Growing Mealworms as a Fish Feed for Sustainable Aquaponics

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $3,467.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: RainFresh Harvests
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Barry Adler
RainFresh Harvests

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)
  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: feed/forage


    This project developed and evaluated sustainable practices to provide mealworms as a feed replacement or supplement to increase productivity and/or profitability of the bluegills and produce in the plant growing beds.

    Key challenges investigated by this research project were:

    • Can we grow sufficient quantities of mealworms using organic certified grains or grain waste products in a high tunnel environment for use as a fish feed integrated with an aquaponics cropping system?
    • Can this be done in a cost effective manner that will provide much needed income for a small farmer operation and provide fresh fish and produce to meet with the increasing demand for locally grown food?


    For summary of results, see Learning Outcomes, Lessons Learned.

    Project objectives:

    1. Develop growing practices for mealworm production in a small scale farm high tunnel.
    2. Positively impact the environment by producing a local alternative to mercury- and PCB-contaminated commercial fish feed.
    3. Improve profitability for growers by evaluating cost effectiveness of mealworm production in a small scale farm high tunnel for fish feed in an aquaponic system.
    4. Benefit the community by increasing access to local fish and potentially creating new jobs in this market.
    5. Share results of project to the benefit of growers and community through open greenhouse tours and documentation on social media.



    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.