Eat your greens: Evaluating microalgae supplemented feeds for sablefish nutrition and growth

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Finfish aquaculture, which makes up the largest portion of the aquaculture industry, faces certain hurdles in maintaining sustainability as it continues to expand. Currently, farm-raised fish rely on a diet that is heavily dependent on the use of forage fish in fish meal and fish oil. These ingredients provide nutrients that cannot be easily obtained through many other protein and oil sources, but place a significant strain on forage fish stocks.

Alternative marine sources, such as microalgae, can provide a new source of nutrition for finfish aquaculture stocks. This project is examining the viability of the microalgae Nitzschia sp. as a replacement for fish oil in the diet of farm-raised sablefish. While much is known about salmon species in aquaculture, other fish species such as sablefish have been little-studied.

Researchers formulated a diet that incorporates the algae and meets nutritional needs, and are assessing the palatability and digestibility of it for sablefish. The project is exploring the effects of partially and fully substituting microalgae for fish oil, and measure the changes in growth, efficiency, and nutrient uptake of the sablefish.

Incorporating fish oil substitutes into aquaculture feed offers an opportunity to reduce fishing pressure on forage fish stocks. As sablefish are a native species to California waters, an expansion of sablefish aquaculture could be an opportunity to develop a native species as a viable aquaculture industry.

Principal Investigators
Katherine Neylan
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories / San Jose State University
Co-principal Investigators
Scott Hamilton
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories / San Jose State University
profile photo of Luke Gardner Luke Gardner
University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography