Changes in amino acid content of an algal feed species (Navicula sp.) and their effect on growth and survival of juvenile abalone (Haliotis rubra).
The growth and survival of juvenile Haliotis rubra, when fed with the diatom Navicula sp. cultured in f/2 medium containing combined nitrogen at 24.71 mg NO3-N L-1 (high), 12.35 mg NO3-N L-1 (standard) or 2.47 mg NO3-N L-1 (low), were compared in a 33-day trial. The alga in the low nitrogen medium contained 37% less total amino acid than that in the high and standard nitrogen media. There was a slightly greater reduction in essential amino acids (40%) compared to non-essential amino acids (35%). Juvenile abalone feeding on Navicula grown in medium with low nitrate and lower total amino acid content grew more slowly than when fed on the same species grown in standard or higher nitrogen medium with a higher amino acid content. The growth rate of juveniles was highest (43 µm d-1) in the high nitrate treatment followed (40 µm d-1) by the standard nitrate treatment and lowest (31 µm d-1) in the low nitrate treatment. The survival of the juveniles was also effected by the diet. Survival was better in the high and standard nitrogen media (88%) than the low nitrogen medium (75%). The results suggest that in order to achieve uniformity in nutritional quality of diatoms and good growth of abalone juveniles in commercial abalone nurseries, the nitrogen concentration in tanks should be monitored and additional nitrate added to provide an optimum concentration of between 2 and 12 mg NO3-N L-1.