Dissecting the dining habits of shrimp

Australian scientists are designing video and audio analysis techniques to automatically measure how much feed farmed shrimp s consume and how much they grow as a result
August 14, 2009

Dissecting the dining habits of shrimp

What sound does a shrimp make when it eats? How much food can one shrimp devour in a day?

The secret feeding habits of farmed shrimp will be investigated as a part of a new CSIRO research collaboration with an Australian company to develop aquaculture technologies that could revolutionize the shrimp farming industry.

The goal is to increase yields, enhance sustainability and improve the health and quality of aquacultured shrimp by developing and applying the best high-tech marine research and development available.

“More efficient feeding of shrimp will reduce cost, waste and potential contamination of the environment around farms from nutrient rich effluent,” Dr Lee said.CSIRO Food Futures National Research Flagship Director Dr Bruce Lee said CSIRO was designing video and audio analysis techniques to automatically measure how much feed farmed shrimp consume and how much they grow as a result.

Food Futures Flagship Research Group Leader Dr Nigel Preston said the key to increasing shrimp  yields, and improving their health and quality is developing a better understanding of their feeding habits in farm ponds.

“To achieve this we are developing software which uses mathematical algorithms to analyse shrimp  consumption and growth patterns,” Dr Preston said.

CEO of Hobart-based marine aquaculture technology company AQ1 Systems Ross Dodd said that “from the perspective of the technology used to farm shrimp s, the industry is currently back where the salmon industry was 15 years ago”.

“The demand for farmed shrimp is expected to increase rapidly, but the industry is still heavily reliant on manual labor and unsophisticated feed management systems,” Dodd said.

This research involves developing software to analyse the sound shrimp make when they eat.

CSIRO’s Information and Communication Technologies Centre’s Dr Stephen Giugni said this sound is a bit like hearing oil popping in a pan.

“While still at an early stage, we hope this audio information will reveal many aspects of shrimp  behavior, including which feed the shrimp prefer and how the biomass moves around a pond throughout the day,” Dr Giugni said.

Apart from establishing a technology platform with potential application across many types of aquaculture, this partnership should generate significant revenue for an Australian small business and add around $20 million per year to the Australian shrimp  industry’s profits.

”If the technology proves viable, this partnership is well positioned to revolutionise the shrimp  farming industry not only in Australia, but internationally,” Mr Dodd said.

AQ1 will receive investment funds of more than one million dollars through CSIRO’s Australian Growth Partnership program, which is designed to provide capital to high potential small- to medium-size enterprises that have an alignment with CSIRO’s Flagship programs.