7) Effect of dietary protein level on growth, survival and ammonia efflux rate of Litopenaeus vannamei (Boone) raised in a zero water exchange culture system.

Litopenaeus vannamei postlarvae (1.96 0.07 g) were reared in a zero water exchange system for 25 days at 28C. They were fed four commercial diets containing 25%, 30%,35% or 40% crude protein in three replicate aquaria per dietary treatment. Total ammonia , nitrite, nitrate and pH were monitored weekly and total ammonia levels were additionally measured every 3 days using the flow injection analysis method. Total ammonia efflux rates were measured at days 0, 14 and 21, and survival and growth rates were recorded at the end of the experiment. No differences between water quality parameters such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and pH were found. Nitrite concentration remained low in all dietary treatments up to the second week increasing considerably from day 14 onwards suggesting the initiation of the nitrification process. Water total ammonia of all experimental groups exhibited a gradual increase up to day 13; however, following this time ammonia levels of all experimental groups decreased, probably due to either the action of bacterial nitrification or ammonia-N uptake by the animals. High ammonia efflux rates were recorded at day 14 especially after the first hour of immersion in the 25% protein group, but no significant changes occurred in any experimental group after 3h. No significant differences in weight gain, final weight or survival of shrimp were observed under these experimental conditions. The importance of zero water exchange systems and their effects on the nitrogen metabolism of crustaceans are discussed.

Keywords: ammonia, nitrogen excretion, Litopenaeus vannamei, zero water exchange system, dietary protein.