Culture environment for black tiger prawns

Water salinity

Black tiger prawns can grow quickly under a wide range of salinities. Maximum growth rates occur in 15-20 parts per thousand (ppt) salinity - seawater is normally 35ppt. Prawns can survive in zero salinity (freshwater) for short periods.

Water temperature

Because black tiger prawns are a tropical species, their best growth rates occur when water temperatures are 25-30oC. Feeding stops at around 20oC and death will occur around 14-15oC.

This temperature range limits production to one crop during summer in areas south of Mackay and two crops between Cardwell and Cooktown, provided good management, controlled stocking rates and selective harvesting are in place.

Stocking density

Ponds are stocked with post-larvae at rates varying from 25-40 per square metre. The higher the stocking densities, the slower the growth rates. With water temperatures above 24oC prawns should reach 30-35g each in 120-150 days.

Pond size

Prawns are normally grown in purpose-built earthen ponds next to the estuarine parts of river systems. Most ponds are about 1ha in size and have a gently sloping bottom to allow for drain harvesting of the prawns and full draining for a dry-out period between crops. Pond depths vary from 1.5-2.0m.

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