Method for Determining Apparent Digestibility of Carbohydrate and Protein Sources for Artificial Diets for Juvenile Sea Cucumber, Australostichopus mollis

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Journal Article
Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 2011, 42 (5), pp. 714 - 725
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Effective nursery diets can greatly reduce the cost of producing juvenile sea cucumbers for release to aquaculture or restocking programs. However, methods for systematically testing the bioavailability of artificial diet ingredients for sea cucumbers are poorly developed, and consequently, there has been little research in this field. The current study presents methods developed to test the suitability of common carbohydrate and protein sources for inclusion in artificial diets for juvenile Australostichopus mollis. Apparent digestibility of carbohydrates was moderate and did not exceed 50% for any carbohydrates assayed. Wheat starch and carrageenans showed the highest digestibility amongst carbohydrates. Differences in apparent digestibility were not reflected in growth performance of juvenile A. mollis fed carbohydrate diets; overall growth performance was poor for all diets. Artificial protein sources consistently exhibited higher apparent digestibility, ranging from 75.1% for fish meal to 98.1% for casein. Low-cost protein sources, like meat meal, show promise for future use in artificial diet formulation. However, delivering high protein content may reduce ingestion rates and thereby lower overall digestive efficiency in juveniles. Results show that artificial carbohydrate sources have some potential as diet constituents for juvenile sea cucumbers but are unsuitable as primary energy sources. Future testing of artificial carbohydrate sources for A. mollis may require predigestion to improve digestibility. © by the World Aquaculture Society 2011.
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