Effects of dietary astaxanthin on the growth and skin and muscle pigmentation of sexually immature rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum, 1792) (Teleostei: Salmonidae)

Ahmad NOORI, Alireza RAZI


This study was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary synthetic astaxanthin on the growth performance and skin and muscle pigmentation of sexually immature rainbow trout. Four astaxanthin supplemented diets were prepared to contain 50, 100, 150 and 200mg astaxanthin kg-1 diet. The basal diet without astaxanthin supplementation was used as a control. Juvenile rainbow trout of the similar size (20.07±1.45g) were fed with these experimental diets for 30 days. Results showed that there were no significant differences in weight gain, specific growth rate, condition factor, survival rate and feed conversion ratio among all treatments (P>0.05). The skin carotenoid content was significantly affected by the dietary supplementation (P<0.05) and the lowest carotenoid content was measured in the treatments of the control and the fish fed 50 mg astaxanthin kg-1 diet (P<0.05). However, the fish fed 200mg astaxanthin kg-1 diet demonstrated the highest carotenoid content in the skin (P<0.05). Although the muscle carotenoid content increased in all groups, this augmentation was significantly prominent in the fish received the higher concentration of astaxanthin through the feed. According to the obtained results, it is proposed that in sexually immature rainbow trout, astaxanthin is mainly deposited in muscle in compared to skin. Also, diet supplementation with astaxanthin is necessary for skin pigmentation in rainbow trout.


Carotenoid, Growth, Muscle, Salmonidae, Skin.

Full Text:



Ahmadi, M.; Bazyar, A.; Safi, S.; Ytrestøyl, T. & Bjerkeng, B. 2006. Effects of dietary astaxanthin supplementation on reproductive characteristics of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Journal of Applied Ichthyology 22: 388-394.

Akhtar, P.; Gray, J.I.; Cooper, T.H.; Garling, D.L. & Booren, A.M. 1999. Dietary Pigmentation and Deposition of α‐Tocopherol and Carotenoids in Rainbow Trout Muscle and Liver Tissue. Journal of Food Science 64: 234-239.

Amar, E.C.; Kiron, V.; Satoh, S. & Watanabe, T. 2001. Influence of various dietary synthetic carotenoids on bio‐defence mechanisms in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum). Aquaculture Research 32: 162-173.

Amar, E.C.; Kiron, V.; Satoh, S. & Watanabe, T. 2004. Enhancement of innate immunity in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum) associated with dietary intake of carotenoids from natural products. Fish & Shellfish Immunology 16: 527-537.

Ando, S.; Osada, K.; Hatano, M. & Saneyoshi, M. 1990. Metabolism of astaxanthin in muscle and ovary from brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Comparative Biochemistry 96: 355-359.

Baker, R.T.M.; Pfeiffer, A.M.; Schöner, F.J. & Smith-Lemmon, L. 2002. Pigmenting efficacy of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin in fresh-water reared Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Animal Feed Science & Technology 99: 97-106.

Baron, M.; Davies, S.; Alexander, L.; Snellgrove, D. & Sloman, K.A. 2008. The effect of dietary pigments on the coloration and behaviour of flame-red dwarf gourami, Colisa lalia. Animal Behaviour 75: 1041-1051.

Bjerkeng, B. & Berge, G.M. 2000. Apparent digestibility coefficients and accumulation of astaxanthin E/Z isomers in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) and Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus L.). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 127: 423-432.

Bjerkeng, B.; Hatlen, B. & Jobling, M. 2000. Astaxanthin and its metabolites idoxanthin and crustaxanthin in flesh, skin, and gonads of sexually immature and maturing Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 125: 395-404.

Bjerkeng, B.; Storebakken, T. & Liaaen-Jensen, S. 1990. Response to carotenoids by rainbow trout in the sea: resorption and metabolism of dietary astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Aquaculture 91: 153-162.

Bjerkeng, B.; Storebakken, T. & Liaaen-Jensen, S. 1992. Pigmentation of rainbow trout from start feeding to sexual maturation. Aquaculture 108: 333-346.

Boonyaratpalin, M. & Unprasert, N. 1989. Effects of pigments from different sources on colour changes and growth of red Oreochromis niloticus. Aquaculture 79: 375-380.

Booth, M.A.; Warner‐Smith, R.J.; Allan, G.L. & Glencross, B.D. 2004. Effects of dietary astaxanthin source and light manipulation on the skin colour of Australian snapper Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801). Aquaculture Research 35: 458-464.

Brown, K.R.; Barnes, M.; Parker, T. & Fletcher, B. 2016. Retention of Fillet Coloration in Rainbow Trout After Dietary Astaxanthin Cessation. Fisheries & Aquaculture Journal 7: 163.

Busacker, G.P.; Adelman, I.R. & Goolish, E.M. 1990. Growth. In: C. B. Schereck and R. B. Moyle (eds.) Methods for Fish Biology. p 363-387. American Fisheries Society Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Chatzifotis, S.; Pavlidis, M.; Jimeno, C.D.; Vardanis, G.; Sterioti, A. & Divanach, P. 2005. The effect of different carotenoid sources on skin coloration of cultured red porgy (Pagrus pagrus). Aquaculture Research 36: 1517-1525.

Choubert, G. 1979. Tentative utilization of spirulin algae as a source of carotenoid pigments for rainbow trout. Aquaculture 18: 135-143.

Choubert, G.; Cravedi, J.-P. & Laurentie, M. 2009. Effect of alternate distribution of astaxanthin on rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) muscle pigmentation. Aquaculture 286: 100-104.

Choubert, G. & Heinrich, O. 1993. Carotenoid pigments of the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis: assay on rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, pigmentation in comparison with synthetic astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Aquaculture 112: 217-226.

Christiansen, R.; Lie, O. & Torrissen, O.J. 1995. Growth and survival of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., fed different dietary levels of astaxanthin. First-feeding fry. Aquaculture Nutrition 1: 189-198.

Christiansen, R. & Torrissen, O.J. 1996. Growth and survival of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. fed different dietary levels of astaxanthin. Juveniles. Aquaculture Nutrition 2: 55-62.

Christiansen, R. & Torrissen, O.J. 1997. Effects of dietary astaxanthin supplementation on fertilization and egg survival in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). Aquaculture 153: 51-62.

Davies, B.H. 1985. Carotenoid metabolism in animals: a biochemist's view. Pure & Applied Chemistry 57: 679-684.

Doolan, B.J.; Booth, M.A.; Allan, G.L. & Jones, P.L. 2009. Effects of dietary astaxanthin concentration and feeding period on the skin pigmentation of Australian snapper Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801). Aquaculture Research 40: 60-68.

Foss, P.; Storebakken, T.; Austreng, E. & Liaaenjensen, S. 1987. Carotenoids in diets for salmonids. V. Pigmentation of Rainbow Trout and Sea Trout with Astaxanthin and Astaxanthin Dipalmitate in Comparison with Canthaxanthin. Aquaculture 65: 293-305.

Foss, P.; Storebakken, T.; Schiedt, K.; Liaaen-Jensen, S.; Austreng, E. & Streiff, K. 1984. Carotenoids in diets for salmonids: I. Pigmentation of rainbow trout with the individual optical isomers of astaxanthin in comparison with canthaxanthin. Aquaculture 41: 213-226.

Gobantes, I.; Choubert, G.; Laurentie, M.; Milicua, J.G. & Gomez, R. 1997. Astaxanthin and canthaxanthin kinetics after ingestion of individual doses by immature rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry 45: 454-458.

Gomes, E.; Dias, J.; Silva, P.; Valente, L.; Empis, J.; Gouveia, L.; Bowen, J. & Young, A. 2002. Utilization of natural and synthetic sources of carotenoids in the skin pigmentation of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). European Food Research & Technology 214: 287-293.

Goodwin, T.W. 1986. Metabolism, Nutrition, and Function of Carotenoids. Annual Review of Nutrtion 6: 273-297.

Gouveia, L. & Rema, P. 2005. Effect of microalgal biomass concentration and temperature on ornamental goldfish (Carassius auratus) skin pigmentation. Aquaculture Nutrition 11: 19-23.

Hata, M. & Hata, M. 1975. Carotenoid Pigments in Rainbow Trout, Salmo gairdneri irideus. Tohoku Journal of Agricultural Research 26: 35-40.

Hatlen, B.; Jobling, M. & Bjerkeng, B. 1998. Relationships between carotenoid concentration and colour of fillets of Arctic chair, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), fed astaxanthin. Aquaculture Research 29: 191-202.

Henmi, H.; Hata, M. & Hata, M. 1989. Astaxanthin and/or canthaxanthin-actomyosin complex in salmon muscle. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 55: 1583-1589.

Henmi, H.; Hata, M. & Hata, M. 1990. Combination of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin with fish muscle actomyosins associated with their surface hydrophobicity. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 56: 1821-1823.

Kaisuyama, M. & Matsuno, T. 1988. Carotenoid and vitamin A, and metabolism of carotenoids, β-carotene, canthaxanthin, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, lutein and tunaxanthin in tilapia Tilapia nilotica. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Part B: Comparative Biochemistry 90: 131-139.

Kalinowski, C.T.; Izquierdo, M.S.; Schuchardt, D. & Robaina, L.E. 2007. Dietary supplementation time with shrimp shell meal on red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) skin colour and carotenoid concentration. Aquaculture 272: 451-457.

Kalinowski, C.T.; Robaina, L.E.; Fernández-Palacios, H.; Schuchardt, D. & Izquierdo, M.S. 2005. Effect of different carotenoid sources and their dietary levels on red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) growth and skin colour. Aquaculture 244: 223-231.

Kalinowski, C.T.; Robaina, L.E. & Izquierdo, M.S. 2011. Effect of dietary astaxanthin on the growth performance, lipid composition and post-mortem skin colouration of red porgy Pagrus pagrus. Aquaculture International 19: 811-823.

Kitahara, T. 1983. Behavior of carotenoids in the chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) during anadromous migration. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Part B: Comparative Biochemistry 76: 97-101.

Li, K.; Wang, Y.; Zheng, Z.X.; Jiang, R.L.; Xie, N.X. & Bureau, D.P. 2009. Replacing fish meal with rendered animal protein ingredients in diets for Malabar grouper, Epinephelus malabaricus, reared in net pens. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 40: 67-75.

Li, M.; Wu, W.; Zhou, P.; Xie, F.; Zhou, Q. & Mai, K. 2014. Comparison effect of dietary astaxanthin and Haematococcus pluvialis on growth performance, antioxidant status and immune response of large yellow croaker Pseudosciaena crocea. Aquaculture 434: 227-232.

Li, M.H.; Robinson, E.H.; Oberle, D.F. & Zimba, P.V. 2007. Effects of various dietary carotenoid pigments on fillet appearance and pigment absorption in channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 38: 557-563.

Lin, M.Q.; Ushio, H.; Ohshima, T.; Yamanaka, H. & Koizumi, C. 1998. Skin Color Control of the Red Sea Bream (Pagrus major). LWT-Food Science & Technology 31: 27-32.

Liu, X.; Wang, H. & Chen, Z. 2016. Effect of carotenoids on body colour of discus fish (Symphysodon aequifasciatus axelrodi Schultz, 1960). Aquaculture Research 47: 1309-1314.

Maoka, T. 2011. Carotenoids in Marine Animals. Marine drugs 9: 278.

Matsuno, T. 2001. Aquatic animal carotenoids. Fisheries Science 67: 771-783.

Nickell, D.C. & Bromage, N.R. 1998. The effect of timing and duration of feeding astaxanthin on the development and variation of fillet colour and efficiency of pigmentation in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture 169: 233-246.

No, H.K. & Storebakken, T. 1991. Pigmentation of rainbow trout with astaxanthin at different water temperatures. Aquaculture 97: 203-216.

No, H.K. & Storebakken, T. 1992. Pigmentation of rainbow trout with astaxanthin and canthaxanthin in freshwater and saltwater. Aquaculture 101: 123-134.

Olsen, R.E. & Baker, R.T.M. 2006. Lutein does not influence flesh astaxanthin pigmentation in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). Aquaculture 258: 558-564.

Page, G.I. & Davies, S.J. 2006. Tissue astaxanthin and canthaxanthin distribution in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 143: 125-132.

Paripatananont, T.; Tangtrongpairoj, J.; Sailasuta, A. & Chansue, N. 1999. Effect of astaxanthin on the pigmentation of goldfish Carassius auratus. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 30: 454-460.

Pham, M.A.; Byun, H.-G.; Kim, K.-D. & Lee, S.-M. 2014. Effects of dietary carotenoid source and level on growth, skin pigmentation, antioxidant activity and chemical composition of juvenile olive flounder Paralichthys olivaceus. Aquaculture 431: 65-72.

Rahman, M.M.; Khosravi, S.; Chang, K.H. & Lee, S.-M. 2016. Effects of Dietary Inclusion of Astaxanthin on Growth, Muscle Pigmentation and Antioxidant Capacity of Juvenile Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Preventive Nutrition & Food Science 21: 281-288.

Rajasingh, H.; Øyehaug, L.; Våge, D.I. & Omholt, S.W. 2006. Carotenoid dynamics in Atlantic salmon. Bmc Biology 4: 10.

Řehulka, J. 2000. Influence of astaxanthin on growth rate, condition, and some blood indices of rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Aquaculture 190: 27-47.

Sawanboonchun, J.; Roy, W.J.; Robertson, D.A. & Bell, J.G. 2008. The impact of dietary supplementation with astaxanthin on egg quality in Atlantic cod broodstock (Gadus morhua, L.). Aquaculture 283: 97-101.

Schiedt, K.; Leuenberger, F.; Vecchi, M. & Glinz, E. 1985. Absorption, retention and metabolic transformations of carotenoids in rainbow trout, salmon and chicken. Pure & Applied Chemistry 57: 685-692.

Schiedt, K. & Liaaen-Jensen, S. 1995. Isolation and analysis. In: G. Britton,S. Liaaen-Jensen and H. Pfander (eds.) Carotenoids, Isolation and Analysis No. 1. p 81-108. A. Birkhäuser, Basel.

Schiedt, K.; Vecchi, M.; Glinz, E. & Storebakken, T. 1988. Metabolism of Carotenoids in Salmonids. Part 3. Metabolites of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin in the skin of atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, L.). Helvetica Chimica Acta 71: 887-896.

Shahidi, F.; Synowiecki, J. & Penney, R.W. 1993. Pigmentation of Artic Char (Salvelinus alpinus) by Dietary Carotenoids. Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology 2: 99-115.

Sigurgisladottir, S.; Parrish, C.C.; Lall, S.P. & Ackman, R.G. 1994. Effects of feeding natural tocopherols and astaxanthin on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fillet quality. Food Research International 27: 23-32.

Sladky, K.K.; Swanson, C.R.; Stoskopf, M.K.; Loomis, M.R. & Lewbart, G.A. 2001. Comparative efficacy of tricaine methanesulfonate and clove oil for use as anesthetics in red pacu (Piaractus brachypomus). American Journal of Veterinary Research 62: 337-342.

Sommer, T.R.; Potts, W.T. & Morrissy, N.M. 1991. Utilization of microalgal astaxanthin by rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture 94: 79-88.

Song, X.; Wang, L.; Li, X.; Chen, Z.; Liang, G. & Leng, X. 2017. Dietary astaxanthin improved the body pigmentation and antioxidant function, but not the growth of discus fish (Symphysodon spp.). Aquaculture Research 48: 1359-1367.

Storebakken, T. & Choubert, G. 1991. Flesh pigmentation of rainbow trout fed astaxanthin or canthaxanthin at different feeding rates in freshwater and saltwater. Aquaculture 95: 289-295.

Storebakken, T. & No, H.K. 1992. Pigmentation of rainbow trout. Aquaculture 100: 209-229.

Sun, X.; Chang, Y.; Ye, Y.; Ma, Z.; Liang, Y.; Li, T.; Jiang, N.; Xing, W. & Luo, L. 2012. The effect of dietary pigments on the coloration of Japanese ornamental carp (koi, Cyprinus carpio L.). Aquaculture 342–343: 62-68.

Tejera, N.; Cejas, J.R.; Rodríguez, C.; Bjerkeng, B.; Jerez, S.; Bolaños, A. & Lorenzo, A. 2007. Pigmentation, carotenoids, lipid peroxides and lipid composition of skin of red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) fed diets supplemented with different astaxanthin sources. Aquaculture 270: 218-230.

Thompson, I.; Choubert, G.; Houlihan, D.F. & Secombes, C.J. 1995. The effect of dietary vitamin A and astaxanthin on the immunocompetence of rainbow trout. Aquaculture 133: 91-102.

Torrissen, K.R. & Torrissen, O.J. 1985. Protease activities and carotenoid levels during the sexual maturation of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Aquaculture 50: 113-122.

Torrissen, O.; Christiansen, R.; Struksnæs, G. & Estermann, R. 1995. Astaxanthin deposition in the flesh of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., in relation to dietary astaxanthin concentration and feeding period. Aquaculture Nutrition 1: 77-84.

Torrissen, O.J. 1984. Pigmentation of salmonids - Effect of carotenoids in eggs and start-feeding diet on survival and growth rate. Aquaculture 43: 185-193.

Torrissen, O.J. 1989. Pigmentation of salmonids: Interactions of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin on pigment deposition in rainbow trout. Aquaculture 79: 363-374.

Torrissen, O.J. & Christiansen, R. 1995. Requirements for carotenoids in fish diets. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 11: 225-230.

Torrissen, O.J. & Ingebrigtsen, K. 1992. Tissue distribution of 14C-astaxanthin in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Aquaculture 108: 381-385.

Verakunpiriya, V.; Mushiake, K.; Kawano, K. & Watanabe, T. 1997. Supplemental effect of astaxanthin in broodstock diets on the quality of yellowtail eggs. Fisheries Science 63: 816-823.

Wang, Y.-J.; Chien, Y.-H. & Pan, C.-H. 2006. Effects of dietary supplementation of carotenoids on survival, growth, pigmentation, and antioxidant capacity of characins, Hyphessobrycon callistus. Aquaculture 261: 641-648.

Yanar, M.; Büyükçapar Hakan, M. & Yanar, Y. 2016. Effects of Hot and Sweet Red Peppers (Capsicum annuum) as Feed Supplements on Pigmentation, Sensory Properties and Weight Gain of Rainbow Trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss). Annals of Animal Science 16: 825-834.

Yasir, I. & Qin, J.G. 2010. Effect of dietary carotenoids on skin color and pigments of false clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris, Cuvier. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 41: 308-318.

Yi, X.; Xu, W.; Zhou, H.; Zhang, Y.; Luo, Y.; Zhang, W. & Mai, K. 2014. Effects of dietary astaxanthin and xanthophylls on the growth and skin pigmentation of large yellow croaker Larimichthys croceus. Aquaculture 433: 377-383.

Zar, J.H. 2010. Biostatistical analysis. Fifth edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA.


  • There are currently no refbacks.