Not Fish Alone

Even though, ironically, the article introduced in this post was published in a scientific journal called Fishes. However, that study tested the suitability of black soldier fly larvae as feed for different seafood, whitelegged shrimp. Fly meal proved to be generally superior to fish meal and provided favorable return on investment. Its performance was better than for another crustacean, ornate spiny lobster.

Nunes, A.J., Yamamoto, H., Simões, J.P., Pisa, J.L., Miyamoto, N. and Leite, J.S., 2023. The Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Larvae Meal Can Cost-Effectively Replace Fish Meal in Practical Nursery Diets for Post-Larval Penaeus vannamei under High-Density Culture. Fishes, 8(12), 605.

The black soldier larvae meal (BSFLM) has been the most extensively studied insect protein source in shrimp nutrition. However, both the availability and prices of BSFLM are still a constraint for its widespread use as an ingredient in animal feeds. The present study investigated the growth and economic performance of post-larval (PL) P. vannamei fed nursery diets with a progressive replacement of fish meal (FML) for BSFLM at 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%. These replacements corresponded to a dietary inclusion (% of the diet, as-is) of FML and BSFLM of 16.50 and 6.33%, 11.00 and 13.04%, 5.50 and 19.74%, and 0 and 26.46%, respectively. A total of 102,647 shrimp at the age of PL15 with 2.7 ± 0.2 mg body weight (BW) were stocked in fifty 1.5 m3 tanks under 1369 PLs/m3 (2053 ± 33 PLs/tank) and reared for 42 days. Final shrimp survival (90.5 ± 7.6%), daily weight gain (14.7 ± 1.1 mg/day), and apparent feed intake (0.67 ± 0.03 g of feed per stocked shrimp) were unaffected by dietary treatment. The highest gained yield (791 ± 52 and 776 ± 38 g/m3) and final BW (621 ± 7.2 and 632 ± 7.2 mg) were attained when FML was replaced for BSFLM at 50 and 75% with the lowest at 0% (726 ± 34 g/m3 and 598 ± 8.1 mg, respectively). Shrimp fed diets with 0 and 100% replacement of FML exhibited the highest feed conversion ratio (1.25 ± 0.04 and 1.24 ± 0.08) compared to those fed a diet with 50% (1.16 ± 0.06). At a price of USD 2.00/kg, BSFLM demonstrated a favorable ROI (return of investment) when compared to FML, irrespective of the replacement level. With 25 and 50% replacement, BSFLM remained cost-competitive up to 3.50 USD/kg. At 75% FML replacement, there were no significant differences in ROI with a price range of 2.00 up to 3.04 USD/kg. At full replacement, ROI dropped significantly at a BSFLM price of 2.50 USD/kg and beyond. It can be concluded that FML can be fully replaced for BSFLM in well-balanced nursery diets for P. vannamei. Although the full replacement of FML for BSFLM was successfully accomplished, the competitive ROI was sustained only when the price of BSFLM did not exceed 3.04 USD/kg at its dietary highest inclusion of 19.74%. Further research may be necessary to fine-tune cost-effective inclusion levels of BSFLM to optimize the economic outcomes while considering the fluctuating prices of FML.