fish and is commonly used as fertilizer, animal feed, and as an ingredient in other foods. More than 4 million tons of fishmeal is being consumed in the world annually. About 250,000 tons of fishmeal is being consumed by aquaculture in United States alone, and it has become evident that the exploitation of this natural resource will ultimately become unsustainable.

As a working alternative, few plants can supply as much protein and amino acids by comparison as microalgae. Starting as the basis of the aquatic food chain, microalgae is already a food source that fish are accustomed to eating. The cost of farming algae if compared to fishmeal production costs would be a savings of 60% to 70%, and the availability is not dependent on fish that are captured.

Main Commercial Advantages of Microalgae
One advantage is that fish raised on the algae will have a natural river taste for freshwater fish and shrimp or a natural sea taste for saltwater species equal to fish or shrimp caught in the wild. Some fish that are fed with food based on corn and soybeans in contrast may have a slight off-taste. Therefore aquaculture products will have increased value on the food markets.

Another advantage to algae-fed fish would be the health benefits to the public. Since microalgae is rich in omega-3s with EPA, the fish that are fed this microalgae would present more health benefits than fish fed with soy and corn-based foods. Omega-3 has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in humans and reduce inflammation in joints as well as plaque levels in veins.

The third advantage of algae harvested using the current technology and processing is that the process removes 98% to 99% of bacteria in the microalgae paste, which increases the shelf life and the quality of the feed, thereby eliminating epidemic outbreaks in aquaculture farms that occur due to contaminated food.

The Future of Feeding Fish Lies in Microalgae
The use of farmed microalgae will save money for those who feed fish and bivalves and also help to reduce the exhaustion of wild fish harvesting for use in fishmeal production. It is a protein-rich, omega-3 substantial source of alternative feed that grows at an unbelievable rates and is biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment. For all these reasons, the use of algae as a reliable feed will help the aquaculture industry to continue growing and will meet the current demands for the future.

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