One of the most lucrative businesses worldwide is shrimp farming, and it is an aquaculture enterprise found in either a marine or freshwater setting. Furthermore, its primary goal is to produce shrimp for consumption, and freshwater shrimp agriculture is becoming increasingly popular among individuals to begin farming in the aquacultural realm. So, what are some of the basics of shrimp farming a beginner should know?
Shrimp farming produces marketable shrimps in closed enclosures such as ponds by supplying them with food, aeration, and a healthy atmosphere. As a result, the condition and characteristics of your pond design will determine how successful your freshwater shrimp farming business is.
Furthermore, shrimps are cultivated in salinity levels ranging from near zero to 100 percent seawater. As a result, they've effectively turned euryhaline. Moreover, the characteristics of your pond design also vary widely based on the production plan and duration. However, for beginners, learning each aspect of shrimp farming is crucial. That said, from the beginning, let's look at everything you need to know.
A Beginners Guide To Shrimp Farming
Marine shrimp farming is an ancient business that is particularly popular in several Asian countries. Until about a decade ago, shrimp was regarded as a secondary crop in conventional fish farming methods. However, shrimp fry caught in salt beds, coastal paddy fields, or brackish water fishponds is allowed to mature and be collected as a supplementary crop.
Though farmers have begun to grow shrimp as a commercial crop in recent years, many have turned their rice fields, fish ponds, and salt beds into shrimp farms. The fish ponds are traditionally stocked with fry obtained from the wild or concentrated from tidal water entering the ponds.
However, most shrimp cultivators today use advanced shrimp production technologies. So, starting with understanding the basic requirements of the location to begin shrimp farming, let's jump straight into it.
Understanding The Site Requirements
First, you need to get the necessary business licenses and permissions to establish a freshwater shrimp farm in your state. In addition, aquaculture permits are required in most states for shrimp farmers. These permits are available through your state's Department of Agriculture.
After that, you must choose an excellent place for your business to begin. It is preferable if the desired environment is tranquil and devoid of noise and pollution. It is best to stay away from suburban areas while ensuring that your chosen place has access to electricity, water, and reliable transportation. If your current land has these features, you can begin commercial production there.
Before establishing a shrimp farm, you should examine the kind and texture of the soil in your chosen location. Then, take soil samples from several areas at random (preferably up to a depth of 0.5 meters).
And conduct physical and chemical tests to assess the acidity, organic load, fertility level, and physical makeup. It is critical for shrimp production to have good clay content in the soil. For commercial cultivation, sandy clay or sandy loam soil is recommended.
In addition, clay soil or silty clay soil is preferable since it allows for minimal seepage and reduces pumping expenses. Furthermore, the property should be raised by 5 to 6.5 feet above the water level (or high tide level in case of the sea).
Maintaining adequate water quality is also crucial for the shrimp farming industry. Water quality refers to all of the water's physical, chemical, and microbiological properties.
The correct pH level is critical in the shrimp farming industry. The pH level of the water should be in the range of 7.5 to 8.5. Next, determine changes in the water's dissolved oxygen level. This level should not fall below four ppm.
Furthermore, it is preferable if the water is nutrient-rich. However, the main distinction is in the soil requirements. Soil components are essential in farm site selection since the farm is built with soil, and the bottom is likewise made of soil (unless in concrete tanks or polythene-lined ponds).
Finally, shrimp farming will benefit from sufficient seawater and freshwater or low-salinity water supplies. Accessibility, electricity availability, labor, building material, and technical staffing are all factors that might aid.
Getting To Know The Design Of The Shrimp Farm
After finding an ideal location to raise your shrimp, you'll need to design the farm. Farmers commonly use ponds; however, they are not required. Instead, freshwater shrimp may be raised in swimming pools, tanks, and other containers with a significant depth.
However, they do not produce the best outcomes. A pond is better for a high number of healthy crustaceans. That said, the ideal components of a shrimp farm include:
- Water intake combined with filtration disinfection and distribution system
- Water drainage or discharge system
- Culture ponds
A water body nearby provides the farm with the water it needs. As a result, water intake systems such as a jetty or a pump house are built. Pumps are placed based on water requirements and pumping plans to pump the required amount of water from the water source at predetermined intervals.
Pumped water is held in enormous reservoirs for settling, which reduces the turbidity of the water. Water is transported from the reservoir to ponds by water distribution canals, feeder canals, and inlets, and reservoirs are often used to store water for 3-5 days.
Culture Ponds And Larger Pond Management
The size, shape, and depth of culture ponds vary. There are ponds as little as 0.1 hectares and as large as 10 hectares or more, and pond depths range from 23 inches to over 6.5 feet.
Almost all ponds have a well-designed water inflow and outflow and a slope from the inlet to the outlet. However, there are circular ponds with centrally constructed slopes, but most are square ponds with an average size of 1 hectare.
Ponds are equipped with four or more pathways that stretch from the bund into the pond, where check trays are hanging. These check trays allow for frequent evaluation of the feeding rate and shrimp health. In addition, enough electrical points are provided to install various capacities of devices such as utility aerators etc. depending on the pond size, depth, and production plan.
Shrimp farms are planned depending on the quality of the land and the local statutory authorities' requirements. Therefore, the objective of production plans directly influences farm design concepts. However, the sand concentration of the soil determines the thickness of the dykes. A clay sandwich is placed in the center of each dyke when the soil contains a lot of sand.
Furthermore, a clay layer or even polythene lining can be applied to ponds. In the event of acid sulfate soils, a lime sandwich or polythene liner may be used to remedy the problem.
What To Expect During Pond Management
A certain amount of water is removed from culture ponds and replaced or recirculated every day. As a result, each farm requires water discharge and storage space. In addition, an outflow of water has a more significant density of flora and fauna and more nutrients and debris than the water body.
Therefore, the water is kept, and various procedures are made to get it closer to the water of the water body where it is discharged.
In addition, to lower the organic burden in larger ponds, detritus-feeding fish are grown. In the next segment, filter feeders such as mussels are cultivated, reducing the fauna and flora. Finally, seaweeds that collect nutrients from the water and grow in the third segment of your site will be commercially important if you plan to expand.
In some circumstances, you would need to introduce the HDPE pond liner. The use of HDPE pond liner is a technique that is used in highly porous areas to reduce water loss through seepage while also preventing saline intrusion into surrounding freshwater supplies.
It may be applied to farming with better control over parameters in a culture system, but it will have its own repercussions on production, operation, management, and performance. The cost of placing the liner material is high, ranging from $1.5 to $5.00 per square meter.
The Basics Of Pond Preparation
Ponds are adequately dried till the bottom cracks. If there is too much organic detritus in the pond, it is scraped out. The pond is then plowed, and lime is supplied to the level required by testing the soil pH. Finally, enough fertilizer and manuring (if needed) are added, and the ponds are plowed again to mix, be leveled correctly, and finally hardened by rolling.
Pond Water Filling And Water Culture
Fully prepared ponds are filled with excellent quality water from the reservoir to a depth of at least 1 meter (6.5 feet), and the pond water is fertilized in a 5:1 N:P ratio. Phytoplankton development and flowering usually show in 7 days. Therefore, a 30-35 cm (23 inches) water transparency is desirable for stocking. As a result, the pond is now ready for stocking.
Stocking Your Pond
Ponds that have been fully prepped and water cultured are supplied with a set amount of shrimp seed from a reputable hatchery. Seeds are examined for health and also put through stress testing to determine their sturdiness.
When shrimp seed arrives at the farm, it is initially thermally acclimatized by keeping the bags in the pond without opening. Later, salinity and other parameters are acclimatized by gradually adding pond water. The acclimatization process might take 3-4 hours or more.
It is best to collaborate with the hatchery to condition the seed to the desired salinity to minimize time. It is usually preferable to release seed in the early morning hours since the temperature is lower; thus, the stress level is lower.
Managing Your Feed
Feed accounts for around half of a crop's operating costs. As a result, managing the feed requirements of the farm's growth is critical. A high-quality feed is chosen by carefully scrutinizing the technical data given by the manufacturer.
The size of feed grains varies with shrimp size. Crumbs with a size of 1-3 mm (0.11 inches) are used in the early days of stocking, and as the shrimps mature, the feed size is gradually raised to regular pellet size.
Feed's water stability is critical because it should not dissolve too quickly in water, depriving shrimps of the opportunity to eat. As a result, a reduced water stability factor may result in nutrition loss owing to leaching.
Cannibalism, slower development, and non-uniform size distribution may occur if there is insufficient feed supply. If the feeding rate is higher than necessary, the feed is squandered and settles to the bottom. As metabolic products, waste feed emits many harmful gases such as H2S and NH3.
These gases are toxic to shrimp, making them vulnerable to various illnesses. In addition, feed distribution is also significant in shrimp ponds. There are now automated feeders that may be moved regularly. In addition, feed boats can be used to distribute feed equally.
As far as possible, feed is spread across the pond while avoiding waste buildup in places such as the drainage zone - when aeration is given, the pond's center, etc. That said, combining any of these three procedures yields the feeding rate.
- By checking the tray observation
- By an FCR (Feed conversion ratio) method
- By observing the shrimp gut
Overall, the ultimate purpose of implementing numerous ways is to optimize feeding. However, feeding begins on day one in high-density farming and continues until the last day.
Water Management During Stocking
Again, frequent water exchange or recirculation is performed to keep the pond water stress-free for shrimp growth. Water exchange is restricted in the early days of the stocking to replenish water lost to seepage and evaporation.
However, as shrimps develop and feed increases, the pond waters exchange rate increases, reaching up to 20% daily in certain circumstances during the last few days of culture. Therefore, water recirculation is also used to lessen the amount of pumping required.
In addition, to avoid the pH impact, surface water is drained off on rainy days by opening the top of the sluice gates. Water exchange is limited to removing the low pH top water. Otherwise, the bottom water is generally emptied.
Finally, water exchange is managed depending on the pond's water quality metrics. For example, if the bottom of the pond degrades, the water exchange rate is raised due to a plankton bloom crash or excessive feed usage.
Shrimp Health Management
Water management, feed management, seed quality, and pond management, all impact shrimp health in ponds. Despite taking care of each of these criteria individually, we must regularly examine the health of the shrimps in the ponds.
One aspect of danger is more vital in shrimp farming than in animal husbandry techniques because sick individuals cannot be observed because they are beneath the water. The second and more harmful element is that healthy shrimp cannibalize the infected shrimp when a shrimp dies, causing illness to spread even quicker.
Therefore, regular inspection of shrimps, their intestines, molting status, and indications of any sickness is critical. Whenever a symptom is recognized, prompt corrective action must be performed to prevent the problem from growing to dangerous proportions.
If the condition is uncontrollable, the decision to harvest/cull and disinfect should be performed as soon as possible to save healthy ponds before they succumb to illness.
Pond management entails additional considerations not covered under the particular areas listed above. Pond bottom, watercolor (Plankton variety and density), fertilizer, aeration, water quality parameters, and biosecurity parameters are all factors to consider. All water quality measures are checked regularly.
Dissolved Oxygen is a critical parameter that affects several other parameters and their fatal consequences. Typically, dissolved oxygen levels are highest in the afternoon and lowest before sunrise. Knowing this information and how to run aerators can assist minimize production costs by making better use of resources.
So, depending on the situation, aerators should be activated to maintain the oxygen level in the ponds so that it does not approach critical levels.
Managing The HDPE Lined Shrimp Ponds
HDPE-lined ponds present a unique set of challenges for agricultural managers. In these ponds, there is no soil-water contact. Because the normal buffering effect of pH is missing, such ponds exhibit a broad range of pH fluctuations.
The bacterial population that aids in nutrient recycling in these ponds is initially nil and grows slowly. Because there is no water-soil contact, dead algae, feed waste, and feed metabolites combine to form a complex that results in thick sludge layers. Toxic gases such as H2S and NH3 accumulate quickly and remain in the water for lengthy periods. As a result, nutrient recycling is a time-consuming operation.
If chlorinated or disinfected water is utilized for shrimp farming in such ponds, it is similar to pure water culture, and good bloom growth is rare or takes an extremely long period. Blooms are often of a single or a few species and fail to supply adequate nutrition to shrimps, mainly when sterilized water is utilized.
Therefore, growth usually is slower in these ponds, and difficulties with loose shell syndrome are common, especially as the crop grows to harvestable size. As a result, the output price is lower than regular shrimps, affecting economic data. That said, you may want to keep the following in mind:
- The administration of such HDPE walled ponds requires particular design factors and fundamental management techniques to be handled throughout the culture.
- Among them is suitable slope formation in ponds for more accessible sludge collection and removal, fertilizing with appropriate macro and micronutrients, and repeating the process throughout the crop.
- If necessary, develop a healthy bloom inoculum and regularly inoculate these ponds. However, keep in mind not to confuse this with the single-species algal inoculum used in hatcheries.
- Create a clear and consistent approach for removing accumulated muck without disturbing it to keep harmful gas levels from rising.
- If sludge siphoning is done independently, the water removed should be included in the water exchange plan. Sludge may be removed using specially constructed sludge pumps.
- Careful inspection of shrimps during regular sampling is required to detect loose shells and rapid remedial action if necessary.
- To avoid loose shells, use a suitable feeding technique, especially in the later stages of the culture period.
Harvesting Your Shrimp
If the shrimp can be picked in good condition in a short amount of time, harvesting will be successful. The shrimp should not be damaged or too contaminated with waste during the gathering process. Rapid harvesting reduces the danger of infection and ensures that the shrimp arrive at the processor fresh.
Additionally, total harvesting can be accomplished by hand-picking and emptying the pond water with a bag net. The standard culture pond duration is 120-150 days, during which time the shrimp will reach a size of 20-30 grams (depending on the species). In a given year, two crops are feasible. Before shipping the consignment to market, keep harvested shrimp between layers of crushed ice.
Harvesting Methods Of Shrimp
On farms, there are two standard harvesting techniques. There are two options: draining the pond and capturing the shrimp in a bag net or netting the shrimp within the pond.
- Ponds and exits for the first way of harvesting should be adequately planned and able to drain the pond within 4-6 hours altogether. Furthermore, to catch the shrimp transported by the outflowing water, a bag net should be attached to the outlet. That said, harvesting is best done early in the morning, and it should be finished by mid-morning. Harvesting should be done whenever feasible in ponds that can only be emptied at night. Finally, small amounts of shrimp should be withdrawn from the harvesting bag regularly to avoid damage.
- A tiny electric net or a huge seine net can be used to net the shrimp within the pond. The pond's water level should be lowered to 0.5-0.75 m deep, and netting will require employees to enter the pond. This approach is less favorable since the pond bottom will be disturbed, resulting in shrimp contamination. It's also slower, and it might take a long time to finish.
After emptying the pond, each approach requires hand-picking the remaining shrimp. The captured shrimp can be immediately killed by giving them a temperature shock (dip in icy water) to minimize damage and enhance storage.
Marketing Your Shrimp
The marketability of shrimp is critical to the growth of aquaculture and shrimp farms. Shrimp processing and marketing operations also bring job opportunities and economic advantages to the sector. Shrimp marketing is the driving factor behind shrimp farms. Packaging, distributing and selling your fish through local sales, supplying supermarkets, and advertising are all part of the marketing process. The efficiency of these procedures is determined by processing and preservation techniques, transportation and market infrastructure, and merchants. Freshwater shrimp cultivated locally may readily become a high-quality replacement for protein sources in the market, which is also in great demand.
They can be sold locally at the pond, in neighborhood farmers' markets, or through cooperatives. In addition, wholesalers can purchase processed and packaged fish. The market also sells smoked and dried seafood.
Finally, as shrimp get larger in size, the selling price per unit weight rises, as does the danger, and the percentage of survivors decreases as the length of upbringing increases. Therefore, the farmer should examine all of these factors and make suitable decisions to harvest their ponds at the most profitable moment.
I understand that each farm has unique requirements and challenges. However, when it comes down to the culture pond essentials, this advice and practices are relevant to a wide range of shrimp farmers in various situations. I hope that this ultimate guide will assist you in implementing improved farm management practices.