Brine shrimp


Importance of the brine shrimp – From the economic point of view, the most critical value of the Brine Shrimp comes from the performance of their Cysts within the aquaculture industry, when used as a source of nutrition for sea finfish and shrimp, in their larval stages.

Besides the high content protein and the right essential fatty acids and nutrients, it is still not clear until today why the Cyst of this crustacean is so critical, but the fact is that hatcheries of those two types of species cannot reach profitable levels of production without using Brine Cysts.

Concerned with this fact, biotechnology has made several attempts to find nutritional substitutes, mainly by enriching alternatives species (rotifers and copepods), or artificially encapsulating its major nutritional elements. Both processes have shown positives results but their production costs can’t compete with the naturally produced Brine Shrimp Cysts.

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Regarding sales of brine shrimp cysts (artemia salina) market, the project relies on a solid demand of the local aquaculture industry which is very well established in Ecuador since 1977. The proponents of Artemia Pilot Project (APP) have an extensive experience dealing with the sales and distribution of this product.

APP’s strategic plan for producing brine shrimp is not to commercialize the adult shrimp which is intended to become the main feed for the fish production. The plan is to sell their cysts which have a very high price in the market. In fact, after the second production year –effectively, on the third year-, SSOP expect the net income of the brine production to reach roughly 10% of the total income.

This is the new Challenge

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata Amboinensis)

The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata Amboinensis) is a beautiful species, and very useful too. As the name suggests, they clean the environmental system from filth, detritus, and parasites. They even clean live fish which -impressively – allow them to perform (without eating them), just like a professional physician would do to a patient.

For this reason, they are loved by aquarium hobbyist who like to add them in their reef aquariums, to keep the corals clean. And for the same reason, they are a critical component of reef ecosystems in nature.

Here is the problem: the Skunk Shrimp is not being bred in captivity, meaning that all of them, sold to hobbyist, come from direct fishing, depriving natural reefs from a crucial element. It is not that people have not tried to breed them, many have tried and failed. They are just very difficult to raise.

So, this is the challenge: to learn how to breed Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. We have a lot of experience raising shrimp so we should be able to face the task.

But it’s a different species – My colleague accurately remarked.

Granted, but still, we have some tricks up out sleeve that we can try. And the prize is attractive: we would not only solve a tricky puzzle, but we would also help one environment that we truly love. I will be posting regularly whatever comes about this new endeavour.  

Interpret a Data Visualization

Today is my first school day at the nanodegree Business Analytics program at Udacity, and the very first thing we had to do is to write a report interpreting data with Tableau. The data depicted some interesting facts about the city of Madrid. Tableau is amazing for data visualization and this is a good example. Next comes an important part of data science: the correct interpretation of the data. This was my take on the task.

BsAn pyramid

One of the features that most impressed me while interacting with the dashboard is how weird looking the population pyramid looks. Later, by focusing on the district distribution, I could note that, with some small differences among each district, the tree-like shape was common in all of them. Digging a little deeper on each district, I would notice that the common feature implies a lower population in the younger segment, especially among the ages 15 to 19 segment. We don’t know what causes this feature (although we could speculate with a couple of ideas), but it is a significant one.

BsAn votes n prices

It is interesting to notice that the political tendency of the typical Madrid citizen is well correlated with his/her amount of wealth, inferred here by the second-hand housing price. It can be noticed that citizen living in more expensive houses tend to vote for right-wing parties while citizen with less expensive houses prefer to vote for left-wing parties. It is also interesting to note that one district – the one named Centro- behaves fairly different.

BsAn cars n prices

As noticed in the precious insight, the Madrid district named Centro behaves differently than the rest. Although it can be found amount the wealthiest district (or at least, among those that show higher second-hand housing prices), it´s inhabitants prefer to vote for left-wing parties, opposite to the other wealthy districts. Moreover, when looking at the chart that shows the relationship between house prices and cars per 100 inhabitants, we can notice that it owns much less cars that the other wealthy districts. We can’t infer the cause directly from the data and it is probably an specific circumstance characteristic only to this district (maybe it’s is an old European district with narrow streets, making it very difficult to find proper parking, or maybe cars are not required as much because everything is at walking distance), but it’s definitely an interesting trait.

How to start small when you have a utopian project.

In my nine-to-five job, my colleague is also my wife. When we are working, I call her “Wife”; when we go out or just stay home doing family stuff, I call her “Colleague”. Colleague is normally bossy and thinks she knows more about me than I know myself, and I think she might be right on that one.

We know each other for a long time and we don’t need many words to communicate. At the beginning of this year (2018), Colleague looked directly at me and said: Now is the right time. I knew what she meant.

Colleague was talking about “The Project”, an idea we had been playing around with for a long, long time: to build the perfect auto-sustained farm. It’s about putting together an ideal farm in which the objective is not much to grow things, but where every element (crops and animals) works to keep the ecosystem’s balance.

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The idea first came to us when we were studying highly productive ecosystems that naturally occur in the wild. It turns out that the main characteristic of these systems is that it supports not the lazy; instead, different species come to terms and work together in a symbiotic manner, to take over the use and maintenance of each of the layers of the food chain, in a way that nothing is wasted.

Some species like bacteria, fungi, plants, insects and fish specialize in such tasks, and that’s where the high productivity and high yields come about: when the products are put to work for the benefit of the whole system instead of just growing.

But every project requires time and money, and this particular one would demand huge quantities of both assets. We were passing for a goldilocks period in our work at the time, but our resources were still way far from what was needed to even start. I was skeptic.

Bootstrapping, Colleague said. I knew what she meant.

Next thing I knew, we were installing a home-made lab in our garage to grow beneficial bacteria. I took some time, but it was relatively easy. The hard part came when we had to find a way to test our results. We decided to use them as feed for an animal I had worked with before in the past, a vey tiny small animal called rotifer.

Rotifers are a near-microscopic aquatic animal and one of the most common zooplanktons. I knew about them since college, but I really got acquainted with them some couple of years ago in an aquaculture project where we used them as feed for shrimp larvae.

Our home-made lab now holds two different species: beneficial bacteria and rotifers. Nowadays, they look happy together and we have managed to keep them healthy, in a sustainable way. Now what? I asked.

Digital Marketing, Colleague said. I knew what she meant.

Selling the rotifers could do the magic. It could not only provide funds to keep the project going but it could also give us a hint to where to direct the enterprise towards the perfect auto-sustained farm. But, how could a couple of limited-resources, biotechnical-oriented, pasta-lovers take advantage of what digital marketing can offer in an interconnected world? I asked in angst.

Udacity, Colleague said. And I knew what she meant.

Here we go.

We have been playing around with the idea for four months or so, considering various investment alternatives, back and forth. Now, we came to a decision. Today, August 28, 2018, Maria and I decided to go all the way and put our coin on starting a small new business.

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Photo by Pixabay on

Now that we know what we want, what comes next?

Maria and I have plenty experience working in the biotechnology field, but we consider ourselves more of the technical kind. We also have experience in administrating a business; we did that in Ecuador, South America, for many years, but this is different.

We realize that starting a business from scratch is a kind of its own, and we are experienced enough to know that trying to invent the wheel is never a good idea. We will try to talk to people and ask about the nuts and bolts of this entrepreneurial thing.

And we will research a lot, as usual.

Have you seen the amount of information about small business available online? It’s huge. It´s kind of hard to even choose what to read or not. Oh well, It´s a good thing we are all enthusiastic about the idea, as all beginnings are, because we are going to use a lot of good vibes.

Good thing we love to research too.

Starting the Rotifer Project.

Last week, the complete SeaFarmer crew (That’s Maria and I) started up the Rotifer Project at Lincoln, Ontario. The initial batch came all the way form distant California and arrived in fairly good condition after a five days journey.Innoculating rotifers

Under the mic, the little rascals looked very active and healthy. Since the salinity in which the first rotifers arrived match with the one in the system, the acclimation process took very little time; just a couple of hours to balance temperature.

We are following the same protocol that the system’s owner used. We are trying to detect the reason for not reaching a sustainable population. So far, we can exclude a preparation error for the correct they have been using the correct disinfection procedures.

The acclimation process was also the right one. The only thing we should have done different is: instead of inoculating the rotifers directly into the system, we would have started in a small bucket and gradually increase the media volume, as the population would grow.

Pacific sleeper

The pacific fat sleeper is a very attractive specie to produce due to its great adaptability to extreme conditions and the high interest shown by some ethnical markets.

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Self-sustained Organic Production project (SSOP) is very flexible in producing many different fresh water fish species like Nile tilapia, rainbow trout, catfish and many others. Nevertheless, SSOP plans to focus its fish production to the pacific sleeper (dormitator latifrons) and sell it to the international market.

The reason for this decision is to take advantage of a new but reliable steady growing niche marketing that has been developed by local suppliers and directed to ethnic markets in USA. This species show a very attractive sale price and some productivity advantages.

SSOP plans on utilizing rainbow trout as the backup fish species within the system due to their tolerance for variable water quality (especially seasonally cold temperatures), rapid growth, ease of breeding, and marketability within the local tourist market.

To offset high initial purchase costs for pacific sleeper, SSOP will purchase ~ 800 thousand 2” sleepers from local breeders, enough to begin operation of half of the planned troughs. As the fish grow, the number of tanks of fish in the system grows, providing the nutrients necessary to connect more troughs and scale up the vegetable grow area as we maximize organic vegetable production.

As SSOP scale up, it will separate the best performing sleepers for future brood stock and sell a limited number with good markings but keep a sufficient quantity for our fish ‘engine’. Only after successful breeding and rearing of sleepers and expansion of the SSOP system has occurred, SSOP we begin a larger scale marketing of sleepers, likely at the end of year two.

Solving Problems

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