let’s explore the possibilities to produce our homemade fish food!
We will see why it’s so important to find a sustainable alternative to classic aquaculture fish food pellet. Then we will go through experiments to grow vegetable and insect live fish food.

A need for sustainable and affordable fish food

Most aquaponics growers feed their fish with “aquaculture fish food“. it comes under the shape of dry pellets. It’s convenient to use and can be stored for months in a dry area.
However, as we will see here below, this fish food has serious inconveniences
 
Large predator fish such as trouts require a diet high in fish proteins and polyunsaturated fat (such as omega 3). Hence, it consumes several kg of wild fish to produce one kg of fish food. In other words, we have:
 
1. Boat fishing wild caught fish (energy consumption and fish resources consumption)
2. Transforming the wild fish into fish meal (energy consumption)
3. Transporting the fish food to the fish farmer or aquaponics grower (energy consumption)
From a sustainable point of view, this is not good at all. We must improve this point!
 
It is true that most vegetarian or omnivorous fish have more reasonable fish meal needs. However, it still requires to grow plants (in monoculture) and to transport the fish food pellet from the fish feed factory to the aquaponics grower. which generate pollution and cost.
 
The ideal solution is to produce the fish food at home. It would allow to feed the fish directly from the fish food produced.
 

Growing plants to feed the fish

 
The easiest option is to produce plants and other vegetable biomass. However, it only allows to feed the fish that accept this type of feed.
See the video on how to grow your own homemade duckweed for Aquaponics fish food here:
 
 
For predator fish such as trouts, other fish food options are to explore as per below…
 

Growing insect fish food at home

 
Yes! We can grow insects at home and use them as fish food. There are several advantages to grow insects for fish food:
 
  • Low and easy maintenance
  • High reproduction rate
  • Fast to growth
  • Very productive and efficient to transform waste into fish food
  • Require a very limited surface
  • High in proteins (almost 100% of dry matters)
  • Good source of vitamins when used alive
  • Good source of minerals (interesting for the whole aquaponics system).
 
Growing insects is therefore a wonderful alternative to fish food pellet. Several types of insects can be grown for aquaponics. The most famous ones are Cockroaches, Crickets, Wax-worms and black soldier flies.
 
However, they require high temperature. Hence, if you don’t live in a warm country, you will not be able to produce them all year round or need a heating system. This last option would considerably reduce the sustainability of the production.
 
As a result I experimented growing local insects in a more temperate climate (-2 C to +40 C).
Based in Melbourne Australia, I explored the possibility to grow native fly larvae. The results was more than interesting as you can see in this video:
 
 
My aim is to continue producing fly larvae for my fish and improve the system over time. It seems to be the most sustainable alternative to classic fish food pellet and it’s completely free. As I am still experimenting, I am sure you will have tips to improve the fly larvae production system. I look forward to reading your suggestion in the comments.

You will probably be interested to discover my six steps to build and manage an Aquaponics system. Click here to access for free! Thanks and good reading 🙂