Zooplankton Aquaculture

Sustainable Feed Meal Production

for Aquaculture



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It is funny.

Zooplankton will be an essential food source and yet here it lies. A commercially researched design and production protocol gathering dust in my archives.

Worthy of 3 Ph'd's....

Well I'm 62. Future events wont worry me but it is a pity greed has no foresight... So between academic politics and greedy short sighted ocean rape, the future is coming on quickly.

Someone has to have a crack at sustainable protein.

But it wont be Fisheries unless they steal this work as well.



Proposal Objectives

Aquafarmer has successfully researched and developed a new aquafarming process.




Aquaculture has now been identified as highly significant in terms of globally sustaining protein to feed the worlds populations. World wide, Aquaculture is making great technological advances in fish production. These include breeding and hatchery techniques, expanding species domestication and increasing efficiency of grow-out applications.


Globally, aquaculture has increased by123% in ten years to rise from 17 million tonnes in 1996 to nearly 40 million tonnes of product worth approximately $60 billion USD in 2003-2004.


Earth Policy Institute Resources on FISH

Fish Indicator

Eco-Economy Indicators are twelve trends that the Earth Policy Institute tracks to measure progress in building an eco-economy. The world fish catch is a measure of the productivity and health of the oceanic ecosystem that covers 70 percent of the earth's surface. The extent to which world demand for seafood is outrunning the sustainable yield of fisheries can be seen in shrinking fish stocks, declining catches, and collapsing fisheries.


In comparison, world fisheries have been in constant return on investment decline since about 1990. This factor can be shown on almost all fish catch verses fish catch effort analysis.



Australia is a relatively small aquaculture nation with a total aquaculture production at $2.3 billion AUD in 2003-2004. However, like all other western nations Australia relies almost entirely on pelleted diets for aquaculture production. Current figures are sketchy but it is believed finfish and crustaceans make up 70% of total Australian Aquaculture production. If pellet diets make up 40% of the market price then it can be assumed that Australia uses approximately $2.3 billion x 0.7 x 0.4 = $644 millionAUD in pelleted diets annually.




Pelleted diets vary from mill to mill but basically, they all consist of a known percentage of protein, a known percentage of lipids and a known percentage of carbohydrate (PLC). Basically, the ingredients are mixed and extruded into various sizes with varying degrees of weight/volume to suit a floating or sinking application.



Usually the ingredients are made of locally farmed grain products or grain waste products in combination with either fish meal, fisheries waste or trash and or blood meal products. Research on fish nutrition is very well established and the essential nutritional requirements of most commercial species are well documented.



In any case, the aim of the mass produced pellet diet is to produce a targeted PLC product, with adequate nutritional requirements, for a reasonable cost. However it is fairly true to say that all fish pellet diets represent a nutritional trade-off and therefore a potential reduction in fish culture performance.



Fish meal protein is by far the best protein source but it is also quite expensive at approximately $1.50 - $3.00/kg landed in Australia in bulk. Because of the high fish meal cost factor, protein substitution is used to off-set the cost of pellet production. Protein substitution allows millers to supply an affordable product into the market. Here is one example below.



What is Fishmeal?

Fishmeal is a thick powder obtained from cooking, drying, and grinding raw fish. Fishmeal is a rich protein source, and is used as an ingredient in feedstuffs in the aquaculture, dairy, and poultry industries.

The Fishing Fleet

Our fishing fleet is the largest and newest fleet in Peru. The fleet currently totals 38 vessels with an average age of 3 years. All vessels are purse seiners.

The vessels range in size from 240 to 1,000 tons, with a total hold capacity of 12,500 metric tons. A large portion of the fleet is refrigerated, thus guaranteeing a fresh supply of fish.
*VLT = Very Low Temperature



However, as mentioned above protein substitution tends to reduce growth potential as it introduces protein uptake limiting factors and other nutritional uptake and digestibility uncertainties. Added to these restraints is the potential inclusion of GM grains as well as the use of grains contaminated with insecticides and pesticides. And these are all factors of great concern for the forward development of the industry and the potential of fully organic fish feeds.



The current cost to buy an Australian made fish culture diet varies from about $1400 per tonne to approximately $2200 per tonne. Imported diets tend to be slightly more expensive but the quality and the protein source can vary considerably. Recently concerns were raised within the commercial sector about the potential to introduce disease from insufficiently processed protein meal as well as concerns about the original source of the imported protein meal.





Australia imports nearly all fish meal requirements from South America and to a lesser degree Asia. Vast seine nets are used off the coast to capture massive tonnages of schooling fish species which are all processed and sold around the world.

It is this process that makes aquaculture profitable however it is this process that makes aquaculture unsustainable.


Intrafish says a shortage of 1,000,000 tonnes of fish meal, food fed to farm-raised salmon, is keeping down the amount of farmed salmon on the market.


Fishmeal, which has exceeded €1,265 per tonne this year, is up €790 from a year ago.


Price hikes and shortages are being blamed on an increasing Chinese demand for feed and problems in supply from South America.


It takes about 64 oz of ground up wild fish meal to generate 16 oz of farmed salmon.


Fish meal arrives in Australia, usually at the Port of Newcastle, in bulk tanker shipments. Fish meal appears as a dried and ground rough powder and is stored in huge harbour front warehouses. From there it is bulk loaded into tipper trucks and makes its way into the pet food industry, the chicken industry and the aquaculture industry.


Text Box: These existing industries represent the potential markets for zooplankton protein.

What is Zooplankton?

Zooplankton is the multitude of microscopic and semi microscopic invertebrate animals that exist in both sea and freshwater. Zooplankton includes abundant larval stages of many organisms. They feed on unicellular plants known as phytoplankton, bacteria occurring as detritus particles and other organisms of an appropriate mouth size. Mouth size equates to feed particle size and is of considerable significance in culture.



Basically though, zooplankton is an essential component of all aquatic food chains.




Currently the development of zooplankton species, as a live food source for advanced fish hatchery research, is driving the successes with fish larval survival. The end result of such work is, an increase in the number of exotic species which can be reared successfully. Examples of zooplankton species that have become synonymous with hatchery culture are brine shrimp and rotifers. (Refer to Appendix A)

Rotifers and Brine Shrimp

Historically zooplankton, as a fish culture food source, has been known to fish farmers for well over 2000 years. In China it has been an essential component of their life and so much so that in village life they are probably not aware of the significance.



To explain; village life in China has existed with an almost ‘Garden of Eden’ sustainability. Human waste is used to fertilise crops and ponds. Plants utilize the nutrients in both the soil and the ponds. Plants grow to crops in soil and they (micro plants) colour the water in ponds as phytoplankton or algae. As the algae blooms they are consumed by increasing zooplankton populations in the ponds. The zooplankton is consumed by higher organisms which are usually food fish. The humans eat the fish and the plants and then redeposit the nutrients to complete the cycle.



The Chinese example may sound a little gross to western culture but this aquatic bio-dynamic and its evolution are significant factors in how the Chinese can routinely harvest around 10 tonnes to the hectare where most western aquaculture appears limited to 5 tonnes per hectare.



In Australia significant research into Zooplankton is evident however little has been done to quantify commercial potential for the purpose of this proposal. There is considerable evidence of research work carried out during the 90’s which indicates significant quantities of zooplankton biomass could be continuously harvested.



As well, supporting research studies were done on sewage effluent settling ponds in Victoria and those results indicate harvest rates approximating 2.5 tonnes per hectare per day. Those results also identified a major environmental problem in that the sewage effluent of western societies, can be high in heavy metals. And those heavy metals can be transferred to aquatic food chains via algal uptake.


Commercial trials carried out by the author confirm a potential significance for the development of several commercial applications. The basis of that work centered on hatchery and growout production of Australian freshwater species as well as survival trials of Barramundi larvae. Although the two feeding methods are significantly different and, they identify two separate culture issues, the relative results showed a vast increase in the growth rates and overall health of the cohort when compared to identical ponds cultured on standard pellet diets. Although this process was not scientifically documented it did allow the hatchery to repeatably double fingerling production to two crops per summer.



For example, silver perch grown on zooplankton reached an average of 100mm in 4 weeks, where as silver perch grown on a standard diet grew to 28mm. To achieve these results the author targeted specific water quality parameters to favour specific varieties of phytoplankton and zooplankton production. Those results yielded a significant increase in growth rate as well as a decrease in the real cost of hatchery production.



The author has also harvested considerable quantities of zooplankton over several years and has significant developments toward culture methods for the repetitive targeting of favourable zooplankton species.



Basically, all research work in the area of zooplankton, production trials and field results appears to indicate a high potential for commercial culture of certain species as an aquatic food source. However, one question remains unanswered.


Why hasnt zooplankton been recognized as a commercially viable and sustainable alternative to sea harvesting for fish meal?

Aquafarmer Has The Answer



What is Phytoplankton?


The definition of phytoplankton is microscopic unicellular plants occurring in an aquatic environment. There are several differing classifications and a multitude of species. It is the intention of this proposal to ultilise and manipulate the culture of single species (axenic or pure) and multispecies phytoplankton to stimulate zooplankton biomass production.


Phytoplankton are tiny, photosynthetic organisms. This means they can manufacture their own food using energy from sunlight, producing oxygen as a by-product. They are often referred to as tiny plants because of this ability to photosynthesise, but many species of phytoplankton are more closely related to protists and bacteria than true plants. Phytoplankton typically range in size from 0.002 mm to 1 mm and include diatoms, dinoflagellates, Radiolaria, Ciliata and Cyanobacteria (better known as ‘blue-green algae’).

Phytoplankton Species


What are Macrophytes?


Macrophytes are aquatic plants, growing in or near water that are either emergent, submergent, or floating. Macrophytes are beneficial to lakes because they provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates. Duckweed is an important macrophyte because it can be an adequate aquatic protein resource, as an agent in achieving aquatic environmental stability and as a potential feed source in aquaculture.



 The family of duckweeds (botanically, the Lemnaceae) are the smallest flowering plants.  These plants grow floating in still or slow-moving fresh water around the globe, except in the coldest regions.  The growth of these high-protein plants can be extremely rapid.  Lemna is one of the best known of this group and has been the subject of much research. 

Researchers are using these plants to study basic plant development, plant biochemistry, photosynthesis, the toxicity of hazardous substances, and much more.  Genetic engineers are cloning duckweed genes and modifying duckweeds to inexpensively produce pharmaceuticals.  Environmental scientists are using duckweeds to remove unwanted substances from water.  Aquaculturalists find them an inexpensive feed source for fish farming. 

(Source John Cross http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/duckweed/duckweed.htm)


Research on duckweed shows significant potential for culture and for use as a nutrient control on effluent drains of feed lots. Duckweed has a significant growth rate and up to 30 tonnes per Ha per year have been achieved on low level nutrient addition.




What is Zooplankton? (The second stage of every aquatic food chain)

Zooplankton are small aquatic animals.

Zooplankton is the term for the multitude of microscopic and semi microscopic invertebrate animals that exist in both sea and freshwater. Zooplankton includes abundant larval stages of many organisms.


.............. ...............


Zooplankton is an essential component of all aquatic food chains.





Currently the development of zooplankton species, as a live food source for advanced fish hatchery research, is driving the successes with fish larval survival. The end result of such work is, an increase in the number of exotic species which can be reared successfully. Examples of zooplankton species that have become synonymous with hatchery culture are brine shrimp and rotifers. (artemia & brachionus)


Brine Shrimp

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In Australia significant research into Zooplankton is evident however little has been done to quantify commercial potential as a sustainable aquatic protein.


We have currently given up seeking Venture Capital to assist in product development. Aquafarmer has moved on... Greed deserves to starve....



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