New generation in Shrimp Counting - Vaki
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New generation in Shrimp Counting


 The Larcos Shrimp Counter

Below is an interview with Will Flanery, Eric Steimle co-founders of Larcos and Hermann Kristjánsson founder of VAKI Aquacultrue systems ltd, as they are presenting a prototype of new Larcos Shrimp Counter at the Aquaculture America 2013 in Nashville Tennessee, USA.
For this article in pdf format, click here.


Brief description of the Larcos Shrimp Counter

Will Flanery: It’s a, flow-through, video-based counting system that uses computer imaging recognition to count post larvae. With our current optics, it can be trained to recognize any object from about 3 to 200 milliliters. It counts post larvae as small as PL-5s, even differentiates the live ones from the dead ones.

Eric Steimle: Our counter does away with nets, water chilling and statistical guesswork. The post larvae never leave the water. The technology evolved from image-recognition technology that we developed for Zooplankton research. It’s lightweight, portable and battery-operable.





The technology behind the Larcos Shrimp Counter

We have experience in imaging zooplankton 600 feet underwater, so for us counting small shrimps and PLs on land is easy. Kurt Kramer is literally one of the best in world in what he does, writing image processing software, we also benefit of cooperation with VAKI Aquaculture Systems which are a world leader in counting and size estimation of live fish. Their knowledge and experience will further strengthen our project.


New generation in Shrimp Counting

We are moving from the traditional aquaculture Biomass determination methods, methods that are unreliable and damage shrimp health.


  • Hand Count (labor-intensive)
  • Estimation (many variables)
  • Gravimetric (animals are out of water and crowded)
  • Volumetric (not feasible for adults)





What are the main advantages of the Larcos Shrimp Counter?

Will Flanery: There’s no handling, no stress, no netting. You set it up with a syphon pump or a valve on the side of a harvest tank and just let it run.


Eric Steimle: You’re moving your animals anyway; you might as well be counting them in the process. The next feature that we plan to add into the software is a sizing system, so that instead of just counting the animals, we would be able to provide a histogram of the sizes that would show, for example, the number of PL-8s and PL-12s in an order for PL-10s.


Will Flanery: The system reduces mortality and labor, and the accuracy of the count helps you feed properly and predict your harvest. Proper feeding also improves water quality and lowers costs.


What about accuracy and capacity?

 The Larcos Shrimp Counter is very accurate, accuracy consistently exceeds 95%, and we’re usually closer to 99%.

In our trial run at Shrimp Improvement Systems (SIS), a large shrimp hatchery in the United States, we counted about 50,000 PL-10s a minute. In other words if we were counting 3million PLs, it would take about an hour and without stressing the animals.  It’s automated; once you set it up Larcos will be able to close a valve when your order is filled, so you could go to lunch and come back when it’s finished. No labor, no arguments.


Accuracy of Larcos Counter (9.57 g avg.)



 The Larcos Shrimp Counter will help you with

  • Live Shrimp Transfer
  • Biomass Retention
  • Partial Harvesting
  • Feed Management
  • Reduced Labor Costs
  • Sales Forecasts


The market

It is mainly for shrimp hatcheries and shrimp farms. Hatcheries need to count PLs when they are harvested and when they are shipped to shrimp farms. Farms need to count PLs to make sure they got the correct amount from the hatchery.

Nowadays farmers want more security and professionalism in their work. And in some cases they insist a documented data to avoid contention that has been between hatcheries and farms over the number of PLs in the past.

The Larcos Shrimp counter ends that contention. Hatcheries no longer have to give farms 10% more than what´s on the order, just to make sure the farmer gets what they ordered. Farmers can also use the counter when they stock their ponds to make sure they don´t understock or overstock.


Is it still a prototype or is it the final product?

Hermann Kristjansson: It is a prototype.  For the next 6 months, we will do more testing and fine tuning of the system to make it less delicate and dependent on the set-up, circumstances and operator.


At the same time we are going to adapt it more to practical circumstances in shrimp farms and install a few pilot systems. We believe that we will start to introduce the system commercially before the end of the year.


Eric Steimle: Another advantage of the system is that you can use the Larcos Shrimp count as a

digital receipt. If a hatchery is accustomed to giving its customers ten percent more than they order, with the Larcos PL-Counter, you could just give them a couple of percent over the order to account for mortalities during transport. Hatcheries will be able to deliver the PLs with a digital receipt that shows a picture of everything that went through the counter.


On an order of 100,000 PLs, the hatchery would know if there were 2,000 dead animals and could send 107,000 animals to account for the mortalities. A farm receiving that order of 100,000 PLs could run them through its Larcos Counter to check the count. If it found there were 10,000 thousand dead animals, it would only have to pay for the 95,000 live ones. Hatcheries and farms could pass their digital receipts (counts) back and forth.


Hatcheries and farms could pass their digital receipts (counts) back and forth. Everybody would be happy, trust would be built and hatcheries would have less difficulty collecting their money.



Can the Larcos Shrimp Counter count juveniles, which may weigh less than a gram, and market-size shrimp, which weight over 10 grams?


Eric Steimle: Sure we can count anything small enough to flow through our system. We’ve done PL-10s; we’ve done juveniles that were point three grams; and we’ve done five-gram, seven-gram, ten-gram and fifteen-gram shrimp. It just gets easier the bigger they get. It process from 24 to 240 gallons of water and shrimp a minute. We’ll be able to configure systems to meet the specific needs of hatcheries and farms. It can even do lobster and crab larvae.


Can you feed the data from the PL-counter into a database or a spreadsheet program for further analysis?


Will Flanery: Sure, you can save the data file, so you have a complete image of everything that went through the pipe. It can be saved and reprocessed anyway you want.


Does the counter produce images or just numerical data?


Will Flanery: It produces silhouette pictures—black and white pictures—with our own image

compression software. It also sorts the images and gives your counts and other data.


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How do you see the future?

Hermann Kristjansson:  After we have introduced the final product, which is going to happen before the end of the year, we will be busy installing systems in southern states of US, Mexico and thereafter in Central America.  We believe that we will start to introduce the product to Asian shrimp producers.

The demand for more accurate numbers during the whole process of shrimp production will become stronger as has been the case in other industries as Salmon farming in the last years.  Tighter margins in the production call for tighter control.


Please contact us if you are interested to follow up on the developments of the Larcos Shrimp Counter.


Will Flanery  - email:

Eric Steimle – email:

Hermann Kristjánsson – email:


Larcos webpage:

VAKI webpage:



For a video of the Larcos Shrimp Counter in action, click the following link


For this article in pdf format, click here.


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