OXFORD, Kan. (KSNW) – Hundreds of miles from the ocean, among the amber waves of grain, you will find Bob Daniels.
“Saltwater shrimp indoors in Kansas, that’s what we do here.”
Daniels know it sounds crazy.
“Yes, yes. The banker said, Are you going to sell bait?”
Actually, it is just the opposite. At $18 a pound, his Pacific white shrimp are top shelf. They are sold fresh and by appointment only to families and a few restaurants.
“So when we harvest our shrimp, they’re alive. They’re still kicking when they go out the door. There are no preservatives, they’re never frozen.”
That is why Daniels believes his shrimp taste so much better, but it is also a lot of work.
He and his wife started in 2016 using above-ground swimming pools and plenty of salt to create an ocean-like atmosphere for the shrimp.
“So, we like to keep these tanks at 82 degrees.”
Constant testing makes sure the water’s temperature, oxygen and PH levels are just right.
The eggs for all these shrimp are hatched elsewhere, and once they grow beyond the larvae stage, they come here to be fattened up. Right now, he has about 55,000 shrimp.
They start out smaller than an eyelash but grow quickly.
“It takes about six months from the time we get them until they’re sold.”
The shrimp are divided among the tanks by size and fed a special blend of food at each stage.
“These guys, they’re a little bit larger,” said Daniels. “That’s a 30-day difference between the ones we just saw.”
One thing every tank needs is a screen around it.
“They jump. They jump a lot. They get very agitated when the lights go out,” Daniels added.
More lights that stay on all the time. He says shrimp also don’t like thunder or worse.
“If we have an earthquake, they won’t eat for 24 hours.”
Picky produce, it seems, and a big learning curve for Daniels.
While shrimp farms are rare in the Midwest, the idea was planted by his father 50 years ago.
“I want to feed the world. How you going to do that, Dad? I’ll leave that up to you, son.”
As Daniels sells his shrimp one pound at a time, he has big plans to expand adding seven more buildings someday and growing the demand for seafood in Sumner County.
As they build their business, they don’t want to waste any water. They let micro-organisms clean the tanks naturally.
They are still re-circulating the same water they started with in 2015.