Octopus gained weight having extruded dry food. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Dry food to feed octopuses in farms under development
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A team of professors and researchers from the School of Agricultural Engineering and Natural Habitats (ETSIAMN) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) developed artificial dry food to feed octopuses reared in captivity.
Proponents of the initiative aim at producing octopuses for the aquaculture field in a "low cost" way in order to help increase the supply of this cephalopod on the market.
Under the guidance of professors Ana Tomas and Miguel Jover, Institute of Animal Science and Technology, the group managed to create a feed similar to the food eaten by octopuses, but with a different texture and ingredients: fish meal, krill meal and gelatine, among other products.
For the first time in Europe, and after several years of study, the researchers could manage to feed and grow cephalopods in captivity with dry feed.
"Until now, octopuses only tried the food and maintained the weight, but they had never gained weight having extruded dry food”, said Tomas. Although currently the octopuses are getting fatter at a low rate than when they eat natural food, we have achieved a major milestone in the diet of these animals. "
The scientist is confident that this achievement will benefit companies involved in aquaculture and animal feed manufacturers, and also society in general, because if enhanced and marketed, it will help increase octopus availability on the market.
Tomas recalled that in 2009, during the first phase of the project, "octopuses manipulated food, ate a little, but did not like it and did not fatten." She explained that one of the problems of the previous feed was that "the octopuses crack it into parts and much of the food was lost in the water."
With the new developed this problem could be solved.
At this stage of the investigation, the octopuses were placed in separate cells, with enough space to live and feed. Today we are testing octopuses’ adaptation in the sea, and then nutrition tests with the new feed will be conducted.
Experts say octopuses are "extremely intelligent, selective and capable of learning", and can even detect the taste "with all their body and if they find the food unpleasant, they don’t eat it."
On the other hand, in the first two months of the year 22,000 kilograms of octopus were auctioned in the market of Bueu, Galicia, that is to say, 66 per cent less than the same period in 2011, when about 66,000 kg were traded.
According to the Head of the Bueu Guild, there are many factors related to the scarcity of octopus, and it is normal to have good years and bad ones. However, he pointed the overexploitation of resources and changes in sea temperature as some of the causes of lower abundance of these cephalopods.
By Analia Murias