The genus Macrobrachium in aquaculture

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All the freshwater prawns that have been used in aquaculture and associated experiments belong to the genus Macrobrachium Bate, 1868. This is the largest genus of the family Palaemonidae Rafinesque, 1815 (superfamily Palae-monoidea Rafinesque, 1815; infra-order Caridea Dana, 1852; order Decapoda Latreille, 1803; sub-order Pleocye-mata Burkenroad, 1963), and about 230 species have been described so far (C. Fransen & S. De Grave, pers. comm. 2008). Almost all of them live in freshwater, at least for part of their life. The genus is circumtropical and native to all continents, except Europe and Antarctica.

Until recently, most commercial culture had been based on Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man, 1879), the species with which most of the present volume is concerned. However, China is now culturing large quantities of M. nippo-nense (De Haan, 1849) and India M. malcolmsoni (H. Milne Edwards, 1844) (Chapters 1,21 and 23).

A number of Macrobrachium species have been used for aquaculture experimental work: M. acanthurus (Wiegmann, 1836), indigenous to Atlantic America: North Carolina to South Brazil; M. amazonicum (Heller, 1862), indigenous to Atlantic South America: Venezuela to South Brazil; M. americanum Bate, 1868, indigenous to Pacific America: Baja California to North Peru; M. carcinus (Linnaeus, 1758), indigenous to Atlantic America: Florida to South Brazil; M. formosense Bate, 1868, indigenous to Japan and Taiwan; M. lamarrei (H. Milne Edwards, 1837), indigenous to India and Bangladesh; M. lanceifrons

(Dana, 1852), indigenous to the Philippines; M. lanches-teri (De Man, 1911), indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore; M. lar (Fabricius, 1798), inhabiting the entire Indo-West Pacific region from East Africa to Polynesia; M. malcolmsonii, indigenous to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh; M. ohione (Smith, 1874), indigenous to Atlantic USA: Virginia to Texas, and the Mississippi basin; M. rude (Heller, 1862), indigenous from East Africa to Bangladesh; and M. vollenhovenii (Herklots, 1857), indigenous to West Africa: Cape Verde Islands to South Angola.

Macrobrachium americanum, M. carcinus and M. vollen-hovenii are closely related and are most easily recognised by their region of origin: West America, East America and West Africa, respectively. The adults of these three species are relatively large (170-250 mm total length), but are still smaller than M. rosenbergii from which they further differ by the short rostrum, which is rather straight and has 2 to 5 (mostly 3 or 4) ventral teeth and 11 to 14 dorsal teeth; the large chelae are far less slender with the carpus (the segment before the chela) shorter than the preceding segment, the merus; the movable fingers do not show a velvety pubescence.

Three other species that are presently cultured on a small scale, or experimentally, are M. lanchesteri, M. acanthurus and M. malcolmsonii. They resemble M. rosenbergii in having the second legs of the male very slender with the carpus distinctly longer than the merus; in all three both fingers of the second chela of the adult male shows a dense pubescence. The rostrum of these three species reaches at most a little beyond the antennal scale. Macrobrachium lanchesteri is a small species (total length up to 55 mm), with a straight rostrum, bearing 6 to 11 (usually 8 or 9) dorsal and 2 to 7 (usually 3 or 4) ventral teeth. Macro-brachium acanthurus is much larger (up to 166mm), and much more robust; its rostrum has 9 to 11 dorsal teeth and 4to7ventral. Macrobrachium malcolmsonii is ofpretty good size (up to 230 mm). It is closer to M. rosenbergii than the other species described here, but as already mentioned the second legs of the adult male have both fingers covered with a velvety pubescence, and the rostrum, though showing a dorsal crest over the orbits, is shorter, less slender and has only about 5 ventral teeth.

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