It is true that fish are the most preferred species to have for gaining nutrients for the plants in an aquaponics system. However, this does not convey that fish is the only option. There are other creatures that can benefit your setup. Two such popular creatures are shrimps and prawns, as they not only add to a stunning look but also act as efficient cleaners for your tank.
Above all, the biggest benefit of a shrimp and prawn aquaponics system is easy maintenance. It does not take much effort to care for these creatures, as they are easy to nurture and hardy. Let’s find out more about such a system in this post.
Shrimps and Prawns: Do They Differ?
Both these terms are repeatedly used interchangeably. Although both are decapods that belong to a group of crustaceans having five pairs of legs, they differ in two main ways.
The major differentiation is in terms of their anatomies. Prawns feature claws on the initial three pairs; whereas, shrimps feature them on the initial two pairs. At the time of breeding, prawns release the eggs. On the other hand, shrimps carry them beneath their belly.
Overall, the difference is quite negligible, as they will not differ in terms of preferred environments or care required. Thus, using shrimps or prawns is your choice and is likely to be affected by availability in your locality.
Is It Possible to Have Shrimps or Prawns with Fish in Aquaponics?
Okay, you already have a tank filled with fish and are now willing to have shrimps or prawns. So, is it possible to do so? Yes! Freshwater shrimps or prawns can be a beneficial addition to an existing tank of fish. You can easily add them to the tank having tilapia fish. Prawns are bottom feeders that eat whatever they find, ranging right from fish waste to snails to organic matter.
However, there is a big risk here. Your existing fish can easily eat small shrimps. Thus, you are required to keep them separate. To do so, you need 0.25-inches bird mesh that any hardware store in your locality will have and support it using PVC pipes.
These creatures are also territorial, which means that they eat each other when hungry. This is why you also have to ensure that they are not visible to each other. For creating such a place to hide, birds mesh, and PVP pipe can help.
Types of Shrimps to Consider for Your Aquaponics
There are a couple of shrimp varieties to add to your water tank in your aquaponics system. They have pretty and bright hues, due to which it becomes interesting for anyone to look at your tank.
The most popular variety used in home aquaponics systems is red cherry shrimp. They are not only bright in color but also are easy to care for. For beginners, ghost shrimps are perhaps the easiest to manage species. Even snowball shrimps are easy to take care of and act as high-volume breeders.
There are some more shrimp varieties to consider, which are available in more distinct colors. These are panda shrimps, blue tiger shrimp, blue bolt shrimps, and green babaulti.
Incorporating Prawns or Shrimps into an Aquaponics Farm
There are two main ways to add shrimps or prawns to your aquaponics system. You can either put them in the fish tank or beneath the floating rafts. It is also possible to add them to both.
If you do not have rafts, the only option left with you is to add them to your fish tank. However, this should be done such that the small ones do not become the food of big fish. When added safely, prawns will consume the fish waste. This is how it aids in keeping a clean bottom.
Putting them beneath the floating rafts is also beneficial. This is because the underneath area of these rafts has abundant organic waste such as dead roots on which shrimps can easily thrive. Interestingly, shrimps love organic waste. However, if you are thinking of adding prawns, the output is a bit different.
It is a fact that prawns will not eat these roots. However, when they are too many and are hungry, they are likely to chew the existing roots. This is when you come to know that there are too many prawns.
For many aquaponic practitioners, having the combination of the two is likely to be the best option. This is because they can keep both the tank and rafts clean.
Quick Rearing Facts to Know about Shrimps and Prawns
- Shrimps need four months to accomplish market size, which is approximately 3 ounces per shrimp.
- The harvesting frequency of shrimps is three times a year, as their growth cycle is of four months.
- It is wise to add only half of your shrimps or prawns to your tank or raft. If they do well and look lively to you, then consider adding the remaining half.
Requisites for the Best Shrimps and Prawns Aquaponics System
To ensure that your shrimps or prawns will give the expected output, you need to consider some points or parameters in mind. Let’s explore them in detail.
It is a good practice to add shrimps or prawns to a tank having fish such as tilapia to make your system more productive. If this is what you are planning to do, you need a tank that can easily accommodate at least 500 liters of water. Further, there should be some barrier to keep tilapia and prawns or shrimps separate.
This term refers to the number of shrimps or prawns you need to keep. Preferably, you must have a minimum of two square feet of space in your tank for each shrimp or prawn. Maintaining this ratio is essential to overcome the tendency for these creatures to eat each other for food, which happens especially if too many of them are inside the tank.
Before you add prawns or shrimps to the tank or beneath the floating rafts, you need to know at what temperature they can survive in water. They survive well when the temperature of the water is between 57- and 105-degrees Fahrenheit. However, between 78- and 88-degrees Fahrenheit is optimum. This temperature range is also optimal for tilapia fish due to which they both make an ideal pair.
Well, the pH level should not be such that it indicates an acidic status. It is essential to sustain a pH level that is between 7.8 and 8.5. Further, you should only use a quality pH meter to measure the same.
Not all creatures are happy to be exposed to the sun for continuous hours. However, in case of shrimps, a few hours of this exposure will not trigger any harm.
Concentration of Dissolved Oxygen
This is an indispensable requirement for prawns and shrimps just like other aquatic creatures. For these crustaceans, this level should be sustained to a minimum of 3mg/L. If you can increase it, it is better. However, anything below it results in stress for them.
This is another important requirement you need to know. Shrimps and prawns are omnivores, which means they can feed on both plant and animal matter. Shrimps usually feed on algae and plankton.
Frequency of Feeding
The good news here is that there is no need to be concerned about the frequency of feeding your shrimps or prawns, as they act as foragers. Several aquaponic practitioners have nurtured them successfully by feeding them on alternate days. However, you need to watch them and see when they start to consume each other. This is because this is the sign that they are looking for more food.
It is important to ensure a good amount of airflow while using shrimps or prawns in your aquaponics system. There should be a minimum of one air pump to ensure proper ventilation for your prawns or shrimps.
Consider adding shrimps or prawns to your aquaponics system to have some natural cleaners for your system, as well as enhance the aesthetic appeal of your setup. There are negligible differences between these two when it comes to cultivating them in aquaponics. Your choice will depend on their availability.
You can add them to a water tank that already has fish but do separate both the species. Otherwise, the big fish will eat these small creatures.
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