Along the east coast, vannamei shrimp hatcheries now benefit from a daily supply of fresh, clean and Vibrio-free nauplii, relieving them of the anxiety of on-site hatching of Artemia cysts.
Notwithstanding the country or region, along the farmed shrimp value chain, a steady supply of good quality post larvae is a major prerequisite. Upstream, in hatcheries, Artemia nauplii continue to be a crucial live feed. Traditionally, hatcheries buy dry Artemia cysts in cans which have to be hatched, but this hatching procedure is easier said than done.
Among the list of challenges faced by fish and shrimp hatcheries hatching Artemia for in-house use include the following:
- Hatcheries need to buy sufficient Artemia cyst stocks which can be a drain on cash flow.
- Choosing the right Artemia brand to use can be difficult; there are more than 100 brands available in the market with varied hatching percentages.
- Hatching percentage as guaranteed on the label or by the supplier is seldom achieved.
- Some hatching conditions such as light, temperature and aeration are difficult to control and can result in a daily oversupply or shortage of Artemia nauplii.
- Separation of live nauplii from the non-hatched cysts and empty shells is a major challenge.
- The Artemia nauplii should preferably be hatched as Instar 1 to retain maximum nutrition.
- Bacteria bloom fast during hatching and are difficult to control, often resulting in heavily contaminated Artemia nauplii which adversely affect the health of the shrimp and quality of the water in the post larvae tank.
Since 2013, hatcheries in Thailand have the option of using fresh Artemia nauplii. In the past year, hatcheries, mainly around Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and in Lampung, Indonesia have been enjoying the same benefits. In India, the Artemia Nauplii Center is operated by I&V Bio India Pvt Ltd, a joint venture of the Geekay group, a market leader in post larvae production in India and I&V BIO group with its headquarters in Thailand.
Setting a new standard in India
I&V Bio India Pvt Ltd’s Artemia Nauplii Center in Vemavaram Village, Thondangi Mandal East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh is ideally located at the Kakinada/Tuni coast, which is a major hub for vannamei shrimp post larvae production. There are more than 200 hatcheries, from small hatcheries with annual production of 45-50 million post larvae/cycle, medium size hatcheries (75-100 million post larvae/cycle) and large hatchery groups producing 100 million post larvae/cycle. Usually medium size to large hatcheries may have 50-100 tanks producing 1.5 to 2 million post larvae/tank. Hatcheries operate a total of 12 cycles/year with 3-4 sections providing for some operational downtime. To the north, around Visakhapatnam are 25 hatcheries and further south around Ongole are 30 hatcheries where 50-60% are large ones. Going further south along the east coast towards Pondicherry, there are about 25 large hatchery groups. These are current and potential clients for I&V Bio India.
“This facility in Kakinada allows us to reach customers as far south as in Mahabalipuram although the journey takes a very long time. Our first customer was the Manjunatha group of hatcheries in Ongole. It was their consultant who convinced the group to buy our fresh Artemia nauplii, which is free of contamination. They tested post larvae performance in their ponds and 3 months later with good results, were totally convinced of the benefits of using our nauplii. We continue to supply 40 trays/ cycle for the hatchery which produces 80 million post larvae/ cycle,” said Srinidhi, Head-Operations at I&V Bio India.
Geekay Hatcheries is a pioneer in vannamei post larvae production, operating out of Gudur, SPSR, Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh. Back in 2015, Frank Indigne (founder of I&V BIO) together with Y. Krishna Reddy, founder of Geekay Hatcheries agreed to set up this state-of-the-art facility in Kakinada with the same capacity as the Artemia Nauplii Centre in Phang-nga, Thailand. Besides its shrimp post larvae production business, Geekay is also active in the import of aquaculture and aeration equipment from Taiwan and in the development of complete aeration and farming technology.
“We are now producing daily 1,000 trays (800g per tray) Artemia nauplii instar 1 (INSTART 1) in a production facility of 2,000m2 with a total of 100 hatching tanks of 2,000L each. A second facility next to the existing one is also ready to cope with the increased demand during peak season. Essentially, what we supply in each tray is equivalent to a tin of Artemia cysts (usually 425g) with 70% hatching rates,” explained Srinidhi. “Our offer is a consistent product which enables the hatcheries to follow strict biosecurity protocols relieving them of the burden of hatching Artemia cysts in often sub-optimal conditions.”
Vibrio free production
“Our production protocols follow strictly those set up in Thailand by co-founder Luk Van Nieuwenhove. Cysts imported from Russia are processed in the I&V Bio’s technology center in Belgium. After processing, the cysts are packed in 12kg bags and exported to India. The regulation in India requires that we send to CIBA (Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture) to test for OIE listed diseases. A health certificate is issued after 7 days. This is an important step as we need to ensure that only disease free Artemia cysts are used. Later, in the final tray with fresh Artemia nauplii, we need to ensure that the nauplii are free,” said Srinidhi.
This control of Vibrio levels is a major priority at the center. “During production, we have recently upgraded our ultra-filtration water treatment systems. We must make sure that the water we use is Vibrio free and free of Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) spores. Another test which is demanded by the Indian government is for antibiotic screening. At our own laboratory daily analyses are performed on Vibrio, pathogens for early mortality syndrome/acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (EMS/AHPND) and EHP. We also send out samples to a laboratory at the Tamil Nadu University and also to a private laboratory in Chennai,” said Kishore Kumar, in charge of production at the center.
During hatching, several parameters need to be checked and a custom-made program monitors and registers each of the hatching steps until harvest. A separate program ensures that nothing will go wrong during the cooling and disinfection procedure.
Logistics is key
Delivery on time is key to the successful operations of this center. Orders for the fresh or frozen nauplii are received the day before and based on these, the production team commences operations. During packing, hygiene procedures are in place, and the quality control team (QC) monitors that 800g of nauplii goes into each tray. Sealed trays are packed in crushed ice and put into cooler boxes for transport.
“Getting logistics correct is crucial to get the trays to our customers. The logistics team carry out deliveries in small trucks and we cannot take any chances of late or non-deliveries,” said Lokesh Kumar, Head-Operations.
The distance travelled by the logistics team can range from a few hours for hatcheries around Kakinada to 10 hours and 12 hours to Gudur and Chennai respectively.
Trust leads to success
Today, I&V Bio India has secured trust from leading hatchery players for their ready-to-use nauplii. Aside from the Manjunatha group, the Sapthagiri Hatchery group with 12 hatcheries is another client.
“This trust the hatcheries have in us has led to our successful business,” said Y. Kavitha Reddy, Managing Director. “Hatcheries are now willing to buy not only Vibrio free fresh nauplii but also nauplii with minimal size variation. We are glad that we could contribute to the hatchery industry in India. Slowly, more hatcheries are realising that this supply of fresh nauplii is an option and that they do not need to worry about hatching percentage and contamination of nauplii.”
The next step for the company is to increase capacity. There is already an extension to the existing centre in Kakinada, adding another 100 tanks. Capacity will be increased to 2,000 trays/day. In the pipeline is the establishment of Artemia nauplii centers nearer to hatcheries in Gudur, Chennai and Srikalulam.
Meanwhile, Frank Indigne said, I&V BIO’s goal is to be the preferred supplier of high-tech products, which are easy to use and are delivered daily directly to the end-user. We want to be present in all main farmed shrimp and fish markets world-wide through the establishment of local facilities with local partners. By the end of 2019, the group will have six operational nauplii facilities in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ecuador.
In addition, Indigne said that to strengthen the health of shrimp post larvae, I&V BIO enriches the Artemia nauplii with high quality DHA (docosahexanenoic acid) emulsion, algal extracts high in amino acids and carotenoids and followed by ELVAN (a blend of herb extracts, proven for its powerful anti-vibrio effect and its prebiotic properties) to produce (INSTART 2 ENERGY), in a three- step process.