Raising shrimp in New Mexico may seem farfetched, but if things pan out with a shrimp-feed study now under way at New Mexico State University, a new inland shrimp industry might become a reality in the Southwest. The study will compare shrimp being raised on a new feed incorporating glandless cottonseed meal with shrimp raised on a commercial feed.

The cottonseed feed was developed by researchers at Texas A&M University, and the NMSU study builds on an A&M study done at a facility on the Gulf Coast. The NMSU shrimp are being raised in local Rio Grande Basin water, with salt and minerals added to replicate normal shrimp conditions, and in a closed system that could be replicated relatively inexpensively and installed almost anywhere.

Directing the NMSU study is Colleen Caldwell, an adjunct associate professor in NMSU’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology and the New Mexico unit leader for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Biological Resources Division. Although her research has previously focused on freshwater fish, she welcomed the chance to convert part of her lab into a saltwater environment. Students in her department were involved in the design and installation of the equipment for the project.

“Aquaculture is agriculture,” said Caldwell. “Pacific shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, is an easy species to rear, and it has been commonly demonstrated that it is easily reared in an aquaculture environment.”

Her study began July 13. A set of 150 young shrimp were randomly selected for distribution among 10 50-gallon tanks in the closed-water system she and her students developed. The shrimp were weighed prior to entering their new environments.