Carotenoids as a Dietary Supplement for Enhancing Pigmentation and Colouration in Ornamental Fishes: A Review

S. Saikia *

Department of Zoology, Sibsagar College, Joysagar (Autonomous), Assam-785665, India.

J. N. Das

Department of Zoology, Sibsagar College, Joysagar (Autonomous), Assam-785665, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Due to the rising demand for aquarium fish, the ornamental fish-keeping business has significantly increased its contribution to fisheries. The sector requires little investment and is socially and environmentally acceptable. Fish's skin colour, which is influenced by their diet and nutrition, is a major determinant of their market value. Fish have vivid colouring because they consume plants and animals that are naturally rich in pigment. Dietary carotenoids and coloration are intimately connected. Carotenoids are the major natural pigments, responsible for yellow to red coloration and are synthesized mainly by plants, algae and some photosynthetic bacteria. The core component of a successful culture of ornamental fish in a limited environment is properly formulated feed. Fish cannot produce carotenoids by own. Hence, diverse sources of carotenoid pigments, including pure carotenoid pigments, animal sources, and plant sources, have been added to fish diets to increase the pigmentation in ornamental fish. The significance of different sources of carotenoids as a dietary supplement for enhancing the pigmentation and coloration in aquaculture has been highlighted in this review paper.

Keywords: Carotenoid, pigmentation, coloration, ornamental fish

How to Cite

Saikia , S., & Das , J. N. (2023). Carotenoids as a Dietary Supplement for Enhancing Pigmentation and Colouration in Ornamental Fishes: A Review. UTTAR PRADESH JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 44(13), 1–16.


Download data is not yet available.


Raja K, Aanand P, Padmavathy S, Sampathkumar JS. Present and future market trends of Indian ornamental fish sector. Int J Fish Aquat Stud. 2019;7(2): 6-15.

Anusha P, Thangaviji V, Velmurugan S, Michaelbabu M, Citarasu T. Protection of ornamental gold fish Carassius auratus against Aeromonas hydrophila by treating Ixora coccinea active principles. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2014;36(2):485-93.

Kumar PA, Sudhakaran S, Mohan TC, Pammana P, Kumar PR, Shanthanna P. Evaluation of colour enhance potential of three natural plant pigment sources (African tulip tree flower, red paprika, pomegranate peel) in goldfish (Carassius auratus). Int J Fish Aquat Stud. 2017;5:47-51.

Sinha A. Ornamental fish trade in India; 2020.

Zutshi Dr. DB, Madiyappa R. Dietary supplement of natural carotenoid source and commercial feed on growth and colouration in freshwater ornamental fish, Poecilia sphenops. Bull Pure Appl Sci Zool. 2020;39a(2):311-26.


Available: Google.

Harpaz S, Padowicz D. Color enhancement in the ornamental dwarf cichlid Microgeophagus ramirezi by addition of plant carotenoids to the fish diet. Isr J Aquacult Bamidgeh. 2007; 59(4):195-200.


Monica S, Swamy JM. Role of carotenoids in ornamental fish culture: a review. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci. 2022;11(1):249-54.


Rajeswari MV, Rajasree SRR, Balasubramanian T. Effect of light levels on growth, survival and skin colour enhancement of marine angelfish, Apolemichthys xanthurus (Bennett, 1833). Turk J Fish Aquat Sci. 2017;17(6):1083-7.


Gouveia L, Rema P. Effect of microalgal biomass concentration and temperature on ornamental goldfish (Carassius auratus) skin pigmentation. Aquacult Nutr. 2005; 11(1):19-23.

Chapman FA, Miles RD. This document is FA192. One of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, UF/IFAS. 2018;1-6. Available:

Bronner ME, LeDouarin NM. Development and evolution of the neural crest: an overview. Academic Press Inc. Dev Biol. 2012;366(1):2-9. 22230617.


Kaur R, Shah KT. Role of feed additives in pigmentation of ornamental fishes. International Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Studies. 2017;5(2):684-6.

Manikandan K, Felix N, Prabu E. A review on the application and effect of carotenoids with respect to canthaxanthin in the culture of fishes and crustaceans. Int J Fish Aquat Stud. 2020;8(5):128-33.


Nilsson Sköld H, Aspengren S, Wallin M. Rapid color change in fish and amphibians - Function, regulation, and emerging applications. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2013;26(1):29-38.


Braasch I, Brunet F, Volff J-N, Schartl M. Pigmentation pathway evolution after whole-genome duplication in fish. Genome Biol Evol. 2009;1:479-93.


Price AC, Weadick CJ, Shim J, Rodd FH. Pigments, patterns, and fish behavior. Zebrafish. 2008;5(4):297-307.


Darias MJ, Andree KB, Boglino A, Fernández I, Estévez A, Gisbert E. Coordinated regulation of chromatophore differentiation and melanogenesis during the ontogeny of skin pigmentation of Solea senegalensis (Kaup, 1858). Plos One. 2013;8(5):e63005.


Manikandan K, Felix N, Prabu E. A review on the application and effect of carotenoids with respect to canthaxanthin in the culture of fishes and crustaceans. Int J Fish Aquat Stud. 2020;8(5):128-33.

Das AP. Carotenoids and pigmentation in ornamental fish. J Aquacult Mar Biol. 2016;4(5).


Swain S, Acharya AP, Mohanty B. Use of carotenoid supplementation for enhancement of pigmentation in ornamental fishes. ~ 636 ~ Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies. 2020; 8(6):636-40.

Pereira da Costa D, Campos Miranda-Filho K. The use of carotenoid pigments as food additives for aquatic organisms and their functional roles. Rev Aquacult. 2020;12(3):1567-78.

Thomas G. Effect of formulated feeds on growth performance and pigmentation in ornamental fishes – A cohort study. Oceanogr Aquacul. Resources. 2020;1 (1):1-3.

Nakano T. Microorganisms in micronutrients and health of cultured fish Nakagawa H, Sato M, editors. Tokyo, Japan: Koseisha Koseikaku. 2003; 95-106.

Takaichi S. Carotenoids. In: Takaichi S, editor. Carotenoids-biological functions and diversity. Tokyo, Japan: Shokabo. 2006;1-20.

Lim KC, Yusoff FM, Shariff M, Kamarudin MS. Astaxanthin as feed supplement in aquatic animals. Rev Aquacult. 2018; 10(3):738-73.

Nakano T, Wiegertjes G. Properties of carotenoids in fish fitness: A review. Mar Drugs. 2020;18(11):568.


Azevdo PA, Cho CY, Lesson S, Bureau DP. Effect of feeding level and water temperature on growth nutrient and energy utilization and waste outputs of rainbow trout. Aquac Living Resour. 1998;11:227-38.

Maoka T. Carotenoids as natural functional pigments. J Nat Med. 2020;74(1):1-16.


Choat JH, Clements KD. Vertebrate herbivores in marine and terrestrial environments: A nutritional ecology perspective. Annu Rev Ecol Syst. 1998; 29(1):375-403.


Torrissen OJ. Pigmentation of salmonoids-a comparison of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin as a pigment sources for rainbow trout. Aquaculture. 1986;53(3-4):271-8.

Meyers SP. Developments in world aquaculture, feed formulations, and role of carotenoids. Pure Appl Chem. 1994;66(5): 1069-76.

Sathyaruban S, Uluwaduge DI, Yohi S, Kuganathan S. Potential natural carotenoid sources for the colouration of ornamental fish: A review. Aquacult Int. 2021;29(4):1507-28.

Ando S. Studies on the food biochemical aspects of changes in chum Salmon, Oncorhychus keta during spawning migration, mechanisms of muscle deterioration and nuptial coloration-Reprinted from memories of Faculty of Fisheries, Kokkaid University. 1986;33(1-2):1-95.

Saxena A. Health coloration of fish International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health: Program and Abstracts. Davis, CA: University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine; 1994;94.

Chatzifotis S, Pavlidis M, Jimeno CD, Vardanis G, Sterioti A, Divanach P. The effect of different carotenoid sources on skin coloration of cultured red porgy (Pagrus pagrus). Aquacult Res. 2005; 36(15):1517-25.

White DA, Page GI, Swaile J, Moody AJ, Davies SJ. Effect of esterification on the absorption of astaxanthin in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walburn). Aquacult Res. 2002;33(5):343-50.

Dharmaraj S, Dhevendaran K. Application of microbial carotenoids as a source of colouration and growth of ornamental fish Xiphophorus helleri. World J Fish Mar Sci. 2011;3(2):137-44.

Sommer TR, Potts WT, Morrissy NM. Utilization of microalgal astaxanthin by rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture. 1991;94(1):79-88.

Storebakken T, . Pigmentation of rainbow trout. Aquaculture. 1992;100(1-3):209-29.

Hatlen B, Aas GH, Jørgensen EH, Storebakken T, Goswami UC. Pigmentation of 1, 2 and 3 year old Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) fed two different dietary astaxanthin concentrations. Aquaculture. 1995;138(1-4):303-12.

Hatlen B, Arnesen AM, Jobling M, Siikavuopio S, Bjerkeng B. Carotenoid pigmentation in relation to feed intake, growth and social interactions in Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), from two anadromous strains. Aquac Nutr. 1997; 3(3):189-99.

Ingle de la Mora G, Arredondo-Figueroa JL, Ponce-Palafox JT, Barriga-Soca IdA, Vernon-Carter JE, delos Angeles Barriga-Soca I. and E.J. Comparison of red chilli (Capsicum annuum) oleoresin and astaxanthin on rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) fillet pigmentation. Aquaculture. 2006;258(1-4):487-95.

Yanar Y, Büyükçapar H, Yanar M, Göcer M. Effect of carotenoids from red pepper and marigold flower on pigmentation, sensory properties and fatty acid composition of rainbow trout. Food Chem. 2007;100(1):326-30.

Hancz C, Magyary I, Molnar T, Sato S, Horn P, Taniguchi N. Evaluation of color intensity enhanced by paprika as feed additive in goldfish and koi carp using computer-assisted image analysis. Fisheries Sci. 2003;69(6):1158-61.

Wang Y, Chien Y, Pan C. Effects of dietary supplementation of carotenoids on survival, growth, pigmentation, and antioxidant capacity of characins, Hyphessobrycon callistus. Aquaculture. 2006;261(2):641-8.

Grether GF, Hudon J, Millie DF. Carotenoid limitation of sexual coloration along an environmental gradient in guppies. Proc R Soc Lond B. 1999;266(1426):1317-22.

Shahidi F, Metusalach , Brown JA. Carotenoid pigments in seafood and aquaculture. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1998;38(1):1-67.

Takaichi S. Carotenoids in algae: distributions, biosyntheses and functions. Mar Drugs. 2011;9(6):1101-18.


Poojary MM, Barba FJ, Aliakbarian B, Donsì F, Pataro G, Dias DA et al. Innovative alternative technologies to extract carotenoids from microalgae and seaweeds. Mar Drugs. 2016;14 (11):214.


Guedes AC, Amaro HM, Malcata FX. Microalgae as sources of carotenoids. Mar Drugs. 2011;9(4):625-44.

Boominathan M, Mahesh A. Seaweed carotenoids for cancer therapeutics. In: Kim SK, editor. Handbook of anticancer drugs from marine origin. Cham: Springer; 2015.


Safafar H, Van Wagenen J, Møller P, Jacobsen C. Carotenoids, phenolic compounds and tocopherols contribute to the antioxidative properties of some microalgae species grown on industrial wastewater. Mar Drugs. 2015;13(12):7339-56.


Zaťková I, Sergejevová M, Urban J, Vachta R, Štys D, Masojídek J. Carotenoid-enriched microalgal biomass as feed supplement for freshwater ornamentals: Albinic form of wels catfish (Silurus glanis). Aquaculture Nutrition. 2011;17(3):278-86.


Sergejevová M, Masojídek J. Chlorella biomass as feed supplement for freshwater fish: sterlet, Acipenser ruthenus. Aquac Res. 2012;44(1):157-9.


Torrissen OJ, Christiansen R. Requirements for carotenoids in fish diets. J Appl Ichthyol. 1995;11(3-4):225-30.

Mohammadiazarm H, Maniat M, Ghorbanijezeh K, Ghotbeddin N. Effects of Spirulina powder (Spirulina platensis) as a dietary additive on Oscar fish, Astronotus ocellatus: Assessing growth performance, body composition, digestive enzyme activity, immune‐biochemical parameters, blood indices and total pigmentation. Aquacult Nutr. 2021;27(1) :252-60.


Tu NPC, Ha NN, Linh NTT, Tri NN. Effect of astaxanthin and Spirulina levels in black soldier fly larvae meal-based diets on growth performance and skin pigmentation in discus fish, Symphysodon sp. Aquaculture. 2022;553:738048.

Hensen R. Spirulina algae improves Japanese fish feeds. Aquacult Mag. V.6N6. 1990:3843.

Wagener K, de Luca Rebello A. The mass cultivation of Spirulina platensis in Brazil. Hydrobiologia. 1987;151-152(1):69-70.


Hirano T, Suyama M. Effect of dietary microalgae on the quality of cultured ayu. J Tokyo Univ Fish. 1985;72:21-41 (in Japanese).

Boonyaratpalin M, Unprasert N. Effects of pigments from different sources on colour changes and growth of red Oreochromis niloticus. Aquaculture. 1989;79(1-4):375-80.


Miki T, Maruyama Sh. New and rare stichaeid fish from the Okhotsk sea. Jpn J Ichthyol. 1986;32(4):400-8.

Ninwichian P, Chookird D, Phuwan N. Effects of dietary supplementation with natural carotenoid sources on growth performance and skin coloration of fancy carp, Cyprinus carpio L. Iran J Fish Sci. 2020;19(1):167-81.

Choubert G, Heinrich O. Carotenoid pigments of the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis: assay on rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, pigmentation in comparison with synthetic astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Aquaculture. 1993;112(2-3):217-26.


Rekha R, Nimsi KA, Manjusha K, Sirajudheen TK. Marine yeast Rhodotorula paludigena VA 242 a pigment enhancing feed additive for the ornamental fish koi carp. Aquacult Fish; 2022.

Ebeneezar S, Prabu DL, Chandrasekar S, Tejpal CS, Madhu K, Sayooj P et al. Evaluation of dietary oleoresins on the enhancement of skin coloration and growth in the marine ornamental clown fish, Amphiprion ocellaris (Cuvier, 1830). Aquaculture. 2020;529:735728.

Xu X, Jin Z, Wang H, Chen X, Wang C, Yu S. Effect of astaxanthin from Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous on the pigmentation of goldfish, Carassius auratus. J World Aquacult Soc. 2006;37(3):282-8.

Robaina L, Moyano FJ, Izquierdo MS, Socorro J, Vergara JM, Montero D. Corn gluten, meat and bone meals as protein sources in diets for gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata): nutritional and histological implications. Aquaculture. 1997;157(3-4):347-59.


Ingle de la Mora GI, Arredondo-Figueroa JL, Ponce-Palafox JT, Barriga-Soca JE, Vernon-Carter JE. Comparison of red chilli (Capsicum annuum) oleoresin and astaxanthin on rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) fillet pigmentation. Aquaculture. 2006;258(1-4):487-95.

Nakano T, Kanmuri T, Sato M, Takeuchi M. Effect of astaxanthin rich red yeast (Phaffia rhodozyma) on oxidative stress in rainbow trout. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999;1426(1):119-25.

Yanar M, Kumlu M, Celik M, Yanar Y, Tekelioglu N. Pigmentation of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) with carotenoid from red pepper. Israeli Journal of Aquaculture Badmidgeh. 1997;49:193-8.

Priyadarshani AMB, Jansz ER. A critical review on carotenoid research in Sri Lankan context and its outcomes. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5):561-71.


Khieokhajonkhet A, Suwannalers P, Aeksiri N, Ratanasut K, Chitmanat C, Inyawilert W et al. Effects of dietary red pepper extracts on growth, hematology, pigmentation, disease resistance, and growth- and immune-related gene expressions of goldfish (Carassius auratus). Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2023; 301:115658.

Hancz C, Magyary I, Molnar T, Sato S, Horn P, Taniguchi N. Evaluation of colour intensity enhanced by paprika as feed additive in goldfish and koi carp using computer‐assisted image analysis. Fish Sci. 2003;69(6):1158-61.

Gokoglu M, Colak H. Investigation of the effect of tomato powders as a dietary supplement on skin pigmentation of gold fish. Resource document. Antalya: Akdeniz University Fisheries Faculty, Turkey; 2012.

Available: pdf. [Accessed Jun 20 2020].

Golandaj A, Swain S, Mogalekar HS. Colour enhancement of sword tail [Xiphophorus helleri] (heckel, 1848) by using feed formulated with selected ornamental flowers. J Environ Bio-Sci 2018;29(2):283–288.

Saha M, Patra B. Effect of growth and pigmentation on acceptability of different feeds by Colisa lalia (Hamilton, 1822); 2013.

Yanar M, Erçen Z, Özlüer Hunt A, Büyükçapar HM. The use of alfalfa, Medicago sativa as a natural carotenoid source in diets of goldfish, Carassius auratus. Aquaculture. 2008;284(1-4):196-200.


Baron M, Davies S, Alexander L, Snellgrove D, Sloman KA. The effect of dietary pigments on the coloration and behaviour of flame-red dwarf gourami, Colisa lalia. Anim Behav. 2008;75(3):1041-51.

Sallam MF, Fizer C, Pilant AN, Whung PY. Systematic review: land cover, meteorological, and socioeconomic determinants of Aedes mosquito habitat for risk mapping. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(10):1230.


Mukherjee A, Mandal B, Banerjee S. Turmeric as a carotenoid source on pigmentation and growth of fantail guppy Poecilia reticulata. Proc Zool Soc. 2009;62(2):119-23.

Ezhil J, Jeyanthi C, Narayanan M. Marigold as a carotenoid source on pigmentation and growth of red swordtail, Xiphophorus helleri. Turk J Fish Aquat Sci. 2008;102:99-102.

Safari O, Mehraban Sang Atash MMS. The effects of dietary supplement of annatto (Bixa orellana) seed meal on blood carotenoid content and fillet color stability in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Aquaculture. 2015;437:275-81.

Kurnia A, Nur I, Muskita WH, Hamzah M, Iba W, Patadjai RS et al. Improving skin coloration of koi carp (Cyprinus carpio) fed with red dragon fruit peel meal. AACL Bioflux. 2019;12:1045-53.

Gamit SA, Kapila Manoj BR, Gamit DN, Lende SR, Vasava RJ, Solanki VK et al. Comparison of growth and colour enhancement in Poecilia sphenops using different carotenoid supplements. The Pharma Innovation [Journal]. 2022;11(11S):1943-6.

Mukherjee M, Das DN, Chakraborty SB. Dietary administration of three medicinal plant extracts enhances innate immunity and skin pigmentation of Botia rostrata (Günther, 1868). J Appl Aquacult. 2022:1-19.

Weerakkody WS, Cumaranatunga PRT. Effects of dried, powdered carrot (Daucus carota) incorporated diet on the skin and flesh colouration of catla catla. Sri Lanka J Aquat Sci. 2016;21(2):95-103.


Sachindra NM, Bhaskar N, Mahendrakar NS. Carotenoids in different body components of Indian shrimps. J Sci Food Agric. 2005;85(1):167-72.


Higuera-Ciapara I, Félix-Valenzuela L, Goycoolea FM. Astaxanthin: A review of its chemistry and applications. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(2):185-96.


Hinostroza GC, Huberman A, De La Lanza G, Monroy-Ruiz J. Pigmentation of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) with oil-extracted astaxanthin from the langostilla (Pleuroncodes planipes). Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1997;47(3):237-41.

Nwanna LC, Balogun AM, Ajjenifuja YF, Enujiugha VN. Replacement of fish meal with chemically preserved shrimp head in the diets of African catfish, Clarias gariepinus. J Food Agric Environ. 2004;2:79-83.

Oliveira Cavalheiro JM, Oliveira de Souza E, Bora PS. Utilization of shrimp industry waste in the formulation of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus Linnaeus) feed. Bioresour Technol. 2007;98(3):602-6.


Diop D, Fall J, Sagne M, Loum A, Ndong D, Diouf M et al. Use of biochemically improved shrimp industry waste in fry tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus, Linnaeus 1758) diets: Effects on growth performance and carcass composition. J Biol Life Sci. 2013;4(2):328.


Lu CH, Ku CC. Effects of shrimp waste meal on growth performance and chitinase activity in juvenile cobia (Rachycentron canadum). Aquac Res. 2013;44(8):1190-5.


Kono M, Matsui T, Shimizu C. Effect of chitin, chitosan, and cellulose as diet supplements on the growth of cultured fish. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi. 1987;53(1): 125-9.


Choubert G, Luquet P. Utilization of shrimp meal for rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri Rich.) pigmentation. Influence of fat content of the diet. Aquaculture. 1983;32(1-2):19-26.


Diler I, Gokoglu N. Investigation of the sensory properties of the flesh of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) fed diets with astaxanthin, shrimp waste meal and red pepper meal. Eur Food Res Technol. 2004;219(3):217-22.

Ito Y, Kamata T, Sameshima M. Studies on the improvement of body color of red sea bream Pagrus major by astaxanthin and astaxanthin dipalmitate. Suisanzoshoku. 1986;34:77-80.

Barclay MC, Irvin SJ, Williams KC, Smith DM. Comparison of diets for the tropical spiny lobster, Panulirus ornatus: astaxanthin supplemented feeds and mussel flesh. Aquacult Nutr. 2006;12(2): 117-25.

Tejera N, Cejas JR, Rodríguez C, Bjerkeng B, Jerez S, Bolaños A et al. Pigmentation, carotenoids, lipid peroxides and lipid composition of skin of red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) fed diets supplemented with different astaxanthin sources. Aquaculture. 2007;270(1-4):218-30.

Doolan BJ, Booth MA, Allan GL, Jones PL. Effects of dietary astaxanthin concentration and feeding period on the skin pigmentation of Australian snapper, Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801). Aquacult Res. 2008;40(1):60-8.

Sun X, Chang Y, Ye Y, Ma Z, Liang Y, Li T et al. The effect of dietary pigments on the coloration of Japanese ornamental carp (koi, Cyprinus carpio L.). Aquaculture. 2012;342-343:62-8.

Foss P, Storebakken T, Liaaen Jensen S. Carotenoids in diets. V. Pigmentation of rainbow trout and sea trout with astaxanthin. Aquaculture. 1987;65(3-4):293-305.

Harpaz S, Rise M, Arad SM, Gur N. The effect of three carotenoid sources on growth and pigmentation of juvenile freshwater crayfish Cherax quadricarinatus. Aquacult Nutr. 1998;4(3): 201-08.

Lovell RT. Nutrition of ornamental fish. Kirk’s current veterinary therapy XIII: small animal practice. 2000;1191-6.

Lorenz RT, Cysewski GR. Commercial potential for Haematococcus microalgae as a natural source of astaxanthin. Trends Biotechnol. 2000; 18(4):160-7.