Black Soldier Fly Meal Enhances Growth and Disease Resistance of Pacific White Shrimp

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By Milthon Lujan

In the aquaculture industry, the key ingredients used in shrimp feed typically include fish meal and fish oil, as well as plant-derived proteins like soybean meal, corn gluten meal, and wheat flour. However, the increasing demand for these ingredients has raised concerns about their sustainability.

In this context, researchers have been exploring alternative ingredients for fish and shrimp feeds. One promising avenue involves the use of insect meal and oil as substitutes for traditional ingredients, such as fish meal and fish oil, in aquaculture feed formulations.

A study conducted by scientists from Jakarta Technical University of Fisheries, the Ryan Institute University of Galway, the National Research and Innovation Agency, and PT. Bio Cycle Indo evaluated the feasibility of incorporating insect meal and oil into the diets of Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and its potential implications for growth, health, and feed efficiency.

The Experiment

The study involved the formulation of experimental diets with specific nutritional compositions, primarily focusing on protein and lipid content. The diets aimed to maintain an iso-nitrogenous (36% protein) and iso-lipid (6% lipid) balance.

Researchers used Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larval meal and oil as insect-derived components to partially or completely replace traditional ingredients like fish meal (FM) and fish oil (FO) in the shrimp diets.

In total, ten different dietary treatments were evaluated, with four replicates in 40 Hapa ponds assigned randomly. The Pacific white shrimp used in the study had an initial mean weight of 0.97 grams and were fed by hand over a 90-day period, with feed intake based on a feed conversion ratio (FCR) of 1.5.


Although many studies have demonstrated the potential of insect meal and oil as potential ingredients in Pacific white shrimp feed, few studies have been conducted under field conditions.

The findings of the study were significant and demonstrated the potential benefits of incorporating insect meal and oil into the shrimp diets:

  • Improved Growth and Feed Efficiency: The inclusion of up to 5% of BSF meal and oil led to higher growth rates and improved feed utilization efficiency, as indicated by a lower FCR. Shrimp in these diet groups exhibited better performance compared to the initial diet group.
  • Immune Response: The study also assessed the shrimp’s immune response, as measured by total hemocyte counts and lysozyme activity. Shrimp fed with insect-based diets showed favorable trends, suggesting that these diets might strengthen the shrimp’s immunity.
  • Disease Resistance: A disease challenge test was conducted using Vibrio harveyi, a common pathogen in shrimp farming. Shrimp that had been fed diets containing insect meal and oil showed higher survival rates, with percentages increasing from 40% to 60-80%. This improved survival was accompanied by a stronger immune response and better histopathological profiles of hepatopancreas tissues, indicating improved health and disease resistance.


The feasibility study highlights the potential of incorporating insect meal and oil into Pacific white shrimp diets. These alternative ingredients not only improve growth and feed efficiency but also enhance the shrimp’s immune response and disease resistance.

The study’s results suggest that larval fly meal can replace up to 5% of fish meal without affecting growth performance while improving the health condition and increasing survival rates of shrimp after infection with V. harveyi.

While further research is needed to fine-tune the optimal inclusion levels and understand the long-term effects, this study represents a positive step toward environmentally friendly and economically viable shrimp aquaculture practices. Insect meal and oil may play a crucial role in shaping the future of sustainable shrimp farming.

Romi Novriadi
Department of Aquaculture, Jakarta Technical University of Fisheries (Politeknik Ahli Usaha Perikanan), Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Republic of Indonesia
Tel.: +6281371959619
E-mail: novriadiromi@yahoo.com

Reference (open access)
Novriadi, R., Davies, S., Triatmaja, K.I.K, Hermawan, M., Kontara, E.K.M., Tanaka, B., Rinaldy, A., Nugroho, J.E. (2024). Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) as an Alternative to Marine Ingredients Elicits Superior Growth Performance and Resistance to Vibrio harveyi Infection for Pacific White Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 24(1), TRJFAS24343. https://doi.org/10.4194/TRJFAS24343

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