Using freshwater shrimps to create a better aquaponics nutrition cycle.
How is that possible?
In this article, I’m going to tell you all about it.
Grab a drink and read on.
Why should you use freshwater aquaponics shrimps?
Using freshwater shrimp for aquaponics (crustaceans fish) can be a beneficial addition to your already fish populated tank. Notice here when I say addition?
That’s right, I use shrimps or prawns as an addition to my tilapia fish.
Prawns are bottom feeders. They will eat anything they will find. This goes from organic matter to snails and fish waste.
The best way to incorporate shrimps into your aquaponics system is to have them in your fish tank, under your floating rafts or in both of them. We will discuss both options right now.
- Have them in your fish tank – When you don’t have floating rafts this is the option to go after. The prawns will eat the fish waste and help to keep the bottom clean.
- Have them under your floating rafts – Remember when I told that shrimps like organic waste? Well, under your floating rafts there is quite a lot of organic waste like dead roots. Now to answer your next question if the prawns wouldn’t eat the roots; Normally they won’t eat the roots but when they are hungry (too many prawns) they might nibble on the existing roots. That’s when you know you have too many prawns in your system.
- A combination of the two – This might be the best option. This way they keep both your fish tank clean and your floating rafts.
Difference Between Prawn and Shrimp
The difference between prawns and shrimps is negligible. There are quite a few differences if you compare the two.
Both shrimp and prawns have five legs. Prawns have claws on the first tree pair of their legs while shrimps only have claws on their first two legs.
When prawn breeds they release their eggs while the shrimp place the eggs on the underside of their body.
For more differences, check out the following image:
Prawn or Shrimp?
Like I said at the beginning of the article, the difference between the two is quite negligible. Using prawns or shrimps for freshwater aquaponics is a choice you need to make depending on the availability in your area. The two won’t differ in maintenance or preferred environments. For now, we will just use the name shrimp.
Where can I find freshwater aquaponics shrimp for sale?
You can get freshwater shrimp locally or online. I do believe you should try to find them locally because they will probably be cheaper. If not, then the online option might be your best bet.
Separating the shrimps from the fish
When shrimps are small (juvenile) they can be eaten by your already existing fish. That is why you need to separate them from your fish. You do this by separating them with a birds mesh of .25 inches from your local store. Use PVC pipes to create a supporting structure.
When they are hungry they do eat each other and they are quite territorial. That’s why you need to make a place they can hide from each other. Constructing something like the following image is a good idea. It’s also made from PVC pipe and .25 inches birds mesh.
You will see these steps are explained in the video below:
Information on cultivating shrimps
- They take 4 months to reach market size
- Market size is around 3 ounces per shrimp
- They like 75 to 85 degrees the most (tilapia requires 75 to 90° which makes them perfect pairs)
- They can survive in waters of 60 to 100 degrees but going that low or high is not optimal for their growth. Note when I say ‘survive’ it means they won’t die but will suffer from the cold/warmth.
- You can harvest them 3 times a year because each growth cycle will be 4 months.
- The pH of the water should be between 7.8 and 8.5.
- Organic shrimps are worth $8 to $10 per pound on fresh markets.
- You need to have 2 square feet per prawn otherwise they become territorial.
- Introduce half of your prawns first. Come back and check how they are going. If they appear lively you can add the other half in.
- Aeration or airflow is important while keeping shrimps. You should have at least an air pump or a flow of water mixed with air to aerate the water for your shrimp.
Generally, you don’t need to feed them if you respect the area they need. But when you start to see that they are cannibalizing each other it’s time to give some more fish feed and watch it sink to the bottom where the shrimp can eat.
Diseases of shrimp
There is a risk of diseases and monoculture by having shrimp in your aquaponics. If the system is not carefully monitored the risk is actually surprisingly high. It has the potential to kill you shrimp/prawns and even affect the growth of your crops. Monitoring the quality of the water and making sure the prawns remain healthy can help to mitigate this risk.
Pros of Shrimp in Aquaponics
- Natural – using shrimp/prawns in aquaponics means that any plants you grow are produced in an environmentally friendly way. There is no need for you to artificially control or manage the water.
- Pesticides – Because the process is completely natural you shouldn’t be bothered with pests on your plants. This means you don’t need to use pesticides or fertilizers to get the best growth of both shrimp and plants.
- Flavour – It is worth adding shrimp to your aquaponics setup. Most people agree that the shrimp and prawn produced are of superior quality and taste to that which you can get through traditional farming methods. This is also completely natural; not to mention very healthy food for you to eat.
- Eco- friendly – This method of producing fish, shrimps, and prawns for both domestic and commercial consumption is extremely lucrative and environmentally friendly as it uses no artificial aids. But more importantly, aquaponics is becoming exceptionally popular as a way of creating crops and fish to eat even in the most inhospitable parts of the world. It could even be used to help feed the mission to Mars in the future!
- Keep It Local – While large scale farming is the traditional approach to food shortages the aquaponics system can be started locally. This removes the need to travel long distances in search for food or reduce the quality of the food as it is in transit for an extended period of time. But it also allows the local community to become more self-sufficient and invest in their own future. This is particularly beneficial if the community is remote.
- Increased Yield – The system enables the realization of faster growth and better yields with plants naturally fertilized. Once you get the setup right you’ll notice that your shrimp and prawns can be ready to harvest in just a few months.
- Easy To Manage – The water from the fish is pumped below the grow beds of your plants, allowing them to have the right amount of water and nutrients for their needs; without drowning them. Once you’ve created the right balance in your water you don’t need to do anything other than feeding the shrimp and test the water occasionally! There are no weeds to concern yourself with and no need to turn the soil or even have a large plot of land; you can create everything you need and leave it to look after itself!
- Water Usage – An aquaponics system will lose approximately 1% of its water on a daily basis. This is due to evaporation and plant usage. You’ll need to replace the water periodically but it is significantly less than it takes to grow a crop normally.
- All Year Round – You can control the temperature for your plants by growing them in a grow room or greenhouse. Obviously, you need to regulate the temperature for your shrimp as well. Once you’ve got that set up properly you’ll be able to grow crops all year round!
Cons of Shrimp in Aquaponics
- Disease Risk – There is a risk of diseases and monoculture by having shrimp in your aquaponics. If the system is not carefully monitored the risk is actually surprisingly high. It has the potential to kill you shrimp/prawns and even affect the growth of your crops. Monitoring the quality of the water and making sure the prawns remain healthy can help to mitigate this risk.
It is worth having a backup pump in case your pump fails. You can use solar panels if you don’t want to be depending on the grid. If there would be a grid failure it’s best to have a running air pump.
The idea of using shrimp and prawns in aquaponics is good. They can, with a little care and attention, provide you with a good array of edible prawns and help you clean your system.
There are cons that you should be aware of but these can be controlled and the risks reduced; making shrimps in aquaponics a viable an attractive option.
- Best plants for Aquaponics
- Best fish for Aquaponics
- How to choose the right pump for your aquaponics system
Nick loves building, managing and giving others advice on aquaponics. He created this website to do just that. He is the author of Aquaponics for beginners. If you got a question contact him here or read more on the about page here.