We make many bold claims on our website. As interest in Sun Shrimp grows, and more and more people are discovering the amazing taste of Sun Shrimp, they want to know more about our company, our shrimp and our process. Could all our claims really be true?
In the interest of full transparency, here are some answers to commonly asked questions:
- How long does it take to grow Sun Shrimp?
Generally, it takes about 6 months from hatch to harvest. If the conditions are right, shrimp can grow incredibly fast. At Sun Shrimp we try to maintain optimum conditions for our shrimp year-round.
- What species is Sun Shrimp?
Our shrimp are known as p.vannamei They are also known as Pacific White Shrimp or Ecuadorian Whites. These shrimp are native to the Pacific Coast between Northern Peru and Southern Mexico. p.vannamei are the most cultured shrimp in the world.
- When you say optimum conditions water, what does that mean?
While shrimp are very versatile and can adapt to many conditions, they perform best when the water temperature is around 85 degrees F (30 degrees C). Shrimp can handle water salinity between nearly fresh water found in mangroves after a big rain storm, to full strength seawater. At Sun Shrimp we hatch our shrimp in full strength seawater and as they get older, we reduce the salinity to about 75% of ocean water; because they seem to be the most productive at that salinity.
- Where do you get your water from?
Even though our facilities are on an island surrounded by salt water, we have an 1,800 foot deep water well. This water has a perfect salinity; it is pristinely clean and completely free from any contamination.
- How is it possible to only use very little water?
Generally, when we fill a tank with water, this water stays in that tank for most of that shrimp's life. We do add some water for evaporation losses, but other than that, we add very little water. When we harvest the tank, most of the water is recycled.
- Doesn’t the water get dirty in the tanks if you don’t replace it?
It would if it weren’t managed properly, but we use what is called a “biofloc” method. Just like a well-balanced aquarium, where the water, shrimp and filter work as one to maintain proper water conditions, our biofloc method encourages the growth of all kinds of natural bacteria and critters that help maintain the water quality. Just like an aquarium, just on a much larger scale.
- Where does the water go when you are done using it?
Our facility is certified by the Florida Division of Aquaculture as a zero-discharge facility. What this means is that we do not discharge any water from our land. We operate systems and ponds to clean and neutralize the water of all wastes. While we end up re-using most of the water, any excess water is stored in very large Evaporation and Percolation ponds.
- So what do the shrimp eat?
Shrimp eat almost 24 hours per day. They eat pretty much anything (even each other). The reason for the name Sun Shrimp is pretty simple, the Sun shines into our tanks and promotes a huge amount of different algae, copepods and other low level sea life to grow in our tanks. The amazing deep red color Sun Shrimp have when cooked is due to the level of algae and nutrients available in our tanks; kind of like a salad bar for shrimp. We also feed our shrimp a feed pellet that is made from wheat, soy, fishmeal, and essential vitamins and minerals.
- You claim to be sustainable, but if you use fish meal, doesn’t that damage the oceans?
The fish meal only makes up a small portion of the shrimp feed, and when you consider that shrimp has one of the most efficient FCR (Feed Conversion Ratio’s) around, the actual calculations show that Sun Shrimp actually produce more fish meal then they use. You see, Americans only eat shrimp tails which is only 60% of the shrimp. The shrimp heads are used as a valuable ingredient to produce other feeds, and thus Sun Shrimp are a net positive.
One other very important point is that the fish meal and fish oils used in our feeds, are all from certified sustainable US based sources. This fish meal comes from sustainable fisheries that are managed by the US government to ensure these fisheries remain viable.
- Why does it take so many people to produce Sun Shrimp?
It starts with our genetic team that uses state of the art DNA based selection techniques to select the best breeders. Then we have our maturation team who stock breeders and pamper them so they can spawn strong eggs. Our larviculture team babies newly hatched eggs for about 22 days. Then our culturing team stocks them in our grow-out tanks. They check the tanks every three hours to ensure all water conditions are perfect for the shrimp. When ready for harvest, our harvest crew quickly and efficiently harvest all the shrimp in the tank. The fresh harvested shrimp are delivered to our onsite processing plant where the shrimp are quickly washed, sorted and depending on the orders, either packed whole, de-headed or peeled and deveined. In addition to these teams, we have our operations team, maintenance team and management team. We work 24/7, 365 days per year. It is a lot of hard work, but we all love what we do. It takes a lot to grow one pound of Sun Shrimp.
- Why is the use of antibiotics such an issue in the shrimp industry?
Disease is one of the leading problems in the shrimp farming industry around the world. Farmers are in a continuous battle against disease, as many of their practices are not effective at keeping disease out. Once a farm has had disease, it is very hard to get rid of it. So that is why they use all kinds of antibiotics and other medicines. Our Sun Shrimp facility is completely disease free (certified Specific Pathogen Free by the USDA). We have a very comprehensive biosecurity program in place to make sure disease stays out. By being fully disease free, maintaining optimum water conditions, and using completely unspoiled water from deep down in the earth, we can grow Sun Shrimp without having to use any antibiotics or medicines.
- How come you do not have to use preservatives when everyone else does?
When we harvest shrimp, we immediately dunk them in an ice bath, just water and ice…We never use sodium bisulfite (an industrial bleaching agent which preserves the shrimp and sodium tripolyphosphate) used by many other farms; it is a rehydrating agent that is applied at the processing plant to make the shrimp gain water weight. Unfortunately, unless the shrimp you see on sale specifically state that they are chemical free, then they will have been treated with these chemicals. Once we harvest our shrimp, we immediately take them to our onsite processing plant where they are packed within hours and shipped to our customers. By making sure the shrimp are kept at a very low temperature, we are able to offer high quality shrimp preservative free. You get a clean, crisp chemical free…pure shrimp taste.
- You say only you can offer fresh shrimp. I see fresh shrimp in my local market all the time?
About 90% of our shrimp is imported, mostly from Asia and central America. This shrimp is shipped in frozen containers because it would be too costly and impracticable to ship fresh shrimp. The shrimp you see in the supermarket is just thawed, look closely and you will see statements saying “re-freshed”, or “fresh-frozen” or “previously frozen”. As a rule of thumb, if the shrimp has been imported, you can be pretty sure it was frozen. As far as the USA domestic wild catch industry, they too freeze all their shrimp on their boats as they stay out sometimes for weeks at the time. There are always exceptions, and there are still some “day boats” that return every night, but pretty much all shrimp offered for sale in the US is frozen. Sun Shrimp are available fresh year-round. It is what makes us unique.
- Why are your shrimp so expensive?
It simply costs more to produce them here in the USA. We have to pay US labor rates; we have to abide by US Federal and State food, environmental, labor and safety laws. So, our cost to grow shrimp is higher, but you are also getting a very high-quality shrimp that you simply cannot compare to the commodity shrimp. By shipping fresh shrimp with only a limited shelf life, we do not have the luxury of time and or storing our shrimp. That is why we mainly use overnight or 2-day express shipping and that adds a huge amount to our cost. Hopefully in the coming years, with your support, we will be able to increase our production. Once we have more production, then some of the larger supermarket chains will be able to offer Sun Shrimp on a continuous basis. Once we get the benefit of scale and more efficient distribution, our prices should come down accordingly. While we will never be able to grow Sun Shrimp for as low a cost as the current commodity shrimp, consumers tend to prefer eating wholesome, clean seafood produced in America. We are very excited to be able to offer this new option to the American Consumer.
- Why does the USA import 90% of its seafood?
It is a real problem and has been for many years. As Americans, we are very dependent on other countries for our seafood. As these other countries are developing and getting richer, they eat more and more of their own seafood, therefore, America will have to either pay more, or do with less. That is why it is so important to develop our American Seafood supply capability. As we recently found out the hard way, due to Covid, with medicines and equipment, or just plain masks, we found ourselves at the mercy of other countries; that needs to change. America must find a way to develop its domestic seafood supply. Sun Shrimp is leading the way, and with your support, in the coming years we hope to make a major dent in what is currently one of our largest trade deficit items. That is why when you buy Sun Shrimp, you are helping build a new industry that America desperately needs.
- How can we support your company and your efforts?
Please spread the word. Tweet, Instagram, TikTok or post and tell everyone you know about Sun Shrimp, ask the server next time you go out to dinner where the shrimp come from; ask if they are domestic or imported, if they are even fresh? Ask your local fish retailer to carry Sun Shrimp. Let everyone know that there is a new alternative out there. No need for imports, or chemicals or frozen shrimp. No need to empty our oceans. Sign up for our newsletter and we can keep you updated on our progress. It will take time, but Sun Shrimp can make a real difference for all of us. Thank you!