Dietary Fats and Astaxanthin Impact the Color of Arctic Fish

Greg Howard
8th July, 2024

Dietary Fats and Astaxanthin Impact the Color of Arctic Fish

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study conducted by Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, found that higher levels of dietary lipids improve the digestibility and retention of carotenoids in Arctic charr
  • Increasing the concentration of astaxanthin in the diet enhances the redness and overall pigmentation of Arctic charr, making them more appealing to consumers
  • The combination of higher dietary lipids and astaxanthin leads to better pigmentation and quality of Arctic charr, which can boost their market value
The red color of salmonid fish, such as Arctic charr, is a crucial quality parameter that significantly affects consumer preference and market value. A recent study conducted by Memorial University investigates how varying levels of astaxanthin (AST) and dietary lipids influence the pigmentation of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)[1]. This study builds on previous research to provide a comprehensive understanding of how diet composition can enhance fish pigmentation, thus improving their marketability. Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant and carotenoid commonly used in aquaculture to enhance the pigmentation of fish and crustaceans[2]. It naturally occurs in various aquatic organisms and is known for its health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The study by Memorial University explores the effects of different concentrations of synthetic astaxanthin (40, 60, and 80 ppm) and dietary lipid levels (10%, 18%, and 26%) on the pigmentation of Arctic charr over a 24-week period. The study found a strong correlation between the astaxanthin concentration in the belly skin and flesh of the fish and both the carotenoid and dietary lipid contents. This indicates that the pigmentation of Arctic charr can be significantly influenced by their diet. Specifically, higher levels of dietary lipids improved the apparent digestibility coefficient of carotenoids, which in turn enhanced the retention of carotenoids in the fish flesh. This finding is consistent with earlier research that showed dietary astaxanthin can improve growth performance and pigmentation in various aquatic species[2][3]. The color measurements of the fillet and belly skin were assessed using Hunter color values. The results indicated that the L* value, which represents lightness, was inversely related to carotenoid levels, while the a* (redness) and b* (yellowness) values were strongly correlated with the total carotenoid concentration. This means that as the carotenoid content increases, the fish flesh becomes darker and redder, which is desirable for consumer acceptance. Interestingly, the study also highlighted the interaction between dietary lipid levels and carotenoid content. Higher lipid levels in the diet were associated with better carotenoid digestibility and retention in the flesh. This is supported by previous findings where dietary astaxanthin and lipid levels influenced lipid metabolism and antioxidant capacity in juvenile swimming crabs[3]. The Memorial University study extends these findings to Arctic charr, demonstrating that dietary modifications can be a practical strategy to enhance fish pigmentation and overall quality. The implications of this study are significant for the aquaculture industry. By optimizing the levels of astaxanthin and dietary lipids, producers can improve the pigmentation and quality of Arctic charr, making them more appealing to consumers. This not only enhances the nutritional value of the fish but also their market potential. In summary, the study by Memorial University provides valuable insights into how diet composition affects the pigmentation of Arctic charr. By leveraging the synergistic effects of astaxanthin and dietary lipids, aquaculture producers can improve the visual and nutritional quality of their fish, aligning with consumer preferences and market demands. This research builds on earlier studies and offers practical solutions for enhancing fish quality through dietary interventions.

NutritionAnimal ScienceMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Dietary lipid and astaxanthin contents affect the pigmentation of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)

Published 7th July, 2024

Related Studies

2) Recent progress in practical applications of a potential carotenoid astaxanthin in aquaculture industry: a review.

3) Dietary Astaxanthin Can Promote the Growth and Motivate Lipid Metabolism by Improving Antioxidant Properties for Swimming Crab, Portunus trituberculatus.

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