Insect feed trial could be a “game changer” according to Australian study

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Australia imports huge amounts of soy-based fish feed every year – could the black soldier fly be the answer?

A West Australian research program using soldier fly pupae as fish feed could be a game changer for Australian aquaculture, according to one of the industry’s leading scientists as reported in ABC news.

Dr Craig Lawrence, an internationally acclaimed 25-year veteran currently running the WA Department of Fisheries’ freshwater research and hatchery has been conducting a long-term soldier fly trial on barramundi and rainbow trout diets.

Talking to the publication, Dr Lawrence said.

“Australia imports large amounts of fish meal every year, not all of it for aquaculture, but one of the problems we have with aquaculture is we actually take about 10 tonne of fish out of the ocean to produce about one tonne of aquaculture of a carnivorous species, so this makes it environmentally better.”

The six week trial was conducted by University of Western Australia (UWA) masters student Isobel Sewell, in partnership with a research and development fly farm owned by Perth-based, Future Green Solutions. Costing $1 million in cash and resources, the trout was fed on a soldier fly pupae diet, and the research found that the fish had growth matching those eating fish meal or combinations of both.

Dr Lawrence said he was hopeful the trial would pave the way to replacing feed produced using soy beans.

“They [soldier fly pupae] are high in proteins and they’re high in fats, ” Dr Lawrence said.

“The important thing is to make sure they’re the right fats, the right omega threes, the right omega sixes, because we want to be able to produce fish that not only grow well but also are healthy eating for people, and that’s something that plant substitutes for fish meal fail to deliver.”