Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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While options like tilapia, koi, and trout are some of the most popular choices when it comes to aquaponics, a system can also benefit from other aquatic species – like prawns. Prawns make wonderful additions to your aquaponics system because they are hardy, and their diet makes it easy to feed them. But more importantly, having them means you get to harvest fresh and delicious prawns all year round. But what are the best aquaponics prawns?
Prawn is the common term given to freshwater shrimps. They come in different varieties, but the best ones to have are those species commonly farmed, which are categorized as King Prawns. There are two types we recommend to have for your tanks:
- Black Tiger Prawn
- Whiteleg Prawn
This article will discuss the two commonly farmed prawns that will do well in an aquaponics system.
Why Raise Prawns In Aquaponics
In our previous article, we explained in detail the differences between a shrimp and a prawn. While the term may be used interchangeably, for the sake of consistency, we will use the term prawn throughout this article.
Prawns are undoubtedly an excellent addition to aquaponics since they are classified as detritivores. This means that their diet is primarily composed of decaying plant and animal matter. They can feed off rotting roots from your plants; they may also eat any dead insects that will fall into your tank, or even dead prawns that have been ganged up on while molting.
Because of this feeding behavior, you don’t have to spend too much on their feed, making them an economical choice. The decomposing materials that are further broken down and the prawns own excreta will feed your plants, thereby keeping your system healthy and thriving.
On top of it all, you have the option to raise prawns to be consumed. Within six months, you’ll harvest fresh prawns you can cook with the vegetables from your aquaponics garden. And since make for a versatile ingredient, you can cook them in various ways.
The Best Prawns For Aquaponics
Prawns are generally easy to raise because they are hardy marine creatures. They can survive water temperatures between 57 deg F to 105 deg F. But to encourage optimum growth, you have to maintain temperatures between 78 deg F and 88 deg F. A good quality thermometer should help you keep the readings consistent.
Some of the best tasting prawns are caught in the wild, but that’s not to say you can’t raise them in your backyard. The best prawns to have in an aquaponics system are the most commercially farmed King prawns. The two popular types are black tiger prawns and the whiteleg prawns.
It’s difficult to tell both species apart once they’re peeled. Both turn bright red or light pink when cooked, which is why you might not be able to tell which is which just by judging their meat. However, there are key differences between the two species, which we will discuss below.
Black Tiger Prawns
Black tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon) are generally considered the original king prawns farmed for consumption. They can be most easily identified by their tiger-like striped pattern that appears on their shell and tail.
Black tiger prawns can grow huge due to their DNA makeup. Their potential to reach large sizes is also one reason why they are more expensive than white leg prawns (Penaeus vannamei). If they are raised in situations where they don’t have to compete for space and food, they can reach their maximum growth size, which is about 13 inches.
You would easily think Black tiger prawns are the most commercially farmed species of King Prawns, when, in fact, it isn’t. It only comes second to the whiteleg shrimp/prawns.
White Leg Prawns
White leg prawns or white leg shrimps are the number one most farmed species because they tend to need lesser feed. They come in grey, brown, and white, but the colors will depend upon their feed and their water quality. Keep in mind that their color does not indicate the quality of their meat.
White leg prawns may not naturally grow as large as the tiger prawns, only reaching a maximum of nine inches. However, with technology, some farmers have raised bigger white leg prawns that can compare to the tiger prawns.
Raising Prawns With Other Fish
Prawns in aquaponics are usually placed as an addition to an existing system. They are commonly added to a tilapia aquaponics system, but they can also do well with other fish types. Besides helping to clean up your tank, here are the following reasons why it’s a good idea to add prawns to your system:
- They are best kept with omnivorous or herbivorous fish, since they won’t compete for food
- They need less or no feed at all since they eat leftovers and detritus.
- Contributes to the microbial balance in your tank, therefore reducing the risk of having poor water quality
If you intend to raise aquaponic prawns with other fish, keep in mind that it is possible for them to get eaten, especially the young ones. While they can coexist with other fish by settling at the bottom of the tank, many aquaponics practitioners keep them under floating rafts to eat dead roots and stay safe from getting devoured.
Raising prawns in your aquaponics system is an excellent sustainable method of farming them for personal consumption or commercial business. Not only that, but prawns can also be ideal tankmates for some of your aquaponics fish. They eat and clean up debris, helping with your tank maintenance, and, in turn, supply your plants with the needed nutrients.
The best aquaponics prawns are the King prawns, which are large and have succulent, flavorful meat. You can choose either the black tiger prawns or the whiteleg prawns, both of which are the top farmed species. Choosing one over the other will ultimately depend on your goal of production.