Shrimp feeding strategy
A common observation of shrimp feeding behavior is that shrimp consume pellets for a relatively short time post-introduction to the pond. This unconsumed (refused) portion of the ration continues to decompose via hydration and biological/microbial activity. In some cases, the refused portion of the feed can exceed 60% of that offered. Despite failure to consume feed, shrimp can still benefit nutritionally from this process. For example, up to 75% of pellet carbon can be assimilated by other benthic organisms (e.g., bacteria, diatoms, polychaetes, copepods, nematodes, protozoa, etc.) which can, in turn, indirectly provide carbon as well as other nutrients to shrimp.
The point at which feeds should first be applied to ponds is an issue for which most shrimp farmers have an opinion. Most farmers add a small amount of feed around the edge of the pond, especially in the areas to which postlarvae have been stocked. This ration is not meant to provide all nutrition to the postlarvae; instead, it is largely meant as a supplement to natural productivity should pond zooplankton levels be inadequate and as an appetite stimulant. Regardless, ponds should not be stocked with postlarvae unless natural productivity has been well established. As mentioned, in well-prepared ponds where natural productivity has been enhanced via fertilization, a substantial portion of nutrition can be derived from non-feed sources.
In situations where juvenile shrimp (0.8 – 1.0 g) are stocked at relatively high density (e.g., above 20 – 25 juveniles/m2), feeds should be applied 24 hr prior to stocking. In this case, the high initial biomass density of shrimp warrants supplementation of natural sources of nutrition. A general rule of thumb for pelleted feed application is that once pond shrimp biomass exceeds 200 – 300 kg/ha, rations should be applied. Subsequent feed rations should follow a general feeding guideline until biomass and feed consumption data are available.
Source: Claude E. Boyd, Ph.D., Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849 USA – Methods for improving shrimp farming in Central America