Role of optimal Formulated Feeds for efficient Shrimp Larval Development with reference to L.Vannamei

shrimp larvae

Good practice in feeding and management of shrimp larvae is essential in ensuring optimum health, welfare, and growth of farmed shrimp. Fry and larvae quality is one of the main drivers for successful fish and shrimp farming. The feeding and nutrition of shrimp larvae is based on supplying feeds that are ingested by the larvae and meet the nutritional requirements of the different larval stages.

The Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei is originated from the Western Pacific coast of Latin America stretching from the south of Peru to the north of Mexico. This species was introduced commercially into China and Taiwan in 1996 and other coastal Asian countries started to culture this species in early 2000. Since then, L. vannamei became one of the important penaeid species farmed worldwide. Shrimp larvae quickly go through major changes in body structure requiring a series of different feeds and environmental conditions to meet their needs.

Fig :1 Larval stages of Shrimp (L. Vannamei)

Types of Larval feeds 

Algae and Artemia

Live algae and Artemia nauplii pose high with respect to introduction and thereafter   and spread of pathogens.


Formulated Feeds

Larval feeds should originate from trustworthy suppliers that certify absence of pathogens in the product and raw materials. Successful production of robust post larvae for stocking in grow-out ponds largely depends on feed quality and the feeding schedule that is applied in the hatchery. The metamorphosis of L. vannamei through larval stages into post larvae is a complex process (see Figure 1, life cycle), which in the wild is characterized by migration to inshore, brackish estuaries. This shift from pelagic to bottom-dwelling benthic behavior is accompanied by a change in feeding habit from an herbivorous to an omnivorous died Growth and development of the digestive system affects digestive capability, mainly due to qualitative and quantitative fluctuations in digestive enzyme production. Larval stages, therefore, differ in nutritional requirements. Feed formulation and feed processing are tailored to the specific needs of each stage (Table 1)

Feeding characteristics of Shrimp larvae

Zoea Stages

Feed Character

Z1, Z2, Z3 First feeding Stages

Size range 5–30μm

Pelagic filter-feeder

High density of feed particles or Slow sinking

High energy turnover, 10–20 minutes gut passage time

Dry feeds are algal replacement diets

High lipase activity

Highly digestible feed

Mysis Stages

M1, M2,M3

High density of feed particles

Size range: 30–90μm

Pelagic filter-feeder

Neutrally buoyant or slow-sinking particles

10–20 minutes gut passage time

Highly digestible feed

High protease and medium lipase activity

Moderate lipid level: 10–15% high protein 50-60%

Early post larval stages

PL1, PL2, PL3, PL4

Size range: 90–250μm

Omni / carnivorous, active, hunting behavior

Co-feeding of Artemia to live nauplii and formulated feed

15–20 mins gut passage time

Highly digestible feed

Low enzyme activity

Moderate lipid level 10-15% high protein 45-55%

Post Larval stages

PL5 to PL 15

Size range: 300–500/800μm

Benthic feeder

Sinking feed

30 mins gut passage time

Moderately digestible feed

Increased digestive capacity

Low lipid level: 5–10% Moderate protein 40-45%


Different phases of shrimp larvae


     Zoeya                        Mysis                        Early post Larvae          Post Larvae

Features of hatchery feed nutrition

Formulated feeds have similar composition similar to micro algae and zooplankton with high levels of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, pigments like astaxanthin, highly unsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and lecithin. Good quality feeds use highly digestible raw materials with good nutritional value. Shrimp larvae develop through a series of stages each requiring a different mix of feed type, size, and texture. Their feed  intake depends on several factors such as temperature, water quality and growth potential of the strain amongst others. Formulated feed has been developed to meet the needs of shrimp larva and reduce the need for live feed. Variation in feed quality can also influence the amount of feed required.


Effective feeding Management for Hatchery Diets

Monitoring  at each feeding




Swimming Activity

Highly active to inactive


Zero, low or high numbers of dead larvae


Zero, low or high numbers of morbid larvae

Disease symptoms

Zero to high


Microscopic observations for better feeding management



Optimum Conditions

Recommended applications

Length — from PL onwards



Small or weak %.



Gut fullness %.

>90% of population show 80% full gut

Increase feed

Lipid droplets in hepatopancreas %.

>90% of population have lipid droplets

Increase feed

Fouling %.


Decrease feed and Water exchange

Deformities %.



Necrosis %.


Water exchanges and adjust feed levels

Muscle: gut ratio 6th tail segment PL8

Normal is 1:4.


Tissue pigment and condition %

PL < 5% white or milky color or transparent

Check microbial loads apply probiotic

Molting problems %.


Lower salinity gradually by 2ppt apply Mineral


About Skretting Marine Hatcheries Feeds

A wide range of commercial feeds are available for larval shrimp. Extensive investment in research and development and various associated scientific and commercial trails carried out by Skretting has resulted in development of feeds and feeding protocols designed to meet the needs of all stages of larval shrimp.  Skretting is world leading producer of feed for shrimp and fish with a capacity of 2 million metric tons worldwide.


White Tiger

White Tiger is a feeding program from Skretting engineered to offer advanced nutrition to shrimp hatcheries and it’s a highly digestible diet formulated with blend of specific hydrolyzed proteins, HUFA, phospholipids, minerals and vitamins and each micro particle is carefully designed to offer a stable and nutritious platform and White tiger is utilized from Zoea stages to nursery stages its available in 5 particle sizes depends on larva and post larva sizes. and paves away  for significant reduction of artemia over all shrimp health helps to shrimp manage adverse environmental impacts.


Vitalis 2.5

Vitalis 2.5 is an innovative feed solution for shrimp Bloodstock. It has been developed to partially replace the use of moist feeds while at the same time providing the correct level of essential nutrients in a stable form also provides specific nutrition and biosecurity for egg and nauplii production. Its formulation based on a high inclusion of hydrolyzed marine proteins like DHA and EPA it gives high support the high fecundity rate.



PL is our high-quality shrimp starter diet designed to offer advanced nutrition to shrimp hatcheries PL is highly digestible and is formulated with specific hydrolyzed proteins, highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), phospholipids, marine algae vitamins, and minerals to provide a complete nutritional profile for larval shrimp. PL is a sophisticated and innovative feed solution designed for shrimp from zoea to nursery stages of the life cycle.



The nutrition of marine larvae involves an understanding of the behavioral, mechanical, and physiological processes of feeding in the target animal. These are likely to be very different in the larval stages compared to adult forms. Feeding habits in many species show distinct changes as the larvae development. Although basic knowledge exists to enable the proper formulation of larval shrimp feeds, continued research is needed to make further progress. Also, feed particle characteristics should be designed to respond to the specific needs of different species, stages, and culture conditions by the correct choice of feed-processing technique.

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