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August 5, 2015


Siam Sand Worm Farm


Siam Sand Worm farm supplies disease-free, live polychaetes (Perinereis nuntia) to most of the larger hatcheries in Thailand.  Polychaetes supply beneficial enzymes, amino acids and essential hormones to stimulate reproduction in shrimp broodstock.  The Thai shrimp industry requires about 500 kilograms of marine worms a day


Established in 2008, Siam Sand Worm farm is located in Chumpon Province, Thailand.  Its current production is five metric tons a month.  Punkawee Angsumalee, a graduate in civil engineering from Prince of Songkhla University, developed the farm.


Punkawee says, “I have customers who complimented me on the quality of my premium polychaetes.  They are pleased with the consistent supply and on time delivery.  I always produce more than the demand to guarantee supply.”


In Thailand, three types of polychaetes (annelid worms or marine worms) are used as live feed for shrimp broodstock:


Glycera dibranchiate, a dark red blood worm, is collected in mangroves and on mud flats.  Their supply has been declining, and according to Dr. Surasak Dilokkeart, a shrimp industry leader, over 50% of them are contaminated with harmful diseases.


Arenicola marina, a grey to black lugworm, is imported from China, where it is farmed in mud flats.  Buyers usually check them for disease contamination and nutritional quality before use.


Perinereis nuntia, a light pink sand worm, is harvest from sandy beaches.  It is less contaminated than the other two polychaetes, but volumes are small, and its nutritional value varies from batch to batch and from location to location.


In general, large hatcheries prefer to use the sand worm, P. nuntia, while small and medium hatcheries use G. dibranchiate or A. marina.  Research shows that by feeding shrimp broodstock with P. nuntia at 20-30% of their body weight per day, the broodstock can produce 2.5-3 million nauplii.  This is double the production from broodstock fed with the other two worms.  In addition, when feeding P. nuntia, the shrimp survival rate from nauplii to postlarvae is also 20% higher than it is with the other species.


There are many benefits to farming P. nuntia.  Besides a steady supply, farmed sand worms can be enriched with nutrients such as astaxanthin, omega 3, 6 and 9 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and multivitamins to improve nutrient composition.  The farming location and conditions can be controlled.  Farms can be in a small area with minimal impact on the ecosystem.  Most importantly, it is easy to control the health status and quality of sand worms.  The sand worm is at its best quality at five months.


Now in its eighth year, Siam Sand Worm farm produces five metric tons of worms a month in cement tanks (1 x 12 x 0.3 meters), filled with a layer of sand.  The tanks are not aerated but water is pumped in and out of the tanks to simulate natural tides.


Spawning is natural using nine-month-old worms.  Three days after hatching, 2,000 larvae polychaetes are moved into the growout tanks and harvested in five months.  The survival rate is 50% from egg to the three-day-larval stage, and by harvest time, only 300 polychaetes remain in each tank.


Once a day, the farm feeds the growing worms giant tiger shrimp feed and a special nutritional supplement.  Before harvest, however, the feeding rate is increased to twice a day.  Overall, the feed conversion ratio is 1:1.  In-coming water is treated prior to use and during the culture period, probiotics are applied regularly to control water quality and toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide.


All production must pass strict disease checks.  The health certification covers checks for whitespot syndrome virus (WSSV), Taura syndrome virus (TSV), infectious myonecrosis virus (IMNV), vibriosis, parasites and protozoa.


In Thailand, there are fourteen large broodstock maturation facilities.  Eleven of them are customers of Siam Sand Worm.  Daily, the farm staff harvests five-to-six-month-old worms, cleans them with water, packs them in plastic bags supplied with oxygen (similar to packing shrimp postlarvae), and delivers them to customers within six hours.  Polychaetes are also frozen at -13°C.  The shelf life for frozen polychaetes is three months. 


Source: AQUA Culture Asia Pacific (Editor/Publisher, Zuridah Merican, email  Polychaetes for Shrimp Broodstock Maturation.  Soraphat Panakorn (Commercial Development Manager, Novozymes Biologicals, email  Volume 11, Number 4, Page 6, July/August 2015.

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