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In another thread I brought up the possibility of using freshwater shrimp in an aquaponic system. Rather than hijack that thread further I thought a new thread might be in order.

The main reason I thought about shrimp is they are tasty. These are the same shrimp bought in stores. Pawn is probably a more proper term.

I spoke with Craig Upstrom at Aquaculture of Texas. Very nice gentleman and willing to help. Craig grows young and sells them to commercial growers mostly but is willing to sell to backyard growers. Here are the data points as I understand them so far.
  1. Minimum order: $50 for 1000 30 day old shrimp.
  2. One box costs about $80 for FedEx.  A box can hold up to 5000 shrimp.
  3. Ideal water temperature is 76-88F. Same as tilapia.
  4. They eat a pellet food and also the waste from other fish like tilapia.
  5. Grow in freshwater, same as tilapia.
  6. Shrimp are territorial so levels of netting is placed in the tank allowing for space.
  7. They like a hard water which fits Phoenix. Our salt level would be OK too.
In a perfect world 1000 shrimp would grow to 100lbs of shrimp in 4 months. These are 10 shrimp to the pound type size. But that's the best case. 4/lb shrimp sell for $8/lb by growers when picked up at the pond.

Most commercial growers use ponds. So the bottom surface determines how many shrimp can survive. They kill each other if too close. Some growers add netting to provide more surface.

Craig told me a story of a lady back east who grew 200lbs of shrimp in a tank 8'x12' and 18" deep, about 1,000 gals. Craig was really surprised and impressed by this. He thinks the trick might be high water flow saying the shrimp had to hang on and therefore couldn't really fight.

I need to figure out how many shrimp per square foot is possible but it seems no system would be too small.

Craig also has the idea for regional nurseries. 30 day old shrimp can be grown in a small tank at 75-82F for 45-60 days (not sure if that is total age or from the 30 days). These can then be sold to other growers to finish for an additional 60-90 days. The price he suggests is 10 cents per shrimp for this age so still not too expensive. Because of the smaller tank it can be heated if needed. Here in Phoenix that would allow for 2 crops per year if starting with 60-90 day olds. Maybe 3 crops if solar water heating was used which isn't hard to do.

Craig did say shrimp in an aquaponic system is best with fish because shrimp don't produce enough waste for the plants because they can't be grown in the same high density as fish. But the shrimp were good at using waste and breaking down waste from the fish, uneaten food, etc.. They can also be grown under floating beds.

Harvest seems easy and straight forward. In mud ponds they move the shrimp into a fresh clean water tank for 30 minutes to remove the taste of mud and algae. Not sure if that would be needed in an aquaponic system. Then they go into an ice water tank where apparently they die very fast, on contact they say. Seems humane. There to the pan or freezer.

All in all seems pretty simple.

Has anyone heard of using shrimp in an aquaponic system? I couldn't really find much in a search.

Are others interested in growing shrimp?

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Thank you so much for doing this research and giving us the info! From this it seems like it would be easiest to do the fish and shrimp together in the same tank and just use the mesh to keep them apart. Since it seems like we can get anywhere from 1000-5000 shrimp for the same $80 shipping cost, it would be good to do as big of an order as possible since that makes the overall price drop from $.13/shrimp to $.066/shrimp.

From the data you have it looks like at a beginners level we can maybe hope to get 10 lbs of shrimp per 100 gallons of water? If that's about right then we can assume that a stock level of roughly 1 shrimp/gallon might be a good starting point, of course assuming that your tank is not too deep so you are maximizing footprint for the shrimp.

This is really exciting. :)
I think the shrimp and fish in the same tank would be interesting. Harvest might take some thinking.

You are right on maxing out the number per box. Craig suggested this too. However he also thought the best way was a local nursery grower. That person buys 5000 or whatever, grows them for 60 days and sells them to other local growers for $0.10 each. I think the price would have to be higher for such a small setup though. But even at $0.15 per shrimp a grower could end up with a 1/4lb shrimp in 60-90 days worth $2.

I read about backyard shrimp growers in Asia which said survival rates are 0-95%. And that's what I would expect. A disease could wipe you out, just like fish. But the sites also said because of the small operation it's easy to disinfect and start again. Also, our systems are well protected from water birds, and no where near wild water sources. So from what I've read I'd assume being wiped out or 50-80% survival. I think our systems would also be much cleaner than most commercial, so we might do really well.

I'm going to use the stocking levels commercial growers apply for ponds and try to scale that down and pass the number by Craig to see what he thinks. It does seem to be a square foot thing rather than volume (gals) thing unlike fish.

And I forgot to mention, pH of 9.0 apparently is OK, or good. The shrimp need that to form shells. Keeping a system at high pH is really easy too so win win there. I do have find out if there is a specific buffer they like.

Also, the breeding of these is a little complex, but possible. No special equipment other than maybe a hot water heater or maybe even an aquarium. For now it seems easier to start with buying young.
if you don't mind I would like to put in my offer to help with purchasing and shipping of the shrimp.
Whether 1000 or 5000 is ordered.
Let me know I would like to add them to the mix with the tilapia.

Hi just to add to the shrimp/aquaponics/tilapia scenario I found this picture of a prawn cage for growing shrimp. It looks to be nothing more than pvc and plastic wire mesh. My thought was to weight it down to the bottom of my square tilapia tank. then when wanted just pull it to the surface grab some prawns and let it go back to the bottom.
I bet you could make it even shorter since they seem to mostly care about surface area. That would leave more room for your tilapia.
Mr Upstrom also has a cage deal made of PVC and bird netting which is very cheap, making levels of 2-3" each.

That link also has the stocking densities. So a 6.5' x 3.5' tank 2' deep could take 182 animals and produce 45lb of shrimp in 4 months, in theory. That would be good for my wife and I. I picked that example tank size because I had one that size years ago and it was very easy to maintain. I thought it very small.

For comparison that size tank would hold about 75-300lbs of tilapia. This jives with what Craig told me about shrimp not putting off as much waste for the plants because of density.
Aquaculture of Texas supplies Macrobrachium rosenbergii, Malaysian prawn. It is a freshwater shrimp although the larval stage needs brackish water, but they're past that stage when bought.

There is a shrimp farm called Desert Sweet Shrimp in Gila Bend that grows a shrimp in brackish water. I assume because that's the type of water they have.

The only thing I've read about the texture of meat had to do with harvesting. The shrimp are killed in ice water and then kept on ice or the meat would be mush. This was repeated several times so I guess they were serious.

These are the same shrimp that would generally be available in stores, fed the same feed if the grower wanted.
I prefer bread pudding...but I can't grow that in a tank. I'd assume you could grow whatever kind of shrimp you like, however you like, and prepare it however you like.

Bummer to be cursed with such a cultivated palate. Must really limit what you can eat.

To reinvigorate the conversation on freshwater prawns: Any product has its special handling needs. Once you understand and follow them, things then often work out. For example, Macs (Macrobrachium) can not be handled the same as tigers. My profile photo is of a bucket of Macs I grew a few years ago in Sacaton Az. Good eating to say the least. Here is a link to the associated article (page 2). I look forward to your comments.



Link to article:

Dr. Brooks, Glad to see you are bringing this conversation back. I think your shrimp project was an excellent example of stacking functions, can you comment on the feasibility of raising them in a small backyard environment? Obviously if someone has a pool they are willing to convert to aquaculture, that's one thing, most of us do not. Most of us are looking at small ~500 gallon systems. Something some may be willing to consider is an above ground pool which would be 1500-2500 gallons with some tilapia and shrimp cages....
Good morning! Good to hear from you. This is exactly the area that we are researching now. We are looking at buying some prawns and then working with folks like you around town to test the idea. Hypothetically it has promise.
I'm interested. Especially if there is someone with your knowledge to help me get it going in the right direction.


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