Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Science

First Advisor

Small, Brian


Research developing artificial propagation, husbandry, and nutrition of sturgeon species has developed greatly since the collapse of the Caspian Sea fisheries in the 1980s. Sturgeon species are commercially prized for their unfertilized roe which is marketed as the delicacy, caviar. Sturgeon production units commonly utilize commercial salmonid feeds, which contain large proportions of fish meal (FM) and fish oil (FO). Concerns regarding economics and sustainability have put pressure on aquafeed manufactures to efficiently utilize FM and FO, and to incorporate alternative protein sources, such as soybean meal (SBM). Therefore, the present studies estimated the optimal protein:energy ratio of juvenile Pallid Sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus and evaluated the effects of increasing SBM composition on growth, feed efficiency, body and liver composition, and intestinal morphology of juvenile Shovelnose Sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorhynchus, two species of Scaphirhynchus sturgeon of regional commercial importance. Protein:energy ratios were investigated using casein and dextrose based, semi-purified diets. Results indicated that Scaphirhynchus sturgeon are able to perform similarly across a wide range of protein:energy ratios (79 - 147 mg protein kcal-1), so long as adequate dietary energy (3,800 kcal kg-1 gross energy) is provided and essential amino acids are not limiting. Soybean meal was evaluated utilizing practical, isocaloric, isolipidic, isoenergetic test diets, designed to replace FM with increasing SBM. Juvenile Scaphirhynchus sturgeon were found to perform similarly on diets with up to 50% of FM replaced with SBM (336 g kg-1 diet). Evaluation of liver composition revealed that juvenile Shovelnose Sturgeon store less glycogen and crude lipid than other fish species, although no dietary differences were observed. Histological evaluation of the distal intestine revealed indications of SBM induced enteritis, though no statistical differences in measures were detected between treatments. This research is the first to describe optimal dietary formulation for the culture of Scaphirhynchus sturgeon.




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