Nutrition & Health

Effect of broodstock nutrition on reproductive performance of fish


In many cultured fish species, particularly in those new for aquaculture, unpredictable and variable reproductive performance is an important limiting factor for the successful mass production of juveniles. An improvement in broodstock nutrition and feeding has been shown to greatly improve not only egg and sperm quality but also seed production. Gonadal development and fecundity are affected by certain essential dietary nutrients, especially in continuous spawners with short vitellogenic periods. Thus, during the last two decades, more attention has been paid to the level of different nutrients in broodstock diets. However, studies on broodstock nutrition are limited and relatively expensive to conduct.

Lipid and fatty acid composition of broodstock diet have been identified as major dietary factors that determine successful reproduction and survival of offspring. Some fish species readily incorporate dietary unsaturated fatty acids into eggs, even during the course of the spawning season. Highly unsaturated fatty acids HUFA with 20 or more carbon atoms affect, directly or through their metabolites, fish maturation and steroidogenesis. In some species, HUFA in broodstock diets increases fecundity, fertilization and egg quality. As in higher vertebrates, vitamin E deficiency affects reproductive performance, causing immature gonads and lower hatching rate and survival of offspring. For example, elevation of dietary a-tocopherol levels has been found to reduce the percentage of abnormal eggs and increase fecundity in the gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). 

Ascorbic acid has also been shown to play an important role in salmonid reproduction, where the dietary requirement of broodstock was higher than that of juveniles. Among different feed ingredients, cuttlefish, squid and krill meals are recognized as valuable components of broodstock diets. The protein component of cuttlefish and squid together with their optimal concentration of HUFA appear to be responsible for their positive effect on reproductive performance. Both polar and nonpolar lipid fractions of raw krill were found to effectively improve egg quality. 


Broodstock; Nutrition; Spawn; Egg quality; Fatty acids; Vitamin 


M.S. Izquierdo a*, H. Fernandez-Palacios a, A.G.J. Tacon b

a GIA, Grupo de InÕestigacion en Acuicultura, P.O. Box 56, 35200 Telde, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain ´

b The Oceanic Institute, Makapuu Point, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA

*Corresponding author.


Aquaculture 197 2001 25–42



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