There are two reasons to start adding shrimp or prawns to your aquaponics system.
The first is that you’re hoping to generate a fast and efficient way of breeding shrimp and prawns. In fact raising freshwater shrimp in aquaponics or even adopting freshwater prawn aquaponics can be a very lucrative business.
The second reason and one that is becoming increasingly popular is the idea of using fish to create the perfect habitat for growing plants.
The theory behind this is very simple; the aquaponic prawns eat whatever you give them. They then deposit their waste into the water where bacteria turn it into nitrates. These nitrates are then consumed by the plants; helping them to grow stronger.
The real benefit is that this is a self sustaining system. The plants filter the water; providing clean water to keep the fish healthy. All you need to do is feed the fish and check the water occasionally to ensure there are enough nitrates and the PH level is in the right range!
With very little effort you can have a bumper crop of plants to sell and an array of prawns and shrimp to sell.
The best thing is that by raising freshwater shrimp in aquaponics and aquaponic prawns you’ll be able to attract the consumers that value organic and natural farming methods!
It is possible to start raising freshwater shrimp in aquaponics and continue with your traditional approach to fish farming; this will allow you to see how productive aquaponic prawns and shrimp can be.
In fact an aquaponics system can be used to grow several fish species such as perch, tilapia, Oscars, catfish, Peruvian pacu, gold fish, some varieties of aquarium fish, fresh water prawns and koi. This system can harvest anywhere from one to thousands of pounds yearly depending on the size of your set up.
Getting Your Freshwater Prawns In Aquaponics Started
The main inputs to the system are light, water, oxygen and electricity. Power is essential to run the pumps; these filter and oxygenate the water to keep the prawns and shrimp healthy. More importantly the pump should move the water from the fish area to the water underneath the plants.
It is a good idea to keep the fish separate and pump the water between the fish and the plants. Doing this will allow you to control the environment for both your fish and your plants; ensuring the best possible conditions and maximum yield.
The only other cost involved, other than your time, is the feed that you choose to give to your aquaponic prawns and shrimp.
In terms of the output, the system can yield edible species of plant; whether you choose to grow vegetables, flowers or even marijuana!
The build ratios are 5:1 square foot of grow space for each single US gallon which is 3.8 litres of aquaculture water in the system. One gallon can support between 0.23 kg and 0.45 kg of fish stock depending on filtration and aeration. An ideal temperature is a variable that depends on the species of the fish.
It is worth remembering that the fish stock ratio relates to the size of the grown shrimp; if you don’t pay attention to this you’ll overstock your tank.
The pump you choose must be capable of moving the entire volume of your tank every hour; check the flow rates carefully.
Your shrimp will eat approximately 1.5% of their own weight every day; prepare your food accordingly although you do need to pay attention to how much they are actually consuming.
Before you start it is imperative that you add the water to your tank with chlorine. This will allow the ammonia levels to build up. The ammonia will then be converted into nitrates by the bacteria present in the plant bedding. Once the level of nitrogen is zero you’re tank will be ready to accommodate the shrimp; ensuring they have the right environment to successful start raising prawns in aquaponics.
Add your shrimp over a few days to ensure everything is working properly. It is worth taking your time with this step; getting it right means the rest of the process will be much easier to manage and maintain.
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 a superior quality and taste to that which you can get through traditional farming methods. This is also completely natural; not to mention a 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 use 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.
Alternatively you can allow the increasing numbers of shrimps and prawns to help you expand your crop growth. More aquaponic prawns equates to more waste/nutrients for your plants. It is easy to expand your growing room and significantly increase your yield.
- 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 feed 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!
That’s one way to start beating world hunger!
Cons Of Shrimp In Aquaponics
- Electrical Consumption – You need to power the pump or pumps which ensure the water is moving round. You also need to have at least one oxygen pump. As your system gets bigger the cost of running these electrical items will increase. You need to make sure the cost doesn’t outweigh the profit on your yield.
- Disease Risk – There is 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 back up pump in case yours fails. You should also consider the logistics of using solar panels to provide the electricity you need; this will reduce the cost of running the system to virtually zero!
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 dramatically increase the yield of your crop.
This means you don’t need land or even much space to start becoming more self sufficient. Of course, there are cons that you should be aware of but these can be controlled and the risks reduced; making shrimp in aquaponics a viable an attractive option.
Are you ready to take on the challenge of aquaponics by yourself? It’s a good practice to educate yourself first with lessons and mistakes people already made before you.