Effect of diet on fatty acid compositions in Sciaenops ocellatus
The role of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on the fatty acid composition of juvenile red drum Sciaenops ocellatus was investigated. Individuals (n = 435) were fed three natural diets (Gulf menhaden Brevoortia patronus, brown shrimp Farfantapenaeus aztecus and Atlantic brief squid Lolliguncula brevis) that had significantly different proximate composition, energy density and PUFA compositions for 40 days. Diets were characterized as containing: high lipid, high protein, high energy and low PUFA (fish‐based), low lipid, low protein, low energy, moderate PUFA (shrimp‐based), and low lipid, high protein, moderate energy and high PUFA levels (squid‐based), respectively. Specimens were collected at days 0, 5, 10, 20 and 40 to evaluate rate of dietary fatty acid composition in tissues. Two‐source mixing models were used to calculate dietary fatty acid accumulation in consumer tissues. Results indicated that juvenile red drum incorporated an average of 35% dietary PUFAs after 5 days. Although relative biomass and dietary proximate composition had an effect upon the dietary fatty acid contribution, red drum averaged 91% incorporation of the five most prevalent PUFAs [18 : 2 (n − 6), 20 : 4 (n − 6), 20 : 5 (n − 3), 22 : 5 (n − 3) and 22 : 6 (n − 3)] across all diets after 40 days. Growth varied as a function of diet and rates were higher for individuals fed the squid diet than those fed shrimp or fish diets primarily due to increased levels of protein and PUFAs [including 22 : 6 (n − 3); 25·8%] in the diet. Red drum fed squid exhibited the greatest increase in average dietary fatty acid contribution by day 5, a trend that continued for the duration of the experiment. Since PUFA composition in red drum was significantly influenced by diet in as few as 5 days and almost completely incorporated into body tissues after 40 days, results from this study support the premise that fatty acids (especially PUFAs) are promising dietary indicators and may be useful for future studies examining trophic relationships of estuarine and marine fishes.
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