UGANDA- The National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) has launched Spirulina, a fish feed ingredient, to reduce the overreliance on silverfish as an ingredient in fish feed production. 

More accurately identified as a blue-green cyanobacterium, spirulina powder contains valuable nutritional, medicinal, and color-enhancing compounds of interest to players in the aquaculture industry.

According to Dr. Fred Wanda, a senior research scientist at the institute, spirulina offers excellent nutritional benefits for commercial fish compared to other alternatives. 

This feed alternative has high-quality protein content, which is more than other commonly used plant sources, and can therefore be an alternative protein source in fish feed. 

Spirulina is a filamentous microalga that exists naturally in Ugandan waters and has an unusually high protein content of between 55 and 70% dry weight,” Dr. Wanda said in an interview. 

Spirulina can also be cultured cost-effectively using a low-cost culture medium. It grows in water, can be harvested and processed easily, and has significantly high macro- and micronutrient contents, including essential fatty acid and β- carotene. 

It has been commercially cultivated for more than a decade in different countries worldwide due to its high nutritional content, and the Ugandan aquaculture industry could benefit a lot from the ingredient. 

Competition for silverfish between humans and fish 

Silverfish, which has been traditionally used in commercial fish feed production, is a great ingredient, but supplies are likely to reduce as its consumption among people increases. 

The production of silverfish is likely to reduce because of the high demand for fish feed and food for people among animals and people. Spirulina could, therefore, serve as an excellent source of plant proteins to replace animal-deprived proteins in fish feed,” Dr. Wanda remarked. 

As NaFIRRI seeks to unveil the use of spirulina in fish feed production, it aims to encourage people to eat more silverfish. By reducing its usage in feed production, more of it will be available for human consumption. 

Currently, human consumption of silverfish is at 30%, while 70% is used for fish feed. We want this to be reduced by the alternative use of spirulina,” said Ms. Joyce Akumu, another research scientist at the NaFIRRI said. 

Moreover, according to Ms. Akumu, feeding accounts for a significant cost of aquaculture, mostly because of the cost of silverfish. Therefore, substituting silverfish with spirulina is bound to reduce the cost of production and leave fish farmers with better profit margins from their enterprises. 

Additionally, when properly processed and all toxins removed, spirulina is also a great human nutrition supplement.

Ms. Akumu holds that spirulina utilization promises benefits beyond fish feed production. 

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