Nutritional physiology of captive fishes


Small B. 2007. Nutritional physiology of captive fishes. In Ward A, Hunt A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Knoxville, TN.


Managing the health of captive fishes requires broad knowledge of environmental, physiological, and nutritional requirements for life in an aquatic realm, something no human being can fully appreciate. In spite of our lack of experience living in an aquatic environment, we can successfully manage the nutritional well-being of captive fishes. In fact, the fundamental requirements of life differ little from terrestrial animals. Although there are over 25,000 species of fish on earth and many have adapted their physiology to unique aquatic environments, fish generally have similar qualitative essential nutrient requirements to terrestrial animals. Insight into quantitative requirements can be gained from literature describing the nutrient requirements of well-studied foodfish, such as channel catfish, tilapia, striped bass, and various salmonid species. Using the requirements of this limited group of foodfish to interpret the needs of other fish species is better than nothing, but it is also far from adequate. While the nutritional requirements to support the optimal health of most species are unknown, enough information exists to describe the general nutritional requirements of fishes.