Fenneropenaeus merguiensis (banana shrimp)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Fenneropenaeus merguiensis De Man, 1888
Preferred Common Name
- banana shrimp
Other Scientific Names
- Penaeus merguiensis De Man, 1888
International Common Names
- English: banana prawn; white prawn
Local Common Names
- China/Hong Kong: pak ha
- Vietnam: tom bac the; tom he mua
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Crustacea
- Class: Malacostraca
- Subclass: Eumalacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Suborder: Dendrobranchiata
- Unknown: Penaeoidea
- Family: Penaeidae
- Genus: Fenneropenaeus
- Species: Fenneropenaeus merguiensis
OverviewTop of page
Fenneropenaeus merguiensis is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region in both tropical and subtropical waters (Grey et al., 1983). F. merguiensis is an important species for prawn fisheries and extensive prawn farming in South-East Asia and Australia (New and Rabanal, 1985; Tseng, 1987; Weidner and Rosenberry, 1992). World production of cultured P. merguiensis was 44,890 tons in 2001 (FAO, 2003). Major producers (in order of contribution) are Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Guam (see Pictures). In 2001, Indonesia was the top producer with 25,682 tons, followed by Vietnam with 14,000 tons. Nonetheless, F.merguiensis is considered as a minor species for aquaculture. World production in 2001 was only 7.6% of that of the major culture species, Penaeus monodon or 25.4% of that of the whiteleg prawn, Penaeus vannamei. Since 1994, world production of cultured F. merguiensis has not increased significantly (see Pictures).
F. merguiensis has been cultured in extensive ponds with natural seeding for a long time in Asia (Lim et al., 1987; Tseng, 1987) and recently in semi-intensive and intensive ponds in Australia (Lobergeiger and Hoang, 2001).
In the early days (before 1900), postlarvae or juveniles of wild F. merguiensis were captured with tidal currents in large extensive ponds (such as the tambak in Indonesia) in South-East Asia. Prawns were kept in these ponds for a growing up period, typically a couple of months, before being harvested. Supplementary feeding occurred only later in improved extensive farming, with ponds usually stocked with wild caught or hatchery-produced postlarvae (Muthu et al., 1982; Tseng, 1987; Apud, 1990). Having a geographic distribution similar to that of P. monodon,F. merguiensis has been ignored by modern prawn farmers and development officers. Also, premature conclusions of high mortality of this species in semi-intensive ponds and difficulties in pond management (Tseng, 1987; Boonyaratpalin, 1998) have somehow marginalized interests in F. merguiensis farming. Thus, farming of F. merguiensis remains at a sustaining, small scale, mainly in South-East Asia. Production of world cultured F. merguiensis, though steadily increasing, is still considered as minor compared to P. monodon and F. chinensis, and recently P. vannamei.
However, the increasing shortage of quality prawn postlarvae for aquaculture in general and the inconsistent availability of (wild broodstock and) postlarvae P. monodon prompted more farmers to culturing F. merguiensis. Good results are evident in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and recently Australia (Muthu et al., 1982; Hariati et al., 1998; Lobegeiger and Hoang, 2001). High survival (more than 80%) and good production (between 3 and 5 tons/ha/4 or 5 months) have been achieved in Australia recently (Lobegeiger and Hoang, 2001) using semi-intensive and intensive prawn farming technology. World production of cultured F. merguiensis is projected to surge in the near future.
Importance of P. merguiensis to world prawn farming
World prawn farming has relied on a few species such as P. monodon, F. chinensis and recently P. vannamei. The long-term sustainability of the culture of P. monodon (the most popular species) is currently hampered by the depletion of wild stock, upon which hatchery production has heavily relied, and very poor reproductive performance of pond-reared or domesticated broodstock (Benzie, 1997).
Although F. merguiensis does not grow as fast as P. monodon, their ability to mature and spawn in captivity (Lichatowich et al., 1978; AQUACOP, 1983; Hoang, 2002) and their short life cycle (Crocos and Kerr, 1983; Rothlisberg et al., 1985) ensure a consistent production of postlarvae and a great opportunity to domesticate the species. This would help eliminate the reliance of the prawn farming industry on wild broodstock; and, more importantly, allows the development of fast growing or pathogen-free stocks through selective breeding. There are also several additional advantages of culturing F. merguiensis, such as the low cost of broodstock, ease in larval rearing and potentially low feed cost (Hoang, 2001). With the increasing shortage of wild broodstock and limited success in breeding pond-reared broodstock P. monodon (Benzie, 1997; Browdy, 1998), the importance of F. merguiensis to prawn farming will become more conspicuous.