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Magnified view of planktons.

A TEAM of researchers from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) are behind the growing effort to culture plankton.

They are supporting 40 ornamental fish breeders and aquaculture industry players in Terengganu and Pahang as a plankton supplier, which is used as live feed for the fishes.

Playing an important role in the marine ecosystem, plankton is a major food source for fish and crustaceans.

Led by UMT Faculty of Fisheries and Food Science (FPSM) lecturer Dr Wan Nurul Nadiah Wan Rasdi, various species of plankton could be cultured through this project.

According to Wan Nurul Nadiah, they include copepods and moina, which are rich in nutrients and the best sources of protein for fish.

“Plankton cultivation provides a fishmeal alternative and a supplementary feed for fish cultivated by ornamental fish breeders and aquaculture players.

Dr Wan Nurul Nadiah Wan Rasdi (left) at the fish hatchery in Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

“We have received a great response from local breeders, where they have successfully cultured plankton minus the high cost. They can save up to 50 per cent of their monthly income that they use for purchasing fish feed.

“Under the ‘University for the society’ theme, the Education Ministry has also supported this research by providing funds under the Knowledge Transfer Programme grant to deliver university education for the betterment of the community,” said Wan Nurul Nadiah, adding that the project began in 2018.

Through the government grant, she partnered with an aquaculture company in Kuantan, Pahang, to commercialise plankton culture.

The production of plankton as fish feed had also attracted many aquaculture players from other Asian countries, including the Institution of Aquaculture Singapore.

The institution recently organised the Copepods 101 Workshop, featuring Wan Nurul Nadiah as a panel member, where she provided insight on culturing the plankton as a food source for fish.

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