Can you really make money in the freshwater shrimp farming business?

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked that question, I”d have a lot of nickels.

The short answer is, yes, you can.IF.

First, a little background. Since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, more and more buyers of shrimp are becoming aware of food quality. In the past, consumers bought whenever the price was right. But now, buyers need the extra assurance that what they are buying is clean, good quality shrimp – and at a good price.

Freshwater shrimp farming is a niche that is taking off directly because of this issue of quality. So the answer to the question is Yes – IF you can manage the quality of the water the shrimp grow in. Further, if you can document your management, then you should be looking at a very profitable niche business.

How can you manage the quality of the water? Oxygenation is key. You will need to make sure the shrimp can breathe. Also, knowing what is in the water to begin with is important. For example, is the water running into your ponds coming from a chemical saturated cornfield? Not so good.

How can you calculate your potential? When your ponds or tanks are properly controlled and you feed your shrimp properly, you should yield 600 to 800 pounds, maybe as much as 900 pounds of shrimp per acre of water. There will be an average of 10 shrimp in one pound at the 8-12 count per pound size.

Check the current prices for 8-12 count shrimp that you find in the grocery store. These shrimp are probably raised in suspicious quality salt water in some foreign and unregulated place. Your shrimp will be of a vastly higher quality than these even if you screw up, so these prices will give you a conservative starting point for your calculations.

Managing your water to grow a quality product is 50% of the equation for a profitable business, and effective marketing is the other 50%. You can increase your profit substantially by using creative marketing strategies.

For example, selling directly to your customers at retail rather than selling at wholesale is an easy way to boost profits. Many shrimp production operations have festivals at harvest time and offer a day of fun at the farm and sell crafts and farm products, including shrimp, at premium prices.

One shrimp raiser I know uses a sign in his yard to tell when harvest will be. He says he never has enough to fill the demand of that one day.

Keep in mind, this is one business you can start on the side and with not much investment. I know of another shrimp farmer who uses three-foot deep kiddie pools in his back yard. So, yes, you can easily make a profit raising freshwater shrimp.

Good luck with your new business.