Aquatic animals have unique physiological mechanisms to absorb and retain minerals from their diets and water. Research and development in the area of mineral nutrition of farmed fish and crustaceans have been relatively slow and major gaps exist in the knowledge of trace element requirements, physiological functions and bioavailability from feed ingredients. Quantitative dietary requirements have been reported for three macroelements (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) and six trace minerals (zinc, iron, copper, manganese, iodine and selenium) for selected fish species. Mineral deficiency signs in fish include reduced bone mineralization, anorexia, lens cataracts (zinc), skeletal deformities (phosphorus, magnesium, zinc), fin erosion (copper, zinc), nephrocalcinosis (magnesium deficiency, selenium toxicity), thyroid hyperplasia (iodine), muscular dystrophy (selenium) and hypochromic microcytic anemia (iron). An excessive intake of minerals from either diet or gill uptake causes toxicity and therefore a fine balance between mineral deficiency and toxicity is vital for aquatic organisms to maintain their homeostasis, either through increased absorption or excretion. Release of minerals from uneaten or undigested feed and from urinary excretion can cause eutrophication of natural waters, which requires additional consideration in feed formulation. The current knowledge in mineral nutrition of fish is briefly reviewed.
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