While industry professionals may live for pools, it turns out that an unexpected species lives in them.
Shrimp farming is becoming a booming business in the Midwest, with such enterprises springing up on traditional farms in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. And the “nurseries” for the shrimp can be tanks, ponds -- or aboveground swimming pools.
Farmers are taking buildings that previously housed other things, such as machinery, and filling them with pools typically purchased from retail outlets. The water is kept at 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. In an enclosed space, that makes for a sauna-room-like atmosphere, just the way the critters like it.
The shrimp usually are brought from hatcheries, often Florida based, and the larvae or juvenile shrimp arrive in polystyrene containers. They’re put into 12-foot (more or less) pools covered with netting or a tarp so the shrimp can’t jump out. Each vessel typically holds more than 2,000 crustaceans, and different pools house shrimp in various stages of development.
Farming the shrimp requires monitoring two or three times a day to, among other things, keep tabs on the oxygen levels. The water typically is treated with a biofloc system to manage the critters’ metabolic waste. Fed high-protein diets, the shrimp grow quickly: It generally only takes four to six months for them to reach the desired weight.
While the shrimp farms aren’t full-time operations, they are lucrative -- shrimp can sell for $18 a pound.
The market for locally raised shrimp is growing. It has been attributed to a concern over the fact that nearly all shrimp eaten in the United States is imported from Southeast Asia and South America -- to the tune of more than 1.5 billion pounds annually — and it isn’t inspected as thoroughly as crustaceans reared in the United States.