Evaluating Spirulina as a protein source in Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) grow-out diets
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Aquaculture growth has intensified the need for a diversification of nutritionally appropriate aquafeed ingredients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate Spirulina, a blue-green microalgae, and soybean meal as the sole protein sources in grow-out Tilapia diets. We constructed 3 experimental diets with soybean meal and 0,15, 30, and 45% Spirulina (SBM, SP15, SP30, and SP45 respectively) as their main protein sources. We compared these diets to a commercial Tilapia diet (CC). Additionally, to evaluate the benefit of fishmeal inclusion, fishmeal was added (2 and 10%) to the most successful Spirulina containing diet (FM2, FM10). We evaluated these experimental diets based on their physical properties, palatability, growth potential, waste production, and overall cost. No significant differences in growth performance were found between any of the diets. Total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) and total phosphorus (TP) levels in each tank were significantly affected by diet (p<0.05). CC had significantly higher TP than the experimental diets and SP15 had significantly higher TAN than the other diets. Only CC was found to be significantly more palatable than the experimental diets, and Spirulina inclusion was inversely correlated to pellet stability. Lastly, SP15 was the most profitable experimental diet. We recommend eliminating fishmeal from grow-out Tilapia diets in favour of soybean meal and Spirulina. Spirulina should, however, be limited to 15% to avoid the negative effects it has on stability and profitability, and its possible effect on feed intake.