Total replacement of fish meal with plant proteins in diets for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) I — Effects on growth and protein retention
Abstract A regression design with increasing levels of a plant protein mixture replacing fish meal in diets for Atlantic cod, was used to elucidate effects on growth, feed utilization (FCR), digestibility (ADC), and retention of nutrients (PER, PPV and HSI). The plant protein diets contained soybean meal, soy protein concentrate and wheat gluten meal, all of high quality, and were added crystalline methionine and lysine to achieve levels of indispensable amino acids for maximizing growth in other fish species. Initial fish weight was 1652 ± 6 g (mean ± SEM) and the experiment lasted for 28 weeks from December 2004. High growth (SGR 0.31–0.35) and feed utilization (FCR 1.06–1.26) were obtained up to 50% plant protein inclusion. Above this inclusion level, growth (SGR 0.30–0.14) and feed utilization (FCR 1.42–2.71) were reduced. None of the diets affected whole body, liver or muscle proximate compositions. Hepatosomatic index was not effected by diet up to 75% plant protein (HSI 12.7–14.3), but was significantly lower for the 100% plant protein diet group (HSI 10.1–11.4). Plasma and muscle free amino acid pools, sampled 5 h post-feeding, partly reflected diet amino acid composition. Reduced protein retention was found as dietary plant protein increased (PPV 0.45–0.16 and PER 2.11–0.73), however without any reductions in apparent digestibility coefficients. There was a decrease in vitamin B 12 concentrations in the diets (120–10 μg kg − 1 ) as inclusion of plant protein increased, but no specific deficiency symptoms were detected in the fish. Furthermore, the sufficiency of dietary methionine supply in the highest replacement groups, can be questioned based on low levels in the muscle free amino acid pool. Overall conclusion is a great potential for using quite high inclusions of plant proteins in cod diets, provided that the plant ingredients are of high quality.