Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fish food that uses insects instead of fish

Problem: Currently, world aquaculture and mariculture systems use fish feed that has been made from other fish. It takes about 6 kg of wild caught fish to make 1 kg of farmed fish. The world’s fisheries are under increasing pressure to produce enough fish and this ratio needed to support aquaculture is sad indeed. In fact, there were a couple of years Japan’s aquaculture industry was facing a shortage of fish feed. Finding ways to save over exploited oceans is important to me.

Hypothesis: There are a lot of good reasons to use insects. Kilogram for kilogram they have more protein than any vertebrate. Insects also produce long chain fatty acids needed by fishes who ultimately make n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. Insects are already a food of many fish species. Insects are easy to produce in large quantities using just agricultural byproducts.
Experiment: In 1998, under the UROP program of the University of Minnesota, I attempted to make fish feed that used protein derived from insects as a replacement to the fish protein normally used. I had a major problem actually baking the food pellets where they became extremely dry and crumbly and when I graduated I went on to other things. Making fish pellets was a lot harder than I thought it would be - hahaha!

In less than two weeks I grew 10 kg of house fly larvae in the entomology lab at U of MN.

So I still think this is an awesome idea. But I mainly mention it here because I noticed another lab did an experiment last year. So now I put it right here on a blog so that just maybe some other labs will take up this idea. Save the oceans!
- Just a peasant
Photo of an Archerfish shooting its insect prey from the on-line Encyclopedia Britannica