DIBAQ 4Tress ®

Fish Nutraceutical Feed

Fish Nutraceutical Feed

Nutraceutical is a natural element or substance, with active properties that provides health benefits, including the prevention or treatment of diseases. In short, the world of nutraceuticals is the world of natural medicines.

4TRESS ® is the name of the nutraceutical technology that Dibaq Aquaculture launches in 2016 after 2.5 years of R + D + i and industrial testing on farms. It has been developed to be used in fish food, both in freshwater and saltwater. It is based on the combination of natural plant extracts exclusively produced for DIBAQ, optimum balanced amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, through the most advanced improvements in manufacturing technology.

4Tress® represents the consolidation of the concepts of functional and prebiotic food already provided by DIBAQ ZENIT nutrition program of Mediterranean species.


Parasitic diseases are a major cause of economic losses in animal production, although they may seem less relevant than viral or bacterial diseases, because they rarely cause high mortalities. However, their impact is remarkable and remains over time, they are difficult to eradicate completely and require frequent treatments, preventive or curative, throughout the whole exploitation cycle.

In the case of aquaculture, parasitic diseases are an even greater problem than in terrestrial animal production due to several reasons:

  • The long production cycle.
  • The dependence on environmental conditions.
  • The difficulty of therapeutical treatments.
  • The lack of information about the biological cycle of certain parasites.
  • Legal constraints about use of therapeutics.

Although mortality in parasitic processes in fish farming usually is not very high, it is maintained along the time. These cause serious economic losses due mainly to:

  • Worsen growth performance (increased conversion rate, reduced growth rate)
  • Gateway for secondary diseases that may cause high mortalities
  • Declines the quality of the final product, with the consequent reduction on the sales price

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of intestinal parasites. Among them, Enteromyxum leei (formally known as Myxidium leei -Myxozoa – Myxosporea), intracellular mixosporide of the intestine that has become a serious threat in farms.

These parasites produce an intense inflammatory reaction in the intestinal mucosa, preventing the absorption of nutrients. As a result, fish growth is impaired, spoiling the quality of the meat, and inducing an intestinal dysbiosis (alteration in the regular intestinal flora) that favours the proliferation of pathogenic enteric bacteria associated with mortality.

As currently there is no legally authorized therapeutic to fight against this parasites, the best alternative is  using, via food, natural products that  could promote the regeneration of the intestinal villi, and creating an hostile environment that minimizes the presence of the parasite, creating a hostile environment for Food nutraceutical by their presence and proliferation in the intestine is reduced.

Along the last two and a half years, DIBAQ, in collaboration with several public research centers and universities, has been developing and testing different natural extracts, studying their effect on intestinal parasites, especially in seabass and seabream. The challenge was to get a food that would minimize the economic impact of the disease on the production improving the economic results.

To check the performance of DIBAQ 4TRESS ® a series of trials under real commercial conditions were designed. The feed was tested in 4 farms  in Western Mediterranean, with different thermal profiles, totalling  using 18 cages of 19 and 25m diameter; more than 4 million fish (sea bream and sea bass) were fed DIBAQ 4TRESS® during the test period.

Criteria to select the trial batches were based on the known pathological records of the cages. Production units chosen were either (1) suffering heavy parasitic processes, with steady trickle of low and low growth, or (2) delays in growth and production yields. In addition, apparently normal cages, with good growth and absence or limited presence of parasitic load for comparative were chosen.

Tests have shown that the use of DIBAQ 4TRESS produces 4 clearly beneficial effects on fish:

1. Promotes intestinal health of fish.
2. Improves  feed conversion ratio.
3. Improves the nutritional properties of fish meat
4. Higher quality and better preservation of meat



To understand the importance of intestinal health, in the upper diagram shows the cross section of intestine (1) the mucosa formed by villi (2). These structures are covered by a simple columnar epithelium called enterocytes (3). The intestinal villus has a central portion (4) which contains a network of blood capillaries and lymphatic vessel.  In this structure is where the absorption of nutrients is performed. In next figure, a histological section of the intestine is shown.

Histologically a moderate chronic eosinophilic inflammatory process with presence of numerous intraepithelial parasitic formations can be seen. The villi appeared very thickened and even fused as consequence of the inflammatory process. The intestinal mucosa does not occupy more than half of the intestinal lumen.

In contrast, the sea breams fed DIBAQ 4TRESS show an increased mucosal surface that covers practically the whole intestinal lumen. This is due to the increased villi length and crypt depth as shown in the photos below. The inflammatory process, and the parasite load. is clearly reduced.

Comparing to the appearance of the mucosa at the beginning of the experience, 4TRESS DIBAQ food appears to have a beneficial effect on the intestinal surface, which favors a greater absorption capacity. In addition there is a greater mucosal integrity associated with stimulation also on enterocytes, epithelial hyperplasia and specifically on increasing goblet cells. The increased cell turnover, improves favor the elimination of intracellular parasites. as protozoa (E. leei), reducing the parasitic load and secondarily the inflammatory reaction.


The results obtained in growth and mortality are summarized in the following charts, as average of all cages involved in the field test.

The data shows DIBAQ 4TRESS® as a new tool in parasite control and recovery of slow growing batches.

Figure shows the average SGR in different batches at the end of the trial period.


Figure shows how mortality decreases , both in sea bream and sea bass batches, with the use of 4tress® along the trial period.


To complete the trial, the nutritional properties of fish in Comparative tests were analysed.

Thus, it was observed that the Sea Bream Control batch had lower body fat content. The sea bream fed DIBAQ 4TRESS ® showed a moderate increase in the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids and a decrease of monounsaturated. A bigger amount of fatty acids omega-3 was detected in the treated animals that can definitely provide a differential and competitive value to the producer who relies on this technology.

The study of the antioxidant activity of the fish meat in both batches revealed that the sea bream fed DIBAQ 4TRESS ® provide greater capacity than those eating control feed. The differential value, measured in neutralizing capacity of free radicals is between 3 and 5% higher, depending on whether such capacity at 6 or at 30 minutes is determined.


Last but not least, the study was completed with a thorough analysis of fillet quality, freshness and durability under normal and / or extreme conditions, simulating the usual situation in the shops. Differences between control and DIBAQ 4TRESS batches on the following parameters were found:

• Potential Free hydrogen ions (pH).: 4TRESS fed fish showed a pH level lower than the control fish, denoting better feed glycolysis.

• Physical Analysis and electrical conductivity values TM (Torrymeter Method) after storage during 120 hours on ice: lower values found in fish fed 4TRESS ®.

• Rancidity Index (TBA) after storage during 120 hours on ice, showed a positive trend on the meat of the fishes fed DIBAQ 4TRESS as expressed in the following graph.


In Dibaq we continue to focus our resources and efforts in R+D+I looking for the profitability and competitiveness of our customers, providing them with efficient, and sustainable solutions.

Nutraceutical, a real trend in human food, should be also present in aquaculture, a technological sector with a shortage of therapeutic tools.

4Tress® is our commitment to present and future, and we are convinced of its value and differentiation in the Mediterranean Aquaculture.