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The advantages of Ulva (Chlorophyta) as an additive in sea urchin formulated feeds: effects on palatability, consumption and digestibility

Cyrus, M.D., Bolton, J.J., Scholtz, R., Macey, B.M.
Aquaculture nutrition 2015 v.21 no.5 pp. 578-591
Ecklonia, Gigartina, Porphyra, Ulva, artificial diets, dietary supplements, digestibility, digestible protein, feed formulation, feed intake, macroalgae, palatability, protein intake
The present study was performed to determine whether the palatability, consumption and digestibility of an artificial sea urchin diet could be improved by the addition of a highly preferred seaweed. Four species of macroalgae (Ulva rigida, Ecklonia maxima, Porphyra capensis and Gigartina polycarpa) were assessed by pairwise preference tests. Each macroalgal species was consumed at least once by Tripneustes gratilla and significant preferences always involved Ulva as the most preferred species. Four protein‐rich artificial diets supplemented with varying amounts of Ulva [0, 50, 150 and 200 g kg⁻¹ designated 0, 5, 15 and 20U, respectively] were then developed and fed to urchins over a 20‐day period. Inclusion of 200 g kg⁻¹ dried Ulva significantly improved the palatability of the artificial diet and mean dry feed consumption rates were higher in urchins fed the 20U and 15U diets compared with urchins fed diets with a lower Ulva content. Daily digestible protein (DP) intake also differed significantly, with urchins fed the 20U diet having a significantly higher DP intake compared with the 15U, 5U and 0U treatments. These results indicate that inclusion of the palatable seaweed Ulva acted as a feeding stimulant, increasing the acceptability of the diets and boosting protein intake.