Effect of graded levels of dietary carbohydrate on growth, feed utilisation and intestinal microbial community structure in dusky kob Argyrosomus japonicus fed a pelleted diet
The ability to utilise carbohydrates is limited for many predatory marine fishes. Graded levels of dietary carbohydrate (4.1–24.6%) were formulated using pregelatinised maize starch, to determine optimal levels for dusky kob Argyrosomus japonicus, an emerging mariculture finfish for which pelleted feeds are being developed. Specific growth rate increased with an increase in the carbohydrate level up to 16.72%, after which it declined. Feed utilisation followed a similar trend, with the best feed conversion ratio (1.28) and protein efficiency ratio (1.76) recorded at 16.4% carbohydrate. Lipid vacuolisation of the hepatocytes was evident in all livers examined, with melano-macrophage aggregates in those of fish fed 24.6% carbohydrate suggesting starvation. Gut bacterial community profiles were variable but were not influenced by dietary carbohydrate level and differed mostly between fish fed trout feed prior to the trial and those fed experimental diets containing starch. The dusky kob were able to clear glucose from their blood when fed up to 16.4% carbohydrate, but glucose removal was not achieved at 24.6% carbohydrate. In conclusion, dusky kob has a limited ability to utilise cooked starch as a carbohydrate source, which may be included in pelleted feed at 16.4% without adverse effects. For this species, levels of dietary carbohydrate above this may result in symptoms consistent with physiological breakdown, including reduced growth, reduced feed intake and feed conversion efficiency, prolonged hyperglycaemia, liver pathology and altered microbial communities in the foregut.
Keywords: aquaculture, blood glucose, carnivorous fish, fish nutrition, hyperglycaemia, intestinal bacteria, liver histology, pregelatinised maize starch