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Australia Biotech

CSIRO Scientists' Aquaculture Holy Grail: Fish-Free Prawn Food 116

Posted by timothy
from the sweet-sweet-prawn dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team of CSIRO scientists has discovered the holy grail of aquaculture by developing the world's first fish-free prawn food: Novaq. According to the article there is intense global interest in Novaq because it solves one of the farmed prawn industry's biggest problems — its reliance on wild fisheries as a core ingredient in prawn food. The Novaq formula is a closely guarded secret, but it is known that the product is based on microscopic marine organisms. Not only will the new feed introduce greater sustainability into a growth industry but prawns fed on the new diet grow 40% faster and are healthier and more robust."
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CSIRO Scientists' Aquaculture Holy Grail: Fish-Free Prawn Food

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  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:44AM (#46731847)

    The Novaq formula is a closely guarded secret

    Whenever anyone says that the answer is always the same...

    Novaq is made out of PEOPLE!

    • by jayhawk88 (160512)

      Which really isn't that scandelous, since prawns are crustaceans and very comfortable eating dead matter.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:12AM (#46731927)

        Which really isn't that scandelous, since prawns are crustaceans

        Er, Novaq is made out of PRAWNS!

        Not quite as impactful though, probably not even to a prawn.

        • by deek (22697) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @03:27AM (#46732227) Homepage Journal

          My kingdom for mod points!

          Whatever this Novaq thing is, it sure sounds tasty. I say we cut the middle-prawn out, and make Novaq a spreadable condiment for toast.

          Come to think of it, Australians already do consume something suspiciously similar. I believe it's called Vegemite.

          • My kingdom for mod points!

            Whatever this Novaq thing is, it sure sounds tasty. I say we cut the middle-prawn out, and make Novaq a spreadable condiment for toast.

            Come to think of it, Australians already do consume something suspiciously similar. I believe it's called Vegemite.

            I wonder if humans fed on Novaq grow 40% faster and are healthier and more robust

        • by lgw (121541)

          Hahaha, pure awesome. Now I'm trying to picture a prawn Charlton Heston.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      I don't see a problem.

      As long as the people aren't fed on wild fish it should be sustainable.

    • Re:Not very secret (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Karmashock (2415832) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:14AM (#46731931)

      They gave it up when they said it was made from micro organisms... Its plankton.

      • They gave it up when they said it was made from micro organisms... Its plankton.

        So Soylent Novaq really is shrimp!

      • Re:Not very secret (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:54PM (#46734587) Homepage

        So, instead of harvesting wild fish to feed the farmed fish, we harvest the wild plankton that feed the wild fish that we don't want to kill.

        Yes, you eliminate the middleman (middlefish?) but you are farming just the same. Ecologically, you are stomping on the food chain at a lower level which can cause even bigger issues. Lots and lots of things in the ocean (including the ocean bottom itself) feed on plankton.

        Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

        • I think the plankton can be farmed as well and fed on some sort of cultivated feed stock.

          • You would think so, they're just wee critters, but one gets the feeling from TFA that this is the secret sauce.

            As usual, not enough info to go on. Too busy to research it further. It's not raining and my boat needs (more) work.

      • by godel_56 (1287256)

        They gave it up when they said it was made from micro organisms... Its plankton.

        It is NOT made of plankton, it's made of dried marine bacteria.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      The Novaq formula is a closely guarded secret

      Whenever anyone says that the answer is always the same...

      Novaq is made out of PEOPLE!

      Dude, c'mon, that is sooooo 1970's.

      It's made out of GMO these days. Get with the times man.

    • by Hrry Hrrsn
    • by mauriceh (3721)

      Well, "Prawns" love it.. so maybe it is made from cat food..

  • There must be a joke somewhere...this is saying like cows only eat grass. They feed rations, antibiotics and I believe manure to your prawns raised mostly in Asia. And then there are large problems of infertile soil, because in the fertile season they cultivate rice, in the other times of the year, they put in the land salted water/water with salt to raise shrimp. This seems a slashadvertisement.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Things get simpler down the food chain. There's less of a complex genome creating over-engineered organs everywhere.

      Crustaceans are about as simple as a complex machine can get. They don't require a wide range of stuff to eat, but what they do eat and live in has to be a certain temperature because that's what they've evolved to.

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      The large farmed prawns that are grown in the same fields as rice are freshwater prawns. Actually most of the large prawns in stores are freshwater prawns, generally grown in pens in rivers in Asia.

  • time... (Score:3, Informative)

    by harvey the nerd (582806) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:58AM (#46731889)
    ....will tell as to the "superiority" of these prawns. For those of us that grew up with the "superiority" of margarine over butter, high carb foods over paleo etc I'm willing to watch for 5-10 years first, see what the food chemistry and real problems turn out to be.
  • by enter to exit (1049190) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:04AM (#46731911)
    With our boorish, straight-from-central-casting "conservative" government planning to cut all spending in the upcoming budget, this comes at a perfect time. Traditionally the CSIRO and the ABC are the ones who get f-ed over first - it's an easy cut as no one cares.

    The cynical side of me can't help wondering how much of this is a (likely fruitless) attempt to fight against the likely budget cuts.

    The way they're touting it, it feels to good to be true.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      See Detroit if you want to start understanding why Republicans are irrelevant to cuts happening.

      When you run out of other people's money, things get cut. That's just how life works. Republicans are just trying to ease the shock of a natural effect, but if you want to make it more painful later go right ahead - you aren't the ones prepared for the painful shock. While millions die in cities the Mormons for instance are sitting on a years supply of food for every family in Utah. So they will simply take o

  • Bugs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StefanJ (88986) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:19AM (#46731939) Homepage Journal

    There was an interesting piece on Radiolab* last year about some guys who'd found an protein-rich insect whose larva at almost anything, including agricultural waste and pig manure. They reduced the amount of waste that had to be dealt with and result in copious quantities of nutritious bug flesh.

    One of the suggested uses was food for farmed fish.

    * I think . . . I'm having trouble finding the segment in the archives.

    • by Nethead (1563)

      Hell, give me that on a ball of rice with some wasabi, let me dip it in soy, I'll eat it. Google knows that I've eaten worse and stranger, and paid good money for it.

    • Remember the ribwich? "Think smaller, and more legs."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Black Soldier Flies

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This article says Black Soldier flies eat pig manure and agricultural wastes, and are good fish food, and have been known useful for this purpose since the 1990s, though research has continued and some of the research papers were written in the last few years.

        http://www.feedipedia.org/node/16388 [feedipedia.org]

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:45AM (#46731983) Homepage Journal

    We think of fish is heart healthy, but fin fish don't produce omega-3 fatty acids; they bioaccumulate Omega 3s produced by the algae at the bottom of the food chain. Farm-raised fin fish may or may not have a healthy fat profile based on their diet. Grass fed beef has a healthier fat profile than grain fed beef, as well as containing useful phyotchemical (chemicals from plants) like carotenoids. Same goes for pork; lard from pasture raised pigs is relatively high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.

    The pattern seems to be that the best thing to feed an animal is something that approximates that species' natural food in the wild. So I'm skeptical of a secret, proprietary, industrially produced feed. It's not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if it's just a matter of skipping a few trophic levels (i.e., feeding the animal something prepared from stuff that's lower on its natural prey's food chain). Aquaculture needs something like that. The world's population demands more seafood than can be wild caught. But I'm not enthusiastic about buying meat from animals raised on mystery food.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It looks like the secret is to feed them vat fed plankton instead of similar or identical species of the wild plankton they normally eat - which was apparently much hard than that sounds. The big deal is it means a more reliable supply.
      • by rsborg (111459)

        It looks like the secret is to feed them vat fed plankton instead of similar or identical species of the wild plankton they normally eat - which was apparently much hard than that sounds. The big deal is it means a more reliable supply.

        So is the vat-fed plankton as healthy as the wild stuff? Because if not, then the unhealthy part of that diet will exist in the farmed prawn. Basically take the GPP's argument "Just like food, your food itself is what it eats. " and follow that down the food chain.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          So is the vat-fed plankton as healthy as the wild stuff?

          Sure, why wouldn't it be? It may well be different. The problem is that plankton is in trouble [uri.edu]. Algae is facing the same challenge.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          It looks like the secret is to feed them vat fed plankton instead of similar or identical species of the wild plankton they normally eat - which was apparently much hard than that sounds. The big deal is it means a more reliable supply.

          So is the vat-fed plankton as healthy as the wild stuff? Because if not, then the unhealthy part of that diet will exist in the farmed prawn. Basically take the GPP's argument "Just like food, your food itself is what it eats. " and follow that down the food chain.

          Well, since nobody knows what is in it, it is hard to say. I suggest a wait-and-see approach, but testing the resulting fish does make sense.

          A challenge here is we really don't have a good understanding of what foods are or aren't healthy, or what makes them that way. You can talk about Omega 3s and all that, but there isn't a lot of outcomes data on Omega 3s, when trials are done there are many different kinds of Omega 3s so it is hard to compare them to products you can actually buy, and we have no idea

  • I foresee, they will find cheaper ingredients as time past.,, the hard part is what to call it, "Man made fake shrimp" or plawns a whole new word.

  • ...is that it's essentially trading one harvested item for another.
    • by tomhath (637240)

      It's replacing wild caught fish that are ground up and used for feed with farm raised plankton that are compressed into pellets.

      Two obvious benefits are 1) raising the plankton is much more sustainable than catching wild fish, and 2) the plankton is apparently a better diet for the shrimp.

      It wouldn't surprise me if that plankton also makes a good protein supplement for non-marine animals like chickens. Maybe even cut out the middleman/shrimp/chicken and feed it directly to people.

      • TFA is a little vague about this. It sort of implies that they are raising plankton and that the breakthrough has been basically plankton husbandry. If that is indeed the case, then the ecological footprint of this may be reasonable (we, of course, don't know what it takes to grow plankton on an industrial scale).

        If, however, they are actually harvesting wild plankton, and plan on doing this on an industrial scale, then I forsee some problems. Plankton are at the core of the oceans food change. Take a

        • by tomhath (637240)
          Yea, they don't go into details, but this part makes me doubt they're harvesting wild plankton:

          The CSIRO team's first breakthrough was working out how to feed and then farm them.

          "They are harvested when they are 40 days old.

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        Maybe even cut out the middleman/shrimp/chicken and feed it directly to people.

        I've eaten plankton and while it is a great supplement, it tastes nothing like shrimp or chicken.

        Somebody will have to invent a quality Plankton Burger. (TM)

  • ...and are healthier and more robust"

    These Shrimps ain't shrimps anymore, I guess. With a 40% increased growth rate we should feed that stuff to Yankees sluggers.

    These statistics sound like those cattle and poultry farmers achieve from hormone injections. If these shrimp suddenly become lobsters maybe the cholesterol will be a little too high as well.

    It seems to me that "healthier" is a marketing term, not a scientific matter of fact.
  • I've got a better idea than little shrimpies. I say feed the homeless to the hungry. Gets rid of two problems at once!

  • If you want me to eat something, you have to tell me exactly what it is, and how it was grown; If it's something from the animal kingdom then I want to know what you're feeding them, and how they're raised. We require ingredients lists on our other food products too. Before you cook shrimp or prawn you have to remove their "sand vein" AKA their digestive tract AKA their shit tube -- Guess what's in there? What they last ate. Some of that shit gets into what I eat. Now their job is to convince me that n

    • You must be fun at potlucks.

    • Imagine trillions of years from now on a planet far-far away, some technician named Vort assembling computer subroutines from a small number of libraries (known as the Legacy code) that dropped from a space probe billions of years before he was born.

      Vort's creating "organic" software to get one of his jobs done, one that's just like Vort's ancestors created using these well-known components that always seemed to do the job. It's really expensive to assemble components this way because the Legacy codes ar

  • prawns fed on the new diet grow 40% faster and are healthier and more robust.

    Look similar to the the claims for the rations given to cows, while their meat is not the healthier one [mayoclinic.org]. When the ultimate metric is rate of production instead of quality (specially if have health consequences) a lot of consumers will be harmed.

  • Just feed them cat food, it's their favorite.
  • I'm way in the middle of a hundred postings. I reply to an article. I ask it to be quoted. Oops, the quote tags are visible, wtf is this? Ok, go into options. For some reason I was reset to "extrans". Ok, whatever, I change back to html. I save, and, lo and behold, my comment is gone, all the other comments are missing. I'm back to the first page with the first five comments. And this is in the "good, well-programmed" version, not the beta.

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