Temperature Controlled Culture Room
Experimental Crawfish Ponds
The Aquaculture Project at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station is principally directed toward research associated with the culture of crawfish. Because rice plays such an integral part in the farming of crawfish, either within highly effective rice-crawfish crop rotation systems or as the single most important forage crop planted to provide a food resource for culturing crawfish with no intention of grain harvesting, this project was established as a vital component of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in the early 1980s. Emphasis is placed on the Louisiana red swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii), because this species dominates in the culture industry and is most desired in the marketplace.
Research is concentrated largely on key biological attributes of the animal that can have the most impact on production, or on applied aspects that have the greatest impact on production efficacy or efficiency. Much research has occurred and continues to be directed at understanding biological factors, such as growth, reproduction, nutrition, burrow ecology, health, and behavior aspects of crawfish that influence production parameters. Research is also designed to refine or improve management practices, such as stocking, harvesting, food and water quality management, and post-harvest aspects associated with marketing concerns. Research has also been directed to address other issues important to the Louisiana crawfish producer, consumer, or government regulators, such as pesticide or contamination concerns or issues associated with environmental matters.
The Aquaculture Project utilizes several degrees of environmental controls when conducting research. To obtain the highest degree of experimental control, aquaria or small specially designed culture containers are used, often in a photo- and temperature-controlled laboratory building, to achieve a micro-habitat environment whereby single crawfish are often grown to eliminate confounding effects from cohorts. In other situations where less control is required or more natural growing conditions are desired, larger (12-feet diameter) outdoor tanks with soil, planted rice, and typical water conditions are used to establish replicated environments representing more desirable population densities. Under different desirable conditions, cages or enclosures may be placed within larger experimental ponds to provide control of a given population set.
The experimental research ponds at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station are located at the South Unit of the Station and are designed and operated as low-levee, precision-leveled, shallow-water crawfish ponds typical of the commercial rice-crawfish field rotational systems common to the region. Two 15-acre tracts are allocated to the Aquaculture Project and can be configured for various size ponds with variable replications. Lastly, outfield research can be conducted in commercial ponds with the cooperation of various farmers. Although outfield research offers the least experimental control, this methodology best simulates commercial conditions and is suited to some harvesting or forage research projects. Support facilities available at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station for crawfish research includes a dry laboratory, a wet laboratory, and various specialized instruments and equipment. The Aquaculture Project collaborates closely with various projects and project leaders within the LSU AgCenter and at times with other Universities within and outside of the state.