ARRAINA Hosts Sessions on Nutrition at Aquaculture Europe 2014

 The ARRAINA (Advanced Research Initiatives for Nutrition & Aquaculture) project hosted a session on fish nutrition at the Aquaculture Europe conference (AE2014) in San Sebastián, Spain, from 14-17 October 2014. The ARRAINA team provided stakeholders and interested parties with the opportunity to learn more about the current and expected results of the ARRAINA project.

To view the book of abstracts for all the ARRAINA presentations given at AE2014, please click here.

Arraina at AE2014

The overall objectives of ARRAINA are: to develop sustainable alternative aquaculture feeds tailored to the nutritional requirements of European farmed fish species, over their respective life cycles, with reduced levels of fish meal and fish oil; to assess the long term physiological consequences by applying targeted predictive tools applicable to multiple species; and to provide flexibility in the use of various ingredients in the formulation of feeds which are cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and that ensure production of seafood of high nutritional value and quality.

During his address at the opening session, ARRAINA project coordinator Sadasivam Kaushik of INRA said: “90% of aquaculture in the 28 countries of the European Union is made up of five main species including Salmonids, marine fish and cyprinids, all of which have a very high dependence on fish oil and fish meal. Over reliance on these finite resources is deemed questionable, rather than sustainable.”

 Having come midway through the ARRAINA project, the AE2014 Nutrition session was an occasion to present the results to the general audience of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS). There were 24 oral presentations and 19 posters presenting ARRAINA results. The first presentation by the coordinator dealt with the overall objectives and the descriptions of different work packages of the project. He pointed out that over the past few years’ European research has demonstrated that it is possible to reduce fish meal (FM) and fish oil (FO) levels singly or in combination in the feeds for fish. However, several questions remained to be addressed such as whether what is obtained with juvenile fish up to marketable size can be extended to the whole life cycle; whether such dietary interventions can have effects during specific physiological stages such as very early life stages or broodstock; whether supply of nutrients based on available data on nutrient requirements are valid for all stages of fish fed diets low in FM and FO; whether fish can be tailored to accept such low marine diets. The ARRAINA project addresses these issues using the top five farmed fish in Europe: Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, European seabass and gilthead seabream. The presentations were made by different research groups and dealt with the different areas of research undertaken within the consortium. It was nice to see the presentations were made by PhD students as well as by senior scientists.

A series of presentations dealt with evaluating and fine tuning data on micronutrient requirements of fish fed low fish meal low fish oil (low FM/FO) feeds. In the following we try to summarise some of the major points rather than going through all presentations. Dealing with micro-nutrient recommendations for Atlantic salmon when fed diets based on plant ingredients, study by Hemre et al. (NIFES, Norway in coop with BioMar) showed for instance that when plant-based diets are fed to Atlantic salmon, current recommendations of the NRC (2011) should be increased by about 50% for nutrients such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and niacin. Another presentation by Taylor et al. (Univ of Stirling in coop with NIFES, LNS and BioMar) showed that a reduction in dietary FM/FO level will require at least a two fold increase in the vitamin plus mineral premix (compared to the NRC recommended levels) in diploids and even much higher levels for triploid salmon. In gilthead Seabream fed diets high in plant proteins and vegetable oils, the effects on bone morphology were studied by Dominguez et al. (Univ. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in coop with NIFES and BioMar) who found that mineral mixture supplied at the NRC recommended level was sufficient to ensure proper bone development. A study by Carmona Antonananzas et al. (Univ of Stirling in coop with BioMar, LNS) showed that the intestine of Atlantic salmon alevins (<10g) is immature, not capable of de novo synthesis of phospholipids and that phosphoglycerides have to be supplied in the diet for normal growth and development. In the rainbow trout, the study by Belghit et al. (INRA) showed that dietary methionine level affects several factors involved in muscle protein turnover explaining the reduced somatic growth seen in fish fed feeds deficient in methionine.

Data from long-term studies with different species of fish fed low FM/FO feeds were also presented. In rainbow trout fed over the full life cycle with low FM/FO feeds, data on growth, reproductive performance and gamete quality were presented by Lazzarotto et al. (INRA). In the European seabass, Torrecillas et al. (Univ Las Palmas in coop with BioMar, INRA) showed that a level of substitution up to only 5% of FM and 3 to 6% of FO did not affect final growth, survival and disease resistance. The study by Cotou et al. (HCMR, Greece in coop with BioMar) showed the possible effects of dietary FM/FO levels on antioxidant defence systems. In the gilthead seabream, the study presented by Benedito-Palos et al. (CSIC, Spain in coop with BioMar, INRA) showed that growth performance and quality were not reduced in fish fed extremely low FM and FO feeds. In the common carp, a study by Ardo et al. (HAKI, Hungary) fingerlings fed vegetable oil based diets showed no reduction in growth performance, or innate immune response or disease resistance compared to feeding with FO.

In the area of developing novel nutrient vectors, data from a study with seabream larvae by Ghrab et al. (Univ Las Palmas, in coop with NIFES, Sparos and Univ. Insubria, Italy) on the effects of dietary Fe, Mn, Se or Zn supplied in different forms (organic, inorganic, nanometals or encapsulated) were presented. The study by Engrola et al. (Univ of Algarve, Portugal and Sparos) showed that sonophoresis can be an extremely useful tool to modulate the composition of egg reserves, with promising results as regards free amino acids.
Four presentations dealt with the application and validation of the concept of “nutritional programming” early in life or through broodstock nutrition to modify the metabolic potential and possibly the acquisition of a changed physiological phenotype. This was shown in rainbow trout fed varying levels of proteins and carbohydrates or fed an “all-veg” feed during early life (Geurden et al. INRA), in gilthead Seabream through changing the dietary fatty acid supply to broodstock fish (Montero et al. Univ. Las Palmas & BioMar) or through early nutritional stimuli in larvae (Rochas et al. CCIMAR, Portugal in coop with Sparos and INRA).

In Seabream larvae fed on different types of microdiets having different physical properties, the consequences in terms of feed intake, feeding rhythms and digestive function were presented by Yufera et al. (CSIC, Univ Las Palmas and Sparos). Looking at the digestive tract of seabass, the study by CSIC provided original data on biomarkers of gene expression across the gastro-intestinal tract. These tools were also used to analyse the consequences of low FM/FO feeds by Estensoro et al. (CSIC, with BioMar and INRA). Two other presentations dealt with the analyses of transfer of undesirables from feed to fish with specific data from Atlantic salmon and gilthead bream (CSIC and NIFES). The possible interactions between contaminants and dietary vitamin A were also presented by Berntssen et al. (NIFES in coop with BioMar).

The sessions were well attended by scientists as well as private sector representatives and the discussions were positive and focused.

 To view the book of abstracts for all the ARRAINA presentations given at AE2014, please click here.

For more information please visit the ARRAINA website at or contact the ARRAINA Project Coordinator, Sadasivam Kaushik ( or the Project Manager, Heloise Simonson (

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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 /2007-2013) under grant agreement no 288925. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which maybe made of the information contained therein.