A plant protein-based diet formula containing 13.6% fishmeal (Crude protein 66.5%; crude lipid 8.5%; American Seafoods Company, Seattle, WA, USA) and 55.8% soy protein concentrate (Crude protein 67.0%; crude lipid 0.8%; Shandong Changrun biology Co.Ltd, Linyi, China) was employed in this study as a basal diet formula (Table 1). This formula had been proven to significantly retard fish growth compared to the fishmeal-based diet in our previous study (Li et al., 2015). Taurine (purity, 99.5%; Hongsheng Biological Technology Co., Ltd, Suzhou, China) was added to the basal diet at 0.5%(T0.5), 1.0% (T1.0), 1.5% (T1.5), 2.0% (T2.0) and 2.5% (T2.5) to give 6 test diets in total, including the basal diet (control, T0) (Table 1). Experimental diets were prepared by mixing the dry components thoroughly in a Patterson-Kelley twin shell® Batch V-mixer (Patterson-Kelley Co.Inc., East Stroudsburg, PA), followed by the addition of fish oil (RongchengLitai fishmeal Co.Ltd, Rongcheng, China) and distilled water. The mixed dough was passed through a screw pelleting machine to make moist pellets (3 mm diameter). After air-drying to moisture content below 8%, all diets were frozen at −20 °C until use. The measured taurine levels are 0.11%, 0.57%, 1.08%, 1.69%, 2.10% and 2.58%, respectively.


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