Photos by Gail C. Keck
SEAFOOD ENTREPRENEUR: Ashtyn Chen started The Ocean’s Friend Aquaculture in 2015 and is now producing about 2,100 pounds of whiteleg shrimp per month in central Ohio.
LITTLE LIVESTOCK: It takes about 4.5 months for Chen to raise shrimp from newly hatched babies to harvest size.
FRESH HARVEST: Retail customers can have fresh shrimp caught in a net and taken directly out of tanks. Wholesale customers also get shrimp delivered quickly after harvest, preserving the fresh flavor.
OCEAN IMITATOR: The biofloc waste removal system Chen uses mimics an ocean ecosystem, using microbes in the saltwater to consume shrimp waste and provide part of the food source for the shrimp. Water is continually drawn from the bottom of the tanks and discharged at the surface to provide constant circulation.
AIR HANDLER: A regenerative blower system moves air to each of the tanks to keep water circulating.
CLIMATE CONTROL: The water temperature in the shrimp tanks is regulated using a gas-fueled boiler system. Warm water is circulated through the red hoses to transfer heat to the water in the tanks. The plastic covers on the tanks help retain heat and also prevent shrimp from jumping out of the tanks.
TEMPERATURE CONTROL: As water in the heating hoses moves through the facility, the temperature drops. The water flow through the hoses can be increased or decreased with valves to maintain the desired temperature of 78 to 80 degrees F within the tanks.
SOLIDS SETTLING: The biofloc aquaculture system does not use filters to remove waste. Instead, water is periodically transferred to settling tanks, where excess solids are allowed to settle to the bottom. Chen is experimenting with systems raise salt-tolerant vegetables using the nutrients in the solids removed from the tanks.