Whiteleg shrimp

Litopenaeus vannamei

Litopenaeus vannamei (Whiteleg shrimp)
Taxonomy
    • Malacostraca
      • Decapoda
        • Penaeidae
          • Litopenaeus vannamei
Distribution
Distribution map: Litopenaeus vannamei (Whiteleg shrimp)

Information


Authors: João L. Saraiva, Jenny Volstorf
Version: 2.0 (2021-12-20) - Revision 1 (2022-06-23)

Cite

Reviewer: Pablo Arechavala-Lopez
Editor: Billo Heinzpeter Studer

Cite as: »Saraiva, João L., and Jenny Volstorf. 2022. Litopenaeus vannamei (Farm: Short Profile). In: FishEthoBase, ed. Fish Ethology and Welfare Group. World Wide Web electronic publication. First published 2017-03-09. Version 2.0 Revision 1. https://fishethobase.net.«





FishEthoScore/farm

Litopenaeus vannamei
LiPoCe
Criteria
Home range
Depth range
Migration
Reproduction
Aggregation
Aggression
Substrate
Stress
Malformations
Slaughter


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

Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential

FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)

Legend

High
Medium
Low
Unclear
No findings



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  Home range

Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
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  Depth range

Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?

It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
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 4; caught at >10 m in California 13 and Pacific coast of Mexico 9, down to 72 m 4. FARM: usually 35-40 cm 8.




3  Migration

Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

AMPHIDROMOUS, EURYHALINE 14.

LARVAE: WILD: PELAGIC offshore 1 2 3 4FARM: 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 15 14 4 5FARM: sea- or brackish water 5, transferred to JUVENILES ponds 5.

JUVENILES: WILD: inshore, usually in mangroves or estuaries 10 16 9, may migrate at 2.5 months to maturate offshore 10FARM: sea- or brackish water 5. For details of holding systems  crit. 1 and 2. LAB: freshwater rearing is possible 17.

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




4  Reproduction

A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

WILD: male courts female with a complex ritual 18 19. No nest building, no broodcare 18 20 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 21 22 23.




5  Aggregation

Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
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 24.

POST-LARVAEWILDno data found yet. FARM​: 20-200 IND/m2 25.

JUVENILES: WILD: 0.001-4.9 IND/m2 depending on time of year 26 27 10. FARM: extensive rearing: 1 IND/m7; semi-intensive: 3-10 IND/m7; intensive: 10-40 IND/m7; 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 24.




6  Aggression

There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: may incur carapace damage from contact with rostrum 28.

POST-LARVAE: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: no aggression found in competition for food 29 30 31.

SPAWNERS: no aggression found in competition for food or mates 16 30 31.




7  Substrate

Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

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

POST-LARVAE: BENTHIC 14, benefit from natural nutrients in the substrate 32 33FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds 6.

JUVENILES: WILD: bottom grazers 10 16, burrowing occasionally 9FARM: reared mostly in earthen ponds except in ultra-intensive methods 5.

SPAWNERS: WILD: do not need specific substrate to mate or spawn 18 19, but depend on substrate for grazing 16 and burrowing 9 34FARM: maturation tanks may have sand substrate 24, spawning tanks have no reports of substrate 24 35.




8  Stress

Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAE: no data found yet.

POST-LARVAE: no data found yet.

JUVENILES: stressed by repeated handling 36.

SPAWNERS: stressed by eyestalk ablation and serotonin injection 37 38 39 if not treated with anaesthetic beforehand and coagulating agent afterwards 37.




9  Malformations

Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?

There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

LARVAEno data found yet.

POST-LARVAEno data found yet.

JUVENILES: no deformities found in intense farming 40. Further research needed on frequency of malformations under other culture conditions.




10  Slaughter

The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Common slaughter method: no data found yet. High-standard slaughter method: electrical stunning established as a humane stunning method in crabs and lobsters (110 volt, 2-5 amp electrical charge for 10 s) 41 42 43. Further research needed to determine whether this applies to L. vannamei as well.




11  Side note: Domestication

Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 44, level 5 being fully domesticated.




12  Side note: Forage fish in the feed

450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?

All age classes: WILD: omnivorous 16 31FARM: fish meal and fish oil may be mostly* replaced by plant-based feed 46 47 48 49.

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




Glossary


LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
WILD = setting in the wild
FARM = setting in farm environment
POST-LARVAE = fully developed individuals, beginning of external sex differentiation; for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
SPAWNERS = adults that are kept as broodstock
AMPHIDROMOUS = migrating between fresh water and sea independent of spawning
EURYHALINE = tolerant of a wide range of salinities
PELAGIC = living independent of bottom and shore of a body of water
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
IND = individuals
BENTHIC = living at the bottom of a body of water, able to rest on the floor
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 = entire life cycle closed in captivity without wild inputs 45



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