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de Verdal, H., Mekkawy, W., Lind, C. E., Vandeputte, M., Chatain, B., & Benzie, J. A. H. (2017). Measuring individual feed efficiency and its correlations with performance traits in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. Aquaculture, 468, 489–495.
Résumé: Estimating individual feed intake of fish held in groups has long been a challenge precluding precise knowledge of the individual variation of feed efficiency (FE) in fish. In this study, counts of the number of feed pellets (1.63 mg on average) eaten by individual tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) held in 8 mixed sex groups of 15 fish were measured from video recordings made over a period of 10 days where fish were fed twice daily to achieve compensatory growth after 10 days of fasting. The initial body weight of the fish was 9.77 +/- 2.03 g. Accumulated measures of feed intake (FI) over 11 meals were found to achieve 95% repeatability and a high accuracy of estimation of FI. During the FI measurement period, the average fish growth was 12.0 +/- 3.6 g, feed intake was 0.99 g day (-1), and feed conversion ratio (FCR) was 0.86 +/- 0.20. FI differences accounted for 56% of the observed individual growth variations, and 44% was related to individual variations of FE. On average males grew 24.2% faster than females but consumed 12.1% more feed. Males showed an 11.7% better FCR than females, whereas residual feed intake (RFI) differences were not significant between sexes. FCR and RFI were moderately and significantly correlated (0.58 +/- 0.06) but FCR and FI, and body weight gain (BWG) and RFI, were not, highlighting the complex relationships between feed efficiency traits. The approach described here demonstrates a means to accurately investigate FE traits in fish and to assess the potential for their genetic improvement. Statement of relevance: Feed efficiency has strong economic and environmental impact. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.