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Effects of dietary astaxanthin concentration and feeding period on the skin pigmentation of Australian snapper Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

journal contribution
posted on 2008-12-01, 00:00 authored by B Doolan, M Booth, G Allan, Paul Jones
A single-factor experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary astaxanthin concentration on the skin colour of snapper. Snapper (mean weight=129 g) were held in white cages and fed one of seven dietary levels of unesterified astaxanthin (0, 13, 26, 39, 52, 65 or 78 mg astaxanthin kg−1) for 63 days. Treatments comprised four replicate cages, each containing five fish. The skin colour of all fish was quantified using the CIE L*, a*, b* colour scale after 21, 42 and 63 days. In addition, total carotenoid concentrations of the skin of two fish cage−1 were determined after 63 days. Supplementing diets with astaxanthin strongly affected redness (a*) and yellowness (b*) values of the skin at all sampling times. After 21 days, the a* values increased linearly as the dietary astaxanthin concentration was increased before a plateau was attained between 39 and 78 mg kg−1. The b* values similarly increased above basal levels in all astaxanthin diets. By 42 days, a* and b* values increased in magnitude while a plateau remained between 39 and 78 mg kg−1. After 63 days, there were no further increases in measured colour values, suggesting that maximum pigmentation was imparted in the skin of snapper fed diets >39 mg kg−1 after 42 days. Similarly, there were no differences in total carotenoid concentrations of the skin of snapper fed diets >39 mg kg−1 after 63 days. The plateaus that occurred in a* and b* values, while still increasing in magnitude between 21 and 42 days, indicate that the rate of astaxanthin deposition in snapper is limited and astaxanthin in diets containing >39 mg astaxanthin kg−1 is not efficiently utilized. Astaxanthin retention after 63 days was greatest from the 13 mg kg−1 diet; however, skin pigmentation was not adequate. An astaxanthin concentration of 39 mg kg−1 provided the second greatest retention in the skin while obtaining maximum pigmentation. To efficiently maximize skin pigmentation, snapper growers should commence feeding diets containing a minimum of 39 mg unesterified astaxanthin kg−1 at least 42 days before sale.



Aquaculture research






60 - 68


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


Oxford, England







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2009, Wiley