Print This Page

“Red Heads” in Your Shrimp Ponds?


Ramesh Sivaram ( At harvest, in south Andhra Pradesh, India, we are noticing a lot of shrimp with red heads.  Some experts attribute them to high salinity; others say they’re from iron in the pond soil.  I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter.


Daniel Gruenberg ( Ramesh, I’ve seen “red heads” come out of ponds built in soils with high iron content.


Ali Ghavampour ( I don’t think it’s iron because I’ve seen the same phenomena in southern Iran, where the iron content in the soils is low.  When we were working with Penaeus indicus and P. semisulcatus, we never had “red heads”, but we do see them in P. vannamei.


Eric Muylder (, Ramesh, can you show us some pictures, so we can better judge your problem.


Does the hepatopancreas burst open when you cook the shrimp?  If “yes”, it could be caused by:


1. A poor harvest routine, where shrimp are dying before the harvest or are not put in iced water immediately after the harvest.  The hepatopancreas begins to rot.


2. High lipid or poor quality lipids in the diet.  Coating your feed with additional oil could cause high lipid content.  Rancidity could be due to poor-quality fish oil in the feed.


John Birkett ( Usually “red heads” turn up during harvest or when shrimp are being transported to the packing plant.  It occurs when the hepatopancreas bursts open inside the cephalothorax.  It can be controlled by not feeding right before harvest and maintaining ideal temperatures on the way to the packing plant.  “Red heads” are more common in high-density ponds because there is plenty of detritus to feed on, even when you’re not feeding them.


Red, green and brown heads can be caused by what the shrimp ate right before harvest.


Sources: 1. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Red Head Portion in Vannamei.  April 12 to 15, 2017.  2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, April 19, 2017.

Print This Page