Everything Is Good in Moderation

In many cases, ingredients derived from black soldier flies cannot completely substitute other ingredients. However, it does not mean that they should not be used at all. Study below demonstrated that adding a very small amount of black soldier fly improves growth and immune function of an aquacultured fish, golden pompano, essentially working as a food supplement. Adding larger amounts, on the other hand, was deleterious to pompano's health.

Li, Z., Han, C., Wang, Z., Li, Z., Ruan, L., Lin, H. and Zhou, C., 2023. Black soldier fly pulp in the diet of golden pompano: Effect on growth performance, liver antioxidant and intestinal health. Fish & Shellfish Immunology, 109156.

Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) has been widely researched as a protein source for fish meal replacement in aquaculture, but few studies have focused on its potential as a feed additive for growth and immune enhancement. We conducted a 56-day culture experiment to determine the impact of feed addition of black soldier fly pulp (BSFP, with 86.2% small peptides in dry basis) on growth performance, plasma biochemistry, liver antioxidant levels, intestinal immunity, digestion and microbiota of juvenile golden pompano (Trachinotus ovatus, 5.63 ± 0.02 g). BSFP was added to the basal diet at 0%, 1%, 3%, 5%, 7% and 9% (named Control, BSFP-1, BSFP-3, BSFP-5, BSFP-7, BSFP-9), respectively. BSFP increased the weight gain rate, specific growth rate, protein efficiency ratio and reduced the feed conversion rate of juvenile T. ovatus, the optimal growth performance was reached at BSFP-1, after which a negative feedback phenomenon was observed. Low levels of BSFP upregulated the expression of hepatic antioxidant, intestinal tight junctions, anti-inflammatory related genes and enhanced antioxidant, immune and intestinal digestive enzyme activities, which simultaneously reduced hepatic malondialdehyde and plasma aspartate transaminase and alanine aminotransferase concentrations. However, at BSFP-7, catalase activity was significantly reduced, while NF-κB p65 and pro-inflammatory cytokines transcription was significantly enhanced (P < 0.05). The results suggest that high doses of BSFP addition may damage fish health by inhibiting small peptide uptake, decreasing the activity of antioxidant enzyme and activating the canonical NF-κB pathway. Conversely, low doses of BSFP enhanced intestinal tight junction protein transcription, digestive enzyme activity and immune performance, inhibited pathogenic microbiota, while enhancing liver antioxidant capacity, which was associated with activated Nrf2-Keap1 pathway and suppressed NF-κB pathway, showing its potential as a feed additive to aquafeeds.