Shrimp aquaponics has become more prevalent in recent years thanks to the many benefits it has to offer, especially for anyone who wants to be able to grow their own food without using a lot of equipment or expensive supplies. Defined as an environment where shrimp and plants can live together in harmony, learning the science behind this is important for anyone who wants to better understand its importance.
The information below can help you make more sense of aquaponics and how it applies to shrimp specifically. Even if this is a topic you’re familiar with, there’s always something new to learn.
How Does Shrimp Aquaponics Work?
Although the word may sound complicated, aquaponics is actually relatively easy to understand. Fish (or shrimp in this case) are raised in a tank that’s built with a grow bed attached to it. The design allows the fish to live freely and the plant to live in a healthy manner without being exposed to an excess amount of water. The plant that is being grown can be many different things, including beans, lettuce, thyme, strawberries, parsley, or a wide variety of other veggies, herbs, fruits, and flowers.
In order to get started, the sea life needs to be fed a steady diet, which results in the production of waste that’s naturally rich in ammonia. While most fish cannot withstand high levels of ammonia in their tank, this isn’t a problem because the bacteria from the grow beds will help break down the ammonia and turn it into nitrates. Bacteria will also be present in the tank and work toward breaking down ammonia just as the soil does. Nitrates are crucial for the health of plants and they are good for fish as well, which gives it dual purpose.
After this conversion takes place, the plants absorb the nitrates as their fertilizer and the water is filtered through their roots. Thanks to the nutrients in the grow bed, the filtered water also absorbs nutrients, which is then pumped back into the tank for the fish.
Because oxygen is an important part of plant and fish life, an air pump is used during dry periods to keep this ecosystem working in a healthy manner. Ultimately, this is a sustainable method of life for both the shrimp (or fish) and the plant. The water can continuously re-circulate within the system and organic fertilizer is continuously created as well.
What are the Benefits?
There are many benefits of shrimp aquaponics, which is why there’s such a large movement in trying to make this more common. Some of the top benefits include:
– No weeds
– No tilling land
– No land needed
– Uses far less water than is normally used to grow plants and healthy shrimp
– All waste is 100% used
– Both produce and protein can be grown simultaneously
– Individuals can grow their own food indoorsto help save money and reduce energy use (driving to the store)
– No pesticides or herbicides used for the plant
– Both plant and protein can be grown year-round indoors
– No need to have expensive supplies or equipment
Important Facts About Shrimp Aquaponics
Aquaponics is a combination of both hydroponics and aquaculture. Essentially, it’s an ecosystem where shrimp and plants can grow both happy and healthy together. Some important facts to keep in mind in order to keep this system healthy are listed below.
1. Healthy pH
The ideal pH for fish is anywhere between 6-8, making it important to check water levels on a regular basis. Fortunately, most aquaponics systems will keep this in check naturally.
2. Nitrate Concerns
Although you may be concerned that your shrimp cannot live in an environment with nitrates, they actually do quite well being around them. Being great for plants as well, these are an important part of this ecosystem thriving and surviving.
3. Temperature Changes
It’s crucial to be vigilant for extreme temperature changes, as these can result in damage to system or death to the shrimp. It’s recommended to keep a water-friendly thermometer in the tank for peace of mind.
4. Light Sensitivity
Did you know that most fish are sensitive to light? It’s important to keep any aquaponics system away from direct sunlight to benefit the fish as much as possible. An exception to this would be large systems that are very deep, which offer fish more of a chance to find shade from the sun.You can use led grow lights for your system.
5. Adding Extra Water
Although these systems use very little water, you will need to add fresh water periodically. This is the result of water absorption from plants as well as evaporation, both of which should be expected.
How a Shrimp Aquaponics System is Started
The first step is the nitrification process, which can be done one of two ways:
– The tank should be run with chloramine-free water and chlorine for the first few days. All parts within should be working properly to ensure success once the shrimp are added.
– Shrimp should be added, offering them enough space to live comfortably. Although they should be fed, food should be minimized during the first 10 days as they acclimate and in order to prevent too much ammonia.
– Over the next 4-6 weeks, more shrimp should be added.
– To start the nitrification process without shrimp, you can use ammonia tablets and bacteria supplements.
Important Things to Keep in Mind:
1. Fish Stocking Density
It’s recommended to have .25 lbs of fish (or shrimp) per gallon for conservative density. However, the final weight of the shrimp should be considered before stocking, as that will impact the density within just a few weeks or months.
2. Size of Pump Needed
For a shrimp aquaponic system, the pump should be able to cycle the volume of the tank in the water once each hour.
3. Fish Food Needed
Most fish or shrimp will eat around 1.5% of their body weight in a day. However, it’s important to observe your shrimp to see how they’re eating and adjust from there.
4. Size of Aeration
For every 300 gallons, a tank should have a 1 cubic foot per minute of airflow volume.
Although this type of system does maintain itself quite well, it’s still important to keep an eye and perform regular maintenance. This should include feeding fish daily, testing the water quality regularly, cleaning filters, checking plant health, trimming plants, and checking nutrients.