Institute of Fisheries Ecology

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Application of stable istopes in aquaculture research


Application of stable istopes in aquaculture research

Nutrient flows are an important characteristic of aquaculture systems. The cultivated organisms such as finfish or crustaceans consume compound feeds or natural food, undigested feed/food items and metabolites are excreted and can become incorporated in other aquatic food chains. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen offer the possibility to trace these nutrient flows within and outside the respective aquaculture system. Quantitative knowledge of the nutrient flows allows to improve the efficiency of aquaculture systems and to provide a solid base for the assessment of their environmental impact.

Background and Objective

The world wide increasing demand for fish and seafood kan be met only by an increase in aquaculture production. This increase in aquaculture production must be sustainable, i.e. inputs must be used in the most efficient way, and aquaculture must not lead to environmental degradation. Using stable isotopes as tracers, nutrient flows in aquaculture systems can be identified. e.g. the specific demand of the cultured species for essential amino acids can be determined this way, and the utilization of individual ingredients from compound feeds can be determined. using this information in feed formulation will reduce the amount of feed required per unit of product. On the other hand, the incorporation of carbon and nitrogen originating from aquaculture into free living organisms can be quantified. This offers the possibility for a quantification of environmental impact of aquaculture systems.

Target Group

Aquaculture sector, feed producers, international agencies (ICES, HELCOM, etc.), national and regional environmental agencies, scientists


Involved external Thünen-Partners


10.2009 - 12.2026

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing


Results 1 - 5 of 12

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  1. Barreto-Curiel F, Focken U, D'Abramo LR, Mata-Sotres J, Viana MT (2019) Assessment of amino acid requirements for Totoaba macdonaldi at different levels of protein using stable isotopes and a non-digestible protein source as a filler. Aquaculture 503:550-561, DOI:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2019.01.038
  2. Callier MD, Byron CJ, Bengtson DA, Cranford PJ, Cross SF, Focken U, Jansen HM, Kamermans P, Kiessling A, Landry T, O'Beirn F, Petersson E, Rheault RB, Strand O, Sundell K, Svaasand T, Wykfors GH, McKindsey CW (2018) Attraction and repulsion of mobile wild organisms to finfish and shellfish aquaculture: a review. Reviews Aquacult 10(4):924-949, DOI:10.1111/raq.12208
  3. Kusche H, Hillgruber N, Rößner Y, Focken U (2018) The effect of different fish feed compositions on delta13C and δ15N signatures of sea bass and its potential value for tracking mariculture-derived nutrients. Isotopes Environ Health Stud 54(1):28-40, DOI:10.1080/10256016.2017.1361419
  4. Barreto-Curiel F, Focken U, D'Abramo LR, Cuarón JA, Viana MT (2018) Use of isotopic enrichment to assess the relationship among dietary protein levels, growth and nitrogen retention in juvenile Totoaba macdonaldi. Aquaculture 495:794-802, DOI:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2018.06.001
  5. Mayrhofer R, Menanteau-Ledouble S, Pucher J, Focken U, El-Matbouli M (2017) Leaves from banana (Musa nana) and maize (Zea mays) have no phyto-prophylactic effects on the susceptibility of grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) to Aeromonas hydrophila infection. BMC Vet Res 13:329, DOI:10.1186/s12917-017-1255-5
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Results 1 - 5 of 12

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