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What are you feeding your shrimps?

Shrimp Nutrition and Shrimp Food Ingredients

In a recent post, we explained how daily values for several nutrients are required for shrimp and fish. Essentially, we may synthesize the research into five major nutrient categories that are most critical for shrimp and fish health in an artificial environment.

In summary, the dietary nutritional requirements of all aquaculture species may be divided into five categories: proteins, lipids, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.

Shrimp Nutrition and Shrimp Food Ingredients
Shrimp Nutrition & Shrimp Food Ingredients

Essential Nutrients - Proteins and Amino acids

Proteins are among the most significant elements of all living cells and, with the exception of water, constitute the biggest chemical group in the animal body; the typical fish corpse includes 75% water, 16% protein, 6% fat, and 3% ash. Proteins are crucial components of both the cell nucleus and the cell protoplasm, and hence make up the majority of muscular tissues, internal organs, brain, nerves, and skin.

Because practically all biochemical processes are catalyzed by enzymes consisting of amino acid residues, amino acids play a major role in cellular metabolism. Amino acids are required for carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, the synthesis of tissue proteins and many important compounds (e.g., adrenalin, thyroxine, melanin, histamine, porphyrins - hemoglobin, pyrimidines and purines - nucleic acids, choline, folic acid, and nicotinic acid - vitamins, taurine - bile salts, etc.)

The dietary Essential Amino Acids for fish and shrimp are: Threonine, Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Methionine, Tryptophan, Lysine, Histidine, Arginine, Phenylalanine

All amino acids (whether supplied from entire proteins or amino acid supplements) must be delivered to the tissue at the same time for efficient protein synthesis to occur. If this balance is not reached, amino acid catabolism (breakdown) occurs, resulting in a decrease of growth and feed efficiency.

When compared to animals fed protein-bound amino acids or 'whole' proteins, fish or juvenile shrimp fed diets containing a large proportion of the dietary protein in the form of 'free' or crystalline amino acids have sub-optimal development and feed conversion efficiency.

Now that we understand the role of amino acids and proteins in the health and nutritional balance for our shrimps, let’s move on to different types of feed elements. We will look into Lipids.

Essential Nutrients - LIPDS

Lipids are a diverse category of compounds found in plant and animal tissues that have the virtue of being water insoluble but soluble in organic solvents like ether, chloroform, and benzene.

Lipids are key metabolic energy sources (ATP) and their dietary counterpart might be employed to save the more important protein for growth in this case.

Lipids act as biological transporters for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K absorption.

Lipids are a source of important fatty acids, which are necessary for effective lipid transport as well as the preservation and integrity of cellular membranes.

Essential steroids are derived from lipids, and these steroids perform a variety of biological roles.

From the standpoint of feed technology, lipids serve as lubricants for the passage of feed through pellet dies, as dust-reducing agents in feeds, and as factors in feed palatability.

So lipids are found to be essential in order to reduce mortality, reduce skeletal and exoskeleton erosion problems, decreased blood cell volume, liver degeneration, poor spawning efficiency, low hatching/survival rate.

Also lipids play a major role in growth, appetite, muscular dystrophy, body coloring, anemia, lethargy, brown-yellow pigmentation, abnormality in molting.

Essential Nutrients - CARBS

Carbohydrates are the third most common category of organic substances in the mammalian body, after proteins and lipids. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are the most abundant organic nutrients in plant tissues. Glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, starch, glycogen, chitin, and cellulose are all examples of carbohydrate substances.

Carbohydrates may be considered non-essential dietary components for fish and shrimp, although they should be included in realistic diets because:

  • Non Carnivorous fish and shrimp species can use them as a cheap source of vital nutritional energy.

  • Their careful application in realistic diets can allow more valuable protein to be used for development rather than energy provision (a process known as 'protein sparing').

  • When utilized as binders, they serve as crucial dietary elements for the production of water-stable diets (ie. gelatinized starch, alginates, gums).

  • Certain carbohydrate sources can improve feed palatability and minimize dust content in final feeds by acting as dietary components (ie. cane or beet molasses).

Essential Nutrients - Vitamins

Vitamins are divided into 2 subgroups, fat and water soluble vitamins.

Vitamin A, for example, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is coupled with a particular protein (opsin) to generate a visual pigment that aids in the receipt and transmission of light from the eye to the brain. Vitamin A is also needed to keep the mucous-secreting epithelial tissues of the reproductive system, skin, bone, and gastro-intestinal tract healthy.

On the other hand, Water-Soluble vitamins are mostly related with metabolism and the synthetization of fatty acids, fats and proteins as such B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), H (Biotin) are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Whereas vitamins like B3 (Niacin), B12 (Cyanocobalamin) and Inositol, Folic Acid are essential for the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins and enhancement of blood formation and the maintenance of nerve tissue. These functions result in better pigment coloration and overall skin health in shrimp and fish.

However, vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is required for the conversion of folic acid into its metabolically active form of tetrahydro folic acid, for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, and for the synthesis of steroid hormones which results in better vitality and more reproduction.

The feeding habits of the bred fish or shrimp species. Shrimp, for example, which consume their meal slowly over several hours, require higher dietary vitamin levels to compensate for the increasing loss of water-soluble vitamins due to leaching.

It is also important to consider the natural fertility of the water body and the total biomass of the fish or shrimp species stocked; the importance of dietary vitamin supplementation increases with increasing stocking density and decreasing natural food availability per animal stocked.

So far we learned that vitamins are necessary to enhance the intake of essential nutrients and reduce the amount of leftovers. Though some important factors are still not addressed and this is where we dive into the minerals.

Essential Nutrients - Minerals

The essential mineral elements are usually classified into two main groups according to their concentration in the animal body; the macro-elements and the micro-elements.

Macro-elements are : Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Sulfur.

Trace elements are: Iron. Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iodine, Cobalt, Nickel, Fluorine, Vanadium, Chromium, Molybdenum, Selenium, Tin and Silicon.

As you notice those are the most common elements that we find in shrimp food today and in plant fertilizers and yes while most of them are important to our ecosystem, some can be a source of problems.

As a general function for minerals Macro or Micro, they are an essential constituent of skeletal structures. They regulate how a shrimp stresses or accepts a certain water condition. They regulate the pH of the shrimp cell and body fluids. They serve as essential components of many enzymes, vitamins, hormones and pigmentations.

To specify what each does, we will summarize the finding by:

  • Calcium is an essential component of bone, cartilage and the crustacean exoskeleton.

  • Inorganic phosphates serve as important buffers to regulate the normal acid base balance (ie. pH) of animal body fluids.

  • Magnesium stimulates muscle and nerve irritability (contraction)

  • Potassium is also required for glycogen and protein synthesis, and the metabolic breakdown of glucose.

  • Sodium plays a specific role in the absorption of carbohydrates.

  • Sulfur is an essential component of several key amino acids (methionine and cystine), vitamins (thiamine and biotin), the hormone insulin, and the crustacean exoskeleton.

  • Iron is an essential component of the respiratory pigments hemoglobin and myoglobin.

  • Zinc is believed to play a positive role in wound healing.

  • Manganese is an essential component of the enzyme pyruvate carboxylase

  • Copper is also believed to be necessary for the formation of the pigment melanin and consequently skin pigmentation, for the formation of bone and connective tissue.

  • Cobalt is essential for red blood cell formation and the maintenance of nerve tissue.

  • Iodine is an integral component of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine and tri-iodo-thyronine, and as such is essential for regulating the metabolic rate of all body processes.

  • Selenium influences the absorption and retention of vitamin E.

  • Chromium is believed to play an important role in cholesterol and amino acid metabolism.

While most shrimp breeders and enthusiasts may differ, the debate that follows will focus on non-essential features. Because they are bi-products of important nutrients and may be found in the constitution of many of the other nutrients we discussed, we label them as non-essential. However, using today's technology and understanding, we may directly supply such nutrients to our shrimp or fish as supplements in order to achieve particular traits linked to body development and pigment color. In other words, biology and biotechnology allow us to manipulate DNA.

NON Essential Nutrients - Enzymes

We've already discussed necessary nutrients, so let's move on to the latest trend in enzyme feeding. Enzymes, on the other hand, are a material generated by a living creature that works as a catalyst to initiate a biological process. Some aquaculturists and aquaculture experts are investigating the feeding of enzymes to shrimp and fish, and have discovered that it is a significant nutritional advancement in the aquaculture business in recent years.

Exogenous enzymes are currently widely employed as animal feed additives all over the world. Enzyme supplementation can also aid in the elimination of antinutritional substances and promote the use of dietary energy and amino acids, resulting in improved fish/shrimp performance.

The use of enzymes is most likely a solution to the problem of excessive larval mortality in aquatic species. When compared to that of adults, the digestive system of aquatic animal larvae is shorter and less developed. The use of enzymes to the larval diet might be beneficial.

Sources of Enzymes :

Enzymes are produced in every living organism from the higher animals and plants to the simplest unicellular forms of life as they are essential for metabolic process. Microorganisms that are generally involved in production of various enzymes are bacteria like Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lentus, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Bacillus stearothermophilus.

quick list of enzymes and their functions
Quick list of enzymes and their functions

NON Essential Nutrients - Amino Acids

On one hand, Arginine, methionine, valine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, histidine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan are required by shrimp (Cowey and Forster, 1971; Shewbart, Mies, and Ludwig, 1973; New, 1976; Coloso and Cruz, 1980; Kanazawa and Teshima, 1981; Piedad-Pascual and Kanazaw. Those amino acids are closely related to protein which is considered the building block of nutrition.

On the other hand, of the nonessential amino acids, cystine has a sparing effect for methionine and tyrosine for phenylalanine.

Kanazawa (1989) found that shrimp larvae showed good growth and high survival rates when the amino acid profile of the diet simulated that of the body protein of larval prawn. Deshimaru and Shigeno (1972) also advised that shrimp feeds should contain a similar amino acid profile to that of the shrimp species, as protein nutritive value is based on its amino acid composition (Wilson and Poe, 1985).

NON Essential Nutrients - Carotene

Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigment colors which promote health; you have probably heard of beta carotene which has an orange color. Astaxanthin which is found in certain algae on the other hand is red and it lends its color to many marine creatures like lobsters, crab, shrimp and ocean salmon as well as giving flamingos their trademark pink hue.

Unlike Amino Acids, Carotenes (Alpha carotene, Beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene) are rarely synthesized by our aquatic pets and freshwater shrimps. However some carotenoids like Beta Carotene and Astaxanthin account for 86 to 96 percent of total carotenoids in the exoskeleton of shrimps.

So, giving the shrimps an extra supplement as an alternative to those elements with proper methods and dosage like dried Spirulina and carotenoid extracted from aquatic algae improves coloration in shrimp and are potentially cheaper than synthetic chemical compound products such as astaxanthin and beta-carotene available commercially as health supplements.

So, what I've learned is that you should treat your shrimps the same way you treat yourself. If you take amino acids or proteins when you go to the gym and workout, or if you go to the beach and take carotene... It's possible that your shrimp will require it as well.

You may now try to reproduce what is most likely to help your ecosystem now that you've studied and learnt about the many sorts of ingredients required for fish and shrimp in aquaculture. I recognize that all aspects are vital and that they function in concert, just as we people do. I'm not here to advise you what you should do in your situation. I created PUDR in order to meet the needs of my tank, and I believe it meets the needs of the majority of you. Take a look and try it out.


Thank you for reading, for additional details and in depth literature you can check the links below:

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