—Zinc (Zn) is widely known as an essential trace element for fish and new ways to supply it to them are needed. Palygorskite (Pal) is a natural silicate clay mineral and the palygorskite structure contains nano-channels, which are filled with water and exchangeable ions. Zn-bearing palygorskites (Zn-Pal) prepared using ion exchange have attracted attention due to the durable antibacterial properties that limit pathogens and as a potential new Zn source for livestock. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effects of Zn-Pal supplementation on the growth performance, nutrient retention, meat quality, Zn accumulation, and intestinal Zn transporter protein gene expression in blunt snout bream Megalobrama amblycephala. The fish were fed a basal diet without an exogenous Zn source and the basal diet was supplemented with 125 mg/kg Zn as Zn sulfate (ZnSO4) or 35, 80, or 125 mg/kg Zn as Zn-Pal. Each diet was tested using three replicates for 7 weeks. The results showed that dietary Zn-Pal supplementation quadratically (P<0.05) increased growth performance, nutrient retention, total and Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase activity, Zn content in scales, and intestinal Zn transporter protein gene expression. The muscular cooking loss in blunt snout bream decreased with the optimum Zn-Pal Zn level of 35 mg/kg. Compared to the fish treated with ZnSO4, the fish supplemented with 35 mg/kg as Zn-Pal exhibited similar growth performance and nutrient retention (P>0.05), increased mRNA expression of the metal-response element-binding transcription factor-1 in the intestine (P<0.05), and decreased cooking loss of muscle (P<0.05).The results suggested that 35 mg/kg Zn supplementation as Zn-Pal could improve the growth performance and body composition, increase nutrient retention and tissue Zn concentrations, enhance the muscle water-holding capacity, and enhance antioxidant status in blunt snout bream. The Zn-Pal was more efficient and could be used as an alternative Zn source to ZnSO4 in the diet of blunt snout bream.

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