Feeding farmed octopuses in captivity. (Photo: CARM)
Important progress in feed development for octopus
Monday, June 25, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A group of researchers from Agricultural and Food Development Research Institute in Murcia (Imida) made great strides in achieving feed for fattening octopus (Octopus vulgaris).
The director of the institute, Adrián Martínez, recalled that the Region of Murcia "has been participating in a national plan for octopus industrial development for ten years," funded by the National Advisory Board for Mariculture (Jacumar).
The scientists performed tests in installed offshore cages and found that natural feeding -- crustaceans and fish -- achieved spectacular growth of the octopus, reaching one kilogram per month.
But some issues have been detected, such as pathogens, higher production costs and excess waste, which made it inappropriate for this type of food to be used in an aquaculture facility from the environmental point of view.
In this regard, Martínez explained that feed "has many advantages, such as the even supply and composition, easy storage and distribution, minimal handling at the facility, disease spread risk reduction, improved consistency, organoleptic properties, digestibility and conservation."
Meanwhile, Benjamín García, the coordinator of the team, stressed that fish eat any type of food but it is not the case of octopuses, which are very selective when accepting the food. If something does not appeal to them, they reject it, explained the researcher.
Furthermore, when octopuses are not well fed and nourished, they eat each other.
During the study, the researchers conducted several tests in the Aquaculture Centre of San Pedro Pinatar to determine the octopus’ favourite raw material, such as egg yolk.
The team found that octopuses welcomed a simple diet consisting of pasteurized egg, sardinella, gelatin, frozen-dried squid and pea meal, among other components.
Later, the scientists combined other products, replacing the squid with starch to reduce costs, and achieved a growth of 10-15 grams per day, with a conversion rate of 95 per cent.
The team assured that these results are very encouraging and the best ones worldwide.
However, the investigation will continue until further growth of octopuses is achieved.
Starting with octopuses of about 700 grams, researchers claim that after three or four months they will reach a standard marketable size of between 3 and 3.5 kg, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Water of Murcia.
Imida has the support of a Galician company specializing in the design of cages to develop prototypes that are suitable for offshore installation.
The next step is to test this feed in the marine environment in the premises of a company from Murcia to check its yield.
By Analia Murias