The development of a formulated feed containing Ulva (Chlorophyta) to promote rapid growth and enhanced production of high quality roe in the sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla (Linnaeus)



This study investigated growth and gonad production of Tripneustes gratilla fed four protein-rich artificial diets supplemented with varying amounts (0%, 5%, 15% and 20% weight/weight (w/w); designated 0, 5, 15 and 20U, respectively) of the macroalga Ulva over a 12-week period. Gonad size, texture, colour and a number of production performance parameters were quantified and compared with urchins fed fresh Ulva (FU) and a combination of FU and artificial feed (FB). All artificial diets significantly ( 0.05) increased gonad somatic indices (GSI) compared with the FU treatment. The 20U treatment increased GSI by 205% by week 9, compared with a 57% increase in the GSI of urchins fed FU. Gonad colour was calculated using three colour parameters, namely L* (lightness), a* (redness) and b* (yellowness). Whereas L* and a* values did not differ significantly between treatments, b* values for all treatments, with the exception of the 20U and FB treatments, were significantly ( 0.05) lower or less yellow than the FU treatment by week 12. These results show that we have successfully formulated a feed (20U) which can produce commercially acceptable gonads in terms of both size and colour, indicating the potential for this artificial feed to support commercial echinoculture.