Indoor Shrimp Aquaculture

good afternoon everyone and welcome to the final chapter in our series of aquaculture related webinars designed to bring together science and business to expand and strengthen the United States aquaculture industry these webinars are a joint effort between the National aquaculture Association the north central regional aquaculture center and the United States aquaculture society whether you're currently engaged in aquaculture looking to get into business an educator helping others understand aquaculture or just want to become a better educated consumer we hope that these webinars will enhance your knowledge and move you forward on your journey to success today's webinar is entitled indoor shrimp aquaculture will be presented by dr. andrew ray an assistant professor of aquaculture at Kentucky State University andrew has over 10 years of experience in shrimp aquaculture in the southeastern United States and he will cover the nuts and bolts of indoor shrimp culture and describe some of the logic behind growing shrimp indoors and the opportunities that this technique can create for farmers thank you for participating in this webinar series we hope that you've obtained skills and knowledge that will positively affect the growth of the US aquaculture industry and with that I'll turn it over to you Andrew okay thank you for that introduction from Allen I appreciate that and I'm glad to be with you all today thank you for tuning in as Alan mentioned and as you know my topics on indoor shrimp aquaculture some of the logic behind that and some of the ways that you can achieve indoor shrimp aquaculture grow shrimp indoors and some of the things that we're doing here at Kentucky State as well so why would you want to grow shrimp in the United States in general and this is true for other countries as well I'm most familiar with our specific situation in the US but certainly a lot of this is true in Europe and Asia and many other areas in the world but in the u.s. specifically shrimp is the most popular seafood item consumed the average consumer eats about four pounds per person per year we don't need a lot of seafood in the US although we should about 85% of that shrimp though is imported from other countries which leaves us with a big trade deficit some questions over food security because we import so much of this particular food item seafood in general and some food safety issues at times as well some of the imports have been found to contain some compounds that are regulated in the United States and some things that are a little bit questionable it's also hard to get fresh shrimp in the u.s. even in coastal areas sometimes with shrimp fisheries it's often hard to get because of the season or the catch might be down that year there's a and because of that there's an inconsistent domestic supply of shrimp especially fresh shrimp we can get frozen tales from the supermarket imported pretty regularly but fresh shrimp is especially hard to get so why would you want to do this indoors as opposed to outside and ponds where most of the shrimp in the world are grown well if you grow them indoors you can locate systems like these just about anywhere if we can create a system that's that's productive and can be replicated then we can build buildings as we know just about anywhere we can replicate those Scituate situation we can situate these near markets near where people are demanding fresh shrimp away from the coast which decreases the cost of the land and potential risk of storm impacts we can reuse existing infrastructure some of the things we're looking at are AG infrastructure and even urban infrastructure or industrial infrastructure that already exists and isn't being used very well right now the situating these indoors gives us a lot of control over the system as compared to being outside exposed to the environment and you have more predictable conditions you can get more predictable results and so you're not at the mercy of the weather per se we can deliver fresh never frozen heads on shrimp close to where the shrimp are grown and we can grow shrimp large pretty predictably and that's shrimp is one of the few things that gets a higher price per unit weight the larger it is which is a nice thing about shrimp and the heads are never frozen is also a real nice thing because that doesn't that means no processing is involved with the show oftentimes and we can do this practically any time of the year so how do you grow shrimp indoors well to do this you really need to use recirculating aquaculture systems and that term just means at least in my mind that means very low rates of water exchange specifically some authors have defined this as less than one percent water exchange per day although in most cases in systems I work with we use much less than that we're at about 5% of the whole system volume per culture cycle somewhere around there to do this you need to filter solids out of the water and nutrients especially nitrogen which comes about as as a ammonia in the systems that's what the shrimp excrete it was ammonium this allows because we're not exchanging much water we don't have many inputs increases biosecurity quite a bit significantly increases that also we not only retain water but we retain heat so that allows us more flexibility in terms of seasonal operation of these types of systems and so there's a variety of systems think about when you want to use recirculating technologies and three general types there's a lot of different combination the filters and various things you can use but generally people use clear water systems clear water recirculating aquaculture systems biofloc systems and some hybridization of those two types of systems and generalizing these a little bit but generally in clear water systems your goal is to really take out all the solids or as many as you can much as you can and so you really lay on with the filtration you really have a lot of filters to achieve this bead filters foam fractionators screens rotating drums lots of different types of filters you can use to take out solids often times you need more than one type of filter to take out different sizes of solids you need to employ an external bio filter and this provides lots of surface area for bacteria for the nitrifying bacteria especially to colonize and this is an aerobic container so it's usually aerated or oxygenated with typically with small plastic beads inside although anything that provides surface area the plastic beads are pretty effective at supplying a lot of surface area per unit volume sterilization techniques can be thrown on here as well to really try to take out all the potential pathogens in the system those techniques include UV and ozone and then we have bio fox systems which are a pretty big dip pretty pretty different pretty clear water we actually in biofloc systems allow solids to accumulate we still have to control the concentration of particulates too much is a bad thing but as you can see in some of these pictures that solids concentration is quite high even higher than this at times and so what happens is these bio flat particles develop naturally these are dense assemblages of microorganisms and they're largely held together with through bacterial excretions natural process and this is our bio filter and biofloc systems all these little particulates and the surface area of the tank and pipes and things like that and this growth this natural microbiota here also provides a food source for animals like shrimp and Flavia and so the idea here is that you're reducing the amount of filtration and reducing the number of filters on your system as well as allowing these particles to develop that can then provide some nutrition for the shrimp so you're recycling some of the nutrients in the system which is a really interesting concept so comparing these two well on the clear water side you have more equipment which means more startup cost more expense probably not much opportunity for supplemental food because you're taking all the particulates out of the water probably greater control though because you have that you have more filtration on the system better water quality generally that's kind of what we're finding in some of our trials that where we're comparing these two types of systems here at k-state reduce risk for D disease potential have a question mark there because we don't really know the answers to that yet it would stand the reason that possibly the potential for bacterial infections at least would be lower in systems with slower amounts of bacteria whereas in the biofloc you have less filtration you do have that supplemental food probably a little less control though because you're not doing as much to actively manage the system through filtration so you have to pay better attention to water quality and you have to understand what those microbes are really doing in the water column and then something we've been exploring here quite a bit lately is this idea of a hybrid system so you've got pros and cons of clear water systems lots of filters the better control biofloc you have natural productivity but less control so what we've been working with is trying to capitalize on the benefits of those two systems by making hybrid systems and so this is not clear water we don't try to get all the solids out the systems you see here just have a settling chamber that's the rectangle or the square tanks here come bottom rectangular tank that allows particles to settle out on the bottom and then the water flows over into a drum 50 gallon drum here with that with those plastic bio media in it so we're we're not taking out all the solids but we have added a bio filter we are regulating cells to some extent and so we find a lot what we're finding is that the water quality the nitrogen cycling in these systems is pretty consistent because that bio filter but there might be the chance for still having that natural productivity in the water as well so I've used the term bio filtration quite a bit and this is a very important topic when you're thinking about indoor aquaculture systems bio filtration is the way that we deal with ammonia that ammonia is the metabolite excreted by the animals and it's very toxic to the animals so we have to deal with that pretty quickly and really in these indoor systems there's not a lot of algae usually so we're not looking at algae as a big pathway for nitrogen anymore like you wouldn't a pond really the two primary ways of dealing with this are nitrification which is not a trophic process and assimilation which is ahead of trophic process and the exact details aren't well they are somewhat important and it is it is nice to know them but we'll talk about it a little more generally than the microbial ecology perspective I suppose but both of these processes generally occur in most systems at the same time and their bacterial processes so in nitrification and this this is really what you primarily rely on in external biofilters you have a situation where the carbon and hydrogen ratio is relatively lower below about nine point five to one and you get this process going on primarily this is going to be your dominant process and that carbon nitrogen ratio is what's in your feed and then what's in anything else that you add to the system such as sugar that's a way of getting more carbon into the system and increasing that ratio if you wanted to so with a 35% shrimp 35 percent protein strip diet which is pretty common we have a c2m ratio of about 8.5 to 1 so if that's all you're adding to the system then this is generally going to be your dominant pathway for ammonia ammonia is converted to nitrite and then tonight straight nitrites also toxic but at higher concentrations than ammonia and then nitrate is relatively not very toxic although we'll talk about that in more detail in a moment and this is the graph that you normally see you see a spike of ammonia and then that subsides a spike of nitrite that subsides and then your nitrate starts to accumulate and it will continue on and then we have assimilation and so this you need a higher carbon nitrogen ratio of about 12 to 1 and this is a head of terrific process where the bacteria get their energy from the carbon and then they need nitrogen to build proteins and they get that from the ammonia and possibly from other nitrogen compounds as well and so potentially some research suggests you could use lower protein feeds to achieve this but typically what people do in practice is add a carbon source what I've used in the past is sucrose which is table sugar and that works really well it's a nice pure well relatively pure source of carbon dissolves easily it's easy to use easy to get so a lot of people use this technique at the beginning when they're first starting the system especially in biofloc systems because this process can can work pretty quickly as as opposed to the nitrification but you have to be careful because when you do this when you add sugar it increases the biomass that this picture kind of illustrates that there's a lot of bacteria that comes about because of this a lot of solids in the water and the most important thing is that it decreases the oxygen concentration in the water it increases the oxygen demand of the water but if you do this and if you do this often or on a regular basis you don't get the accumulation of nitrate which is which is one of the big benefits of this so that's a little bit about the some of the underlying principles that dictate these types of systems and so you know I think the next obvious question is well what do you do there at Kentucky State what what do you think works pretty well there's all these different ways of doing it you can do clear water or biofloc or nitrification or assimilation but so I'll talk a little bit about what we do here we've got our aquaculture production technologies laboratory over here and then this picture on our right on the right is the sustainable aquaculture development lab which was recently renovated and mostly a lot of replicated research goes on in here and then in the production technologies lab we have a commercial scale or near commercial scale system a couple of systems that I'd like to talk about typically we operate a nursery shrimp nursery this allows better utilization of space it allows us to assess the animals before they go into the grow-out system you know count of the animals and estimate their weight which allows for better feeding practices the nurseries we use are the same that I just showed you as an example of our hybrid systems and they work really well part of the reason I set these up with biofilters was because we didn't have any marine bacteria or any marine systems in Kentucky when I came here and so we actually took some seeded bio media from a another system that had koi and it was a freshwater system put it in these biofilters adjusted the salinity slowly and put the shrimp in and the biofilters work without a hitch we cycled through ammonia nitrite no problem so I'm really happy with the way these have performed and now we just use them routinely and we normally get about a PL 10 post library 10 from a hatchery in Florida the nursery takes between 30 to 45 days we shoot for about a 1 gram animal at the end of this and then we have our production system which is where the shrimp go after the nursery we run experiments and things but we also run shrimp through this as a means of demonstrating some of our research and scaling it up this is a 20 cubic metre tank it's about 5,300 gallons or so and behind the tank I'll show you a picture a minute is a 1 horsepower pump and we actually use a nozzle based aeration system which is similar to a venturi basically at each one of these pipes that you see here these smaller pipes coming up there's three of them around the Raceway there's one there and there's one here there's a nozzle at the bottom of that water is pumped through the nozzle it comes in through the back of the nozzle here and exits through the smaller opening at the front and then this top orifice is to pool air in and it's a pretty effective aeration system it moves water around the Raceway and it also aerates the water pretty well there's a dividing wall in the center of the Raceway it's a little bit hard to see in this picture but basically we pump water around that dividing wall and I think that keeps the water mixed pretty well and keeps the water homogeneous which is really important because this is a biofloc system and so we have a lot of particulates in the water we are using electric heat but that's not what I'd necessarily recommend gas is going to be a little more efficient it's just what we had available we feed this tank we feed the shrimp in this tank three times a day and then we put about 30 percent of the daily ration on some belt feeders some automatic feeders which you can see here with the green lids the foam fractionator this this is basically what I've moved to in terms of all or most of my solids management now this will take out a lot of different sizes of solids including the dissolved solids and so we're looking at maybe this is a better filter for long term water use possibly we operate it with a high-pressure pump which is down at the bottom of this picture the water moves in through one of those nozzles at the bottom and basically you get a lot of really fine bubbles moving up through this chamber and that causes a lot of foam to accumulate on the surface the foam builds up in this smaller chamber on top and then overflows and with it it brings a lot of the it brings the solids with it the solids are attracted to those small bubbles and they come out with the foam really works best in in saltwater systems and then there's a valve here to control the level inside that chamber these these aren't too expensive to make it's a homemade unit obviously made of PVC and so pretty happy with that as a solids filter a more simplistic way of taking out solids is through a settling chamber this is our design here that we use it's real simple not my own original design or anything but basically a large baffle slows the velocity of the water and as though as as it does the solids didn't settle out near the bottom and at the top of the settling chamber the water is relatively cleared it travels back to the culture tank so effective used them for a long time I'm kind of moving towards the fractionator now I like it a little bit better in terms of fine-tuning also this is a lot of water volume this is about 250 gallons here so when you turn it on you you lose an inch or two of water out of your tank which could be a drawback and so now I'd like to discuss a specific example that we did here one of our runs that we've got some pretty good data on at least during this particular run we put shrimp in the nursery that I was the nursery tanks that I described and brought him up to about half a gram and then we moved him over to this tank and they were stocked at 250 shrimp per cubic metre so that's 5,000 shrimp in this tank we kept the salinity at 20 parts per thousand we use an artificial sea salt to do that and we grew them in the tank for 98 days and this is a nitrification based bio fox system so we're not adding any supplemental sugar to this the way I did it is I and this is important I get a lot of questions about this I've got some slides on it too but we cycle though we got the nursery really established with the proper bacteria and everything and then we cycled the water between the nursery and the clean water that we had put into this tank kept it at a lower volume but cycle the water between the two and that really seemed to do a pretty good job at jump-starting the bacterial community in this larger tank as well and I'll talk a little bit more about starting systems here in a minute and so our production results out of that tank were that we grew 24 grams shrimp which is about a 20 count per pound head on fresh shrimp and that's a growth rate of about 1.7 grams per week feed conversion rates pretty impressive here 1.3 to 1 so that means we gave them 1.3 pounds of food for every pound of shrimp that we harvested out of the tank so very efficient we had a little problem with shrimp jumping out of the tank during this run a big problem about 10% of the shrimp jumped out actually even though we had some big barricades to keep them in so that reduced our survival by plugging say about 10% and now we cover the top of the tank real tightly with Platt with a plastic mesh to prevent that but anyway we produced about 200 pounds of shrimp and we gave them away to chefs in the area two chefs in Lexington Kentucky and Louisville Kentucky two of our major metropolitan areas in the state and we gave them to some seafood distributors in those two cities as well and then we took 83 pounds down to our local farmers market here in Frankfort and that this town is about 25,000 people I believe is the population or something like that so it's not a huge town we've had a lot of fun and a lot of success at farmers markets this is one where we were out in the cold it was about 20 degrees this day but still lots of people turned out and we were able to sell a good amount of shrimp and get some good data to for our marketing research so we sold these shrimp for about $12 what we sold $12 a pound in this particular example I think we could have gotten more but picked this pick $12 a pound and I calculated that our recurring cost of production we're about five and a half dollars a pound I'm not a economist but we didn't include the we didn't include a lot of the would include the the price of the tank the price of the pump the upfront permanent costs and the building as well the building we're in is a is a very nice building that you would not want to grow shrimp in on a commercial level so those are kind of those are some factors that are easily changed by producers you can get a cheaper tank you can get a lot of different things you can dig a hole in the ground and line it if that's available and certainly the building in a lot of the farms we're working with the people already own the building outright it's been paid for a long time ago especially with repurposed that infrastructure and things that nature so that so full disclosure that this five dollars and fifty cents a pound does not include those permanent costs it includes things like labor feed salt water they've cost the post larvae and things of that nature electricity as well and anyway the we ask the people that we gave these shrimp to to rate the shrimp from one to five on taste texture freshness size their overall thoughts and the appearance of the shrimp and a 1 was the best and so you can see here that everything scored pretty well these are the averages plus or minus standard error everything's scored pretty well the one thing that really stands out to me is unfresh this we didn't get anything but once nothing but the very best score on the freshness of the product and the only way to get fresh marine shrimp in kentucky really on a practical sense is to do something very similar to what we've done here to grow them indoors it's the only way to get fresh shrimp on a regular basis and you know in a place where we have fairly cold winters so you know that that really stood out to me in terms of people really appreciating the freshness of the product and then we asked people what they'd be willing to pay and what the maximum they would pay would be but this is this is in dollars per kilogram by the way so they were still right around that $12 a pound mark though but I think that was probably because we biased them by already having sold them the shrimp for that price so there's obviously plenty of room to do more research here but this is pretty encouraging in terms of our marketing results so like I mentioned one of the issues that people ask me about a lot is how do I start these systems up a lot of people have a lot of trouble especially to try to get that nitrification process established and the problem with bio especially with the bio Fox systems is that there's no substrate you don't have anything for the bacteria to live on and they need that bacteria to basically a lot of times you start with just clean water and if you put shrimp in and you raise the temperature and you start feeding them you're gonna have problems so one of the things you can do is you can add some artificial substrate this is a tank that we had in South Carolina where we had lots of artificial substrate in the tank this is some fabric material that was hung in the tank you can leave that substrate in the last run of our large Raceway we had some construction netting that we left in and that seemed to work pretty well but you got to be careful with that because you can have issues with the water circulation you can get dead spots underneath that substrate harvesting is a real pain if you've got a bunch of substrate in the tank with the shrimp if you have or if you can get some substrate of some sort maybe the little bio wheels that I showed earlier or something else if you can get some from somebody that you you know trust isn't doesn't have any potential pathogens or anything like that then you can UART you're bringing in the bacteria and the substrate with it and you can jump-start the system that way in terms of biofloc usually in the in the clear water systems you can seed your media ahead of time by adding ammonium chloride to the water and trying to get the bacteria jump-started that way when you are starting up your system you can lower the temperature a little bit that's one of the nice things about being indoors you have that control and so a lot of times if I start to get in trouble with some of this stuff if I start to get some ammonia or nitrite builds up I'll just slow with the temperature a little bit gradually and not not too much you know a couple degrees few degrees depending on the seriousness of the of the situation and that can really kind of take the edge off in terms of having a rapid jump in the concentration of some of those compounds so you have that control you might as well use it it'll also slow down the shrimp's metabolism so you have to feed the shrimp blast there's less nitrogen going into the system less ammonia coming out of the shrimp so like I mentioned before you could also guide the startup with some sugar additions that will take out the ammonia and likewise bring down the nitrite concentration be careful with that though you know you can look at some of the equations that are out there in terms of how much to add your mom after milk has a good book that talks a lot about that but you know you can also just try a little bit and ramp up a little bit to see the effects that's kind of the way most people do it in practice too much will reduce your dissolved oxygen so be careful people ask me a lot about probiotics I don't know I don't I don't have one that I just swear by or I use all the time I've tried them and they've seemed to work at certain times and then I've tried with other times and they seem not to work so much so I think the jury's still may be out on that although if you have one that seems to work use it it I've never heard of anybody using any percent doing any harm so it won't hurt reused biofloc water if you get a system established and possibly as little as 10% certainly 20% of the water if you reuse that you'll have that microbial community and your system should behave pretty well one thing we've been playing around with some is using tilapia to start our shrimp systems tilapia are pretty are really tough especially when it comes to ammonia they can tolerate a lot of ammonia and they're generally less expensive than shrimp so you could put them into whatever your system is feed them and allow them to help develop that microbial community that bacterial community the Nile Nile tilapia will tolerate pretty much full-strength seawater if they're acclimated up slowly and but if you're doing a head of trophic system you may start with that high carbon to nitrogen ratio by adding sugar at the outset another issue so once you get everything going real well and everything's going fine and you're relying most most people use this metrication process yeah and the result of that is nitrate that's what I use – and that's a problem for me as well and once you get up about 400 million per liter of nitrate it starts to affect the ship negatively they'd start to their growth can slow and it can even kill the ship this is usually three or four crops for us somewhere around there so some of the things we're working with and still this you know I don't have a real great answer that that for this some of the things we're working with is is using plants I know Allen Pattillo mentioned bio fuckup onyx I think it is that's his term I think he patented that so you could use plants to take up nitrate plants will do that problem with marine shrimp anyway is that the there's not a lot of salt tolerant plants that we know of that are really good at this this is a picture of some salt marsh grasses well there's not a lot that are really good at this that then could be used for some potentially profitable purpose these plans these are salt marsh plants for Mississippi and they will work they will take up the nitrate given the proper conditions it's just a question of what do you do with them after that and we've got some ideas that we're exploring some people view salad cornea which is I believe called sea asparagus common name and there's been some success with that as well people have played around with macro algae seaweeds so the there's a lot of research to do in this and we're and we're doing some of that here actually at k-state denitrification is another option and this is a this is an anaerobic process where you actually allow the your filter or whatever it is to be deplete of oxygen or not completely oxygen free but almost and basically its nitrification in reverse it takes nitrate and eventually converts it to nitrogen gas which gases off to the atmosphere but it is a little bit dangerous to have anaerobic areas directly in your tanks one of the things I'd like to experiment with more is just taking the water with no animals and a lot of sugar to it to try to get everything to try to get that head of terrific process activated and take up the nitrate but you'll have to then you'll have to take it will go into the bacterial biomass and then you'll have to take out those bacteria you'll have to filter them out but what you should end up with and again this is research but what you should end up with is uh is water that doesn't have any nitrated in or very little so still an issue something that we're working on so if you want to learn more about indoor shrimp aquaculture I would encourage you if you can come visit us here at Kentucky State University we're always open for tours we're publicly funded institution and we are here to help you and to to share the knowledge that we have about about this we have some systems set up that you can come and look at and kick the tires a little bit there's a link to a youtube video here if you haven't seen it this QR code also takes you to it KSU aquaculture has a Facebook page and we post a lot of things like workshops and this web this webinar for instance and so be our friend on Facebook and stay updated on things like that we have a website as well if you don't do Facebook like me you can go to the website and we try to keep that post updated as well with new information and here's my email address feel free to contact me as well and so thank you very much for tuning in again I really appreciate the opportunity to be here with you all today


  1. not a perfect human

    River rocks and probably lime stones or date seeds! as well can be good for the tank or for biofilter true?, And the shrimp and fish eat also from waste products of fish markets and bread and diary products true? And littel milk?,. Algae can be obtained via swerage water in sun light or even a cleaner way is by putting dates seeds in closed water bottel for example exposed to sun light. And for natural cheap protein source probably maggots in skin and fat of chicken left to rot, or maggots in fruits which get maggotts if the tree is not treated with pestecides like jojoba fruit.. and other types of fruites which maggots love.

  2. Aidas P.

    Bro nice info, I learned slot! To reduce die off of 🍤, try to make process stress free, add plant Imitation from green Resin,they supposed to live in nature, make them feel like home. Research natural ways, think in whole systems, like nature works, love the video

  3. myway148

    Salicornia should work in these systems to reduce the Nitrate levels. Salicornia is a genus of succulent, halophyte (salt tolerant) flowering plants in the family Amaranthaceae that grow in salt marshes, on beaches, and among mangroves. Salicornia species are native to North America, Europe, South Africa, and South Asia. Common names for the genus include glasswort, pickleweed, picklegrass, and marsh samphire; these common names are also used for some species not in Salicornia.[1] To French speakers in Atlantic Canada, they are known, colloquially, as "titines de souris" (mouse tits). The main European species is often eaten, called marsh samphire in Britain, and the main North American species is occasionally sold in grocery stores or appears on restaurant menus, usually as 'sea beans' or samphire greens or sea asparagus .

  4. daniel cunningham

    Could this be run in an abandoned mine with solar panels supplying the power ? Do they require sunlight? How much research have you done on turning the by products into profit? Reclaim the amon. to sell? Can the salt be extracted from the biomass so it could be used as organic fertilizer?

  5. Doing Everything

    I heard that…. molasses + lime + salt + probiotic these 4 items being used in the water tank and after 20 days fish or shrimp can be put. Is it real?


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