Entomon's Potential In Aquaculture Feed
Fish farming is well established. It has been around for centuries and became increasingly popular when wild fish populations were no longer viewed as a sustainable source for growing demands. Over the past 40 years, aquaculture feed production has rapidly expanded in order to satisfy the appetites for fish in a variety of fish farms.
Dr. Albert G.J. Tacon, aquatic research director of Aquatic Farms Ltd. in Hawaii wrote, "If aquaculture is to play a major role in the food security of low income developing countries as a much needed and affordable source of high-quality animal protein, then it is essential that the farmed species be produced using low-cost sustainable farming methods." (http://www.fao.org/livestock/agap/frg/ECONF95/PDF/TACON.PDF). Much of the input cost of aquaculture lies in the expensive feed, "In order to maintain profitability, farm-made aquafeeds present a much cheaper option for farmers compared to commercial aquafeeds. In contrast to industrially produced aquafeeds, farm-made aquafeeds allow the small-scale farmer to tailor feed inputs to their own financial resources and requirements, and facilitate the use of locally available agricultural products which may otherwise have limited use within the community." (For example, crickets in a culture that may not practice entomophagy).
I began to wonder if I could feed the goldfish outside my house with the crickets that we raise. I took about two hundred 3 week-old crickets from my Entomon and placed them into the freezer (this is the most humane way to harvest crickets for consumption because they enter a dormant state that slows their metabolism). Then I baked them in the oven and ground the crickets to a flakey state that resembles store-bought fish feed. I placed my GoPro camera at the bottom of the pond, spread the cricket flakes, and watched the fish feast.
In western applications, where entomophagy is relatively scarce, insect farming is still applicable for feeding livestock. Aquafeed for carnivorous fish species is very dependent on fishmeal (processed fish) for dietary protein. In the last decade, demand for fishmeal has exceeded supply causing prices to increase dramatically. As a result, the use of essential, protein-rich fishmeal has become a ingredient in aquafeed. Crickets could be supplemented as a valuable protein alternative.
The video link above contains a lot of great information from the World Nutrition Forum that discusses the economical and environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture industry. The whole talk is insightful, but the video will begin at 16:06 to jump into pertinent information on the topic. Go back to 10:16 if you have some extra time.