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May | June 2010

Feature title: Alternative Lipid Sources in Aquafeeds

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The International magazine for the aquaculture feed industry

F: Lipid

Global production of crude palm oil

(CPO) exceeded 43 million tonnes and
together with about nine million tonnes of
coconut and palm kernel oils, constitutes
a highly available and sustainable source of
lipids for the aquafeed industry.
When freshly extracted, CPO is the

Figure 1: Stacks of imported fish oil in drums are a

richest known natural source of β-carotene
and is also a rich source of vitamin E,
consisting of tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Several studies have shown that various

common sight at aquafeed mills in Asia

palm oil fractions can be successfully used

in Aquafeeds
either singly or in combination with other
plant oils in the aquafeeds of commercially
farmed species. The limited PUFA content,

Alternative Lipid Sources combined with the presence of natural Figure 3: Palm oil is the most produced and fractionated oil in the world
and many fractions have been successfully evaluated in aquafeeds
antioxidants (in the case of CPO), has been
reported to impart enhanced pellet and
fillet oxidative stability.
Furthermore, the overall fatty acid modi- (MUFA)-rich oil produced is rapeseed physiologically important n-3 LC-PUFA by
fication of the fish fillet is less detrimentally (canola) oil with olive, peanut and rice many farmed species, albeit mostly at lim-
affected by SFA-rich oils, when compared to bran oils making up the rest of this class ited capabilities.
other alternative lipid sources. of lipids. Oleic acid (18:1n-9) and other Despite encouraging evidence of poten-
by Dr Wing–Keong Ng, Fish Nutrition Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr
Nevertheless, concerns have been MUFA are readily digested and β-oxidized tial bio-conversion of ALA and SDA into
Giovanni Turchini, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia, Dr Douglas Tocher,
expressed on its potential negative effect by fish to produce energy and have been n-3 LC-PUFA, the inclusion of these oils
Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Scotland
on nutrient digestibility, particularly when reported to have no known adverse effect (i.e. linseed/flaxseed, camelina, perilla and
fed to cold water fish species during the on fish growth performance. echium) in aquafeeds is limited, as they are

winter season. Depending
he global aquaculture Marine fish oil production has not various alternative lipid sources, grouped on market
industry is one of the increased beyond 1.5 million tonnes for according to their main chemical charac- High quality sources prices, rape-
fastest growing food the past quarter of a century and in order teristics. Their unique potential advantages of dietary energy seed oil is cur-
p ro d u c t i o n
with farmed seafood currently
sectors to further expand, the global aquaculture
industry cannot continue to rely solely on
and challenges for use in aquafeeds will
be highlighted. The physiological effects of
Soybean, corn, safflower, cottonseed and
sunflower oils are the main n-6 PUFA-rich
rently one of
the commonly
Marine phospholipids
accounting for about 50 percent this source of lipid. various lipid sources and their components (namely linoleic acid, 18:2n-6) oils produced. utilized lipid
of all fish consumed in the world. The high demand, impending short sup- on growth, lipid metabolism, health and When incorporated into aquafeeds, alternatives in A new generation of omega-3 lipids
ply and often times high prices makes post-harvest qualities of the farmed fish are these n-6 PUFA-rich plant oils have been commercial
with a broader spectrum of health
Aquafeeds and fish oils briefly discussed. reported to be high quality sources of aquafeeds,
It is estimated that aquaculture dietary energy and fatty acids during the especially those
produces about 65 million tonnes Alternative lipid grow-out cycle in most fish tested to date. formulated for
of seafood valued at more than sources However, a major concern of using these cold water
- High DHA contents, preferably in
US$78 billion annually. Oils and fats are characterised by oils is that linoleic acid is abundantly and and temperate easily digestible and highly bio
Aquaculture is anticipated to their unique fatty acid composition. preferentially deposited in the fish fillet. species. available form for aquaculture use.
play an increasingly important The major vegetable oils have Since our human diets already contain too Plant oils
role in meeting the seafood one common characteristic; none much n-6 PUFA, some scientists believe rich in n-3 - Numerous benefits on improving
demand of a growing human contain n-3 long chain-polyunsatu- that a good fish oil substitute should limit PUFA [namely the immune response, better
population. The rapid increase in rated fatty acids (LC-PUFA). the deposition of these less desirable fatty α-linolenic acid, weight gain and physical
aquaculture production world- In contrast, marine fish oils have acids in fish fillets. ALA (18:3n-3), conditions of land animals.
wide has been fueled by the a high content of n-3 LC-PUFA. Once deposited, linoleic acid is also and steari-
use of industrially manufactured In consideration of the fact that known to be selectively retained in fish donic acid,
aquafeeds. the dietary fatty acid composition fillets and resistant to ‘dilution’ even after SDA (18:4n-3)]
Conventionally, marine fishmeal Figure 2: The annual world production (1995- is mirrored in farmed fish fillet, switching to a fish oil finishing diet. This has generated
and fish oil are used as the major 2008) of the three major vegetables oils as the inclusion of alternative lipid may be problematic in the context of using much research
compared to fish oil
feed ingredients in the formulation sources in aquafeed can have sig- fish oil finishing diet strategies to restore interest due
of commercial aquafeeds to supply nificant impacts on the nutritional beneficial n-3 to n-6 PUFA ratios in farmed to the ability
dietary protein and lipid, respectively. It is dietary fish oil a bottle-neck in the farming qualities of farmed seafood products. The fish fillets. of these fatty
estimated that aquafeeds currently con- of aquatic animals, and there is currently n-3 LC-PUFA are known to impart health- Several selected cultivars of these acids to be Fiskerihavnsgade 35 Phone +45 79120999
sume about 90 percent of the global supply great urgency within the global aquafeed promoting benefits to human consumers. oilseeds have been recently developed to bio-converted P.O. Box 359 Fax +45 79120888
of fish oil and many have predicted that the industry in finding suitable alternatives to Saturated fatty acid (SFA)-rich plant contain significantly lower concentrations into the longer 6701 Esbjerg E-mail
demand for fish oil from the aquaculture replace marine fish oils. oils include palm oil, palm kernel oil and of linoleic acid. chain, more Denmark Web
industry will imminently out strip supply. This article will give an overview of the coconut oil. The major monounsaturated fatty acid unsaturated,

10 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | May-June 2010 May-June 2010 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | 11

999_AD_IAF0904V3.indd 1 22/06/2009 14:01
F: Lipid F: Lipid

Impact of lipid increased activity of the desaturation/elon- Seafood from farmed animals fed diets
sources on gation pathway. with high fish oil replacements remains a
farmed fish Unfortunately this is restricted to cer- good source of n-3 LC-PUFA that, although About the Authors:
As mentioned above, tain species and does not occur in marine reduced, are still higher than in any alterna- Wing–Keong Ng of the Fish
dietary fatty acid com- fish and crustaceans. Irrespective of species, tive meat or food item and so contribute Nutrition Laboratory, School of
position directly influ- increased synthesis of LC-PUFA is not able positive health benefits. Biological Sciences, at Universiti
ences flesh fatty acid to compensate for the lack of dietary n-3 Impacts of dietary lipid source on Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia
composition, the extent LC-PUFA. physical quality aspects are few, but (Email:; Dr Giovanni
of which depends on Lipids and fatty acids are now known to lower oxidation values in flesh during M. Turchini, is at the School of Life
the level of substitution be highly metabolically active, involved in shelf life in fish fed vegetable oils com- and Environmental Sciences, Deakin
of fish oil, the duration controlling and regulating cell metabolism pared to fish oil is the most consistent. University, Warrnambool, VIC 3280 in
of feeding and the pre- and animal physiology through mechanisms Other influences include some limited Australia and Douglas R. Tocher is at
cise fatty acid composi- involving gene expression and several lipid effects on flesh colour, texture and gap- the Institute of Aquaculture, University
tion of the substituting signalling pathways. ing, and liquid holding, but not freshness, of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland.
oils. Therefore, modification of tissue fatty during shelf life.
In general, substitution acid compositions can have wide ranging In most farmed species studied, taste
with vegetable oils results effects. panelists were able to discriminate amongst
Author’s note:
The subject matter of this article
in increased proportions Among the most studied are the eicosa- some specific attributes and quality param-
will be the topic of an upcoming
Figure 4: Farmed seafood fed alternative lipid sources remains a good dietary source of of C18 fatty acids (18:1n- noids (for example, prostaglandins, leukot- eters of fillet of fish fed different lipid
health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids for the human consumer book entitled ‘Fish Oil Replacement
9, 18:2n-6 and 18:3n-3), rienes and resolvins) that are metabolically sources.
and Alternative Lipid Sources in
and decreased propor- active derivatives of LC-PUFA with impor- However, these differences are relatively
Aquaculture Feeds’ edited by the
tions of n-3 LC-PUFA tant roles in mediating inflammatory and subtle and consumers have been reported
authors and published by CRC Press -
currently relatively expensive and limited New lipid sources (EPA, 20:5n-3 and DHA, 22:6n-3). immune responses to a variety of stresses. not to show any specific preferences for
Taylor and Francis Group: http://www.
in supply. In recent years, new lipid sources con- In choosing substituting oils, we should The n-6-derived eicosanoids are differently fed farmed fish. Effects on fil-
However, they can be useful in oil blend taining n-3 LC-PUFA are the subject of aim to minimise these effects and so, ideally, pro-inflammatory whereas n-3-derived let organoleptic properties are somewhat
formulations to adjust dietary n-3 PUFA intense research interest. These include oils the replacing oil should satisfy some general eicosanoids are either less potent or subjective and variable, and are dependent
levels. derived from marine invertebrates such as criteria. The oil should have a high MUFA anti-inflammatory. on the dietary oil blends used. The product
copepods, krill and amphipods. content, not only to provide a good energy Thus, substitution of n-3-rich fish oil quality fac-
Animal fats Given the significantly large biomass of source, but also to reduce the level of C18 by n-6-rich vegetable oils will alter the tors can, to a
Terrestrial animal fats include tallow, marine invertebrates and projecting a ‘safe’ PUFA, which should be relatively low. eicosanoids produced resulting in effects on large extent,
poultry by-product fat and lard. About level of harvest, it has been estimated that For this reason, oils with high C18 inflammatory and immune responses, which be restored Are you sure
12 million tonnes of rendered animal these new sources have the potential to PUFA, particularly 18:2n-6, should be used can be potentially detrimental or beneficial through the use I‘m not missing
fats are manufactured every year around produce more marine oils than current sparingly. depending upon the particular stress. of finishing diets a key essential
the world and are generally more eco- global fish oil production. The replacement oil should contain The above illustrates one mechanism rich in fish oil. nutrient?
nomical than fish and plant oils. Animal However, there are some technical con- 18:3n-3, not simply for potential conversion whereby altered dietary fatty acids, espe- In conclu-
fats represent a very diverse group of cerns on the use of such oils, such as har- to EPA and DHA, but also because its cially n-3/n-6 balance, can affect the health sion, in the
products but are generally rich in SFA vesting technologies and the large content inclusion will help to balance the n-3/n-6 and welfare of fish. current era of
although some can be rich in MUFA and of waxes and phospholipids together with ratio and limit 18:2n-6 inclusion. Some However, substitution of fish oil with increased con-
contain PUFA. great variability in fatty acid composition. researchers suggest that oil blends consist- vegetable oils affects the immune system sumer demands
Their fatty acid composition is largely One good n-3 LC-PUFA-rich source ing of several plant oils are better in terms in several ways, including both cellular and for food safety,
influenced by the diet of the livestock. are oils derived from by-catch and fishery of health and welfare of the fish when used humoral immunity, although these effects do traceability
For example, poultry by-product fat in or aquaculture by-products. With better in aquafeeds. not always alter resistance to disease. and quality, the
Australia is enriched with MUFA as chick- management and utilisation, it is estimated Other aspects of health status of fish challenge for
ens are commonly fed a rapeseed-based that the total quantities of fish meal and Dietary fat influences that may be affected by dietary fatty acids the aquaculture VANNAGEN ®
diet, while in the USA, it has relatively fish oil coming from aquaculture and fishery Dietary fatty acid composition also include welfare, through altering the cortisol industry is to
higher n-6 PUFA as birds are commonly fed derived waste and by-products are most influences various aspects of lipid and response to stress, tissue morphology (for maintain the
naturally supports…
a soybean-based diet. likely in the range of several million tonnes. fatty acid metabolism. These include example, liver and intestine) that may or recognised
… Per formance
Recent studies have reported that these Single cell oils (from microalgae) and digestibility, lipogenesis, lipid transport may not affect organ functionality, skeletal benefits of
development, cataracts and development of seafood con-
… Health
lipid sources are well digested and utilised genetically modified oilseeds represent and uptake, fatty acid catabolism and
by most fish species. Growth performance novel n-3 LC-PUFA-rich oils. fatty acid desaturation and elongation atherosclerosis and cardiac lesions. sumption for … Stress management
of aquaculture species are generally not Nutritionally, single cell oils are likely to that can all influence tissue fatty acid However, many factors can affect stress, human health,
negatively impacted by dietary animal fats as be the best alternative to fish oil as they composition. immunity and pathogen resistance in fish, especially when
long as the diets are formulated to contain contain even higher amounts of beneficial For example, the amount of dietary including the type, level and duration of veg- alternative
sufficient amount of MUFA and PUFA to n-3 LC-PUFA, but their very high produc- SFA influences the digestibility of lipids etable oil feeding, other dietary nutrients, lipids are used
facilitate the digestion of SFA and meet tion costs and limited availability make their especially at low water temperatures. fish species and environmental conditions. in aquafeed for-
the essential fatty acid requirements of the use almost prohibitive. Oils from genetically LC-PUFA synthesis from 18:3n-3 has been Product quality encompasses physical mulations, while
aquatic animal. modified oilseeds are not yet a commercial shown to be increased in fish fed diets aspects such as freshness and appearance, maintaining We have your per for mance in mind
Terrestrial animal fats are increasingly commodity and legislative issues may need with fish oil substituted by vegetable oils and organoleptic properties, as well as sustainability
recognized as safe and cost-effective lipid to be addressed before such oils can be through up-regulation of desaturase and nutritional quality, which is largely defined and profitability
Chemoforma Ltd. CH-4302 Augst Switzerland
sources when properly used in aquafeeds. used in aquafeeds. elongase gene expression and consequently by the n-3 LC-PUFA content. of the industry. Tel +41 61 811 33 55 Fax +41 61 811 28 03

12 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | May-June 2010 May-June 2010 | InternatIonal AquAFeed | 13

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