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Caring for Shrimp and Prawns in Aquaponics Systems
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Fish may easily be the favored species to use in aquaponics, but that doesn’t mean other creatures can’t provide benefits to your system. Shrimp and prawns are also popularly used since they are not only tasty seafood items, but are also an efficient cleaning crew for your tank. More importantly, caring for shrimp and prawns in aquaponics systems doesn’t require much effort since they’re hardy and easy to raise. If you are looking for an exciting addition to your aquaponics system, you might want to consider keeping shrimp and prawns.
In this article, you will learn how to care for Shrimp and Prawns in an aquaponics setup.
Why Raise Shrimp and Prawns in Aquaponics Systems?
Shrimp and prawns play important roles in the culinary world since they are among the most consumed types of seafood. While you can always shop at the supermarket for frozen shrimp, nothing beats fresh ones harvested from your own aquaponics system.
It only takes an average of four to six months for the shrimp and prawns to reach market size. Most people believe that growing these crustaceans in a home aquaponics setup can produce meat with superior taste and quality compared to those that are commercially farmed.
When it comes to caring for shrimp and prawns in aquaponics systems, there are several options. You can either add them to the fish tank or place them under floating rafts. Either of these methods doesn’t require much effort from the aquaponics gardener as shrimp can feed on leftovers and organic matter that settle at the bottom of your tank.
Shrimp and Prawns in Aquaponics: Which is Which?
Shrimp and prawns are terms that are often used interchangeably. While both are classified as decapods (a class of crustaceans with five pairs of legs) and share similarities, they are different in many ways. For one, they differ in their anatomies, in which prawns have claws on the first three pairs of legs while shrimps have them only on the first two pairs. When breeding, shrimp carry their eggs under their bellies while prawns release them.
There are different shrimp varieties that you can add to your aquaponics water tanks. They come in bright and beautiful hues that are fun to look at. Some of the varieties worth considering include the following:
- Red cherry shrimp – the most popular kept in home setups not only because of their bright color but also because they’re generally easy to care for.
- Ghost shrimp – probably the easiest to manage and perfect for beginners
- Snowball shrimp – a prolific breeder, easy to manage, and also great for beginners
Other shrimp varieties come in even more unique colors, which make for a great addition to your tank if you give much regard to aesthetics. They include the blue tiger shrimp, panda shrimp, green babaulti, and the blue bolt shrimp.
Requirements for Caring for Shrimp and Prawns in Aquaponics Systems
The differences between shrimp and prawns are negligible when raising them in aquaponics. The choice of using either species will depend on their local availability. When it comes to caring for shrimp and prawns in aquaponics systems, the parameters to consider are largely the same and are outlined below:
Ideally, you need to have at least two square feet of tank space for every prawn/shrimp. Note that there is a tendency for the crustaceans to eat each other when they’re hungry, which happens when there are too many of them competing for food.
If you’re mixing shrimp with other fish, like tilapia, they can be effective at maintaining your system. In this case, a minimum of a 500-liter tank for your tilapia can also be a good home for your shrimp, given there’s a barrier between them. Check out this video to give you a better idea of how to set up a tank for your shrimp and tilapia.
Shrimp and prawns can thrive between 57 and 105 deg F, but the optimum temperature is between 78 and 88 deg F.
A few hours of sunlight exposure won’t hurt your shrimp.
You should maintain a pH level between 7.8 and 8.5. As always, use a quality pH meter.
Dissolved oxygen concentration should be maintained to at least 3mg/L. Anything higher is ideal, while anything below that is stressful for the crustaceans.
Fish diet/nutrient requirements
Shrimp are omnivorous, feeding mostly on algae and plankton. They can, however, be fed with fish or shrimp pellets.
Generally, you don’t need to worry about feeding your shrimp because they are scavengers. Many aquaponic gardeners have successfully raised shrimp by feeding them every other day. Do observe if they start to eat each other as this means you need to give more food.
How to clean the tank
When you have several small shrimp in your tank, it can be challenging to use a siphon without accidentally sucking them out. You can use airline tubing to suck out water during water changes. This tubing has a weaker flow and smaller intake area, so your shrimp can be safe from getting sucked up.
Shrimp and prawns in all life stages are susceptible to different viruses, which will cause mortality or stunted growth. Fungal infections usually affect the larval stage, while bacterial infections may result when the crustaceans live in unfavorable conditions. One important thing to note is that the viral disease called white spot disease is considered the most serious threat to shrimp and prawn culture.
For a list of the different fungal, bacterial, parasitic, and viral diseases in shrimps and their respective preventive measures, click here.
Aquaponics plants best suited for
Because they are versatile species, you can grow many varieties of crops with shrimp and prawns, including lettuce, tomatoes, onions, celery, and lemongrass, among others.
Best Breed To Use
Red cherry shrimp are among the popular varieties found in aquaponics setups. They are sturdy, easy to care for, and they look beautiful.
Filters for shrimp tanks need to come with a sponge as juveniles can easily be sucked into the filter.
Can they be mixed with other breeds?
An important thing to note when caring for shrimp and prawns in aquaponics systems is that they are not suitable tankmates for aggressive fish types that have big mouths. One perfect and popular fish species to mix with shrimp is tilapia.
Many aquaponic gardeners have successfully raised these species together without problems. However, do keep in mind that tilapia can still eat juvenile shrimp or prawns, which is why they should have a barrier between them. One common practice is to put a 0.25-inch wire mesh between the fish and shrimp. Another practice that’s common is to place the prawns or shrimp under the floating rafts so they can be safe from tilapia.
Breeding Shrimp and Prawns in Aquaponics
Shrimps and prawns are ready to breed after the female molts. While in hiding, the female releases pheromones to attract a male, who will then locate her and breed with her. After breeding, the female carries the eggs under the belly and wait for them to hatch. The prawns, on the other hand, releases the eggs until such time they hatch and go through stages of development in the water.