Biomin Aqua Days: The good, the harmless and the ugly

Experts discuss the latest developments in alternative feed solutions, disease mitigation and immunity during the two day event.

Thursday, March 8, 10.01 a.m. CET

The challenges of probiotics in aquaculture

Probiotic use is an effective way of controlling microbiota and reducing the number of pathogens. However, on a commercial scale, almost all intestinal probiotic used for aquaculture is based on bacillus.

“Bacillus is generally easy to register, it has a long shelf life and is highly used because it produces enzymes that will contribute to reducing feed conversion and improving growth,” said Benedict Standen, product manager at Biomin.

“But the fact that it is the most commercially suitable does not mean it is the best probiotic for animal health,” he said.

There are mainly three hurdles that need to be overcome in order to bring other, more effective probiotics to the markets, said Standen.

“The lack of reproducible results, the challenges with the application of the probiotic, which is commonly very sensitive to the high temperatures of the feed production process, and the difficulties to register the probiotics.”


Thursday, March 8, 09.30 a.m. CET

The good, the harmless and the ugly

Gut microbiota has protective, structural and metabolic functions, and all beings are fully dependent on it, but there are intrinsic differences not only between animal types, but also between species, and even gender.

While a human long intestine is around 1.3 meters long, a carp intestine, for instance, stretches up to 5.7 meters.

Differences aside, there are three types of microbiota, as Professor Einar Ringo put it in layman’s terms: “the good, the harmless and the ugly.”

Mainly, gut microbiota is divided into two bacteria based on the way they perform: allochthonous, which stick to the gut and eventually leave, and autochthonous, which stick to the mucus and colonize.

During an in-vivo study of Atlantic cod gut, researchers showed the structural difference in the formation of adherent bacteria isolated from proximal intestine when the fish was fed with fish meal, with soy bean meal, and with bio processed soy bean meal, showing “evident differences.”

“What this shows is that you can moderate the gut microbiota with the feed that you provide the fish, this could be used to generate good bacteria that is able to colonize the gut,” said Ringo.

Restrictions on in-vivo studies by regulators have forced the scientific community to increase their in-vitro research, and the differences between apparently similar species, such as Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, can also hamper studies in the field.

But advances in gut bacteria colonization are a strong line of study for scientists looking to reduce fish exposure to the “ugly” bacteria in the microbiota.


Wednesday, March 7, 15.08 p.m. CET

Focus should be on controlling, not eliminating, disease

Improving networking and knowledge sharing in the shrimp industry will be essential for disease management going forward, according to Grant D. Stentiford, from UK government body Cefas.

However, there is no need to focus on eliminating pathogens completely, but rather on "controlling outbreaks," he said.

Looking to the future, the industry will not only have to improve its background knowledge of pathogen development, but also promote data collection, the decentralization of diagnostics and the centralization of information.

More than half of the world’s shrimp production -- 53 percent -- is farmed, and this is set to increase, he said. Shrimp farming spreads across different continents, and in many places it is a very fragmented practice.

"The farmer is the keynote in data collection," said Stentiford. "If you can get farmers to report live data back to centralized companies through a smartphone app, you are collecting high quality data from lots of people in remote places."

At the moment, diagnosis is done by scientists visiting ponds, which results in less data and a lengthier process.

“Farmers are in their farms in Thailand, for example, checking that the shrimp is performing normally, that it’s not lethargic, that it’s feeding normally every two hours, this is very relevant information.”

This kind of technology could be brought into aquaculture to help solve the problems we are talking about.


Wednesday, March 7, 12.27 p.m. CET

The dangers of toxins found in plant-based ingredients

Mycotoxins -- toxic substances produced by different types of fungus, both storage and field fungus – are present, against general belief in aquatic feeds.

Replacing marine protein with plant-based protein can come with some risks, and it is safe to assume that certain plant commodities such as soy bean, corn, wheat, wheat bran, or cotton seed meal will contain certain levels of these toxins.

What’s more, byproducts based on these ingredients will have a higher presence of the toxin, which is chemically stable, or in other words, resistant to different methods to eliminate it.

“If you don’t have the flexibility to avoid using them, at least you should be aware of them in order to prevent the effects,” said Rui Goncalves, from Biomin.

There are more than 400 types of mycotoxin present, especially in feed for carp, red tilapia, rainbow trout and Pacific white shrimp.

"Although levels since 2014 have decreased, co-occurrence of mycotoxins -- two or more toxins present at the same time -- is more frequent," Goncalves said.

The toxin is often present at harmful levels, to different extents depending on the region.

Biomin is the only company that has a developed an EU-backed technology to mitigate the effects of mycotoxin.

Three of Biomins’ products -- Mycofix secure, Biomin BBSH, and FUMzyme -- can reduce the effects of mycotoxin either by deactivation or absorption.


Wednesday, March 7, 11.45 a.m. CET

How can phytogenics help aquaculture?

Phytogenics can in fact contribute to the three main pillars of sustainability: nutrition, environment, and disease.

These feed additives have an important role to play, they have two main components: sensory properties to support feed intake with development in smell and taste with palatability enhancers or odor masking, and biological properties, or the chemical structure of essential oils to support performance.

In addition, phytogenics play an important role in improving gut microbiota, promoting beneficial bacteria and inhibiting some of the most pathogenic bacteria.

It can also enhance feed conversion, and adjust digestive secretion, said Michael Noonan, Global Product Manager at Biomin’s Phytogenics division.

All this improves nutrient digestibility, reduces competition for nutrients, eliminates problems with microbial toxins, and help the fish develop a less demanding immune system. In turn, this reduces ammonia, bacteria growth, and saves energy to grow.

“Phytogenics improve performance, sustainability, reduce costs, and it improves fish and fillet quality, overall. Ultimately, this leads to higher profitability," said Noonan.


Wednesday, March 7, 11.20 a.m. CET

Are we feeding shrimp unnaturally?

One big mistake in shrimp feed: “never coat shrimp feed with neutral or negative components, because it reduces the intake,” said Piet Verstraete, from 4Sea, during his presentation on fishmeal challenges and opportunities.

In fact, he said, there are a few mistakes in shrimp feeding. According to a recently study commissioned by 4Seas, shrimp – by nature – would choose to eat 85 percent of its feed before the sun rises and after it sets.

This is completely different to the times at which workers feed the ponds.

“This is why more and more automatic systems will be used, like in marine fish farms,” said Verstraete.

“This would give the right amount of feed at the right time, reducing waste and improving intake and performance.”


Wednesday, March 7, 11.14 a.m. CET

An unsustainable situation

Today fishmeal prices are at $1,700 per metric ton, while fish oil prices are at $2,000 per metric ton.

“We no longer look at just Peru or Chile, but also Mauritania, Angola, whenever there is the minimum volumes to put the basic levels in feed, but we cannot continue like this,” said Piet Verstraete, 4SEA Consulting.

The substitution of fishmeal continues to be a challenge for the aquaculture feed industry. Although replacement has been achieved to a considerable level for certain species, other sectors such as shrimp are well behind.

In addition, the complexity of the task does not only relate to economic challenges, but also the nutritional composition of fishmeal itself: not just in terms of protein, but also amino acids, micro nutrients and the ratio of digestible protein and energy.

Although there are already viable alternatives, there are also many challenges in terms of data collection, and in replacing each and all of the nutrients to the right level – without falling short or exceeding the different needs of the species – in order to optimize performance, feed intake and quality.

One thing is clear, at the end of the day, your client will just ask for the right feed, regardless of the ingredients used.

According to a new study by Corbion, 4,700 consumers from the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and China, agreed on three factors when it comes to buying fish: That is responsibly farmed, that it meets the heart healthy claim, and that it has the highest composition in good fats.

It is now up to the industry to find the balance and come up with those solutions.


Wednesday, March 7, 9.00 a.m. CET

Welcome to Austria

Austria-based animal nutrition company Biomin’s Aqua Days two-day event is kicking off in Getzersdof, Austria, at the company's headquarters. The program will cover the main issues in feed development and alternatives.

The fishmeal dilemma will be a central topic with experts providing insight on the reduction of fish-based ingredients, the challenges and opportunities and sustainability in aquaculture.

During the two day event, speakers will also cover animal health and immunity focusing on shrimp diseases and mitigation measures.

Biomin, a technology and solution provider to the feed aquaculture industry, is also introducing its aquaculture center for applied nutrition, with an opening speech by Plinio Barbarino, managing director of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa (MMEA) divisions at Biomin.