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The positive impacts of dietary astaxanthin range from a general enhancement of performance to:

  • Better Pigmentation

  • Improved antioxidant capacity

  • Immune response regulation

  • Provitamin A

  • Improved disease resistance

  • Stress alleviation

  • Specific functions in reproduction and metabolism

  • Improved reproduction and brood quality

  • Reduced embryonic mortality

  • Effects on photoresponse


The evidence clearly proves that astaxanthin supplementation enables efficient defence procedure against unfavourable or stressful situations such as disease outbreak, hypoxic condition, ammonia stress, thermal and osmotic fluctuations. Not all these claims are equally well documented.

Skin and flesh pigmentation

Astaxanthin pigment is best known as an essential aquacultural feed additive for imparting the pinkish-red coloration to the flesh of salmons, trouts, ornamental fish, shrimp, lobsters, and crayfish, resulting in better quality and acceptance in the consumer market.

Natural Astaxanthin is a more suitable carotenoid source in fish feed compared with synthetic Astaxanthin. 

Dietary astaxanthin is absorbed and deposited in animals such as krill, shrimp, and fish, the most striking natural examples of astaxanthin accumulation in animals are flamingo feathers, salmon, and trout flesh, and crustacean shells. In lobsters, astaxanthin is bound to a protein in such a way that the astaxanthin–protein complexes exhibit a blue tint. During cooking, the protein is denatured and astaxanthin is released from the complexes, which restores the red color characteristic of cooked lobsters. 

Astaxanthin is used mostly as a pigmentation source in animal feed in marine aquaculture, including primary salmonids, red sea bream, and ornamental fish and shrimps.

It could also be observed a respiratory burst activity and an increase in anti-protease activity.


Reproductive performance and egg quality


The significant benefits of natural astaxanthin is attributable to its potent antioxidant capacity to quench excessive amounts of destructive singlet oxygen and free radicals.

  • Prevent the peroxidation or oxidative damage of reproductive cells or tissues.

  • Astaxanthin has a fundamental role in the cultivation and breeding of aquaculture species.

  • Confers a significant impact on reproductive performance, egg production, and egg quality

  • Astaxanthin acts as a primary source of retinoids (provitamin A) in eggs and early embryos. 


The accumulation of astaxanthin in reproductive tissues via dietary supplementation provides a significant impact on the reproductive performance characteristics, which include:

  • Egg quality

  • Egg quantity

  • Hatching success

Growth performance, survival, stress tolerance and disease resistance

Astaxanthin content has also been directly linked to the ability of eggs to resist extreme environmental conditions and also, direct effects on the stress tolerance and disease resistance of different aquatic animals.

The results of astaxanthin incorporated in basal feed on immune response and disease resistance in some species suggests that:

  • Significantly promotes the growth

  • Restores hematology

  • Increased red blood cells

  • Increased white blood cells

  • Increased hemoglobin

  • Increased hematocrit

  • Increased serum lysozyme activity


It could also be observed a respiratory burst activity and an increase in anti-protease activity.


research spotlight

Haematococcus astaxanthin: Is it time to rethink astaxanthin use in white shrimp feeds?

By Martin Guerin

The dietary inclusions of astaxanthin in this shrimp have been constrained by low pigmentation efficiency of synthetic sources, despite known human health benefits of astaxanthin as well as anti-stress and disease resistance properties observed in shrimp. All these may change with higher efficacy and competitive prices of natural astaxanthin.

Martin Guerin is an expert in aqua nutrition based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has more than 25 years of experience on feed formulation, production and with feed additives.

Natural pigmentation is better

" both shrimp and red seabream and related species, algal astaxanthin has demonstrated superior biological and pigmentation properties versus the synthetic pigment."

whole shim body.png

Colouration of cooked vannamei shrimp fed graded levels of synthetic astaxanthin (SAX) or  Haematococcus astaxanthin (HAX) (Source: Ju et al. 2011).

Pigmentation of cooked shrimp

"...vannamei shrimp fed levels as low as 25ppm Haematococcus astaxanthin improved significantly the pigmentation which was superior to shrimp fed 150ppm suggesting that Haematococcus astaxanthin was at least 6-folds more efficient."

Superior anti-stress and disease resistance properties of algal astaxanthin

"Interestingly, the superior properties of Haematococcus astaxanthin in shrimp over synthetic astaxanthin for pigmentation extend to the antioxidant properties and related anti-stress benefits of astaxanthin."

Click here to read the full article (Pag 20).

Birds & farm animals

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