Effects of fish oil on growth kinetics and lipid accumulation in black soldier fly larvae

Anne Kalinka Sand Knudsen, Emil Elbo Jespersen, Mia Josefine Markwardt, Anne Johansen, Aleksandur Pauli Ortind, Mikael Terp, Niels Thomas Eriksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The main purpose of this study is to characterise how substrate lipid content affects growth kinetics of black soldier fly (BSF) larvae. Growth curves of larvae were characterised in substrates composed of chicken feed supplemented by 0-30% fish oil, and lipid content and fatty acid composition of the prepupae were quantified to examine up-take and assimilation of fish oil by the larvae. Increasing contents of fish oil resulted in reduced specific growth rates, reduced weight of the prepupae, and increased mortality. The prepupae had similar lipid contents at 0-20% fish oil, while 30% fish oil increased the lipid content of prepupae. In contrast, the fatty acid composition of the prepupae showed a strong dependency on substrate fish oil content, indicating that the larvae increased their uptake of fish oil with increasing fish oil content. C16-C22 fatty acids were bioaccumulated from the fish oil, but particularly C20 and C22 fatty acids were apparently also shortened or further metabolised. Microbial fermentation products rapidly accumulated in the substrates, and substrate lipids and carbohydrates were preserved and remained available for the larvae throughout their growth period. These results point out that although BSF larvae can utilise high contents of substrate lipids, it may be at the expense of reduced growth performance, and with limited effects on the composition of their biomass.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Insects as Food and Feed
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Fatty acid composition
  • Lipid content
  • Mortality
  • Specific growth rate
  • Weight


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