Being a landlocked seafood lover isn't a pretty sight. While researching mail order shrimp companies four years ago, I stumbled upon information about raising your own freshwater shrimp. After two years of reading everything I could get my hands on, I decided this-might be for me.
Freshwater prawns are bred and hatched in salt water. After reaching post larvae stage, they are introduced to freshwater for growing out. The grow-out phase takes from four to six months, depending on your climate. The prawns prefer a water temperature of 76 to 88[degrees]F, and will not survive anything under 60[degrees]F or above 97[degrees]F. Your water should have a pH between 6.5-9.5. Well water is most suited for this.
The freshwater prawns I stock are Macrobrachium rosenbergii. I chose these based on the location of the hatchery alone. There are a number of freshwater prawns available, these were easy for me to order and haul myself, saving shipping costs.
I purchased a little over 1,000 60-day-old juveniles to release in my 1/4 acre windmill overflow pond. The juveniles come in tropical fish bags and insulated boxes. I floated the bags of juveniles in the pond for 15 minutes to equalize the water temperature, then mixed pond water into the bags and let them sit for another five minutes before releasing them.
I fed 32% sinking catfish feed. Shrimp feed is available in some areas of the U.S. I started out feeding one pound every other day and increased the amount as they grew. Make sure they have all the feed cleaned up before adding more.
The juveniles were the size of a quarter (3/4 of an inch) when stocked and at harvest some were seven inches in length.
I was able to harvest shrimp through the second week in October. I had not planned on having them that long, but the weather cooperated and the water temperature stayed above 70 degrees well into the fall. (Which is rare for my part of Oklahoma.)
I used a seine and crawfish traps to harvest them. The traps worked best--my pond floor was uneven which made seining hard to do--and the prawns are very quick!
The prawns were for my personal use, however some of you might be interested in making some extra income from them. Most freshwater prawns are sold pond side for $4-$6 per pound, depending on location.
Right now shrimp are being "grown out" in facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Arizona and now Oklahoma, not to mention the lower coastal states.
The hatcheries sell post larvae, 30day-old juveniles and 60-day-old juveniles by the thousands. Prices range from $27.50 to $125 per thousand, depending on how many and what size you order. The more you order, the cheaper they will be.
Prawns can be stocked at a rate of 16,000 to 20,000 per acre. Heavier stocking is possible with the use of substrate--vertical orange construction fence works well. Anything that gives the prawns more area is good. They are cannibalistic and if crowded, they will fight.
This year I am also raising some in tanks. If all works out well I will save some breeding pairs to raise my own stock for next spring.
My source for juveniles and post larvae is Aquaculture of Texas, 4141 East IH-20 Service Rd. North, Weatherford, TX 76087. They must be ordered in advance--90 days for 60-day-old juveniles and 30 days for post larvae.
Good sources for information are aquanic.org and the University of Mississippi at www.msucares.com/ aquaculture/prawns/. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at cowgirlone47 @hotmail.com, or snail mail at Cowgirl, HCR3 Box 13, Beaver, OK 73932. COWGIRL BEAVER, OKLAHOMA