U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS):  Tropical Aquaculture: Determine Nutrient Requirements; Develop Feedstuffs and Feeds for Cultured Shrimp and Finfish. 2010-2011.


The objectives of this cooperative research project are to:

1. Determine nutrient requirements of target aquatic species and develop viable diet formulations as a foundation for commercial industry development.

  • Amino acid requirements and antagonists

2. Identify and characterize regionally based plant and animal co-products as ingredients for aquatic feeds.

  • Regional byproducts
  • Converted or modified products

3. Develop commercially-applicable ingredient and feed processing techniques that optimize economic potential and limit waste.

  • Impacts of grinding, mixing, drying and agglomeration on nutrient bioavailability
  • Improved physical quality of finished feeds


Significant potential exists to develop tropical marine aquaculture in the U.S. and U.S. affiliated island nations. However, there is a need to improve nutrition and growout techniques for candidate species.  This project focuses on defining amino acid, fatty acid, and energy needs as prerequisites for increased utilization of regional byproducts and development of appropriate feed processing methods. The species targeted include Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and Pacific threadfin (Polydactylus sexfilis).

Shrimp and fish feeds generally contain considerable amounts of fishmeal in order to meet the essential amino acid requirements of the target species. The market availability of fishmeal is variable, and the cost is expected to increase due to higher demand, with little or no increase in production. Potential replacement ingredients are available, but these generally have different amino acid profiles than fishmeal. There is very limited information concerning the amino acid requirements of the species in this project, and thus diets have not been formulated with optimum amino acid profiles. Information on requirements for key amino acids will permit development of diets that meet these needs, while maximizing the opportunity for inclusion of alternative ingredients. Once the dietary requirements for key amino acids have been determined, work on optimizing feeds to improve growth and feed efficiency based on consideration of bioenergetics (protein: energy ratios, etc.) will be possible.  Fish oil as a source of essential fatty acids for aquaculture feeds is also expected to become increasingly scarce. The requirements for essential fatty acids are not known for shrimp, threadfin, and amberjack, and quantifying these will permit the use of alternative ingredients in feeds that are optimized for these species.

Use of regional byproducts, and reductions in fishmeal in feeds for the target species noted above, will be important in isolated, tropical regions because of rising costs to import feeds and limited agricultural resources and fishmeal supplies.  Use of these byproducts also has significant potential to expand aquaculture, and enhance environmental and economic sustainability, in Hawaii and other U.S. affiliated island regions.  The potential feed ingredients to be evaluated include various agriculture and fisheries processing byproducts, as well as oilseed cakes from the production of biofuels.  Each year in Hawaii, the disposal of these byproducts (e.g. fishery processing waste, meat & bone meal, microalgae residue from astaxanthin production, papaya waste, soy okara, wheat mill run, macadamia nut presscake, spent fruit fly media) results in economic loss and potential environmental impacts. Identification, nutrient profiling, and modification (via enzyme hydrolysis and beneficial microorganism fermentation) of these tropical byproducts will permit expansion of aquatic feeds research to include the use of these potential ingredients.  Research will also be undertaken to improve the nutritional value of alternate protein sources derived from byproducts through the use of appropriate commercial-scale feed processing methods, such as heat treatment, removal of anti-nutritional factors, and additives (enzymes, essential amino acids, and palatability enhancers). Project Number: 5320-31000-008-00D replaces 5320-3100-007-00D

This project addresses the following sections of the NP 106 Action Plan: Component 3 Defining Nutrient Requirements and Nutrient Composition of Feedstuffs and Expanding Alternative Ingredients, Problem Statements 3A and 3B.