Food Quality of Aquaponic Produced Nile Tilapia: A Potential Nutrition Source

Shib Pattadar
Graduate (PhD)
Brian Slater
Environment and Natural Resources

Aquaponics is an emerging holistic technology that integrates a recirculating fish farming system with high value vegetable production. However, the nutritional value of tilapia fish produced in aquaponics systems in the United States has yet to be extensively analyzed and compared with the imported fish produced in conventional aquaculture systems. The present study was conducted to determine the nutritional quality of tilapia fish produced in an aquaponics system as compared with commercially available tilapia fish in the U.S. market in terms of proximate composition, protein, lipids, and mineral contents. A laboratory scale recirculatory aquaponics system was developed in a greenhouse at The Ohio State University South Centers, Piketon, Ohio, USA. Tilapia fish were produced in this aquaponics system with regular commercially available fish feed. Approximately similar size Nile tilapia originating from Bangladesh, China and Ecuador were collected from nearby supermarkets. All chemical analysis of dried flesh of tilapia fish were conducted in laboratory (AOAC, 2010). The protein content of aquaponics fish was comparable to imported fish (70.65±2.29 to 85.55±0.49 % of dry weight). All tilapia fish in this study contained essential and non-essential amino acids. Aquaponics fish had a remarkably higher amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), 30.45±0.83 to 18.64±1.72% and lower amount of saturated fatty acids (SFA) than imported fish (27.24±0.32 to 34.5±1.46%). The total n-3 fatty acids content, n-6 and n-3 fatty acids ratio, arachidonic acids (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) ratio of aquaponics fish showed better nutritional status compared to imported tilapia fish. Similarly, the macro mineral density of aquaponics fish was considerably higher in aquaponics tilapia than tilapia collected from markets. Moreover, aquaponics-raised tilapia supplemented almost double the PUFA (n-3) (EPA+DHA) compared to other sources of tilapia, considering the WHO/FAO and American Heart Association (AHA) recommended values, and will help to reduce LDL cholesterol. Collectively, these results conclude that aquaponics-raised tilapia fish is a good source of protein, oils, and minerals, and can be used as supplements for the reduction of malnutrition. Overall, tilapia fish quality produced in an aquaponics system is comparatively nutritious and heathier than that of the imported fishes.