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Asian Carp Muscle as an Initial Dietary Protein Source and Palatability Enhancer for Successful Production of Yellow Perch and Walleye Fingerlings


Project Summary

Limited knowledge of larval/juvenile nutritional requirements, the reliance on live food, poor weaning success to formulated diets, and inefficient utilization of soybean meal-based feeds have all limited expansion of Percid fingerling production. We propose an innovative dietary protein source and dietary attractant that will precisely match Percid larvae and juvenile requirements and induce high feed intake and positive growth responses when used as first feed and/or during weaning. This innovative dietary protein source will provide more control in production of Percid fingerlings by increasing dry diet acceptance and exposure to plant-based formulation at the earliest possible age. This innovative dietary ingredient and knowledge derived from the study will provide the aquaculture industry particularly in the NCR with the new approach for the development of high-quality starter feeds that will support sustainable expansion of the hatchery sector and consequently contribute to the development of competitive aquaculture market within the NCR.


1. To develop the optimal in vitro methodology for Asian carp muscle digestion using digestive enzymes obtained from adult yellow perch Perca flavescens and walleye Sander vitreus that can be used as a protein source and attractant in dietary formulations for larval and juvenile yellow perch and walleye.

2. To evaluate the effect of Asian carp muscle protein hydrolysate obtained using methodology in Objective 1 as a protein source in diets for yellow perch and walleye when used as first feed.

3. To evaluate the effect of Asian carp muscle protein hydrolysate obtained using methodology in Objective 1 as an additive/palatability enhancer in diets for yellow perch and walleye on successful weaning to formulated feeds.

4. To evaluate the effect of Asian carp muscle protein hydrolysate combined with soybean meal hydrolysate - both obtained using methodology in Objective 1, as additives in diets for yellow perch and walleye for successful weaning to formulated feeds and easier transition to plant-based feeds.

5. To provide the aquaculture community within the North Central Region (NCR) with guidelines on successful larval rearing protocols for both yellow perch and walleye in indoor systems.

6. To provide the feed/additive manufacturing industry with the knowledge and the tools required for production of high-quality well-digested dietary protein hydrolysate as a cost-effective source of protein and attractant for young fish feeds.



1. Fish feeds are a major bottleneck in aquaculture since they constitute up to 70% of total fish production costs and hence, their high quality is critical to achieve maximal growth. The proposed methodology for obtaining the optimal protein hydrolysate for YP and W larvae will become a practical way of attaining, in a controlled way, an innovative, natural, and cost-effective dietary ingredient for larval Percid diets that will meet both the nutritional requirements and functional capacity of the digestive system of larval YP and W. In addition, Asian carp hydrolysate used as a natural attractant for juvenile YP and W will help wean the fish to formulated plant-based diets by improving feed acceptance and its utilization. Finally, SBM hydrolysate will be better utilized by fish in their young stage due to improved digestibility and reduced content of anti-nutritional factors.

2. At the completion of the study we will be able to achieve larviculture of YP and W completely transitioned to formulated diets and presenting positive growth performances, low skeletal deformity rate, and high survival. More specifically, we will be able to observe acceptance of formulated feeds by larval Y and W right at the start of the feeding by providing well-utilized diets based on the right molecular weight and the optimal AA composition which will enhance dietary AA assimilation and utilization for tissue protein synthesis and hence, improve growth and survival of larval YP and W. The proposed study will deliver an innovative dietary formulation, which will replace live food by improving the growth and survival of fish characterized by a challenging and vulnerable larval stage as presented by Percids.

3. We also expect that Asian carp muscle hydrolysate combined with SBM hydrolysate both obtained using YP and W digestive enzymes will allow for successful weaning of the fish to formulated feeds without jeopardizing fish growth and survival. The Asian carp hydrolysate will likely support high feed intake and at the same time the exposure to pre-digested SBM will help adapt the fish to dietary plant protein earlier.

4. This project will also deliver strong outreach component in a form of YP larval rearing fact sheet, larval rearing fact sheet, videos (mostly YP and W first feeding and larval rearing), dietary protein hydrolysate fact sheet (how to make it) for feed manufacturers, a webinar, and a workshop for all stakeholders. This project has strong support from many industry providers as shown by the attached letters of support.

5. The innovative diet formulation and knowledge derived from the study will provide the US industry with new approach for obtaining a high quality cost-effective protein source and development of successful high-quality feeds that will support sustainable expansion of the hatchery sector using RAS systems and consequently contribute to the development of competitive and intensive aquaculture market in the Midwest. These innovative feeds will be produced using SIUC commercial feed processing method (small scale) that will allow for immediate implementation of the formulation by the aquafeed industry.

Project Outline


Progress Report

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Principal Investigator

Chairperson: Karolina Kwasek, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Co-Investigator(s): Michal Wojno,Southern Illinois Univ