Do they farm-raise shrimp?

The “I hate Vegetarians” thread in the Pit got me thinking about the event that put me off red meat; I read Ruth Ozeki’s excellent novel “My Year of Meats”. Her thesis isn’t that meat production is cruel to animals, but rather that it’s unhealthy for humans because of the antibiotics and hormones that remain the meat.

Now, I know about the horrors of slaughterhouses, and I’ve actually been in a chicken house (the stench is unbelievable).

But I’m a veteran carnivore, and I gotta have at least some tasty animal flesh in my diet.

So the question for the Teeming Million is: Do folks farm-raise fish or shrimp?

I expect shrimp could be raised in tanks. Freshwater fish, too; I remember going to trout farms as a kid. I’ve sailed past salmon farming arrangements in Puget Sound.

But do I have to worry about horrid hormone and antibiotic additives in the diet of my catfish or shrimp or salmon or tuna?

“It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive”
Bruce Springsteen

There are lots of farm-raised fish, especially salmon, trout, and catfish. However, it’s not like Farmer Smith goes out in his overalls and looks over the crop.

Farm-raised fish will taste a bit different from fish found in the wild because their diet will be a bit different. You just can’t go out and buy the same kind of plankton that’s found in the Grand Banks.

More than you want to know.

My uncle has a fish farm that I help out with on occasion. He only raises and sells for stocking purposes. He regularly gets calls from retailers trying to find fish for food sale. This is especially the case for freshwater varieties; trout, bass, catfish, etc. There are lots of farms raising fish for food out there. The problem is keeping enough clean water flowing through the system so that fish aren’t stressed by disease and parasites. If they’re diseased then they will be treated will various anti-biotics and chemicals.

Shrimp farming is very big business in southeast Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia), and is one of the primary causes of environmental degradation in those countries. Farmers cut down mangrove trees that line the shore. Mangroves are a vitally important ecosystem, filtering fresh-water runoff before it hits the sea and the coral reefs offshore. Without the mangroves, silt covers the reefs, the coral dies, the fish go away, the fishery collapses, the tourism industry collapses, the pet trade collapses…

Meanwhile, back on shore, farmers build shrimp ponds out of the old mangrove swamp. They take baby shrimp from the wild (further harming the fishery), load the ponds with nutrients and anitbiotics, and grow as many shrimp as they can. Natrual tidal action brings sea water into the ponds, and leaves laden with these harmful chemicals. More bad news…

After three-to-five years, on average, the soil has become so polluted with excess food, nutrients, chemicals, shrimp waste, etc., that it becomes poisonous. Shrimp will no longer grow there. The ponds are abandonded. Plants often will not grow there. With great effort, mangroves can be replanted, but success is spotty at best.

And the shrimp? They were sold for cash to the export market. They didn’t go to feed the local populace, and the money (what wasn’t stolen, or hoarded by middlemen) went to pay down the crushing foreign debt. Two or three ecosystems have been destroyed, and the village farmer/fisher is no better off.

And now I understand they’re doing it in Texas…

They’ve been raising shrimp for at least ten years in Texas; it became economically viable (more economically viable?) when Turtle Excluder Devices were mandated in trawler nets. TEDs are spring loaded escape doors in the nets that let the turtles escape rather than drown, but they drop the amount of shrimp you get on a drag by 25-35%, IIRC.

Most, if not all, of the shrimp farms here are on the coast, but someone tried to start one in Buda, which is almost in the middle of the state (The farm never became a reality. The investors sued, but I can’t remember whether they claimed fraud or incompetence on the part of the guys who were setting up the venture.)

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t all the catfish sold in restaurants and stores farm bred. I think I read that the farm-bred ones taste better because they haven’t been swimming around in mud.

My uncle has a closed system for his bass to raise them through the winter and make them grow faster through heavier feeding. It’s basically a multi-level filtering system along with heating to keep the water at a warm and constant temperature. I’ve also heard of using lettuce and other plants to filter out the extra nutrients, thus using a greenhouse along side the fish operation for filtering a closed system. The problem with closed systems is that they are more money up front and are designed for a certain size operation. While I’m sure many fish and shrimp could be raised using a closed system, start up using a coastal system is faster and probably cheaper.

Yes, the catfish sold in stores are farm-raised. The only ecological problem I know about with catfish farming is that is uses so much water. In the Delta, ground water levels are dropping due to increased of water for things like catfish ponds and irrigation.
Crawfish and raised in Louisiana, I believe along with rice farming.
Tilipia is the newest farm raised fish to hit the markets. I don’t care for it myself but I do like catfish if the fillets are thin. Thick ones don’t cook well and are gross.

I almost hate to be the one to add a humorous post to the great answers given, but what the hey!

People have tried to farm-raise shrimp. The problem is keeping them inside the fences. Being so small, they can squeeze right through, and they keep heading for water… :wink:

Believe it or not, there is a tilapia farming enterprise in one of the public housing highrises in Chicago! An economic development program run by surrealist, I gather…

Beruang’s is right on the monet re. most commercial shrimp/prawn farming practices, but for a couple additional details:

  1. There are some captive-bred prawn fry used, but they are inferior, expensive, and require some highlu trained specialists. When Taiwan’s original monopoly got challenged by the Philippines, Thailand, etc… by non-ROC owned facilities, the specialists (mostly from Taiwan) actually sabotaged a number of the overseas breeding programs (viral infections to Grade AAAA tiger prawns, that kind of thing) forcing return to wild-trapped fry. Nearly all reef-fish are farm “ranched”, from wild-caught fry.

  2. The amounts of fresh water used up in the coastal environment to keep the medium salinity needed to grow prawns quickly (~16 to 18 ppt) drained out water tables throughout many coastal areas, causing salt water incursions to the drinking water supply, and are a factor [of many, obviously] in the persistence of some national insurgency movements.

There is a huge tilapia/luttuce/alligator farm in the San Luis valley here in Colorado. Artesian water stocks the fishtanks, a huge hydroponics facility removes fish waste, bacteria wheels remove ammonia and other waste chemicals, and the dead talapia and fish guts not commercially viable are fed to the alligators. Bitchin’.

You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.

–Lyndon B. Johnson

Bacteria wheels are normally populated with Escherichia Lexus.