Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Vinoth Sittaramane

Committee Member 1

Risa Cohen

Committee Member 2

Johanne Lewis


Food waste is rich in nutrients and a valuable resource, but currently its primary method of disposal in the United States (US) is unsustainable. In 2018 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that the commercial, institutional, and residential sectors of the US economy wasted 63 million metric tons of food, most of which was sent to landfills. Instead, food waste could be recycled and used to supplement or replace commercial feed in aquaculture to sustainably stimulate production of fish. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are a well characterized animal model closely related to other fish species that are important in aquaculture. In this study, food waste was collected, processed, and dehydrated into Converted Fish Flakes (CFF) with a protein ratio appropriate for zebrafish. It was hypothesized that the nutrition provided by a CFF supplemented diet is suitable for zebrafish growth without significant adverse effects on health. Zebrafish were fed diets with increasing ratios of CFF to a commercial flake feed (0%, 25%, 50%, and 100%) for 32 days, and monitored for survival and growth, which was measured with weight and length gain. The viscerosomatic index (VSI) was calculated to determine whether weight was gained in muscle (more desirable) or viscera (less desirable) and reproductive ability was evaluated. Finally, histological analysis was performed to assess the health of the intestine and liver. Zebrafish fed CFF diets had high survival rates and growth that was comparable to the commercial feed. CFF diets did not significantly alter zebrafish fecundity or VSI. Histology revealed an increased amount of goblet cells in the intestine and fat deposits in the liver associated with a 50% CFF diet. These results indicate that food waste could be recycled into a sustainable alternative feed ingredient for small-scale freshwater aquaculture.

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