One of the most expensive operating costs within aquaculture comes down to the product of fish feed. Procurement of fish meal, the primary ingredient of fish feed, presents a financial challenge for an aquaculturist as well as an environmental challenge. Because of these challenges alternate protein sources including soy and marine algae (micro and macro) are now being tested by many fish feed companies. A further alternative being explored is the utilization of the byproducts of harvested marine species such as shrimp heads.
Tropic Seafood is pioneering the way by testing such use of shrimp heads as a primary fish feed for the culture of American Red Snapper.
Once shrimp are produced via traditional shrimp pond farming methods the shrimp are transported to the processing plant. There, shrimp heads are removed and typically ground up and discarded. This is not only wasteful but results in the non-utilization of a viable protein resource.
One of the many experiments in progress at Tropic inside our aquaculture research center in Nassau, Bahamas, involves feeding a group of American Red Snapper a diet which consists solely of shrimp heads obtained from an overseas shrimp farming operation. Growth rates from this have proved to exceed all other commercial pelleted feed diets. Shrimp heads contain approximately 50% protein and a myriad of nutrients and vitamins that satisfy the nutritional needs of the American Red Snapper. An added bonus being the natural Astazanthins (pigments) in the shrimp heads that also provide a natural source of pigmentation for the fish. This results in a natural red color making the fish more appealing, therefore more marketable. Astazanthins are typically added to commercial fish feed (at an additional cost) to yield fish that are of correct color. This holds true for Salmon feed as well.