Animal Nutrition

Shrimp feed nutrition and profitability: understand the comparative

Shrimp feed nutrition and profitability: understand the comparative

It is clear that the production of aquaculture animals in the world is growing rapidly due to the increase in population. Consequently, this directly demands larger amounts of food every year.

With this growth, a large part of the population has been looking for healthier and more nutritious options, which justifies the increase in the production of fish and crustaceans.

According to FAO, among all aquaculture products such as fish, shellfish, oysters, scallops, salmon and tuna, shrimp farming is equivalent to 16% of all internationally comercialized animals.

This makes the shrimp farming the largest and one of the most profitable production animals in the industry.

However, in order to be profitable, it is necessary to increase the efficiency of the production system as a whole, especially when the topic is shrimp nutrition.

Before we go into this particular aspect, what about checking the life cycle of the animal?

Shrimp’s Life Cycle

Before we talk about the nutritional needs of shrimp it is necessary to understand the production cycle of the animal. There are basically two steps:

Larviculture: which consists in the production of larvae and is carried out in laboratories. By crossing the matrices and reproducers, it is possible to generate the ovulation and later the small larvae. The larvae are sent to the next stage.

Fattening: it can be carried out in tanks of land or fiber, which colloquially we call a shrimp farm. When reaching the ideal state, the slaughter and the beneficiation of the product happen.

Shrimp feed nutrition needs

According to recent research, there is little information on the nutritional demand for shrimp due to the different species that exist around the world.

However, protein is the ingredient with the largest inclusion in feed, ranging from 25% to 33%.

It is still necessary to consider some factors such as the type of the species, type of production, density and water quality factors (pH, salinity, rests and etc.).

In the process of formulating feed for shrimp, fishmeal has always been widely used. However, due to the high cost, the production process as a whole became more costly and less profitable. 

As an alternative to make production cheaper, maintaining the same level of performance, we have the meals made from meat, bones and by-products of poultry.

All of them have an attractive price and good protein availability. However, the biggest challenge of aquaculture nutrition is finding a product that besides satisfying the nutritional demands, is palatable to animals.

One of the best solutions available in the market is the protein and natural ingredients developed to improve the composition of the feeds. As an immediate benefit, we have a great improvement in the availability of amino acids to shrimp.

This happens because, through enzymatic hydrolysis, smaller chains of amino acids are generated. As a consequence, we have a high concentration of bioactive peptides, high palatability, less mineral material and still balanced amino acids that meet the needs of shrimp excellently.

That is, it is a fresh product with high crude protein content.

But do you know the role of a protein diet in shrimp food? Understand why this is necessary.

The importance of amino acids and proteins

Because it is the most concentrated nutrient in shrimp feeds, proteins and as a consequence, amino acids, are the most expensive nutrients in the diet. They represent, on average, 50% of the costs of feeding these animals.

However, its importance is crucial for shrimps. According to FAO, proteins are the most important elements of all living cells and represent the largest chemical group in the body of a living being, except for water. They are essential substances in the nucleus of cells, cellular protoplasm and are responsible for the formation of muscle tissues, organs and nerves.

Proteins must have high quality, that is, have in their composition all 10 essential amino acids, so that each of them carries out its function in the animal’s body.

Amino acids are of extreme importance for cellular metabolism because the chemical reactions are catalyzed by enzymes that are formed from fragments of amino acids present in the body.

In this way, amino acids are responsible for the synthesis of proteins. Consequently, from the point of view of a productive system, we have a better development of the animal.

Protein and amino acid requirements will vary according to the shrimp species, as well as the age, physiological state and environment in which they are raised.

For example, the shrimp raised in low salinity environments use crude protein as a source of energy rather than lipids, so they need a greater input of this nutrient.

Do not forget the lipids

Lipids are essential in shrimp diets because they are carriers of fat-soluble vitamins, precursors of hormones and structural components of the animal’s biomembranes.

However, as stated earlier, there are numerous species of shrimp. Consequently, we have distinct lipid levels for each of them. As a general rule, lipids should be part of the shrimp diet in a proportion between 6 and 7.5%.

For L. vannamei production, for example, it is recommended that the feed contains from 10% to 14% lipids in the composition.

The consumption of fats will also guarantee to the animal’s body polyunsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids (phosphatidylcholine) and cholesterol.

The species P. chinensis requires a phospholipid content of 0.84%, while for P. penicillatus this concentration rises to 1.25%.

Regarding cholesterol, the P. monodon species requires 0.5% for better growth and survival.

Among the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, the highlights are the linoleic and linolenic acids, as well as EPA and DHA, which are the most indispensable ones. The species P. japonicus, for example, requires a concentration of 1% of each of these in the diet.

The importance of vitamins

Another very important factor is the presence of a combination of vitamins, which help in the development of metabolic functions, such as the development of the exoskeleton, for example. The main vitamins are D3 and the B vitamins family.

The nutritional requirement for vitamins also varies according to the shrimp species. Some vitamins are required by some species, while others are not.

This is the case with vitamin K, required by P. monodon and P. chinesis, but not necessary for P. japonicus.

Water quality

The nutritional aspect within the production system is considered one of the most important ones, since it generates a series of expenses in the productive system.

One should provide the best diet, having the best use of the animal and with the lowest possible cost.

But we cannot simply provide the best diet and forget about other aspects in the production system. In the case of shrimp, the quality of the water inside the systems is fundamental for the survival of the animals.

This way, feeds that are not properly managed can cause big problems for water quality, since animals will not feed from 100% of what is supplied. In addition, there are excretions, because not everything they eat is used by them.

As a result, all this waste is decomposed by microorganisms that release substances in the water such as ammonia (nitrogenous compound), phosphate and other elements that stimulate the growth of algae and plankton (eutrophication).

These substances will be harmful to shrimp mainly at night, because algae and plankton will not photosynthesize and consume the available oxygen in the water.

Ammonia (water pH greater than 8.5) and hydrogen sulfide (water pH 6.5 associated with high temperature) are harmful to shrimp.

When the feed is not well managed, the excess of it together with the animal’s wastes becomes sludge at the bottom of the tank.

This environment is highly prosperous to the development of pathogenic bacteria that cause disease and animal mortality, since the shrimp are benthic, that is, they graze the bottom of the tank.

Some solutions like suction and aerator systems can help in this process of water quality. However, the ideal is to have an assertive formulation to avoid possible problems in the productive system.


The increase in human population and the high demand for healthier proteins has led to the shrimp farming to reach historic records. So investing in this market wisely is a great opportunity to gain space and maximize profits.

From the choice of the feed to the maintenance of the tanks, it is important to focus on feeding the animals. In this context, protein blends have proven to be an excellent alternative to increase the profitability of the production system, while at the same time guaranteeing healthy animals.

For this, having a protein hydrolysate concentrate that goes further than just meeting the basic needs of animals is crucial. The ingredient should also decrease expenses and consequently increase profitability.

Feel free to leave a comment

Get awesome content on inbox   Subscribe

BRF© 2019. All Rights Reserved.