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August 6, 2015

United States

Indiana—RDM Aquaculture

   

 

Karlanea and Daryl Brown have been raising shrimp in seven indoor tanks in the middle of landlocked Benton County for five years and are now offering their services as consultants for anyone who’d like to get into the business.

 

Novo News, a news outlet in Indiana, contacted Karlanea Brown via email and conducted the following interview:

 

NUVO: What are the challenges in your business?

 

Karlanea Brown: Our biggest challenge right now is growing enough shrimp to supply our customers.  We are a 40-count-per-pound shrimp operation, and we cannot get past that weight because we sell them faster than we can grow them.

 

NUVO: What’s an average day like?

 

Karlanea Brown: Our average day consists of first testing the water so we know how to take care of the shrimp.  Once a day, we test for nine different items.  It usually takes about three hours.  Then we feed, clean and sell or move shrimp.  Other than the testing, every day is different.  Every tank is different, too, so they all require separate treatment.  The tests tell us how to feed the shrimp and if anything else needs to be done, like adding baking soda to correct for low alkalinity.  We add zero antibiotics to our tanks.  The only things that go into our tanks are water, salt, shrimp, feed and some baking soda.

 

NUVO: How environmentally sustainable is this business?

 

Karlanea Brown: We are very environmentally sustainable.  We reuse all our water.  It is never discharged down the drain.  The bacteria we use to sustain our water also act as our water treatment system.  It consumes all the waste—and it is very cost effective.  We do not use a lot of energy.  We use radiant heat, and we have a liquid propane boiler to heat the water in our tanks.

 

NUVO: Explain the process that allows you to reuse the water.

 

Karlanea Brown: We do not discharge our water because we want to retain the bacteria that take care of the waste.  When our tanks’ bacteria or settled solids get too high, we pump them into a tank next to the shrimp tank.  Then we let all the waste settle to the bottom and the clean water comes to the top.  The clean water is pumped back into the tank with the shrimp.  When the bacteria get to the level we want, we let the bacteria consume all the waste in the settling tank.  In about 14 days, we have ice-tea-colored water in our settling tanks.

 

NUVO: How does the flavor stack up against Gulf shrimp?

 

Karlanea Brown: Our shrimp have a much better flavor than wild shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.  The only adjective I have ever been able to come up with is “clean”.  They have a much cleaner taste.  No comparison—our shrimp taste much better.  They have very little debris in the vein that runs down the back of their tail and their shells are very thin.

 

By selling them live, the customer gets the head, and when the shrimp are cooked with the heads on you get this wonderful sweetness into the meat.  We actually eat everything on the shrimp except the head.  A lot of our clients love the head.  They can have mine!

 

Karlanea Brown: We sell 99.9 percent retail, out of our front door.  We also sell to some restaurants like the Renaissance in Chicago and the DigIN festival in Indianapolis.  We just enlarged our building and will be adding 14 more production tanks along with a few tilapia tanks and an aquaponics system.  We raise Pacific White shrimp and Australian Red Claw Crawfish

 

NUVO: You consult, too.  You’ve helped set up 18 farms.  Why are you so interested in the growth of aquaculture beyond your farm?

 

Karlanea Brown: We started consulting just to help people get started.  Our first year we lost over one million shrimp due to simple things, and now we know what to look for.  We thought we could help others, so they could avoid the hard times.  We actually take 18 months off their learning curves.  We can get you into shrimp farming with an eight-tank system including everything you will need for your building and six months chemical supplies for testing for about $100,000.  This includes everything you will need minus your building.  We have put these operations in chicken barns, turkey barns, hog barns, school gymnasiums, new buildings and cider mill barns.

 

You should get some return on your investment at about the 24-month mark.  The only pitfall is that banks don’t understand what we’re all about—they have preconceived ideas about shrimp farming.  They are starting to come around.  The shrimp have paid for us to add two employees, build a new building and expand our production without loans.

 

We need more shrimp farmers because we can’t supply enough to everyone who wants and needs great tasting shrimp with no antibiotics.  The only way we can do this is by getting more farmers involved.  No one farmer can supply all the shrimp needed by consumers.

 

NUVO: What worries you?  Power outages, I imagine?

 

Karlanea Brown: Power and disease are our worries.  We’ve had several power outages here in Benton County, some as long as 11 hours.  The shrimp can only survive for one hour without power.  We do have a backup generator.  Disease is another worry—this is why we test continuously.  We also have very strict protocols on how we do our testing.  We have been fortunate; we have not had any disease problems.

 

Information: Karlanea Brown, RDM Aquaculture, LLC, 101 North 850 East, Fowler, Indiana 47944, USA (phone: 1-765-583-0052, email rdmshrimp1@gmail.com, webpage http://www.rdmshrimp.com).

 

Source: Nuvo Newsweekly.  Indiana State Fair 2015: Shrimp Farming.  Ed Wenck.  August 11 [??], 2015.

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