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Shrimp Aquaculture and Farming

About Aquaculture (Shrimp Farming)

Aquaculture has emerged as an increasingly important food source for our population’s growth.  Shrimp farming, specifically, has seen greater than a 355% increase in metric ton production from 1970 to 2008. This trend is expected to continue and accelerate as the demand of our growing population increases.  Asian countries currently produce the majority of the worlds farmed shrimp products with South America playing an increasing role. Western nations (the US, Japan, and Europe) have traditionally been the main importers though China’s demand is expected to surpass the United states within the next decade.

Along with aquaculture’s growth, aka ‘booms,’ comes concerns about sustainability. Ecological research shows that mangrove habitat destruction is one unintended consequence of rapid shrimp farming growth. Also, the industry has frequently been plagued by a variety of uncontrollable viruses and diseases that have impaired aquaculture’s ability to match production with global demand. Unabated, the current boom and bust cycles of aquaculture will undermine and destabilize the industry curtailing further growth and destroying vital ecological resources in it’s wake.  It is at this critical tipping point, that we see the entrance of TransGenada. Our vision is to support and help stabilize the shrimp farming industry by producing transgenic tools that will help farmers maximize their crop yields consistently year after year. Helping professional shrimp farmers will in turn, discourage amateur ones–those primarily responsible for the habitat destruction! To learn more about us, please visit TransGenada’s about page.

Aquaculture Farm / Aquaculture Fisheries and Hatcheries

The aquaculture industry is primarily split up into two types of business, hatcheries, where the young shrimp are breed and raised until they reach the nauplii or post-larvae stage, and farms, where the adolescents are grown-out until they are ready for the market. While less common, some aquaculture farms also have their own onsite hatchery. Our target market will most likely be a combination of hatcheries and and larger farms.

 Three Types of Shrimp Hatcheries

First we would like to look at shrimp hatcheries, which worldwide have been growing in number. For instance, in five years from 1990 to 1995, the number of hatcheries increased from 3439 to 5003. Of those, ninty-three percent are located in the eastern hemisphere and seven percent are in western hemisphere [1].

Small-Scale Shrimp Hatcheries (aka Backyard Hatcheries)

  • Common throughout Southeast Asia
  • Low-technology approach
  • Small tanks (less than ten tons)
  • Often low animal stocking densities
  • Survival rate is anywhere between 0% – 90%, (depending on factors like disease,  weather, and operator experience [2].
  • Low construction and operating costs
  • Flexible operation depending on season and supply of wild seed.
  • Untreated water
  • Usually concentrate on just one type portion of shrimp life-cycle (post-larvae or nauplii)
  • Diseases and water quality problems often cause production failure
  • Take a short time to recover from production failures.
  • Variable costs account for 87.80–88.84% of total while fixed costs contribute 11.16–12.20% [1]

Medium-Sized Shrimp Hatcheries (aka Greenwater Hatcheries, Eastern Hatcheries)

  • Large tanks (greater than ten tons)
  • Low animal stocking densities
  • Algal bloom is used to feed larvae
  • Survival rate is about 40% [2]
  • Mostly in Asia
  • Based on a design developed in Japan and improved in Taiwan, (Hence, ‘Eastern Hatcheries’.
  • Some located in South America
  • Low water exchange
  • Encourage an ecosystem within the tank as feed.
  • Variable costs account for 87.80–88.84% of total costs
  • Fixed costs contribute 11.16–12.20% [1]

Large-Sized Shrimp Hatcheries (aka Galveston Hatcheries, Western Hatcheries)

  • Industrial hatcheries
  • Concept developed in Galveston, TX
  • Closed and tightly controlled environment
  • Large Tanks (15 to 30 tons)
  • High animal stocking densities
  • Survival rates vary between 0% – 80%, but typically achieve 50%.
  • Nutrition and medication are fed to the brine shrimp nauplii which passes then to the shrimp that eat them [2]
  • High-technology and high-cost facilities required
  • Produce large quantities of seed in a controlled environment.
  • Filtered water
  • High water exchange
  • Grow algae and brine shrimp in separate tanks for feeding the larvae
  • Produce seedstocks throughout the year
  • Most maintain broodstock
  • Often have problems with disease and water quality
  • Take a long time to recover from production failures.
  • Variable costs account for 87.80–88.84% of total costs
  • Fixed costs contribute 11.16–12.20% [1]


Three Types of Shrimp Farms

We would also like to include some basic information about the different types of aquaculture farms. They are also divided into three groups based on stocking densities:

Extensive Shrimp Farms

  • Traditional low-density methods
  • Located on a coast
  • Up to 100 hectares
  • Low animal stocking Densities (2–3 animals per square meter, or 25,000/ha).
  • Some water exchange via tides
  • Feed is naturally occurring organisms.
  • In some areas, farmers even grow wild shrimp by just opening the gates and impounding wild larvae.
  • Prevalent in poorer or less developed countries
  • Annual yields from 50 to 500 kg/ha of shrimp (head-on weight).
  • Low production costs (US$1–3/kg live shrimp)
  • Not very labor intensive
  • Do not require advanced technical skills
  • Represents 55–60% of all shrimp farms worldwide [2]

Semi-Intensive Shrimp Farms

  • Use pumps and a planned pond layout for water exchange
  • Pond sizes range from 2 to 30 ha
  • Stocking densities range from 10 to 30/square meter (100,000–300,000/ha).
  • Artificial feeding and inducing naturally occurring feed species to grow in ponds
  • Annual yields range from 500 to 5,000 kg/ha
  • Production costs are in the range of US$2–6/kg live shrimp
  • Aeration is often required to prevent oxygen depletion
  • Productivity varies depending upon water temperature (it is common to have larger sized shrimp in some seasons)
  • Represents 25-30% of all shrimp farms worldwide [2]

Intensive Shrimp Farms

  • Smaller ponds (0.1–1.5 ha)
  • higher stocking densities
  • Ponds are actively managed
    • aerated
    • high water exchange to remove waste products and maintain water quality
    • specially designed diets
  • Annual yields between 5,000 and 20,000 kg/ha (a few super-intensive farms can produce as much as 100,000 kg/ha)
  • Advanced technical infrastructure required
  • Highly trained professionals needed to monitor water quality and other pond conditions;
  • Production costs are in the range of US$4–8/kg live shrimp
  • Represents 10-20% of all shrimp farms worldwide [2]

Aquaculture Information and Links