Effect of Feed Protein and Carbohydrate Levels on Feed Intake, Growth, and Gonad Production of the Sea Urchin, Lytechinus variegatus


Corresponding author.


In this study, we evaluated protein and carbohydrate levels in cold-extruded dry diets. Sea urchins (12.6 ± 0.12 SE g wet weight, 29.5 ± 0.11 SE mm diameter) were collected from St. Joseph Bay, Florida (30°N, 85.5°W), and transported to the Texas Agrilife Research Mariculture Laboratory in Port Aransas, Texas. Urchins were held individually in replicated enclosures within a recirculating seawater system (32 ± 2 ppt and 22 ± 2 C). Urchins (n = 16urchins) were fed diets that differed in protein : carbohydrate levels (31:33%, 25:39%, 21:44%, and 17:47% dry weight) for 12-wk. Survival was 100% in all diet treatments. Urchins fed the 31:33% protein : carbohydrate diet consumed less feed, more dry protein, less dry carbohydrate, less energy, and had lower feed conversion ratios than urchins fed other diets. Urchins fed the 31:33% protein : carbohydrate diet had larger test diameters, total wet weights, production efficiencies, and gonad production efficiencies than urchins in the other diets. Weight gain varied directly and significantly with protein intake. Sufficient energy was available for maximum weight gain as protein was spared. Growth rates and production efficiencies for the urchins in this study were higher than in previous feeding studies with adult Lytechinus variegatus.