Spirulina - Super Food

All about Spirulina. Spirulina as a human and animal food, spirulina as a medicine. Spirulina production and clutivation methods.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Spirulina as a Fish Food

A lot has been written about Spirulina as a food source for humans, but it seems it would also be a great food for animals, especially fish.

Preliminary studies indicated that channel catfish fed spirulina had an increase in the number of splenic macrophages determined by esterase staining compared to controls. Not only were more macrophages present in the spleen, but also the macrophages appeared activated. Activation determined by morphology on scanning electron microscopy, was characterized by the presence of numerous folds and ruffles. This research was performed on a single population of catfish over a period of months. While data suggests nonspecific immuno-stimulation elicited by spirulina in the diet, further study on different populations of fish is underway to confirm the preliminary data.

More recently, there has been new interest concerning the therapeutic effects of Spirulina as a "probiotic" or booster for the immune response system in animals and fish. Probiotic means "that which promotes life". The probiotics will help to prevent the infection from occurring in the first place. Recent studies have found that Spirulina algae functions as a probiotic, allowing the fishes own immune system to function at a higher level of activity. The idea of using probiotics for disease control is receiving greater attention lately due to ineffectiveness of the available antibiotics, and the publics growing interest over the use of probiotics or holistic type medications.

Benefits to using Spirulina Algae as a fish food comes from the increased and more uniform growth rates when fed at the recommended .5-2.0% inclusion rate. Spirulina improves the intestinal flora in fish by the breakdown of otherwise indigestible feed components, thereby extracting more nutrition from the feed. The same beneficial flora or bacteria produce vitamins and displace harmful which is why fish fed Spirulina have less intestinal compaction, a slimmer abdomen, and are more resistant to infection. Spirulina stimulates the production on enzymes that transport fats within the fish s body. The fish utilized the fat to power growth instead of just storing it and becoming flabby.

The 5 ppt carotenoid pigments that are concentrated in Spirulina algae improve and intensify the coloration in fish. This is especially important for koi and goldfish for commanding a higher price in the marketplace. Chlorophyll and phycocyanin also enhance the skin colors.

Studies in Japan on marine yellowtail showed that fingerlings fed a ration of 0.5% (5 ppt) spirulina resulted in a significant gain in survival over the non-Spirulina fed group. Similar results were obtained from professional Discus fish breeders whom incorporate Spirulina powder into the diet for newborn Discus fry.

Fish farmers have found that including Spirulina in the diet reduced the amount of medication or therapeutics that are normally required to treat sick fish. Spirulina also reduced toxicity of medications and may itself have anti-viral properties. Most disease treatments on the market are "water baths" in which the fish must absorb the drug from the aquarium water. Unfortunately, the treatment water is often discharged down the drain into our environment and waterways. Orally feeding your fish a diet containing Spirulina could effectively reduce or eliminate the need for bath treatments. Using Spirulina algae as a "prophylactic" treatment in place of antibiotics can effectively reduce wastewater pollutants, eliminating costly treatment systems and increases the effectiveness of existing systems.

Spirulinas cell wall is rich in muco-proteins that enhance the natural mucus layer of the fishes skin. This results in a shiny appearance, healthier fins are less app to tear, and improved resistance to skin infections. Spirulinas soft cell wall enables it to be easily digested.

Many fish, especially African Cichlids and Gold Fish, eat a lot of blue green algae and the wild. Blue green algae like Spirulina have a special protein called Phycocyanin not not found in another algae or terrestrial plants. Japanese scientists have linked Phycocyanin to improved kidney and liver function. The effects of Phycocyanin are the reasons that Japanese fish farmers make extensive use of Spirulina.

Their experience is that the fish grow less obese and have improved survival rates, superior growth and appearance over those not fed Spirulina. This, of course, means higher selling prices for them.
Spirulina and other micro-algae contain essential fatty acids that are essential for proper development and functioning of the internal organs. Without the proper fatty acids, many saltwater fish will not breed or survive.

Colorations in fish depend to a large degree upon the pigments that they get from their food. The most important pigments are of a class called carotenoids. These include beta-carotene and xanthophylls. Spirulina is the natural food highest in carotenoid pigments, some 20 times the amount found in carrots. Spirulina contains at least six forms of this pigment providing a "rainbow" of color possibilities. When feeding your fish a food containing Spirulina, you will see better colorations within a few weeks.

Spirulina flakes are available from several manufacturers and are a vitamin-rich, vegetable supplement for live bearers and plant eating tropical and marine fish. An excellent supplement for Goldfish too! Just be careful - too much Spirulina can be harmful.


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Blogger said...

What a fabulous article. You describe all the benefits of spirulina so well and very in-depth.

It's a lot of great information, very helpful!

Keep it up Sasha

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Blogger said...

Love how you've described it!

Great Article Sasha!


At 9:13 PM, Blogger Charlie said...

Great article! the discus world needs more of these...


At 4:02 AM, Blogger sasha said...

Thanks guys, more infromation is coming soon.

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