Optimizing Shrimp Robustness and Sustainability through Improved Aquatic Environments

Shrimp are intimately connected with their aquatic environment. In the same way that clean air is imperative for human health, optimum water quality is essential for aquatic animal health and welfare. As benthic organisms, shrimp spend most of their production life in contact with the sediment, so maintaining optimal soil quality is also equally important. If unmanaged, the aquaculture pond can become a soup of undesirable substances and components, including toxic metabolites and pathogens. Therefore, a proactive pond management program is needed to:

  • Maximize productivity, as a suboptimal environment will negatively impact health and performance
  • Support health management programs and pathogen control
  • Reduce the need for lengthy and often expensive ‘downtime’ between cycles
  • Improve sustainability, in part by reducing environmental effluents.

Nitrogen cycle

The nitrogen cycle is the circulation of nitrogen in various forms, through nature (Figure 1). It is also naturally occurring in shrimp ponds. In the aquaculture setting, organic matter can be derived from three main sources:

  • Uneaten or undigested feed (faeces)
  • Phytoplankton
  • Dead or decaying animals.

The first part of the nitrogen cycle, nitrification, typically occurs in aerobic environments and is the conversion of ammonia to nitrate, with a nitrite intermediate. Subsequently, denitrification converts nitrate back to harmless atmospheric nitrogen to complete the cycle. Since denitrification occurs without oxygen, this process will occur in the pond sediment.

Figure 1: Nitrogen cycle. Source: dsm-firmenich
Figure 2: Toxicity of nitrogen waste. In general, ammonia is the most dangerous, followed by nitrite and nitrate. Source: dsm-firmenich

Toxicity of nitrogen waste

All three nitrogen wastes (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) have the potential to negatively affect shrimp health and production. Primarily, ammonia and nitrite will cause gill irritation and respiratory problems, whereas excess nitrate acts as a fertilizer and may cause a phytoplankton bloom, indirectly impacting shrimp health.

Hydrogen sulfide

In addition to nitrogen waste, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is also a by-product of organic matter degradation. It is a highly toxic, colorless gas with the characteristic odor of rotting eggs. H2S is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ as it interferes with oxygen exchange and respiration. Oxidation of H2S, to sulfate, is a key part of the naturally occurring sulfur cycle.

Importance of pond management

Although naturally occurring, artificially high organic inputs often mean the natural pace of the nitrogen and sulfur cycle cannot keep up, which is why proactive pond management is needed. The use of probiotics as a bioremediation tool has become well-established.

dsm-firmenich approach

AquaStar® product line offers users a flexible and differentiated bioremediation solution, comprising of a multi-genera probiotic formulation and enzyme cocktail to maximize pond productivity.

Feed enzymes offer a nutritional solution to improving water quality, through better digestibility and less waste. This is particularly relevant for nitrogen and phosphorous which are key indicators of biological change.

Challenges of shrimp farming

Learn about how at dsm-firmenich we can help you overcome the challenges of sustainable shrimp farming


  • AquaStar®

    AquaStar® comprises the most complete range of aquaculture probiotics for hatchery, feed mill and farms to improve growth and enhance pond and water quality.

  • RONOZYME® ProAct

    RONOZYME® ProAct is DSM best-in-class feed protease which increases protein digestion across a range of feed ingredients, thereby reducing feed costs. RONOZYME® ProAct optimizes amino acids digestion, reduces costs, mitigates effects of feed protein variability, reduces adverse effects of anti-nutritional factors as well as improves Gastrointestinal Functionality.

  • RONOZYME® HiPhos

    RONOZYME® HiPhos takes feed phytase to the next level. Far less inorganic phosphorous needs to be added to the diet, resulting in substantial savings on feed costs.

  • RONOZYME® WX2,000

    RONOZYME® WX2,000 degrades xylans, the major antinutritional components in cereals grains, improving the release of entrapped energy and nutrients, reducing feed costs.

  • HiPhorius™

    HiPhorius™ raises the market standard for phytase technology, delivering consistent improvements in animal performance through efficient phosphorous utilization.