How do you draw a large crowd at Reefapalooza when you are a Spirulina farmer? By having live Mysis shrimp at your booth, naturally.
AGCore Technologies is a company based in Cranston, Rhode Island that specialized in growing Spirulina, the protein-rich superfood both fish in our tanks and us humans benefit from by consuming it in its dried form. AGCore owns several greenhouses in which they grow Spirulina cyanobacteria in enormous vertical tanks (it’s impressive, check out pictures of their operation on the company website) and turn it into the dry powder in a clever and sustainable process the company invented (again, check HERE).
The aquarium-oriented side of the business, called AGCore Fish foods, focuses, as the name suggests, on making Spirulina-based fish foods. That’s where the live Mysis shrimp, as well as brine shrimp and copepods, come into the picture. AGCore breeds and raises their own critters and sell them live or in fish food form. Their catalog is truly impressive and contains fish food in all forms imaginable- powder, sticks, crumbs (an alternative to pellets that is formed in low temperatures), flakes, sinking pellets, you name it. One of their recent additions is live Mysis shrimp, which the company figured out how to breed successfully on a commercial scale. I will let Lawrence Dressler, AGCore President and Founder, explain how they managed to bring Mysis shrimp in its live form to the market in this transcript of the nice chat we had on the RAP floor.
Me: Hi Lawrence. Please, in a few words, could you tell me a little bit about your company, the products you offer, and the manufacturing process you use to make your fish food.
Lawrence: Sure thing. My name is Larry Dressler and I am the president of AG Fish Foods. We are located in Rhode Island, where we operate a couple of greenhouses in which we grow the phytoplankton Spirulina. Spirulina itself is a superfood, beneficial to both humans and animals. It has over 60% protein and it’s loaded with phytonutrients. When we harvest the Spirulina grown in our greenhouses, we dry it, turn it into powder, and mix it with different ingredients to make the products that we sell. It can be added to fish meal, shrimp meal, and fly larvae to create a variety of fish foods.
Me: You also have on display a bunch of different live crustaceans. What’s that about [smiling]?
Larry: Indeed, the other thing we do that is interesting is we grow a variety of live feed, everything from copepods like apocyclops and tisbes; we do brine shrimp, blackworms, and since recently, Mysis shrimp.
Me: Yes, please tell me, how did you manage to rear Mysis shrimp in the numbers where they are commercially viable? If memory serves me right, this is the first time I’ve seen live Mysis shrimp with my own eyes…
Larry: Mysis shrimp is a brand new endeavor for us. A lot of Mysis shrimp that is sold is either frozen or in some form dead. The difficulty in breeding mysis is high as compared to, for example, brine shrimp. One of the main problems is that as mysis grow they are somewhat cannibalistic and they are known to eat their young. We developed a system where we can separate the young from the adults and encourage the adults to keep breeding, where the young get transferred to another place to continue the cultivation. We are very proud of bringing that live feed to the market, and we actually feed mysis with newborn brine shrimp from our facility. What makes the whole process successful is that we have all the raw ingredients and we use them to feed the animals we keep.
Me: Thank you, that is great and once again, congratulations for bringing live Mysis shrimp to the market, that’s truly remarkable.
Larry: Thank you Marcin
Please check out the Agcore Fish Food webiste to learn more about them.