Use of Black Soldier Fly larvae in fish feeding in Egypt (Video)

I filmed this video during my visit to an aquaponic facility owned and managed by Dr. Hisham Haggag. The visit took place on 2 November, 2017.

Introduction: The larvae of the Black soldier fly (SFD), (Hermetia illucens) have been proposed decades ago as an efficient converter of organic wastes into live and highly nutritional biomass which could be utilized in different purposes. Their brief life cycle along with their friendly nature encouraged the large-scale production of the BSF larvae and expanded their utilization in animal and fish feeds.

Production of BSF larvae: Even though there is no particular care needed for SFD adults as they do not feed, it is necessary to maintain all-year round SFD adults to ensure sustainable production of SFD larvae. While greenhouses are recommended for maintaining adults, the warm temperature under greenhouse will be required for efficient biodegradation of the waste and so the production of SFD larvae mass especially in temperate climates whereas ambient temperatures are most likely below optimum for such operation. The greenhouse size needs to be of adequate size to allow the aerial mating of adults and hence the continuation of life cycle; about 70-m2 greenhouse has been recommended. Laying females are attracted to deposit their eggs in moist medium inside the greenhouse.

Once eggs hatch, the larvae start immediately consume whatever available of waste products such as home-based food wastes, poultry and animal manure and they continue to do that until they reach their full maturity in about two weeks. Throughout the culture period, optimum temperature ranges from 29-31 ºC while relative humidity should be between 50 and 70%. It may worth mentioning that the duration of life cycle can vary from several weeks to several months depending on the culture environment especially the ambient temperature and the available waste products (larval diet) in regard to quality and quantity.

Advantages: The larvae of black soldier fly are efficient in digesting and converting the organic wastes into valuable biomass in an environmentally friendly action. Large volumes of organic wastes can be processed by dense population of BSF larvae. Therefore, such conversion while controlling the accumulation of organic pollutants, nutritionally rich live biomass is produced. On dry-matter basis, the BSF larvae contain 40-45% protein, 30-35% lipids, 11-15% ash, 8-9% moisture and 7-8% fiber.

The quick processing of organic waste restrains bacterial growth and thereby reduces the production of bad odors which is also reduced via aerating and drying the organic wastes that results from the moving larvae.

It may worth mentioning that the BSF adults lack functioning mouth parts and hence they do not come into contact to human and are not considered a nuisance.

Interestingly, the processed organic wastes by BSF larvae turn it into a liquid form that becomes less suitable for housefly larvae leading to reducing the housefly populations will be of value especially in places where the house fly are abundant such as in livestock farms.

Utilization: Fish meal being the most expensive component in fish feed, aquaculturists have attempted all-time to find appropriate replacement of fish meal whether from plant or animal based protein sources.

The nutritional value of the Black soldier fly larvae along with the easiness to culture and copied with their environmental friendly nature have placed this organism among the possible candidates to be used in fish farming. The BSF larvae has been already in use in some aquaculture operations in many countries whereas the larvae is used live, chopped or dried before mixing it with feed. The use of other animal protein sources in fish feed rather than fish meal has attracted fish farmers who oppose the use of fish meal in fish feeds. In fact, outcomes were encouraging when the BSF larvae were used in the diet of several fish species including rainbow trout, channel catfish, tilapia and others.

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