Feed trials are being conducted at the MBL’s Marine Resources Center to develop a nutritionally complete tilapia food that can be made entirely out of ingredients that are locally available in Haiti. (Learn more about our research on biofloc and the potential of soldierfly larvae as fish feed.)  During the 2011 Tilapia Aquaculture in Haiti workshop, it was decided among experts in the field that the number one problem with current aquaculture in Haiti is the price of the fish feed; a bag of food that costs $8 in the US would cost $22 after importing into Haiti. Due to this high price of feed, it is critical to develop a feed that can be produced in-country in order to have a truly sustainable aquaculture system. Our research focuses on the following different aspects of the feed manufacturing process and how they can be realistically accomplished in Haiti:

Feed ingredients are selected based on their local abundance, expense, and nutritional profile. An emphasis is placed on using various plants and waste products that are not a main source of nutrition for the human population in Haiti.

Nutritional analysis is performed on promising ingredients and this information is used to carefully balance the nutritional components (protein, lipid, amino acids, etc.) of the feed so that it can meet all of the tilapia’s nutritional requirements.

Palatability is tested in the lab and we are currently experimenting with several practical techniques and ingredients to determine how to make the feed most attractive to the fish.

Antinutritional factors are present in many plant ingredients and can have adverse affects on health and growth. Research is being conducted on simple processing methods that may significantly reduce the levels of antinutritional factors which will increase the tilapia’s absorption of nutrients from a plant-based feed.

Feed production and delivery methods are being analyzed to establish the ones that will best allow for farmers to monitor their fish’s feed consumption even if they do not have access to expensive processing equipment.