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The Big Shrimp Question... Home Bred or Import?

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Home bred vs. import? That is the question that has been on my mind the past few weeks. Last week I decided to post a topic about this on the Facebook group USA Freshwater Shrimp and Plants, asking what everyone thought the difference was and what home bred actually meant to them. The amount of responses shocked me, and it seemed that most people had the same or similar questions. 

So what defines a home bred shrimp, I say home bred because USA bred in my opinion is no different than import if they have bounced around from hobbyist to hobbyist during their lives. This seemed to be where many people got caught up, if a shrimp is imported berried and the babies hatch in your tank, are those babies considered home bred? The general consensus seems to be no, most people in the hobby believe you have to have owned the line long enough to have gotten a few generations out of them. Some even went as far as to say the method used for fish (F1, F2, etc.) should be used to designate how far a shrimp is removed from the imported shrimp. To me, that might be a bit excessive, as not that many people have the ability to keep generations separate.

When you look at the average home breeder in the USA, a small scale shrimper will have anywhere from 1 to 20 tanks, while some people have hundreds of tanks. I believe that one is more likely to get a higher quality shrimp out of small scale operation due solely to the fact that a small breeder dedicates more time per tank than those who are maintaining 200 tanks. However, that isn’t to say a small scale breeder will never produce poor quality or a large breeder isn’t able to produce high quality.

So why even bother with imports? Well currently the demand for shrimp in the USA is far out pacing what even the best breeders in the country can produce. Another driving factor for imports is that they are typically bred in massive operations, which in turn results in lower cost to the customer. The best reason to import shrimp, in my opinion, is that it introduces new lines to the USA market for greater genetic diversity. The hobby is still young here, so American breeders haven’t had the time to develop these new beautiful lines of shrimp that you see emerging in international competitions.

The greatest challenge facing imports recently is known as the “Green Fungus”, which is actually a Ellobiopsidae class parasite. This is currently only known to appear in Neocaridina shrimp, and until recently very little was known about treatment or prevention. Chaz Hing, the owner of Elevate Shrimp, wrote a great article on Green Fungus that explains a technique to eliminate this parasite from a colony of shrimp (article can be found at Discobee). As a hobbyist, the hope would be that you never have to deal with this parasite since if it makes it to your tank then the infected shrimp was not quarantined properly.

Rachel O’Leary, the owner of Msjinkzd, has been importing fish and shrimp for longer than many of us have been in the hobby, and is known for having a very strict quarantine process. She was kind enough to share her technique with me for this blog. For the Neocaridina that she imports she will QT for one month, if there is any signs of sickness or parasites they will remain in QT until they have been fully healthy for at least a month. For Caridina shrimp her QT process is the same, but for two weeks since they are less prone to health risks. During the quarantine Rachel uses macrophotography to inspect the shrimp, she selects one at random from each tank to closely inspect to ensure she is getting a sample from each population.

In closing, here are some things to consider when weighing a purchase of home bred shrimp vs. imported shrimp. First and foremost, quality is the most important factor, even at the expense of a few extra dollars. There are fantastic international shrimp breeders that ship their shrimp to the USA, and there are fantastic breeders here in the USA. 

When looking at different breeders, understand that a person with 10-20 tanks may charge a little more because they dedicate more time to the individual shrimp than someone that has hundreds of tanks. This could mean that they are able to monitor the shrimp’s health closely and produce high quality shrimp. Don’t be afraid to ask a seller questions, such as “How long have you quarantined the shrimp?,” “Where did you originally get the shrimp?,” or “How long have you had the line?” These are all reasonable questions for a buyer to ask, and a seller should have no hesitation or difficulties answering them. Now as to whether or not a shrimp that is home bred is worth more than an imported shrimp, I think there are many variables that need to be considered that could be separate topics all on their own.

Let me know what you think with a comment on the Triton Freshwater Aquatics Facebook page!

Credits:

MK-Breed (photo)

Discobee (green fungus info and SL Aqua cover photo)

Buypetshrimp (photo and information)

Aquarium Creation (photo and information)

Msjinkzd (QT information)

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