Short profile


FishEthoScore of the species

Abbreviated assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

Criteria Li Po Ce
1 Home range ? ?
2 Depth range
3 Migration
4 Reproduction
5 Aggregation
6 Aggression ?
7 Substrate
8 Stress
9 Malformation ? ?
10 Slaughter
FishEthoScore 0 2 3
Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential overall potential of the individuals of the species to experience welfare under improved farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential
 
                    ?     /  
  High    Medium     Low     Unclear  No findings
 
FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)



General remarks

Litopenaeus vannamei is a promising shrimp species for aquaculture and is usually harvested before the individuals reach the adult stage. Unfortunately many aspects of its natural history are being disregarded in the industry. Its dependence on fish in the feed is an issue that is deserving attention but is not solved. Unnatural stocking densities, shallow tanks, absence of substrate in culture tanks, and the highly invasive practice of eyestalk ablation are major problems that hinder this species’ welfare in aquaculture. However, the biggest issue seems to be the absence of data on many aspects of its biology. Further research is needed on natural behaviour as well as on the physiological effects of farming practices.
Providing soft substrate that allows the expression of natural behaviours such as burrowing and grazing, as well as reducing stocking densities are simple measures that should help improve both performance and welfare. Eyestalk ablation has been recently shown to be unnecessary to induce spawning and therefore should not be implemented. 


1. Are minimal farming conditions likely to provide the home range of the species? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
?
Potential
L
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD: planktonic [1] [2] [3] [4]. FARM: flat, 'V' or 'U' shaped tanks: 4-100 m³ [5].

POST-LARVAE: WILD: no data found yetFARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds [6].

JUVENILES: WILDno data found yetFARM: extensive conditions: >5 ha [7]; semi-intensive: 1-20 ha [7]; intensive conditions: 0.3-2 ha [7]; ultra-intensive: <0.3 ha [7].

SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: minimum 3.7 m diameter recommended [8].


2. Are minimal farming conditions likely to provide the depth range of the species? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
L
Potential
M
Certainty

LARVAE: WILDno data found yetFARM: flat, 'V' or 'U' shaped tanks: 4-100 m³ [5].

POST-LARVAE WILD: no data found yet. FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds [6].

JUVENILESWILD: sheltered, shallow estuaries [9] [10] [11] and mangroves [12]. FARM: extensive conditions: 0.4-1 m [7]; semi-intensive conditions: 0.7-1.5 m [7]; intensive conditions: 1.5-2 m [7].

SPAWNERS: WILD: breed offshore in deeper waters [2] [13]; caught at >10 m in California [14] and Pacific coast of Mexico [9], down to 72 m [13]. FARM: usually 35-40 cm [8].


3. Are minimal farming conditions compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
H
Certainty

AMPHIDROMOUS, EURYHALINE [15].

LARVAE: WILD: PELAGIC offshore [1] [2] [3] [4]FARM: sea- or brackish water in lagoons, mangroves and other costal areas with freshwater input [5]. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

POST-LARVAE: WILD: migrate inshore, usually to estuaries or mangroves [2] [16] [15] [4] [5]FARM: sea- or brackish water [5], transferred to JUVENILES ponds [5].

JUVENILES: WILD: inshore, usually in mangroves or estuaries [10] [17] [9], may migrate at 2.5 months to maturate offshore [10]FARM: sea- or brackish water [5]. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2. LAB: freshwater rearing is possible [18].

SPAWNERS: WILD: migrate from coastal areas to maturate [10] or ultimately to spawn offshore [2] [10] [4]FARM: seawater [5]. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.


4. Is the species likely to reproduce in captivity without manipulation? Is there potential to allow for it under farming conditions? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
H
Potential
H
Certainty

WILD: male courts female with a complex ritual [19] [20]. No nest building, no broodcare [19] [21] [4]. FARM: female eyestalk ablation to induce and accelerate maturation [8], male ablation to improve sperm quality [5]. Novel techniques allow ablation-free spawning in commercial scale [22] [23] [24].


5. Is the aggregation imposed by minimal farming conditions likely to be compatible with the natural behaviour of the species? Is there potential to allow for it under farming conditions? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD: occur naturally in large numbers [1] [2] [3] [4]. FARM: 50,000-100,000 IND/m2 in small tanks, 10,000-30,000 in large tanks [25].

POST-LARVAEWILDno data found yet. FARM​: 20-200 IND/m2 [26].

JUVENILES: WILD: 0.001-4.9 IND/m2 depending on time of year [27] [28] [10]. FARM: extensive rearing: 1 IND/m[7]; semi-intensive: 3-10 IND/m[7]; intensive: 10-40 IND/m[7]; ultra-intensive: 100-500 IND/m2 [7].

SPAWNERS: WILDno data found yetFARM: maturation tanks: 4-5 IND/m2 [8]; spawning tanks: 2-3 IND/m2 [25].


6. Is the species likely to be non-aggressive and non-territorial? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
M
Potential
L
Certainty

LARVAE: WILD: no data found yetFARM: may incur carapace damage from contact with rostrum [29].

POST-LARVAEWILD and FARM: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: WILDno data found yetFARM: no aggression found in competition for food [30] [31] [32].

SPAWNERS: WILDno data found yetFARM: no aggression found in competition for food or mates [17] [31] [32].


7. Are minimal farming conditions likely to match the natural substrate and shelter needs of the species? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
H
Potential
H
Certainty

LARVAEWILDPELAGIC [1] [2] [3] [4]FARM: for details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2.

POST-LARVAE: benthic [15], benefit from natural nutrients in the substrate [33] [34]FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds [6].

JUVENILES: WILD: bottom grazers [10] [17], burrowing occasionally [9]FARM: reared mostly in earthen ponds except in ultra-intensive methods [5].

SPAWNERS: WILD: do not need specific substrate to mate or spawn [19] [20], but depend on substrate for grazing [17] and burrowing [9] [35]FARM: maturation tanks may have sand substrate [25], spawning tanks have no reports of substrate [25] [36].


8. Are minimal farming conditions (handling, confinement etc.) likely not to stress the individuals of the species? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

LARVAE: no data found yet.

POST-LARVAE: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: stressed by repeated handling [37].

SPAWNERS: stressed by eyestalk ablation and serotonin injection [38] [39] [40] if not treated with anaesthetic beforehand and coagulating agent afterwards [38].


9. Are malformations of this species likely to be rare under farming conditions? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

?
Likelihood
?
Potential
L
Certainty

LARVAEno data found yet.

POST-LARVAEno data found yet.

JUVENILES: no deformities found in intense farming [41]. Further research needed on frequency of malformations under other culture conditions.


10. Is a humane slaughter protocol likely to be applied under minimal farming conditions? Is there potential for improvement? How certain are these findings?

L
Likelihood
M
Potential
M
Certainty

Common slaughter method: no data found yet. Electrical stunning established as a humane stunning method in crabs and lobsters (110 volt, 2-5 amp electrical charge for 10 s) [42] [43] [44]. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to L. vannamei as well.


Side note: Domestication

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 [45], level 5 being fully domesticated.


Side note: Feeding without components of forage fishery

All age classes: WILD: omnivorous [17] [32]FARM: fish meal and fish oil may be mostly* replaced by plant-based feed [47] [48] [49] [50].

* partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%


Glossary

AMPHIDROMOUS = migrating between fresh water and sea independent of spawning
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 = entire life cycle closed in captivity without wild inputs [46]
EURYHALINE = tolerant of a wide range of salinities
FARM = setting in farm environment
IND = individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
PELAGIC = living independent of bottom and shore of a body of water
POST-LARVAE = fully developed individuals, beginning of external sex differentiation; for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild


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