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Dietary self-selection in fish: a geometrical approach for optimising aquaculture production

Despite abundant reports on fish nutrition, dietary self-selection is little explored. To date, to compose diet mixtures, theoretical formulations have to be practically evaluated in long and costly feed trials. However, fish show considerable "nutritional wisdom" in selecting nutritionally balanced diets from sub-optimal feeds. A better knowledge of macronutrient self-selection in fish has important economic, welfare and environmental benefits. The geometric analysis of dietary selection represents a major innovation, providing new concepts for fish nutrition. The partners involved in this Concerted Action have made significant contributions to this field and are currently developing research programmes at a national level. The harmonisation of their research activities and the communal discussion of data sets will improve the performance and relevance of the national projects, integrating the data analysis and designing new experimental approaches.

The main objective is to harmonise individual research activities to take advantage of recent theoretical and experimental advances in fish nutrition to assess:
a) whether and how fish regulate their macronutrient intake, finding targets in the nutritional space (three macronutrients axes) and verify that fish defend them
b) how they balance overingesting some nutrients against undereating others when provided with sub-optimal diets of animal and plant origin
c) how they regulate food selection, growth and body composition post-ingestively
d) how such points of regulation change with the age of fish, season and rearing conditions.
Such data will allow manufacturers to formulate feeds that better reflect the needs and regulatory responses of fish. As a result, feeding performance and flesh composition will be optimised, fish welfare improved, and nitrogenous and other waste products minimised, providing considerable benefits to the aquaculture industry and its consumers.

The objectives will be achieved through:
RESEARCH MEETINGS, four over three years to formulate new designs and methods. In some of them EU experts on north European and Mediterranean aquaculture will be invited to discuss the relevance of the geometric analysis of dietary self-selection to the industry.
COLLABORATIVE WORK, to assess communal data analysis and interpretation. Both fresh water (trout and salmon) and marine fish species (sea bass and sharsnout sea bream) which display distinct feeding habits (carnivorous and plantivorous) and with great commercial interest for North European and Mediterranean aquaculture, will be investigated.
SHORT-TERM EXCHANGES, which will test specific experiments and methods to provide new models.
STEERING GROUP MEETINGS, interim meetings which will implement networking activity to co-ordinate the development of joint activities.
DISSEMINATION of results and conclusions, to make findings of the project known to all partners, the EC, the scientific community and potential users in the industry.

The geometric analysis of dietary self-selection will provide:
a) improved performance and relevance of existing national research programmes
b) geometric framework of dietary selection in farmed fish
c) advanced self-feeding methods for food selection
d) knowledge of macronutrient preferences of fish with different feeding habits
e) new concepts for aquaculture and feed industries
f) formulation of a major research and development programme with added European value.


Scientist responsible for the project

Facultad de Biologıa. Universidad de Murcia. Campus de Espinardo.
30.100 Murcia
Austria - AT

Phone: 34968363651
Fax: 34968367302


Project ID QLRT-2000-00989
Area 5.1.2
Start date 01 October 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 264 677 €
Total EC contribution   264 677 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners


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