Species of the freshwater prawn genus Macrobrachium are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical zones of the world. Holthuis (1980) provides useful information on the distribution, local names, habitats and maximum sizes of commercial (fished and farmed) species of Macrobrachium. They are found in most inland freshwater areas including lakes, rivers, swamps, irrigation ditches, canals and ponds, as well as in estuarine areas. Most species require brackishwater in the initial stages of their life cycle (and therefore they are found in water that is directly or indirectly connected with the sea) although some complete their cycle in inland saline and freshwater lakes. Some species prefer rivers containing clear water, while others are found in extremely turbid conditions. M. rosenbergii is an example of the latter. There is a wide interspecific variation in maximum size and growth rate, M. rosenbergii, M. americanum, M. carcinus, M. malcolmsonii, M. choprai, M. vollenhovenii and M. lar being the largest species known. M. americanum (Cauque river prawn) is found naturally in western watersheds of the Americas while M. carcinus (painted river prawn) is found in those connected with the Atlantic. M. choprai (Ganges river prawn) is found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra river systems. M. lar (Monkey river prawn) is native from East Africa to the Marquesas Islands of the Pacific (and was introduced into Hawaii). M. malcolmsonii (monsoon river prawn) is found in the waters of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. M. rosenbergii (giant river prawn) is indigenous in the whole of the South and Southeast Asian area as well as in northern Oceania and in the western Pacific islands. M. vollenhovenii (African river prawn) is naturally distributed in West Africa, from Senegal to Angola. Many Macrobrachium species have been transferred from their natural location to other parts of the world, initially for research purposes. M. rosenbergii remains the species most used for commercial farming and consequently is the one which has been introduced to more countries. Following its import into Hawaii from Malaysia in 1965, where the pioneer work of Ling (1969) was translated into a method for the mass production of postlarvae (PL) by Fujimura and Okamoto (1972), it has been introduced into almost every continent for farming purposes. M. rosenbergii is now farmed in many countries; the major producers (>200 mt) are Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Taiwan Province of China, and Thailand (FAO 2002). More than thirty other countries reported production of this species in the year 2000. Viet Nam is also a major producer, according to New (2000b). In addition, there are also valuable capture fisheries for M. rosenbergii, for example in Bangladesh, India, and several countries in Southeast Asia.

Michael B. New
Marlow, United Kingdom
Rome, 2002
Farming freshwater prawns
A manual for the culture of the giant riverprawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii)


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