When considering fish feed alternatives for the future, insect-based fish feed is a sustainable solution. It is now becoming more readily available. Some unconventional ingredients are now being added to fish feed formulas to offer fish the protein they need without causing as much damage to the environment during the production process. Insect fish feed is one of these such ingredients. As the name suggests, it involves using insects or insect oil in the production process. Here we’re going to explore everything you need to know about this topic and how this may become an option we see used more commonly by fish farmers and owners in the future.
Insects are a natural source of food for fish and other animals. Think about when you go fishing – maggots are often used for fish bait. As they are a natural part of the food chain, insect fish feed is something that’s now being considered to play a primary role within the feed solution for fish. Common insects that are currently used for insect meal fish feed include the desert locust, domesticated silkworm, and black soldier. However, many other species could be considered in the future. As they all offer similar benefits to fish and fish farmers.
Industrial insect fish feed production involves working with insect farmers, who are able to produce these insects in huge quantities. In fact, this is one of the greatest advantages of insects, because some species grow so quickly that a huge turnover is possible. Insects can be used in a dried or oil form. Which can then be incorporated in the same manner that traditional ingredients would. Insect-based fish feed production is still in its early stages. So more research needs to be completed into the best formula options. Some flies, such as fruit flies and their larvae, can even be fed to fish directly without any issues. But smaller fish may not be big enough to consume them. For this reason, they are best included in fish feed to avoid digestive and health problems.
One of the biggest issues with traditional fishmeal and fish oil is its increasing price. While some farmers are considering plant-based diets, this isn’t always advised, as it is too high in fiber and less palatable for the fish. This is where insect fish feed comes into play. Insect meal can easily compete with the price of traditional fish food. Which is why it’s such an attractive option for farmers. The price will vary between species of insects. So the higher the quantity of the insect meal fish feed that’s produced, the lower the cost. Black soldier fly and small mealworm are the most competitively priced options currently. They are well aligned with current fish feed prices. When the insect meal sector continues to develop in upcoming years, we can be sure that the price will be reduced significantly. Making it a feasible option for fish farmers worldwide.
The main reason that insect meal fish feed is getting so much attention is due to the wide range of benefits it offers to both fish and fish farmers. Currently, fish meal and fish oil prices continue to rise, making them prohibitively expensive for many fish farmers who keep large quantities of fish at one time. This is why researchers are beginning to look for other solutions. Which will be a good long-term solution for fish farmers. Insect meal could be used as a substitute for fishmeal or plant-based options. Its amino acid profile is most comparable to fishmeal.
It’s therefore a much better option for fish than soy, which is often being discussed as a solution for fish. The insects that are used will impact the protein levels, but many of them are just as good as fishmeal. Black soldier fly and house fly are two species that can be used together to match fishmeal’s profile. They can provide a nutritious meal for fish. This mixing and matching of species will likely only continue to be researched to offer insect-based fish feed that’s nutritious for fish.
One excellent advantage of insect-based fish feed is that the fatty acid profile can be customized to fit the needs of the fish and farmers. It’s believed from research that the fatty acid composition within insects can be modified, opting to give the specific fish species the solution they need. This customization sets insect fish food apart from other solutions. It could help make it a better option than fish or plant-based options. Finally, the number one advantage of insect fish feed is that it’s a much more sustainable option for the future.
A sustainable future for fish feed
The production of insects requires minimal land and resources, so the damage is lessened on the environment. The turnaround time of production varies depending on the species. For some, huge quantities of insect meal can be produced in just a few weeks. The food production cycle can be sped up while minimizing the use of resources. It offers a good solution for everyone involved. While the research is still in the earlier stages, this isn’t something we will necessarily benefit from, but when mass production starts in the near future, insect-based fish feed could change the way in which fish are fed forever.
There are so many reasons why insect fish feed is proving to be an exciting development for the future of sustainable fish feed. Insect-based fish feed offers many benefits to both fish and fish farmers. It will potentially be a more cost-friendly and sustainable solution for the future. While more research and development are still needed in this field, we can only expect the use of insects to increase for fish feed, animal feed, pet food and human consumption in the upcoming years. It’s an exciting development that we can’t wait to continue reading about and seeing what happens in the future as the benefits of insect fish feed are explored further.