Research Attains New Heights in Shrimp Production

Environmentally responsible system shows great economic promise
Research Attains New Heights in Shrimp Production
April 23, 2004

Pacific white shrimp harvested from Oceanic Institute’s BioZEST™ production system under research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce Advanced Technology Program

Researchers at the Oceanic Institute, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i, U.S., have achieved record-breaking shrimp production in the Biosecure Zero-Exchange Shrimp Technology (BioZEST™) production system resulting from research funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, Advanced Technology Program (ATP).  

The five-year, $16.6 million research project aims to develop an economically viable, environmentally responsible, and sustainable system for the production of disease-free shrimp in the United States.  Research is carried out by a joint-venture team comprised of the Oceanic Institute, SyAqua, Inc., Zeigler Bros., Inc, and the Kahuku Shrimp Company.

The 18-week research trial yielded 6.8 kilograms (kg) of market-size Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) per square meter (m2) of raceway surface area.  The raceway was stocked with 10-day old post larvae (PL10) at a density of about 600 shrimp per m2.  The Institute’s prior record was 6.0 kg of shrimp per m2, stocked at 350 shrimp per m2.  For comparison, typical shrimp production systems worldwide produce about 0.5 kg of shrimp per m2, stocked at a density of 25 shrimp per m2.

“We are pushing the envelope of shrimp production as we progress in uncharted waters,” said Shaun Moss, Ph.D., Oceanic Institute Director of Shrimp Technology and Principal Investigator of the ATP research project.  “Our goal with our research partners is to refine the production technology to reliably produce 10 kilograms of shrimp per square meter of culture raceway, in an economically viable and environmentally responsible system that allows for the production of three crops per year.”

The closed, recirculating BioZEST shrimp production system prevents the introduction of disease-causing agents and minimizes water use, which reduces the negative environmental impacts caused by organically rich effluent.  The present production run required less than 300 liters of seawater per kg of shrimp produced.  Historically, traditional aquaculture systems worldwide have used 86,000 liters of water per kg of shrimp produced, usually in a flow-through system.

Scientists at the Oceanic Institute use family selection and artificial insemination procedures to breed disease-free shrimp for traits of economic importance.  Researchers at SyAqua apply genetic analysis tools to the management and selection of optimum stocks. 

The shrimp used in this research trial are the progeny from the first generation tested in the BioZEST production system.  The contributing families were in the top 5%, based on their genetic merit for growth and survival under BioZEST high-stocking-density conditions.  The improved harvest weight and survival result in an improvement of kg per m2 at harvest of more than 20%. 

 “The results support our strategy to develop a shrimp line customized to the BioZEST production system conditions,” stated Hein Van der Steen, Ph.D., SyAqua Research Director.  “Genetic development of the shrimp population and fine-tuning of the BioZEST system go hand-in-hand and are a great strength of the BioZEST partnership.”

Based on research with shrimp in closed, recirculating systems and the application of analytical methods, Zeigler Bros., Inc. produced feed containing the proper balance of protein, energy, and required nutrients for shrimp growth in the BioZEST production system.  The novel feed also provides nutrition to beneficial microorganisms in the system, which contribute to the growth and survival of the shrimp.  Additionally, the feed is formulated with lower-cost, alternative ingredients that can replace or supplement conventionally used marine proteins.

“Advanced technology in shrimp nutrition, a major component of the BioZEST system, has shown us that profits can be maximized by identifying specific levels and sources of dietary protein and macronutrients positively affecting important production traits such as growth, survival, feed consumption, and meat yield,” said Tom Zeigler, Ph.D., Zeigler Bros., Inc. President and CEO.

The key elements of the novel shrimp aquaculture production system include:
• High-health, genetically improved marine shrimp
• A consortium of microorganisms that supports rapid shrimp growth and maintains acceptable water quality
• Specially formulated feed that supports the growth of the shrimp and the microorganisms
• A closed-environment production system within which the shrimp, microorganisms, and exogenous feed interact

SyAqua, Inc. (formerly PIC USA, Inc.),, located in Berkeley, CA, is a world-leading agri-biotech company that focuses on animal genetics.  SyAqua applies its expertise in quantitative sciences and biotechnology to the development of shrimp that possess desired genetic characteristics for the BioZEST production system.

Zeigler Bros., Inc.,, located in Gardners, PA, manufactures and distributes a wide variety of specialty animal feeds to more than 30 countries worldwide.  The company leads the development of novel feeds and feed management protocols to promote shrimp growth and to sustain an optimal microbial consortium in the production system. 

Kahuku Shrimp Company, located in Kahuku, HI, is a shrimp farming and marketing company.  The company will provide its shrimp production facilities to the research project for future commercially scaled shrimp growout field trials and for future demonstration of the new shrimp production technology to other interested companies.

The Oceanic Institute,, located in Waimānalo, Hawai‘i, and affiliated with Hawai‘i Pacific University, is a not-for-profit applied research organization dedicated to the development and transfer of technology and applications in aquaculture, environmental science, and marine biotechnology.  OI serves as the joint venture administrator and is an active partner in research.