Tracing the fate of 15N-enriched feed in an intensive shrimp system
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The fate of 15N-nitrogen-enriched formulated feed fed to shrimp was traced through the food web in shallow, outdoor tank systems (1000 l) stocked with shrimp. Triplicate tanks containing shrimp water with and without sediment were used to identify the role of the natural biota in the water column and sediment in processing dietary nitrogen (N). A preliminary experiment demonstrated that 15N-nitrogen-enriched feed products could be detected in the food web. Based on this, a 15-day experiment was conducted. The ammonium (NH4+) pool in the water column became rapidly enriched (within one day) with 15N-nitrogen after shrimp were fed 15N-enriched feed. By day 15, 6% of the added 15N-nitrogen was in this fraction in the 'sediment' tanks compared with 0.4% in the 'no sediment' tanks. The particulate fraction in the water column, principally autotrophic nanoflagellates, accounted for 4-5% of the 15N-nitrogen fed to shrimp after one day. This increased to 16% in the 'no sediment' treatment, and decreased to 2% in the 'sediment' treatment by day 15. It appears that dietary N was more accessible to the phytoplankton community in the absence of sediment. The difference is possibly because a proportion of the dietary N was buried in the sediment in the 'sediment' treatment, making it unavailable to the phytoplankton. Alternatively, the dietary N was retained in the NH4+ pool in the water column since phytoplankton growth, and hence, N utilization was lower in the 'sediment' treatment. The lower growth of phytoplankton in the 'sediment' treatment appeared to be related to higher turbidity, and hence, lower light availability for growth. The percentage 15N-nitrogen detected in the sediment was only 6% despite the high capacity for sedimentation of the large biomass of plankton detritus and shrimp waste. This suggests rapid remineralization of organic waste by the microbial community in the sediment resulting in diffusion of inorganic N sources into the water column. It is likely that most of the dietary N will ultimately be removed from the tank system by water discharges. Our study showed that 15N-nitrogen derived from aquaculture feed can be processed by the microbial community in outdoor aquaculture systems and provides a method for determining the effect of dietary N on ecosystems. However, a significant amount of the dietary N was not retained by the natural biota and is likely to be present in the soluble organic fraction.
© 2002 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.