Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

This is a discussion for those interested in raising shrimp in their aquaponic systems.

First things first. Shrimp vs. Prawn

As I researched these terms, I found that "shrimp" and "prawn" are used differently according to the geographic region of the world. They're also used differently in agriculture/science than in the culinary realm. 

Shrimp and prawns are two different creatures, most easily distinguished by the layering of scales. But since this is an international site, let's use the terms interchangeably and stick to discussions about growing them in the aquaponics systems, rather than semantics. :)



Shrimp/prawns don't need to be fed in an aquaponics system. They consume missed fish food, fish waste and whatever else they find in the water. They are, in effect, a "free" crop that helps to clean and support system health, much like worms do.  



There are different species of shrimp/prawns that can be found and used around the world. They range from rather small to quite large. What I've learned this last year applies to the Macrobrachium (Macs), a species that is friendly my local Arizona desert conditions, which includes hard water and warm temperatures.  Most shrimp have similar needs, but needs do vary by species, so please share what you know about shrimp/prawns in your region so we'll all benefit!

It's important that you select locally grown shrimp because they will survive in your environment. It's also important that shrimp used should be native varieties or not able to reproduce in such a way as to negatively affect the local environment.


Home Breeding

Apparently breeding is very challenging in typical home environments. Shrimp/prawns require very specific conditions relating to water temperatures, water currents, etc. Most of us will have to buy the young from breeders and restock as needed.  Cost here in the U.S. for Macs is about 5 cents each, but shipping can be around $100 for any amount up to 5000.


Care and Maintenance

To date, most home-grown have been raised in their own separate systems, but that's changing. This article describes a large-scale combination tilapia/shrimp system that was completed last year. Here Dr. George Brooks, a marine biologist, worked with the O'odham Indian community in Sacaton, AZ.  Dr. Brooks has since been working on growing the giant shrimp in small-scale systems.  I'll post an update on his progress soon.

Each variety has its own needs, but most are similar to this:

  • They are very territorial, so they need a lot of space...(and yet, I understand they can be raised in pretty dense conditions. This is a point of confusion for me--need more research!).
  • Your horizontal surface area determines the number of shrimp you can raise.
  • You can use layers of netting to give each its own horizontal territory and increase quantity.
  • Another theory is with higher water flow the shrimp are too busy hanging on to fight, and can be closer together.
  • In perfect conditions, a Mac will reach 1/10 lb. in four months, so two to three crops of this species can be raised annually.
  • They do not do well directly with the fish, but can be separated by mesh, raised in raft systems under the plants, or in sump tanks. 

That's what I tell us what you know!

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