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Aquaculture feed is used when rearing marine livestock such as fish, shellfish, and algae. Quality nutrition is needed for healthy growth and reproduction and feed usually consists of fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Extruded aquaculture feed floats on the water surface and pressure-pelleted feed will sink to the bottom.

What aquafeed equipment do you need?

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Apart from floating and sinking feed, pellet size and protein content are key parameters. Pellets should be large enough to be quickly found and still swallowed easily. Different species require different diets representing the plant-based or carnivorous diets in the wild. The required protein level in aquafeed differs per species, fish size and age, and breeding environment.

Aquafeed still relies very much on fish meal and fish oil made out of the by-catch of fisheries, which due to the growing worldwide protein shortage actually enhances overfishing. Insects, plant-based ingredients, and aquaculture by-products are therefore seen as promising more sustainable sources to help create the 37.7 million tons of aquafeed required by 2025.

Commercial fish feed manufacturers process dry ingredients for long-term storage and transport. Farms that manufacture feed themselves can more easily make wet feed and use local raw materials. Often feed is supplemented with certain additives such as mold inhibitors, pellet binders, grain conditioners, anti-stress agents, or for example immunostimulants as an alternative to antibiotics.

Insects as a sustainable protein resource for aqua feed

Entomics Biosystems, a company set up by a group of Cambridge students, is developing a sustainable feed of the future based on maggots and food waste. Black Soldier Flies can grow about 5000 times their own body weight in only 2 weeks. Leading to a very efficient conversion from waste into interesting ingredients for farmed fish such as proteins and fats.  In this case, the insects are used on a Scottish salmon farm as a substitute for a fish meal from anchovies shipped over all the way from South America.

Industrial fish feed milling and extrusion technology

A fish feed plant includes several individual machines for conveying, proportioning, pre-treatment, and subsequent cooling and storage. Amandus Kahl has developed a new designed extruder type OEE 25 NG for fish feed which can cover an output range of up to 10 t/h in large-scale industrial applications. The focus of this new extruder was to create a user-friendly solution, enabling homogeneous product mixing and venting for the production of sinking as well as floating fish feed.

Technology for packing and processing aqufeed

As for every production plant, the technology used to make aqua feed will differ greatly depending on available resources and raw materials as well as the end product and quantity.

Generally speaking, the process is as follows: If required wet materials such as fish scraps are cut into smaller pieces and course dry materials like grains need to be milled first before blending. This premix or dough can then be shaped into the desired form by for example a pellet press or extrusion cooker and will be dried afterward. Starches and proteins are key in the formulation because they form a large part of the diet and alter properties when exposed to heat influencing for example solubility and digestibility.

Pasteurization or heat is essential for longer shelf life and is preferably stored in a cool and dry place. Silos systems should be easy to clean and provide easy accurate dosing into desired bagging systems or bulk containers for further use.

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