Using stable isotope analysis to determine the contribution of naturally occurring pond biota and supplementary feed to the diet of farmed Australian freshwater crayfish, redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus)


Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture and College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia


Nutritional requirements of redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus) farmed in Australia are poorly understood and little is known on what is actively being consumed in semi-intensive pond culture. In this study the isotopic signatures of δ13C and δ15N of potential food sources were analysed with a multi-source mixing model to determine the extent of their contribution to the diet of farmed redclaw. Four commercial redclaw farms in North Queensland, Australia (Mareeba, Biboorha, Wondecla and Topaz) were sampled for naturally occurring pond organisms and commonly used supplemental feed such as raw corn, soybean, lupin, commercial redclaw, and chicken feed. Both naturally occurring pond biota and supplemental feed contribute to the tissue composition of redclaw to some degree. However, the contribution varies with the type of feed and availability of natural sources, for example plant material at Topaz Farm was a greater contributor with 43.9 ± 19.5 % compared to supplementary sources raw corn 8.20 ± 3.10 and lupin 1.60 ± 1.70 %. Moreover, some supplemental feeds provided a direct nutrient source for primary pond productivity; contribution of the redclaw pellet to zoo- and phytoplankton at Wondecla Farm was 83.1 ± 6.50 and 50.0 ± 9.50 %, respectively, with similarly high values for chicken feed at Biboorha Farm of 72.6 ± 4.70 and 83.4 ± 6.90 %. The cost effectiveness of such feeds needs to be questioned if these are not being consumed and utilised directly. Providing a species-specific formulated feed with improved water stability would enhance production reliability and facilitate growth within the industry.