How Insects can Improve Economics and Sustainability in Aquaculture
Insects are proving to be very efficient at converting low quality plant protein into valuable animal protein for aquaculture. At Insects4food we are trialing our proprietary insect breeding methods into Aquaculture businesses and measuring the economics. We are also trialing other sustainable food sources such as aquatic and terrestrial plants, shrimp and feeder fish. As we discuss below, insects have great potential to provide the best of both worlds by;
- Obtaining higher prices for your product (sustainability and organic certification)
- lower cost of production
And finally we pose the question, will seafood grow better if it is fed live foods (insects and aquatic plants) in conjunction with pellet food. We are looking for aquaculture partners to answer this question.
- Lower food costs by replacing fish pellets with insects fed from free waste foods (human or agriculture)
- Remove macro-nutrients from wastewater using aquatic plants which can be fed to fish or insect colonies
- Higher prices or marketability by attaining “Sustainable or Organic Accreditation”
- Produce Secondary Products and Income (Fertilizer, Fruit and Vegetables)
- Potential to Improve growth rates
Lower Food Costs by Replacing Fish Pellets with Insects Fed from Free Waste Foods (human or Agriculture)
A number of insect species such as Soldier Fly Larvae (SFL), crickets and woodies (cockroaches) are able to convert the following waste foods from residential and commercial premises into insect protein. Best of all most of these food sources are often free to obtain:
- Fruits, vegetables
- Agricultural waste
- Out of date processed foods
- Out of date unprocessed meats (SFL)
Recent research has found that SFL could replace as much as 50% of a fish diet before it starts to affect growth rates. In addition to other sustainable food sources we discuss below, this has the potential to reduce the costs of breeding insects as a aquaculture foods source.
Remove Macro-nutrients from Wastewater using Aquatic Plants which can be Fed to Fish or Insect Colonies
We are trialing using duckweed as a way to remove nutrients such as Nitrates from Aquaponic food systems. In other waste applications it is able to strip phosphorous also. Not only is it able to remove nitrates from the water, it then converts this waste product into a very high protein food for both insects and fish. Recent research has found that duckweed could replace as much as 30% of a fish diet before it affected growth rates. Combine this with 50% for insects and you have a significant reduction in food costs.
Duckweed has an amazing ability to double in size every 24 hours in ideal conditions and can be produced in large quantities very easily. This capacity means it can expand or contract depending of the nutrient load and is effectively self-regulating. We use duckweed as a food source by drying it for later use (i.e. a winter food). Dry duck weed is very nutritious being around 40% protein, and is readily consumed by insects, fish or crayfish.
Higher Prices or Marketability by Attaining “Sustainable or Organic Accreditation”
Consumers more than ever are now looking at where their food is coming from, as well as price. Many retail stores are now using Sustainability and Organic certification to give them a marketing edge. This is increasingly resulting in many large retailers to switch to products that have sustainable and organic certification.
Using waste foods to produce insects may quality you for Sustainable certification. If the waste food comes from organic sources, then you may also quality for organic certification. This may allow you to get a higher price for your product or to access new markets.
Produce Secondary Products and Income (Fertilizer, Fruit and Vegetables)
In addition to the benefits listed above (reduced costs, higher prices for product etc) you can also generate a secondary product which can be sold. Insects produce frass (poo) which can be dried and sold of fertilizer or converted to organic fertilizer tea by mixing it with water and microbes. This insect tea has many benefits to plants just as worm tea does. The advantage of insect tea is that frass can be diluted with water to produce a large quantity of product (value adding).
At Insects4Food we are measuring the volume of frass insects produce and will work with other partners to convert this waste to salable products.
Another example of how insects can generate a secondary income is in Aquaponics. The insects feed the fish and the waste products from fish (ammonia to nitrates) in turn feed grow out beds which produce fruit and vegetables. Alternatively you can use the insect fertilizer or tea to grow vegetables and fruit using conventional methods. We take this one step further, and use the vegetable waste from aquaponics (dead or dying leaves) to feed the insects which keeps recirculating nutrients through the system.
Can Insects Improve the Growth Rates of Seafood?
Will Seafood have improved growth rates is they eat live foods such as insects, shrimps and aquatic plants? This is an important question…and we need your help to answer it. There is no doubt that fish pellets form the stable food source for commercial aquaculture, however we wonder what would happen if we incorporated live foods as well.
Fish Pellets have been specifically designed to provide the nutrients a fish needs, however they are a processed food source that is not naturally found in nature. Live foods such as insects and aquatic plants, have a number of properties such as amino acids, microbes and proteins that may not be present in processed foods. Just as humans may be healthier if they switched from eating highly processed foods to more natural foods such as fruit, vegetables and meats, the same may be true for fish and other animals. We hope to find that we can grow more with less food inputs.
Research Partnerships Wanted!
If you are interested in helping to answer this important question, then contact us at and we can help you set up an insect breeding colony and test the economics of insects in Aquaponics in both growth rates and economics. We will provide you with all the advice you need to set up a insect colony (book and consultations) and in return we would like to know what effects it had on the growth rate of your product. We are also looking for partnerships to trial innovative solar solutions to reduce heating costs with cost effective solutions. If either of these projects interest you please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.