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September 29, 2015


Gamba Natural de España, S.L.



Spain imports more than 150,000 metric tons of shrimp annually, making it an important shrimp market.  However, only 2% of these shrimp are imported fresh while the other 98% are imported frozen from several shrimp farming countries.  Spanish consumers are discerning connoisseurs of seafood, and if they can afford it, they will readily accept higher prices for exceptionally fresh products.


Gamba Natural, a biofloc shrimp farm started by Norwegian investor, engineer and entrepreneur, Bjørn Aspheim, provides the Madrid and northern Spain markets with fresh shrimp.  It exchanges no water during the growout cycle, reconditions it after each harvest to eliminate the nitrates and then reuses it in the next cycle.  The farm produces 25-30-gram white shrimp, Penaeus vannamei, which are sold live.




“We started eight years ago, and after four years of successful production, we can confirm that...biofloc shrimp farming in a 100% recirculation system is a viable venture.  We can now commercialize this system anywhere in the world,” said Aspheim.


Gamba Natural got started in 2007, with the collaboration of French technical manager, Manuel Poulain.  For biosecurity reasons, the farm management decided to establish the farm far from the sea, near the city of Medina del Campo, some 400 kilometers from the ocean.  This was no coincidence.  The town has excellent connections with Madrid, the largest market for shrimp in Spain and with the rest of northern Spain, which has the largest demand for fresh shrimp.


It was necessary to make 5.5 million liters of artificial seawater and enclose the farm in an insulated, 7,000-square-meter building, housing 24 ponds: sixteen 300-m3 ponds and eight 200-m3 ponds.  Twenty ponds are used for farming and four are used for water treatment.  The biofloc technology with zero-water exchange reduces the energy requirements for heating water.  Initially, the water is heated to 28°C and then maintained at that temperature.




Each pond is covered by a tent for three reasons:

• To improve biosecurity by isolating each pond as much as possible

• To limit evaporation and reduce compensatory freshwater inputs

• To improve thermal insulation and keep temperature variations at ±1 °C.


The ponds are excavated and fully lined.  The twenty ponds used for growout have very efficient aeration systems to maintain a high level of dissolved oxygen and to move water constantly, keeping all the solids in suspension and maintaining a healthy biofloc.


Ponds are in a dark area to help achieve a strong and stable biofloc.  In normal outdoor biofloc ponds, the bacteria compete with algae, but the algae population is not stable because of changing weather and sunlight conditions.  At the Gamba Natural farm, this problem is avoided by keeping the growout areas dark.  Based on his experience with bioflocs in Mexico, Seychelles and Australia, Poulain believes the best biofloc systems contain no algae.


Following European Union rules on biosecurity for exotic species, P. vannamei postlarvae are purchased from a shrimp hatchery in Florida, USA, and PL-12s are stocked at of 350 to 1,000 PL/m2.


Information: Manuel Poulain, Gamba Natural, Carretera Olmedo, 0 km 0002, 5, 47400 Medina del Campo, Valladolid, Spain (phone +34-983-81-04-30, email, webpage


                 Hervé Lucien-Brun, Manual Poulain and BjørnAsphein  


Sources: 1. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: New File Uploaded to Shrimp.  Hervé Lucien-Brun (  September 25, 2015.  2. AQUA Culture Asia Pacific (Editor/Publisher, Zuridah Merican, email  Fresh and Live Shrimp from Biofloc Farm in Spain.   Hervé Lucien-Brun and Manuel Poulain.  Volume 11, Number 4, Page 21, July/August 2015.

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