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A New Book on the Farming of Freshwater Prawns




Macrobrachium: The Culture of Freshwater Prawns, a compilation of the global information on the farming of freshwater prawns of the genus Macrobrachium with special emphasis on India, has 169 pages, 41 black and white and 60 color pictures, numerous tables and diagrams and over 200 references (most of them since the year 2000).  Modestly priced, it is available from Dr. C. Mohanakumaran Nair (naircm@hotmail.com), one of the authors (below), for $25 (plus postage and packing).  It begins with a brief introduction to the biology of freshwater prawns and their culture, followed by a review of the global statistics on prawn production, which show that production is nearing 500,000 metric tons annually, valued at $1.8 billion a year.


Freshwater prawn farming in India has soared from less than 500 tons in 1996 to nearly 43,000 tons in 2005–2006, when prawn exports totaled nearly 6,200 tons with a value of $56 million.  Comprehensive information is provided on the business climate, technical issues and constraints to prawn farming in India, along with an examination of the scientific literature on prawn farming in India.  While the book highlights prawn farming in India, it also discusses prawn farming in ten other countries (see list in the Table of Contents below).



A Couple of Brief Excerpts


From Chapter One: Although dozens of species of prawns exist around the world, only the giant freshwater prawn (M. rosenbergii) and the oriental river prawn (M. nipponense) are farmed on a commercial scale.  Many other species, including the monsoon river prawn (M. malcolmsonii), have been grown on a smaller scale, while other species have been reared experimentally or in pilot-scale operations.  From a consumer’s point of view, unlike marine shrimp, size is not the only criterion in determining the value of prawns; taste and familiarity are also important factors.  In China, for example, the indigenous M. nipponense, though small, is thought to be tastier than M. rosenbergii.


From the Notes Section: The lay terminology for prawns and shrimp varies around the world.  Sometimes the words denote size (shrimp are small, prawns are large), and sometimes their use is colloquial to the country where they are being discussed.  It’s best to use the word “shrimp” for marine species and “prawn” for freshwater species, in accordance with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.  Michael New (below), the senior author of this book, is a little concerned about the use of the word “scampi” for prawns, which is commonplace in India and in this book, because “scampo” (the plural of scampi) is the Italian word for Nephrops norvegicus, also known as Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn and langoustine.  Scampi are markedly different from prawns in shape, appearance and taste.  The fleshy tail of scampi is closer in taste and texture to lobster and crayfish than to prawns and shrimp.  To further add to the confusion, in Belgium various crustaceans are referred to as “freshwater scampi” or “marine scampi”, and in Canada and the USA, “scampi” is often used to refer to large shrimp and prawns.


Table of Contents


1. Introduction to Scampi Culture


2. Global Production Statistics


3. Scampi Culture in India

Production and Area Under Scampi Culture


The Business Climate


4. Freshwater Prawn Farming Practices in India

Site Requirements

Pond area and shape

Pond depth

Soil quality

Pond embankments

Water source and intake

Water quality and management


Management of Nursery and Growout Phases

Drying, tilling and use of piscicides


Filling and fertilizing

Source of scampi seed

Seed selection

Acclimatization and stocking of seed

Factors affecting seed quality

Nursery rearing

Growout culture

Growout feeding


All-male and All-female Monosex Culture of M. rosenbergii


Paddy cum Prawn Rotational Farming of M. rosenbergii in the Kole Lands of Kerala

Field preparation

Nursery rearing growout



Paddy cum Prawn Rotational Farming in Kuttanad, Kerala


Freshwater Prawn Culture in Saline Soils


Culture of Macrobrachium in Reservoirs, A Case Study of Kerala

Scampi stocking trials in Meenkara and Malampuzha reservoirs


Culture of the Monsoon River Prawn, Macrobrachium malcolmsonii


Processing of Scampi


5. Issues, Concerns, and Constraints of Scampi Farming in India


Water Quality, Disease Syndromes and Survival

Size Grading

Monosex Culture

Use of Unwanted Female Scampi


Other Species

Conflicts, Concerns, and Constraints


6. Scampi Production in Other Countries






Sri Lanka



United States



7. Recent Research and Technological Advances

Breeding and Genetics


Selection of broodstock

Strain differences

Broodstock quality


Cryopreservation studies


Diseases, Water Quality and the Use of Immunostimulants


White muscle disease

Balloon disease

Appendage deformity disease

Disease resistance

Benefits of vitamin C supplementation

Toxicity of chemicals and unsuitable pH

Use of probiotics and immunostimulants

Use of antibiotics in hatcheries

General comments on health management



Source of seed

Hatchery management

Nursery management

Transport survival


Size grading


Monosex culture

Heterogeneous individual growth

pH control

Production costs in a temperate zone

Other species


Feeds and Feeding


Larval feeds and feeding

Growout feeds and feeding


Polyculture and Integration


Processing Marketing and Product Quality



Bacterial contamination

Quality criteria

Market studies and consumer products


8. A Glance into the Future of Scampi Farming in India

Scampi Farming Potential

Achieving the Potential

Closing Admonition


The Authors


Michael B. New (michaelnew339@btinternet.com), an author with nearly 40 years of experience in aquaculture and animal feeds, has made major contributions to the expansion of freshwater prawn farming around the world.  He has been a senior staff member at FAO’s Fisheries Department in Rome and has managed several FAO projects.  He has been a consultant for several international organizations, including FAO, the Asian Development Bank and the European Commission in Asia.  He has published a total of nearly 150 technical manuals, scientific papers and popular articles on aquaculture.  Information: Michael New, Wroxton Lodge, Institute Road, Marlow, Bucks SL7 1BJ, United Kingdom.


C. Mohanakumaran Nair (naircm@hotmail.com), professor and head of the Department of Aquaculture at Kerala Agricultural University in India, has more than 27 years of experience in aquaculture, and he is the chief architect of freshwater prawn farming development in India.  His pioneering efforts in developing cost-effective seed production technology paved the way for commercial prawn hatcheries in India.  Information: C. Mohanakumaran Nair, College of Fisheries, Kerala Agricultural University, Panangad Post Office, Kochi 682 506, Kerala, India.


M. Narayanan Kutty has been a team leader for a regional aquaculture center in Africa, a senior fisheries training expert in Bangladesh, a senior aquaculturist at the Network of Aquaculture Research Centres in Asia Pacific (NACA) in Thailand, and dean of the College of Fisheries at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in India.  Information: M. Narayanan Kutty, “Prasadam”, 10/389 Puthur, Palakkad 678 001, Kerala, India.


K.R. Salin, an assistant professor in aquaculture at Kerala Agricultural University in India, is an expert in the production of prawn seedstock and prawn farming, with more than 15 years of experience.  He played an active role in promoting freshwater prawn farming in the rice fields around Kerala, India.  Information: K.R. Salin, KVK, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Kerala Agricultural University, Kumarakom, Kottayam 686 566, Kerala, India.


M.C. Nandeesha, professor and head of the Department of Aquaculture at the College of Fisheries, Central Agricultural University, Tripura, India, has more that 24 years of experience in India and other countries, working primarily with carp nutrition and breeding.  Information: M.C. Nandeesha, Department of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries, Central Agricultural University, Lembucherra 799 210, Agartala, Tripura, India.


Publisher: Rajiv Beri, Macmillan India, Ltd., 2/10 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110-003 India.


Sources: 1.  Macrobrachium: The Culture of Freshwater Prawns.  Michael B. New, C. Mohanakumaran Nair, M. Narayanan Kutty, K.R. Salin and M.C. Nandeesha.  Macmillan India, Ltd.  2008. 2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, January 19, 2009.

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