Quantities of fish meal (FM) have remained level for the past several decades; however, demand has dramatically increased because of its inclusion in all animal production as a high-quality protein source. Soybean meal (SBM) is the most widely used plant-protein ingredient for replacing various proportions of FM in aquatic animal diets. However, use of SBM as the sole protein source has often resulted in reduced fish growth. There is a growing segment of consumers who desire organically grown seafood, and tilapia is one of the most-cultured fish in the world. As tilapia have herbivorous/omnivorous feeding habits, tilapia fed organic diets may allow producers to enter this rapidly developing market. A feeding experiment was conducted to evaluate the combination of organic SBM and an organic yeast extract (YE) as complete replacements for FM in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, fry diets. Nine diets were formulated to contain various percentages of organic YE (0, 15, 30, and 45%) in combination with organic SBM (84–34%) with and without amino acid (methionine and lysine) supplementation.
At the conclusion of the study, fry fed a control diet containing 20% FM and fry fed a diet containing 45% YE/36%SBM with amino acid supplementation showed no significant differences (P > 0.05) in final weight, weight gain, and specific growth rate (SGR) compared to those fed all other diets. On the basis of these data, an organic diet which replaces FM with a combination of SBM and YE with added methionine and lysine is commercially feasible and further investigation into the increased use of these two ingredients as protein sources in aquaculture diets is warranted.