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Should salmon eat animal or plant protein?

Farmed salmon are fed mainly on a diet of fishmeal and fish oils. Fishmeal is obtained by processing small fish, such as sardines, herring and anchovies, which are dried, crushed and pressed to remove oil and ash. Fishmeal is rich in proteins, fats and vitamins important for the growth and development of salmon.

Fish oils are used to provide essential fatty acids such as omega-3, which are important for the salmon's cardiovascular health and nervous system.

In some cases, farmers also use other sources of protein, such as soybean meal and maize meal, but the use of these sources is generally not considered ideal for salmon nutrition.

It is important to note that the use of these feeds can cause a negative environmental impact, as many of these fish used for feed production are overfished and this can cause overfishing in fish stocks.

Dyes are used in salmon farming to improve the colour of their meat and make it more attractive to consumers. The most commonly used dyes in salmon farming are canthaxanthin and astaxanthin, which are both natural pigments derived from algae. These dyes are added to salmon diets to enhance the natural pink colour of their flesh.

The use of dyes in salmon farming has been criticised because they could cause health problems for the animals and humans who consume the fish. In addition, dyes may also be used to mask the quality of the fish, as farmed salmon may have paler flesh than wild salmon due to their diet and environment. An inadequate diet based on vegetable protein or unbalanced by dyes and additives can cause health problems and death of the fish, reducing farm productivity, but also the quality of the product. Often due to vegetable protein feeds, used to reduce rearing costs, salmon suffer from dysentery their nature is in fact that of being carnivores.

Dysentery can be a problem for salmon farms, especially if hygienic conditions are not adequate.

Bacteria of the genus Aeromonas can cause dysentery in salmon, particularly Aeromonas salmonicida, which is a major cause of illness in farmed salmon. The disease can cause severe mortality in juvenile fish and can be difficult to control once it has spread in a fish population.

It is important to note that fish producers using sustainable production methods often choose not to use dyes and to promote the consumption of sustainably caught wild fish.

The use of insect protein as food for salmon is a developing practice in aquaculture. Insects, and their larvae, are rich in protein and can be grown sustainably, unlike some traditional ingredients such as fish or soya, are more suitable and palatable for salmon. The use of protein from insects reduces farmed salmon mortality and prevents a wide range of diseases that salmon may have if fed vegetable protein.

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