Aquaculture Majors Light Torch Against Frankenfish

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Genetically altered sea creatures getting you down? Well don’t worry there’s no frankenfish here – not if David Scharlman and Samantha Paitsel have their way. As aquaculture majors, the duo searched for alternatives to the standard use of harmful chemicals and antibiotics in fish and shrimp farming. And they found the answer in Biofloc technology.

Indiana – the new seafood mecca?

The inspiration came last summer while Schalrman was visiting his girlfriend in Indiana – and contemplating how he was going to use his degree in aquaculture. When one day he took a tour of a place called RDM Shrimp.

“I was impressed with their operation and intrigued how they could produce pacific white shrimp 600 miles from the ocean,” Schalrman said. “Since then I have been reading about the benefits and uses of Biofloc.”

The technology works by balancing carbon and nitrogen in the system – without harmful chemicals.

So once he was back campus, he teamed up with Paitsel on a senior design project. They called it “The Effects of Probiotics on Anemonefish Growth and Condition.”

Aquaculture Majors to the Rescue

The team used Biofloc technology (probiotics) in a tank of Anemonefish. Next, they compared it to other tanks not using the technology. And the results were striking.

Not only did the technology treat waste and reduce the outbreak of disease, it served as an additional food source.  And the tank was much cleaner.

“We were surprised to see that from week four on, the Biofloc tank was noticeably cleaner than the other tanks,” Schalrman said.

Ultimately, the team was excited with the results.

“We chose a project that has real world applications that could feed a growing population as well as ease the burden on the ocean,” Schalrman said. “The opportunity to design and present student-led research is a unique opportunity provided by Florida Tech that is not as available to other students at other institutions. And it gives you real-world experience in the industry.”

Shrimp in the Sahara desert?

With Biofloc Technology, shrimp can be farmed in the most landlocked regions of the world

“It’s an environmentally-friendly cost-effective method to produce antibiotic-free and hormone-free USA grown pacific white shrimp,” Schalrman said.

In fact he’s so enamored with the process, he plans to build his own aquaculture facility utilizing Biofloc technology.  And specialize in those healthy pacific white shrimp.

But he wasn’t the only one charmed by the project. The judges at the 2017 Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase were too. The team took home Best in Show for the College of Science in the Marine Science & Aquaculture division.

Student Design Website

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When I wasn't searching my house for secret passageways or scouring the neighborhood for hidden treasure, I spent much of my childhood reading. As an adult, in addition to a passion for marketing, social media and higher education, I write young adult fiction and create my own fantastical worlds for others to explore.

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