Farming Jumbo Freshwater Shrimp

When breeding Freshwater Prawn, also known as Jumbo Freshwater Shrimp or Macrobrachium Rosenbergii, it often makes sense to start with a breeding colony. A good size breeding colony consists of four females and one male, each carefully selected healthy, sexually mature prawns that are ready to reproduce. Reproducing prawns should be healthy, active, and well pigmented. Whether you are interested in raising prawns for personal consumption or for profit, starting with a mature breeding colony will allow you to achieve your goals with a faster return on your investment, saving you six to 12 months of growing time.

Environment Matters

Freshwater Prawns are tropical animals, and as such, they require warm water to survive. A correctly engineered, constructed and well-managed pond will result in a predictable harvest of about 1,000 to 1,200 pounds per acre of a large, highly valuable 10 count/pound whole shrimp.

In tanks, you'll need to take special care to keep the temperature and water quality suitable for reproduction. It’s important to maintain the water temperature between 78˚ and 84 ˚ F. Keep ammonia (<2.0 ppm), nitrite (<0.05) and nitrate (<40 ppm) as low as possible. And keep the pH between 7.0 and 8.5 and total water hardness at a minimum of 40 ppm and a maximum of 250 ppm.

Freshwater prawn eggs are carried under the tail of the adult female prawn and are easily visible; a female with eggs is known as a "berried" female. As the eggs ripen, their color changes from bright orange to brown and finally to a grey-brown a few days before hatching. It is important to maintain temperatures above 77° F to prevent loss of eggs. Prawn eggs hatch as free-swimming larvae in brackish water. The preferred salinity range for culturing prawns is 18-24 ppt.

You may also want to incorporate prawn housing into your aquaponics or aquaculture system. Prawn housing doesn’t have to be costly; in fact, you can make it yourself. In this picture, the Prawn housing is a rectangular box made of PVC pipe with horizontal layers of plastic bird netting (.25 mesh, 2" - 3" between layers).

Finally, remember to carefully calculate your stocking densities:


  • Post larval to day 45: Up to 40 animals per square foot
  • Post larval to day 60: Up to 20 animals per square foot
  • From day 60 to day 90: No more than 2 animals per square foot
  • After day 90: One to two and one-half square feet per animal

To learn more, visit the Freshwater Prawns page on this website. Live Aquaponics also sells a high-protein prawn food perfect for raising Freshwater Prawns. If you have any questions about raising Prawns, feel free to contact us.  We love to talk with our customers.