Food Effectors to Improve Shrimp Diet Assimilation

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By Milthon Lujan

The shrimp farming industry and researchers have been making efforts to improve the sustainability of shrimp farming. One of the areas where considerable work has been done is in the development of feeds free of fishmeal and based on plant ingredients.

However, the use of plant-based feeds poses challenges in terms of attractiveness and palatability, often leading to shrimp rejection, resulting in increased feed wastage and, consequently, higher production costs.


In recent years, the results of some research have suggested that food effectors enhance the efficiency of plant-based shrimp diets by increasing attractiveness and palatability.

This article aims to summarize some research focused on using food effectors to enhance the attractiveness and palatability of shrimp feeds.

What Are Food Effectors?

At this point, you may be wondering, ‘What are food effectors, and why are they crucial in shrimp feeding?’

Food effectors are chemical substances, including chemoattractants, feeding stimulants, and enhancers, capable of increasing the attractiveness and palatability of feeds high in plant ingredients.


Jamis et al. (2018) mention that fish oil, fish solubles, amino acid complexes, and different protein sources have been identified as food effectors for shrimp. However, recent research results have included krill meal, fish silage, poultry meal, with varying outcomes.

The main characteristics of these substances are their relatively small size, water solubility, and non-volatile nature (Jamis et al., 2018).

Some Experiences

Several research studies have shown that the use of food effectors improves shrimp consumption of plant-based feeds. Here are some studies:

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Plant-Based Diets

One of the early experiences was conducted by Nunes et al. (2019), who compared the feeding preference and growth response of Litopenaeus vannamei to chemoattractants. They used a diet with 3% fishmeal supplemented with 3% salmon meal (POS), 3% soy protein concentrate (NEG), 3% krill meal (KRM), 3% squid meal (SQM), 3% shrimp head meal (SHM), 3% shrimp meal (SM), 3% squid liver meal (SLM), or 5% sardine liquid hydrolysate (SAH). They concluded that krill meal acts as a powerful feeding effector and growth enhancer in fishmeal-free diets for white shrimp.


Soares et al. (2021) studied the effect of adding krill meal (KM), krill oil (KO), and fish hydrolysate (FH) to a soy-based diet on the feeding behavior and growth of Litopenaeus vannamei. The researchers determined that KM, KO, and FH can stimulate food consumption of a soy-based diet by L. vannamei with an addition of 10 g/kg.

Meanwhile, Walsh et al. (2022) used four soy-based optimized diets and three diets with an attractant: krill meal (2%), squid meal (2%), or fish hydrolysate (4.0%). They found that the plant-based diet with added fish hydrolysate increases the intensity of the feeding response in shrimp cultured in semi-intensive ponds.

Diets Based on Cheaper Meals

Experiments have also been conducted using unconventional protein sources such as poultry meal.

Tabbara et al. (2023) evaluated the use of a chemosensory food effector with attractive properties on feeding behavior, growth performance, and salt stress tolerance in juvenile Litopenaeus vannamei.


They formulated nine diets to contain poultry meal (6%) or fishmeal (6% or 12%) as an animal protein source, with food effector supplemented at 0, 0.1, and 0.2%. They concluded that supplementing shrimp diets based on poultry meal with a food effector improves overall profitability by achieving good shrimp growth with less expensive diets and despite stressful factors.

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Application in the Shrimp Industry

Diets for shrimp primarily based on plant meals have become the standard in the shrimp farming industry. In this context, the use of food effectors can play a significant role in increasing shrimp consumption of these feeds, improving feed conversion, and thus shrimp growth.

Additionally, by using food effectors, feed wastage can be reduced, diminishing the risk of water quality deterioration in shrimp ponds. This also significantly contributes to production costs.

As a shrimp farmer, you should consult with your feed supplier to check if they offer food effectors that encourage consumption by your shrimp.



Food effectors are essential inputs to enhance the attractiveness and palatability of plant-based shrimp feeds.

Various scientific studies have identified several ingredients that can act as food effectors, among which krill meal and fish silage stand out. However, some gaps still exist regarding the quantity to use for each food effector.


Jamis Jhumar O., Barry Leonard M. Tumbokon, Jant Cres C. Caigoy, Marj Gem B. Bunda, Augusto E. Serrano, Jr. 2018. Effects of Vinegars and Sodium Acetate on the Growth Performance of Pacific White Shrimp, Penaeus vannamei. The Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Bamidgeh, IJA_70.2018.1506.

Nunes AJP, Sabry-Neto H, Oliveira-Neto S, Burri L. Feed preference and growth response of juvenile Litopenaeus vannamei to supplementation of marine chemoattractants in a fishmeal-challenged diet. J World Aquacult Soc. 2019; 50: 1048–1063. https://doi.org/10.1111/jwas.12648

Soares Roberta, Silvio Peixoto, Robert P. Davis, D. Allen Davis. 2021. Feeding behavior and growth of Litopenaeus vannamei fed soybean-based diets with added feeding effectors, Aquaculture, Volume 536, 2021, 736487, ISSN 0044-8486, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2021.736487.

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Tabbara Magida , Leila Strebel, Silvio Peixoto, Roberta Soares, Sofia Morais, D. Allen Davis. 2023. Use of passive acoustic monitoring to evaluate the effects of a feed effector on feeding behavior, growth performance, and salinity stress tolerance of Litopenaeus vannamei, Aquaculture, 2023, 740499, ISSN 0044-8486, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2023.740499.

Walsh, S., Nguyen, K., Strebel, L., Rhodes, M. & Davis, A. (2022) Utilising feed effectors and automated feeders for Semi-intensive pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) production. Aquaculture, Fish and Fisheries, 2, 540–551. https://doi.org/10.1002/aff2.83

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