Insect-based fishmeal is being explored in light of depleting current protein sources. (Photo: FIS/ Public Domain)
Insects, a potential protein source for fish feed
Thursday, April 08, 2010, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers at the University of Almeria (UAL), with the collaboration of colleagues at the University of Granada (UG) and personnel of the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO) are evaluating the possibility of making feed from insects, as an alternative to fishmeal used in aquaculture.
The scientists of the group Aquatic Ecology and Aquaculture explain that the project arose in response to the depletion of current protein sources, a situation that will be a limiting factor for the development of aquaculture industry.
The idea is to develop feed from meal coming from insects, that can be adapted easily to the digestive physiology of the fish.
The research project is funded by the Council of Innovation, Science and Company of Andalusia w ith EUR 98,055.
The scientists plan on evaluating the effectiveness of this feed in live feeding tests with fish and to assess the quantity and quality of the product, as well as the economic assessment of the use of this meal, the Junta de Andalucia informed.
The researchers will study types of worms, crickets and grasshoppers: Tenebrio molitor, Zophoba morio, Achetra domestica.
They will also use the larva of an lepidopteron (Plodia interpunctella), thanks to the collaboration of
the firm Insectos.med SL, located in El Ejido, Almeria.
“The idea is that these insect-based meals not only be nutritious but also appetizing for the fish,” observed one of the researchers of the UAL participating in the project, Fernando Garcia Barroso.
The new feed will be tested with two aquaculture species:
- Seabream (Sparus aurata), a carnivorous fish that is cultivated in the south of Spain;
- Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.), an omnivorous fish that consumes larvae of insects in its natural habitat.
“We have selected the latter as representative of fresh water species and for the particular interest there is in developing its breeding in Almeria, in addition to its global projection and high productivity,” explained the person in charge of the project in the UAL, Maria Jose Sanchez-Muros.
"An undeniable fact is that the limiting factor for aquaculture will be the availability of this meal. If insect-based foods boast the same nutritious effectiveness and show that aquaculture productions maintain the same rate of growth, it is possible to think of the use of these meals as a more adapted element than vegetal foods when elaborating feed for fish,” she concluded.
By Analia Murias