Impact of Dietary Cornstarch Levels on Growth Performance, Body Composition and Digestive Enzyme Activities of Juvenile Soft-Shelled Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis)

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We conducted an 8-week feeding trial to determine the effects of dietary starch levels on growth performance, body composition, and digestive enzyme activities of juvenile soft-shelled turtles. Six fish meal-based diets containing 120, 180, 240, 300, 360 and 420 g kg−1 cornstarch were formulated. Body weight gain (BWG), crude protein concentration in whole body, as well as protease activity increased with increasing dietary starch levels until the highest at 240–300 g kg−1, but it was decreased at higher dietary starch content. In contrast, the feed conversion ratio, moisture content and hepatosomatic index were the lowest at 240–300 g kg−1 of cornstarch. The weight gain correlated significantly with the survival rate, the crude protein composition and the protease activity, but correlated negatively to the moisture content and the hepatosomatic index. The optimal dietary starch levels for the maximum BWG and maximum protease activity were 267.25 g kg−1 and 266.79 g kg−1, respectively. The α-amylase activity was the lowest at 120 g · kg−1 of cornstarch, and increased with increasing cornstrach content. The lipase activity and the amount of crude lipid in the turtles were not influenced by dietary cornstarch. Our results suggest that around 300 g kg−1 of cornstarch in diets is optimal for juvenile soft-shelled turtles.

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