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Evaluation of dietary carbohydrate utilization by captive sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) Walsh, Mark Gordon


Carbohydrates have variable digestibilities and metabolizable energy values in carnivorous fish. Simple sugars are generally more digestible than complex polysaccharides, and low levels of dietary carbohydrate may contribute more metabolizable energy than high levels. Two experiments were conducted to study the effects of dietary level and processing treatment of wheat starch on the digestibility of diets fed to sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), in different regions of the digestive tract. Moreover, an experiment was undertaken to determine if the dietary concentration of an indigestible external marker (chromic oxide) influenced its motility, relative to other ingredients in the ingesta, as it passed through the digestive tract. Lastly, a growth experiment was undertaken to compare the performance of sablefish fed formulated diets containing one of two levels of carbohydrate to that of fish fed a natural fish diet. The gastric evacuation of a formulated and a natural diet were also investigated. Apparent digestibility values for the nutrients in a formulated diet (containing 44.4% cooked wheat and 0.1% chromic oxide) fed to sablefish were noted to increase progressively from the anterior to the posterior regions of the intestinal tract. Within each region of the gut, the apparent digestibility values for most nutrients declined over three sample periods. Carbohydrate (nitrogen-free extract) digestibility down to the distal section of the intestine ranged from 51.0 to 82.8%. An experiment designed to assess the effect of carbohydrate treatment on the digestibility of four isonitrogenous, isocaloric diets met with partial failure. It was determined that the 1.0% chromic oxide marker flowed at a differential rate to the rest of the ingesta in the digestive tract, which violated the criteria for an effective marker. Consequently, diet digestibility was not determined in this experiment. Hepatic glycogen levels in fish receiving the dietary treatments were compared, and these values were used to estimate the relative availability (digestibility) of carbohydrate from the respective diets. According to this index, the sequence for digestibility was as follows: pregelatinized starch > cooked wheat > pregelatinized starch/cooked wheat > unprocessed wheat. Differential movement of chromic oxide relative to other ingesta was observed in sablefish fed on alternate days regardless of the dietary concentration of the indigestible marker (0.1 or 1.0%). It was surmised that the feeding protocol established the circumstances from which marker 'streaming' was observed in the results. Differential transport of Cr₂O₃ through the gut by ingested seawater was suggested as a possible mechanism for the phenomenon. Sablefish fed a natural fish diet had the highest growth rates, condition factors, liver lipid levels and the lowest feed conversion ratios and liver glycogen levels. Sablefish fed a diet containing 22.2% cooked wheat had a higher growth rate, condition factor, and a lower food conversion ratio, than those fed a diet containing 44.4% cooked wheat. Ingestion of the 44.4% cooked wheat diet resulted in the highest values for liver glycogen and hepatosomatic index. It was concluded that sablefish have a limited ability to metabolically utilize digestible carbohydrate and that most of the dietary non-protein energy should originate from high quality lipid for maximum protein sparing.

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