Aquaculture International

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 167–193 | Cite as

A first study on the effect of dietary soya levels and crystalline isoflavones on growth, gonad development and gonad histology of farmed abalone, Haliotis midae

  • Yu Wu
  • Horst Kaiser
  • Clifford L. W. Jones


Soya in formulated diets for abalone, Haliotis midae, can improve somatic growth. However, it may also influence gonad development, thereby limiting the potential benefit of including soya in feed. This is the first study to determine both the effect of dietary soya level on growth and reproduction of abalone and the role of crystalline isoflavones (ISO) at concentrations occurring in soya diets. Abalone (40–50 g individual−1) were fed seven isonitrogenous and isoenergetic diets. Three diets contained 5, 10 or 19% soya, while an additional three diets included graded levels of ISO. A fishmeal (FM)-only diet was included. The inclusion of ISO did not influence gonad development or abalone growth while soya inclusion level had an effect on both reproductive development and abalone growth. After 180 days, male abalone fed FM with soya inclusion had the highest whole body mass (69.0 ± 2.48 g abalone−1), meat mass index (60.5 ± 1.88%), visceral mass index (13.0 ± 0.27%) and gonad bulk index (42.7 ± 9.82 g abalone−1). Weight loss was observed in all treatments probably due to spawning events. The frequency distribution of the predominant oocyte stage, stage 7 was influenced by soya concentration. The increase in the frequency of stage 7 oocytes in abalone fed FM with soya did not reduce the number of oocytes (45.0 ± 3.01 oocytes mm−2), while the number of oocytes (o) in abalone fed the FM-only diets decreased with increasing abundance of stage 7 oocytes, possibly due to an increase in oocyte size.


Abalone EDC Oogenesis Molluscs Phytoestrogens 



Total area in a photograph (mm2)


Degree Celsius








Cytoplasmic stalk




Digestive gland


Endocrine-disrupting compound


Effective gonad volume (mm3)


Total number of oocytes in a photograph




Dry feed consumed (g)


Feed conversion ratio


Frequency distribution (%)


Fish meal




Gonad bulk index


Gonad epithelium




Honest significant difference


Crystalline isoflavones


Jelly coat




Length of the conical appendage (mm)


Average final length (mm)


Length gain (mm abalone−1 month−1)




Average initial length (mm)


Final wet whole mass (g)




Meat mass index (%)










Meat mass (g)


Multiple forward stepwise regression analysis




Necrotic oocyte






Number of oocytes (mm−2)






Early maturity stage oocyte




Developmental stage (oocyte)


α-Error probability




Repeated measures analysis of variance


Sex of abalone




Stage 1 oocytes


Stage 2 oocytes


Stage 3 oocytes


Stage 4 oocytes


Stage 5 oocytes


Stage 6 oocytes


Stage 7 oocytes




Total ammonia nitrogen


Visceral wet mass (g abalone−1)


Wet mass gained (g)


Weight gain (g abalone−1 month−1)


Wet whole mass (g abalone−1)


Shucked mass (g abalone−1)







The financial support of the National Research Foundation’s Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP), Marifeed (Pty) Ltd., HIK Abalone Farm (Pty) Ltd., Aqunion (Pty) Ltd. and Rhodes University Research Committee are gratefully acknowledged. We would also like to thank the management and staff at the Marifeed (Pty) Ltd. factory and at Whale Rock Farm for their help and contribution to this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

National and institutional guidelines for the care and use of the animals used in this study were followed by the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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