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The Texas A&M Shrimp Farming Project in 1987


Dr. Addison L. Lawrence, head of the Texas A&M University shrimp farming project, forwarded this report:


“The shrimp mariculture project at Texas A&M University is the primary responsibility of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, but with significant and direct involvement of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and the Department of Animal Science.  The objective of the research program is basic...research to develop technology for the culture of marine shrimp.”


“The personnel of the shrimp mariculture project consist of the project leader, Dr. Addison L. Lawrence, professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and the Department of Animal Science; Dr. Frank Castille, research scientist in the area of nutrition and physiology; Mr. William Bray in the area of reproduction; Ms. Linda Smith in the area of larviculture (hatchery); and Ms. Leslie Sturmer in the area of raceway and pond culture.  In addition, there are 18 technicians, 2 secretaries and 8 graduate students in the project.”





Maturation: “The facilities for shrimp reproduction are located at Flour Bluff, a suburb of Corpus Christi, and consist of a 5,000-square-foot building with sixteen 3.7-meter-diameter maturation tanks and 30 spawning tanks.  Four of the sixteen tanks are complete with temperature and photoperiod control.  A small laboratory is available for water quality analysis, preparation of diets and tissue preparation.”


Larviculture: “The facilities for shrimp larviculture are located at the Galveston Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service...and consist of a wet lab containing eight, two-metric-ton conical tanks, space for continuous mass culture of about 5,000 liters of different species of algae.  The larviculture facility is supplied with temperature regulated seawater that is sterilized and filtered to one micron.  Also available are space and equipment to do small-scale experiments using 190 one-liter cones.  The entire facility is temperature and light controlled.”


Growout: “The facilities for pond culture consist of eighteen 0.1-hectare ponds which are supplied with freshwater and natural seawater from Laguna Madre and heated effluent (saltwater) from the adjacent Central Power and Light Company in Flour Bluff....  Also, two 0.1-hectare ponds contain 144 cages for replicated research...which removes the variable pond effect.  The cages are open at the top and bottom.”


“The facilities for raceway culture consist of six 75 m2 (bottom area) raceways approximately 31 meters long and 2.4 meters wide at the bottom.  These raceways are covered by greenhouses which enable shrimp to be stocked when ambient water temperature in the ponds is 10 to 15°C without heating the seawater.  The raceways are supplied with fresh and saltwater and can either be in a recirculating or flow-through mode.  These facilities are also located in Flour Bluff....”


Nutrition Studies: “The laboratory tank system for nutritional studies consists of twenty-one 2,650-liter tanks, forty 200-liter tanks and one hundred twenty-eight 20-liter tanks.  This facility is located at Port Aransas which is about 30 miles east of Corpus Christi.  The seawater is provided by a recirculating system.  The salinity and temperature levels are maintained at 30±2 parts per thousand and 28o±2°C.  The necessary support facilities (e.g., holding tanks, feed storage, aeration system, feed preparation, and biochemical laboratories for water quality and proximate analysis) are available.”



Research Accomplishments Maturation/Reproduction


1. Matured and reproduced six species of marine shrimp (Penaeus vannamei, P. stylirostris, P. aztecus, P. setiferus, P. schmitti and P. monodon)  in captivity.  Many of these species were matured for the first time in the United States at the Corpus Christi laboratory.


2. Produced two hybrid shrimp from...P. setiferus  crossed with P. stylirostris  and...P. setiferus  crossed with P. schmitti.  These were the first two hybrid marine shrimp produced in the world.


3. The first to document that there was a problem with the quality of semen produced from male shrimp in captivity.  Developed the first procedure for evaluating the quality of semen from male shrimp.


4. Obtained evidence that the lipid content of the diet affected maturation and reproduction of P. stylirostris.  This was the first time that the lipid requirement for reproduction was quantified.


5. Determined the effect of temperature on reproduction of P. stylirostris and the effect of light on reproduction of P. stylirostris  and P. vannamei.


6. Improved the procedure for artificial insemination of female shrimp using isolated sperm with a success rate of greater than 90% of the artificially inseminated female shrimp producing fertilized eggs.


7. Determined male spermatophore regeneration time which indicated that P. setiferus, P. stylirostris and P. vannamei males could breed females every 5, 3 to 4, and 5 to 6 days, respectively.  Hormonal manipulation was successful in decreasing regeneration time thus potentially increasing the number of females that a male could breed per week.”



Research Accomplishments



1. Developed the first reliable and valid small experimental system to evaluate nutritional and environmental requirements for marine shrimp larvae.  The system has been adopted by research laboratories all over the world.


2. Determined that inclusion of animal foods in the diet of early larval stages (protozoea) could increase growth.  It was assumed that these early larval stages consumed only plant foods.


3. Quantified the amount of animal food (in terms of Artemia) required by shrimp larvae.


4. Showed that nematodes are as good as Artemia  as an animal food source for shrimp larvae.


5. Determined the relative contribution of plant versus animal food sources in satisfying the nutritional requirements for shrimp larvae.


6. Succeeded in evaluating the nutritional value of dry diets for rearing shrimp larvae.”



Research Accomplishments



1. Successfully obtained production of P. schmitti in ponds for the first time in the United States.


2. Successfully produced P. vannamei, P. schmitti and P. setiferus postlarvae under intensive conditions using raceways.


3. Successfully ‘head-started’ P. vannamei in raceways under greenhouses with the production of up to eight tons of juvenile shrimp per acre in six weeks.


4. Successfully produced up to two tons of juvenile shrimp in ponds in four weeks.  This could significantly lower the production cost of marketable size shrimp.


5. Developed a new experimental approach using heavy carbon isotopes to estimate the percent contribution of natural productivity of a pond versus the presented feed to the nutritional requirements of shrimp in ponds.  Using this method, it was shown that the percent contribution of natural productivity is over 75% of the nutritional requirements of juvenile shrimp in ponds using commercial pond management strategies.  This is significantly higher than originally assumed and this information will have a significant impact in formulating cost-effective feeds for marine shrimp pond culture.  This was done in collaboration with a professor at the University of Texas.


6. Developed a system of pens in a single pond to be used for determining feed requirements for different pond management strategies (e.g., stocking densities, species, etc.).  Using this system, it was determined that a feed rate of 2 to 5% is adequate in ponds for juvenile shrimp under commercial management strategies.  This feed level is less than 33% of the levels which are presently being used by commercial companies and is of significance since it suggests that shrimp in ponds are being overfed.”



Research Accomplishments Nutrition/Physiology


1. Developed a bioassay for determining toxicities of heavy metals, environmental parameter effects, etc., using larval shrimp.  Using this bioassay the toxicities for several heavy metals and bactericides to shrimp larvae have been determined.


2. Determined that 40 to 50% of the feed used for feeding shrimp in ponds can consist of soybean meal.  This will not only significantly lower the feed cost for producing shrimp, but also will create a new market for the American soybean farmer.


3. Developed the first purified diet for juvenile P. vannamei.  This is significant for it will provide the basis for determining the nutritional requirements of marine shrimp.


4. Determined the quantitative requirements of an essential amino acid, lysine, for marine shrimp using the newly developed purified diet.


5. Determined the protein, lipid and protein:energy requirements for two species of penaeid shrimp.  This information will provide the basis for formulating more optimum diets with lower costs.


6. Determined the apparent total digestibility and apparent protein digestibility of most of the feedstuffs used to formulate diets for marine shrimp.  This information will provide the basis for formulating more optimum diets with lower costs.


7. Determined the lecithin and cholesterol requirements for postlarvae P. vannamei.  Also, demonstrated an interaction between the requirement for lecithin and cholesterol for marine shrimp.  This information is not only valuable for formulating more optimum diets for marine shrimp, but also may be of significance to understanding the relationships between these to major nutrients in mammals, including man.”


At the recent World Aquaculture Society Meeting in Guayaquil, Ecuador, A&M scientists presented 19 papers on their research; at the upcoming WAS Meeting in Hawaii, they will present another 21.  A&M offers annual training programs  in all aspects of shrimp farming (maturation, reproduction, larviculture, hatchery operation and growout).


Sources: 1.  Texas A&M Shrimp Farming Project in 1987.  Correspondence from Addison Lawrence.  October 7, 2017.  2. Reviewed and Updated by Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, June 15, 2017.

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