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Effect of fresh or dry black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae on survival rate, growth performance and chemical composition of square-head climbing perch (Anabas testudineus Bloch, 1792)

Tran Thi Thu Suong, Hoang Nghia Manh, Pham Thi Phuong Lan, Le Minh Tue, Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy and Nguyen Duy Quynh Tram

Faculty of Fisheries, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Hue University 102 Phung Hung, Hue City 530000, Viet Nam


The study aimed at evaluating the effect on survival rate, growth performance and chemical composition of square-head climbing perch fed fresh or dry black soldier fly larvae (BSFL). The experiment was completely randomized design with 5 dietary treatments and 3 replicates, namely CT (commercial feed as a control diet), DL (100% dry BSFL), CT-DL (50% CT + 50% DL), CT-FL (50% CT + 50% fresh BSFL) and FL (100% fresh BSFL). Results showed that the diets didn’t affect the survival rate but the final weight, feed conversion ratio, yield and chemical composition of meat were different. The final weight of fish ranged 49.63 – 56.5 g after 60 stocking days and highest in CT-FL. Daily weight gain, feed conversion ratio and yield were improved by diets contained 50% commercial feed and 50% fresh larvae (CT-FL). The contents of CP, EE and ash were higher in CT-FL than other treatments (p<0.05). In conclusion, growth performance, yield and chemical composition of square-head climbing perch were improved by feeding commercial feed and fresh larvae at ratio 1:1.

Keyword: Black soldier fly larvae, dry and fresh form, square-head climbing perch


Square-head climbing perch is a mutant fish from paddy perch. This is a promising fish species because it can live in different types of water such as ponds, fields, rafts, especially in areas with mild alum contamination (Tran Minh Phu et al 2006). Therefore, this is a very good farming species that can adapt to different weather conditions in the context of current climate change. Fish have accessory respiratory organs so they can be raised at high densities, and poor water quality (Kim Van Van 2009). The fish grow fast and, importantly, the fish have high economic value (Anantharaja et al 2017), delicious meat quality is preferred by many people (Tran Minh Phu et al 2006).

In Thua Thien Hue, square-headed climbing perch have been tested and replicated in many localities across the province, such as mountainous areas of A Luoi district and plain areas of Quang Dien district and are recognized for bringing high economic efficiency and stable income. However, there are many factors that affect farming efficiency, of which feed accounts for 50 - 60% of production costs and is one of the important factors affecting the economic efficiency of fish farming.

The strong development of aquaculture means that the demand for commercial feed has increased sharply. On the other hand, in aquatic feed processing, fishmeal is considered the main source of protein. This has a major impact on wild fish populations (Naylor et al 2009). Faced with such challenges, in recent years, many scientists have researched to find rich-protein feed sources that can replace fishmeal, in order to reduce feed costs and bring profits to farmers.

Among the alternatives, black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae have recently received more attention as a potential alternative source for fishmeal (Magalhăes et al 2017), which is used to diversify protein feed sources and to reduce the aquaculture industry's dependence on feed containing fishmeal (Vongvichith et al 2020). On the other hand, black soldier fly larvae have the ability to convert waste into food with high nutritional value, contributing to the food chain and helping to reduce pollution (Le Duc Ngoan et al 2021). In aquaculture, black soldier fly larvae have been used as direct feed or as a partial replacement for fishmeal in the diet of blue tilapia Oreocromis aureus (Bondari and Sheppard, 1987), square-headed climbing perch (Vongvichith et al 2020), seabass (Lan et al 2022), snakehead fish (Nguyen Phu Hoa et al 2016).

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of using of black soldier fly larvae in fresh or dried form or plus with commercial feed on growth, survival rate and meat chemical composition of square-headed climbing perch. The hypothesis }of the study was that the inclusion of fresh or dry BSFL in diet improves production parameters.

Materials and methods

The experiment was conducted from April to May 2023 at a pond in Huong Chu ward - Huong Tra Town - Thua Thien Hue Province.

Experimental design

The experiment was arranged in a completely randomized design with 5 dietary treatments and 3 replicates, namely CT: a control diet as commercial feed; DL: 100% dry larvae; CT-DL: a mixture of 50% DL and 50% CT; CT-FL: a mixture of 50% fresh larvae + 50% CT; FL: 100% fresh larvae.

Commercial feed (R30) was bought from Thang Long company and black soldier fly larvae were raised at Huong Chu fish farm. The larvae after harvesting was washed and then boiled with water tank at 60oC for 30 minutes. The fresh larvae were boiled larvae and dried larvae were fresh larvae after drying at 60oC for 48 hours. They were stored in the refrigerator at 4oC prior to feed the fish gradually during the experiment.

Fingerlings of square-head climbing perch have an average length of 5.1cm and an average weight of 5 g/fish. Fish were raised in net cage with measurements 2 x 3 x 1.5m and density of 30 fish/m2. Fish were fed 4 times a day (7:00; 10:30; 2:30; and 18:00h).

Table 1. Chemical composition (%) of black soldier fly larvae* and commercial feed R30 **





Total ash

Total lysine

Total P

















* Analysed data;**Manufactured data


- Water monitoring indicators: Temperature, pH, DO and N-NH3 were measured 2-day interval in the morning and afternoon.

Table 2. Environmental indicators
















N-NH 3



- Survival rate (%) = (Number of fish at final/Number of fish at initial) × 100

- Length and live weight of fish were measured at the beginning and end of the experiment. In each measurement, 30 fish were collected, 10 in each replicate.

- Daily weight gain (g/day) = (final weight – initial weight)/day of experiment

- Feed conversion ratio (FCR) = amount of consumed feed/weight gain

- Productivity (Y) of farming perch: Y (kg/m2) = Total weight at the end of the experiment (kg)/area of surface net cage (m2)

Chemical analysis

Dry matter content was analyzed according to AOAC standard 930.15, 1990; Total was ash analyzed according to AOAC 942, 1990 standards; Crude fat content was analyzed according to AOAC standard 930.15, 1990; Total nitrogen content was analyzed according to AOAC 930.15,1990 standards and crude protein = 6.25 x N. Samples were analyzed at the Feed and Livestock Products Analysis laboratory of the National Institute of Animal Sciences, Hanoi.

Data analysis

All the data collected were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) in a completely randomized design using the general linear model procedure of Minitab v 16.20 (2010). Difference between the treatment means was used Duncan’s multiple range test and significance was accepted at a 5.00% level. The experimental model was:

Yij= μ + Ti+ e ij where;

Yij= the response variable

μ= overall mean

T i = treatment effect

eij= error component

Results and discussion

Survival rate, growth performance and yield

The results of survival rate, weight gain and productivity of square-head climbing perch are shown in Table 3. The results show that after 60-day stocking, the survival rate of fish in all treatments ranged from 79.1 to 83.2% and was no difference among treatment (p>0.05). The results of this study are similar to the study of Vongvichith et al (2020) when raising perch with fly larval meal gave a survival rate of 81.7-82.2%. The final weight of fish ranged from 49.6-56.3 g was affected by diets. The final weight of square-head perch was highest in CT-FL (56.3 g/fish) followed by CT (53.9 g/fish) and lowest in CT-DL and FL (p<0.05).

Table 3. Survival rate, growth performance and yield








Initial weight (g)








Final weight (g)








DWG (g/day)








Survival rate (%)
















Yield (kg/m2)








a,b,c,dMeans within a row with different superscripts differ (p< 0.05)

The daily weight gain (DWG) of square-head climbing perch was also affected by diets and higher in CT-FL than in CT-DL (p<0.05) but not significant with CT, DL and FL (p>0.05). Up to now, there has been no research on square-head perch using BSFL directly as food in fresh or dried form. This result shows that using BSFL as food does not affect the weight growth of square-head perch compared to industrial feed. According to Nguyen Phu Hoa et al (2016), when using black soldier fly pupae as food for snakehead fish, the growth of DWG weight reached 867 mg/day.

The feed conversion ratio (FCR) of square-head perch (Table 3) ranged from 1.79 to 2.13. In this experiment, square-head perch had the highest FCR in FL (FCR=2.13) and was not statistically different from DL and CT-DL (p>0.05); Fish with the lowest FCR in CT reached 1.79; Next, CT-FL reached 1.89 and the difference was not statistically significant p>0.05. This result is higher than what was recorded by the Binh Dinh Provincial Agricultural Extension Center (2019), showing that raising square-head perch with floating industrial feed pellets has a protein content of 25-35% for feed conversion coefficient. is 1.5; and lower than the research of Vongvichith et al (2020), Nguyen Thanh Phuong et al (1998), when feeding perch with pellets, the fish's food consumption coefficient is 4.06 - 6.13, and when feeding fish with homemade food made from frozen factory by-products, the food consumption coefficient is 8.81.

The results in Table 3 also show that when raising square-head perch with 50% fresh larvae + 50% commercial feed, the highest yield reached 1.41 kg/m2 and the lowest in CT-DL when fed 100% dry larvae (1.22 kg/m 2). The results of this research are higher than those recorded by Tran Minh Phu et al (2006) when intensively farming perch with pellets with different protein contents gives productivity from 105-114 kg/100m 2 (1.05-1.14 kg/m2).

Chemical composition of meat

Chemical composition of meat presented in Table 4. The moisture content of square-head perch was higher in FL than that in others (p<0.05). In general, the moisture content ranged from 70.1 – 72.4%.

Table 4. Chemical composition of square-head climbing perch (%)




p -value






























Total ash








a,b Means within a row with different superscripts differ (p< 0.05)

Harvested fish had a crude protein content ranging from 15.8 – 16.8%, the highest in fish in CT-FL (50% fresh larvae + 50% commercial feed) reached 16.8% and had a statistical difference compared to FL p<0.05.

Similar to crude protein, fish after being fed different experimental diets had the highest crude lipid in CT-FL and FL, both reaching 8.8% and there was a statistical difference compared to CT and DL, the lowest in CT (100% commercial feed) and there is no statistical difference with DL and CT-DL p>0.05.

The total mineral composition of square-head perch at harvest ranges from 2.3 - 3.8%. The total mineral composition of perch was highest in CT at 3.8% and lowest in FL at 2.3% and had statistical difference p<0.05.

According to Vongvichith et al (2020), when raising square-head perch with pellets using BSFL meal at harvest, the CP content was 17.2%, equivalent to the results of the experiment; However, the EE content in this experiment was much lower (7.5 – 8.8% compared to 14.2%) and the total ash in this experiment was lower (2.3 – 3.8% compared to 4.1%).


Fresh or dried BSFL can be used directly as feed for raising square-head climbing perch, in which a diet of 50% fresh BSFL combined with 50% commercial feed gives the highest results in terms of weight growth, survival rate, FCR, productivity and has a good impact on fish meat quality, especially high lipid content.


This work was supported from Thua Thien Hue Department of Science and Technology under the Grant No. TTH.2021-KC.26.


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