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Taurine Supplementation of Plant Derived Protein and n-3 Fatty Acids are Critical for Optimal Growth and Development of Cobia, Rachycentron canadum


We examined growth performance and the lipid content in juvenile cobia, Rachycentron canadum, fed a taurine supplemented (1.5 %), plant protein based diet with two fish oil replacements. The first fish oil replacement was a thraustochytrid meal (TM + SOY) plus soybean oil (~9 % CL) and the second was a canola oil supplemented with the essential fatty acids (EFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) (~8 % CL). The diet using the thraustochytrid meal plus soybean oil performed equivalently to the fish oil diet; both resulting in significantly higher growth rates, lower feed conversion ratios, and higher survival than the supplemented canola oil diet, even though all three diets were similar in overall energy and met known protein and lipid requirements for cobia. The poor performance of the canola oil diet was attributed to insufficient addition of EFA in the supplemented canola oil source. Increasing levels of EFA in the supplemented canola oil above 0.5 g EFA kg−1 would likely improve results with cobia. When fish fed either of the fish oil replacement diets were switched to the fish oil control diet, fatty acid profiles of the fillets were observed to transition toward that of the fish oil diet and could be predicted based on a standard dilution model. Based on these findings, a formulated diet for cobia can be produced without fish products providing 100 % survivorship, specific growth rates greater than 2.45 and feed conversion ratios less than 1.5, as long as taurine is added and EFA levels are above 0.5 g EFA kg−1.

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α-Linolenic acid


Arachidonic acid


Agricultural Research Service (control diet)


Canola oil + essential fatty acids diet


Crude lipid


Docosahexaenoic acid


Essential fatty acid(s)


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Fatty acid methyl ester(s)


Feed conversion ratio


Long chain


Linoleic acid


Monounsaturated fatty acid(s)


Polyunsaturated fatty acid(s)


Saturated fatty acid(s)


Thraustochytrid meal + soybean oil diet


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The authors would like thank the staff of the Aquaculture Research Center at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology; Steve Rodgers, Chris Tollini, Daria Battaglia, and Joy Harris. A special thanks to Ernest Williams and Hiro Nonogaki for laboratory assistance throughout the study and Jason Frost, USDA/ARS for assistance in manufacturing the experimental diets. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Upal Ghosh for PCB analysis and Dr. Andrew Heyes for mercury analysis. This work was partially funded by award #NA10OAR4170265 from the NOAA National Marine Aquaculture Initiative. The authors would also like to thank Gordon Bell and Douglas Tocher for pointing out the EFA deficiency in our canola oil diet formulation. This research was also supported in part by a generous gift from the Stolarz Foundation to A.W. This is contribution number #4776 from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and contribution #13-110 from the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

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Correspondence to Aaron M. Watson.

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Watson, A.M., Barrows, F.T. & Place, A.R. Taurine Supplementation of Plant Derived Protein and n-3 Fatty Acids are Critical for Optimal Growth and Development of Cobia, Rachycentron canadum . Lipids 48, 899–913 (2013).

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  • Aquaculture
  • Aquatic feeds
  • Cobia
  • Taurine
  • Fish oil replacement