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Dietary fatty acid composition affects the repeat swimming performance of Atlantic salmon in seawater.

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Faculty of Agricultural Science, University of British Columbia, 266B-2357 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4.


Repeated critical swimming performance trials (Ucrit) were performed on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) to test the null hypothesis that the source of dietary lipids (fish-based, poultry-based, and plant-based) does not influence exercise and recovery performance. Four diets were prepared by extensively replacing supplemental lipid from anchovy oil (AO; 100% AO at 150 g/kg) with cold pressed flaxseed oil (FO; 25% AO, 75% FO), sunflower oil (SO; 25% AO, 75% SO), or poultry fat (PF; 25% AO, 75% PF). These diets had equivalent protein and energy concentrations, but due to the different supplemental lipid sources, varied widely in their fatty acid composition. Fish fed AO had a significantly higher (P<0.05) first Ucrit (2.62+/-0.07 body lenght s(-1)) than those fed PF (2.22+/-0.12 body lenght s(-1)) that had low muscle ratios of n-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 HUFA) to saturated fatty acids (SFA) and arachidonic acid (AA), and high levels of oleic acid. Fish in the FO and SO diet groups swam as well as AO-fed fish in both swimming trials. The performance of fish fed AO decreased significantly (P<0.05) during the second swimming trial (i.e. Ucrit2/Ucrit1=0.92+/-0.02). No significant differences occurred between diet groups for the second swim trial. There was a positive correlation between both n-3 HUFA/SFA and n-3 HUFA/AA ratios, and Ucrit1. A negative correlation was found between dietary AA and oleic acids, and Ucrit1. The present study suggests that low dietary n-3 HUFA/ SFA and n-3 HUFA/AA ratios may negatively affect swimming performance. The former possibly can be offset by increasing linoleic acid in the presence of nutritionally adequate n-3 HUFA (e.g. SO diet). Lipid supplements consisting largely of vegetable oils did not compromise fish cardiorespiratory physiology under the conditions of this study.

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