Version: B | 1.1 (2022-06-23)
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)
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.
LARVAE: WILD: planktonic 1 2 3 4. FARM: flat, 'V' or 'U' shaped tanks: 4-100 m³ 5.
POST-LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds 6.
JUVENILES: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: 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.
LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: flat, 'V' or 'U' shaped tanks: 4-100 m³ 5.
POST-LARVAE WILD: no data found yet. FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds 6.
JUVENILES: WILD: 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.
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.
AMPHIDROMOUS, EURYHALINE 14.
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 15 14 4 5. FARM: 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 10. FARM: 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 4. FARM: seawater 5. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
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.
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.
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-LARVAE: WILD: no 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/m2 7; semi-intensive: 3-10 IND/m2 7; intensive: 10-40 IND/m2 7; ultra-intensive: 100-500 IND/m2 7.
SPAWNERS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: maturation tanks: 4-5 IND/m2 8; spawning tanks: 2-3 IND/m2 24.
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.
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.
LARVAE: WILD: PELAGIC 1 2 3 4. FARM: for details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
POST-LARVAE: BENTHIC 14, benefit from natural nutrients in the substrate 32 33. FARM: transferred to JUVENILES ponds 6.
JUVENILES: WILD: bottom grazers 10 16, 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 18 19, but depend on substrate for grazing 16 and burrowing 9 34. FARM: maturation tanks may have sand substrate 24, spawning tanks have no reports of substrate 24 35.
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.
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.
LARVAE: no data found yet.
POST-LARVAE: no data found yet.
JUVENILES: no deformities found in intense farming 40. Further research needed on frequency of malformations under other culture conditions.
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.
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.
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 31. FARM: fish meal and fish oil may be mostly* replaced by plant-based feed 46 47 48 49.
* partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%
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
EURYHALINE = tolerant of a wide range of salinities
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
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 during the spawning season; in farms: adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild
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