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Feed for aquatic animals that contains cultivated marine microorganisms as alternatives for fish oil

At present, aquaculture consumes nearly 50% of the available quantities of fish oil and the requirement is increasing. However, fish oil production is decreasing worldwide and toxins that are difficult to monitor can be present. Alternatively, marine micro-algae, high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) content, may be added to feeds, though the availability of such micro-algae is limited. Therefore, there is a strong and increasing demand for high quality, stable and affordable raw material for fish feed production. The lack of it may even hinder the growth of the fish-farming industry in Europe in the short term. This project aims to apply PUFA-rich micro-organisms as an alternative feed resource to fish oil in feed for the aquaculture industry. This approach offers several advantages. It reduces the requirement for fish oils, toxin-free feeds will be produced and a feed of constant quality will be available throughout the year.

The objectives are:
1) the development of an efficient process for the production of microbial biomass containing long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as DHA and EPA
2) the production of feeds for aquaculture based on untreated or processed microbial biomass
3) the provision of data on the effect of 'alternative feeds' on growth, survival and stress tolerance of the fish larvae
4) the establishment of an economic evaluation of the completely integrated process.

Progress to Date
The optimisation of DHA production by C. cohnii at laboratory scale is nearly completed.
Fish feed experiments demonstrate the scientific feasibility of the use of C. cohnii biomass in fish feed but economic aspects still need to be established.

The complete process, including cultivation, homogenisation, spray drying and feed manufacture, can be performed.
Diets containing C. cohnii are not toxic to salmon or sea bream. However, C. cohnii biomass needs pre-treatment (e.g. homogenisation) for DHA uptake by fish larvae.


Scientist responsible for the project

Bornsesteeg 59 Box 17
6708 PD Wageningen
Netherlands (The) - NL

Phone: +31 3174 75000
Fax: +31 3174 75347


Project ID QLRT-1999-30271
Organisation Agrotechnological Research Institute, Wageningen University and Research Center, (ATO B.V.;Wag-UR)
Area 5.1.2
Start date 01 December 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 668 928 €
Total EC contribution   1 093 463 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • Agrotechnological Research Institute (part of the foundation DLO), Netherlands (The) - NL

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