Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Farfantepenaeus aztecus
(northern brown shrimp)



Farfantepenaeus aztecus (northern brown shrimp)


  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Farfantepenaeus aztecus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • northern brown shrimp
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Crustacea
  •         Class: Malacostraca
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Farfantepenaeus aztecus Ives, 1891

Preferred Common Name

  • northern brown shrimp

Other Scientific Names

  • Penaeus (Melicertus) aztecus aztecus Perez-Farfante, 1969
  • Penaeus aztecus Ives, 1891

International Common Names

  • English: brown shrimp; shrimp, brown
  • Spanish: cameron café norteno
  • French: crevette royal grise

Local Common Names

  • Mexico: cameron café; cameron moreno; cameron pardo
  • USA: brownie; golden shrimp; green lake shrimp; red shrimp; red-tail shrimp

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Crustacea
  •                 Class: Malacostraca
  •                     Subclass: Eumalacostraca
  •                         Order: Decapoda
  •                             Suborder: Dendrobranchiata
  •                                 Unknown: Penaeoidea
  •                                     Family: Penaeidae
  •                                         Genus: Farfantepenaeus
  •                                             Species: Farfantepenaeus aztecus


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Farfantepenaeus aztecus has a brown to olive-green appearance, though both red and green specimens of this species have been reported (Smithsonian Marine Station, 2004). As per description provided by Smithsonian Marine Station (2004), F. aztecus is a species of grooved, burrowing shrimp, common in Florida waters. Antennae are significantly longer than body length. Its carapace has a medial carina on the anterior surface that is bordered on either side by a broad, somewhat rounded groove. The prominent rostrum is slightly upturned with 5-10 sharp teeth on the upper edge. The integument is thin and translucent in appearance. The first three pairs of walking legs are chelate. Uropods are rounded and generally reddish-brown in the distal portions. The telson bears a sharp tip and a deep medial groove anteriorally.

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females growing larger than males. Generally, males attain only three fifths of the female weight, and five-sixths of the female length. Females are further distinguished by the presence of a closed thelycum located on the ventral sternum of the thorax, while males are identified by the presence of the pentasma.


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Farfantepenaeus aztecus occur along the western Atlantic coast from approximately Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the lower Yucatan Peninsula (Williams, 1984). It is also found throughout the Indian River Lagoon.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 17 Dec 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


TurkeyPresentIntroduced2009As: Penaeus aztecus


FrancePresentIntroduced2015As: Penaeus aztecus
GreecePresentIntroduced2012As: Penaeus aztecus
ItalyPresentIntroduced2014As: Penaeus aztecus


French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced1973As: Penaeus aztecus
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced1979As: Penaeus aztecus

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceFood Source DatasheetLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
detritus Aquatic|Adult; Aquatic|Fry
phytoplankton Aquatic|Adult; Aquatic|Fry; Aquatic|Larval
zoobentos Aquatic|Adult; Aquatic|Fry
zooplankton Aquatic|Adult; Aquatic|Fry


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B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) Harmful Fry
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) 0.1 Optimum Adult
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) 0.1 Optimum Broodstock
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) 0.1 Optimum Larval
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) 0.1 Optimum Fry
Bicarbonate (mg/l) Optimum Egg
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2.0 Harmful Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2.0 Harmful Fry
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) >5.0 Optimum Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) >5.0 Optimum Fry
Salinity (part per thousand) <27 >35 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) <27 >35 Harmful Egg
Salinity (part per thousand) <27 >35 Optimum Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 27 35 Optimum Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 27 35 Optimum Egg
Water pH (pH) Harmful Fry
Water pH (pH) 6.5 8.5 Optimum Adult
Water pH (pH) 6.5 8.5 Optimum Larval
Water pH (pH) 6.5 8.5 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) Harmful Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <10 >32 Harmful Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <24 >36 Harmful Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 22 30 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 24 32 Optimum Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 24 32 Optimum Larval

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Lagodon rhomboides Predator Minello and et al. (1989)
Micropogonias undulatus Predator Minello and et al. (1989)
Paralichthys lethostigma Predator Minello and et al. (1989)

Impact Summary

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Fisheries / aquaculture Positive

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Fresh meat
  • Frozen meat
  • Whole


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Chow S, Dougherty WJ, Sandifer PA, 1990. Meiotic chromosome complements and nuclear DNA contents of four species of shrimps of the genus Penaeus. J. Crustacean Biology, 10:29-36

Dall W, 1968. Food and feeding of some Australian penaeid shrimp. Proc. World Sci. Conf. on Biology and Culture of Shrimps and Prawns. FAO Fisheries Reports, 57(2):251-258

FAO, 1980. FAO species catalogue. Volume 1- Shrimps and prawns of the world. An annotated catalogue of species on interest to fisheries. FAO, Rome, 271 pp

Kim W, Abele LG, 1990. Molecular phylogeny of selected decapod crustaceans based on 18S rRNA nucleotide sequences. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 10:1-13

Larson SC, Van Den Avyle MJ, Bozeman EL Jr, 1989. Species profiles: Life histories and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (South Atlantic): brown shrimp. US Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Reports 82(11.90). US Army Corps. Of Engineers TR EL-82-4, 14 pp

Milligan DJ, 1976. A method for obtaining metaphase chromosome spreads from marine shrimp with notes on the karyotypes of Penaeus aztecus, P. setiferus, and P. duorarum. World Mariculture Society, 7:327-332

Minello TJ, Zimmerman RJ, Martinez EX, 1989. Mortality of Young Brown Shrimp Penaeus aztecus in Estuarine Nurseries. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 118(6):693-708

Odum WE, Heald E, 1972. Trophic analyses of an estuarine mangrove community. Bull. Mar. Sci., 22(3):671-738

Renfro WC, 1964. Life history stages of a Gulf of Mexico brown shrimp. United States Fish and Wildlife Service Circular, 183:94-98

Smithsonian Marine Station, 2004. Penaeus aztecus. Online at Accessed 18 May 2004

Williams AB, 1955. A contribution to the life histories of commercial shrimps (Penaeidae) in North Carolina. Bulletin of Marine Science of the Gulf and Caribbean, 5(2):116-146

Williams AB, 1984. Shrimps, lobsters and crabs of the Atlantic coast of the eastern United States, Maine to Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 550 pp


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Main Author
Sunil Siriwardena
Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, UK

Distribution Maps

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