The Tiger Shrimp

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The Giant Tiger Shrimp. SOURCE: FAO Species Fact Sheets Penaeus monodon (Fabricius, 1798)The Giant Tiger Shrimp. SOURCE: FAO Species Fact Sheets Penaeus monodon (Fabricius, 1798)

The Giant Tiger Shrimp usually dubbed giant black sea creature or the jumbo shrimp is a foot-long marine crustacean. This shrimp species has peculiar avid appetite and a tendency to harbor or distribute disease causing organisms which is a source of concern about the future of the healthy, diverse aquatic marine ecosystems and habitat being turned into one dominated by a single invasive species. Penaeus monodon also commonly known as the giant tiger prawn or Asian tiger shrimp among other numerous common names is a profitable aquaculture candidate that is widely and globally cultured for food. Its growth has been recorded as long as a human forearm and its weight as much as 350 grams and has gained a foothold in waters across the globe.

Common Name

A commonly used name is giant tiger prawn [English]
Camarón tigre gigante [Spanish]
Crevette géante tigrée [French]

Scientific Name

Penaeus monodon Fabricius, 1798

Local Names

As aptly recorded in the FAO Species Catalogue Vol.1 - Shrimps and Prawns of the World - An Annotated Catalogue of Species of Interest to Fisheries, the various local names for P. monodon include; Tiger prawn(S. and E. Africa), Kamba, Kamba ndogo (Swahili language, Kenya; Kamba is used for the adults, Kamba ndogofor the small ones, Kalri (Pakistan;), Jinga (Bombay, India), Kara chemmeen (Kerala, India), Yera (Madras, India),Bagda chingri (Calcutta, India), Ushi-ebi (Japan), Grass shrimp (Taiwan), Ghost prawn (Hong Kong), Sugpo, Jumbo tiger shrimp (Philippines), Udang windu, Udang pantjet (Indonesia), Jumbo tiger prawn, Giant tiger prawn, Black tiger prawn, Blue tiger prawn, Leader prawn, Panda prawn (Australia). Literature: Mohamed, 1970,

Geographical Location

The Native Range of P. monodon is the coasts of the Arabian peninsula and Indo-West Pacific Ocean, from the eastern coast of Africa (Natal to Somalia, including Madagascar), the Arabian Peninsula, South-East Asia, Taiwan, China, the Sea of Japan, New Guinea and Northern Australia (Dore and Frimodt, 1987; Perez Farfante and Kensley, 1997). The species is widely distributed in the Mediterranean sea via the Suez canal, and have been introduced from Asia in in 1980s to Hawaii and the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the USA, Europe (Italy and Cyprus) and various South American countries (Colombia, Venezuela, the Caribbean, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru). However, introductions in the late 1980s to West Africa (Senegal, Gambia, IvoryCoast, Guinea and Angola) have resulted in relatively common trawler catches, suggesting establishment.

General Description

Distribution Map. Source: cabi.orgDistribution Map. Source: cabi.orgPeneaus monodon are relatively big in size and black in colour with whitish-yellow stripes and black and white banding on their tails. Generally they have the typical prawn morphology comprising a head, tail, five pairs of swimming legs (pleopods) and five pairs of walking legs (pereopods), including several head appendages. The body is enclosed in a hard exoskeleton (the carapace) with an extension in front of the eyes referred to as the rostrum.

The giant tiger shrimp grows up to the stretch of a human forearm reaching 330 mm or greater in length and weigh as much as 350grams. They are sexually dimorphic, with females larger than males. At sexual maturity, female carapace lengths range from 47-164 mm and their total lengths from 164-190 mm,while male carapace lengths fall between 37 and 71 mm, with total lengths of up to 134 mm. On average, femalesweigh 200-320 g and males weigh 100-170 g. (Dall, et al., 1991; Environmental Defense Fund, 2011; FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, 2012; Knott, et al., 2011; Primavera, et al., 1998 ;)

Distribution Map. Source: discoverlife.orgDistribution Map. Source: discoverlife.orgAn account in the Animal Diversity Web quoting (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, 2012; Knott, et al., 2011) noted that the young giant tiger prawns grow up in coastal estuaries, lagoons and mangroves habitat and that they are very tolerant to a range of salinity levels from 2-30 ppt. The adults move into deeper waters and live on rocky or muddy bottoms, ranging in depth from 0-110 m (most commonly at 20-50 m). These shrimps may bury themselves in the substrate during the day, emerging to feed at night. They live in waters ranging from 28-33°C and are unlikely to survive in waters colder than 13°C.

Tiger prawn is known to inhabit a wide range of salinities from 3 to 35 ppt (parts per thousand) with juveniles occupying lower salinities than adults. It is primarily a nocturnal species burrowing into muddy or sandy bottoms. It is generally predatory preying on their smaller cousins, as well as crabs and young oysters as opposed to other shrimp species, which are more scavengers or detritus feeders. (Sea Grant Louisiana Fisheries - Louisiana Fisheries - Giant Tiger Prawn)

Key issues

Because of Giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon). Source: tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon). Source: big size in comparison with other species it attracts higher market prizes. Consequently, people like to put it on the grill because it tastes like lobster hence it is highly sought after.

But many scientists remain concerned because of the invasive nature of tiger shrimp. As an invasive species, it is destructive and disruptive to both biodiversity and the economy and as such measures in preventing its introduction in the ocean need to be put in place because as a biological pollutant it can have an extreme impact on ecosystems.


The major ecology and impacts A tiger prawn is displayed by shrimp trawler. Author: Matthew Tresaugue.A tiger prawn is displayed by shrimp trawler. Author: Matthew Tresaugue.of the Tiger prawn is because it is susceptible to a variety of ex-tremely contagious bacterial, fungal and viral infections, including white spot Yellow-head virus Baculovirus infectious diseases which they easily spread to native shrimp and crawfish. These diseases are of particular concern in aquaculture environments and in areas where this species has been intro-duced. (Crockford, 2008; FAO,2001; ). Giant tiger prawn is also host to a number of protozoan ec-toparasites and endoparasites fungal microsporidians. (Chakraborti and Bandyapadhyay, 2011)

On a positive note farming of Giant tiger prawn constitutes about 47% of total world shrimp production giving it significant economic importance, particularly in Asian countries. With a high demand in Asian and international markets, building and running farms to produce the shrimp can be highly prof-itable and create many jobs. (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, 2012; Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2012)

An Asian tiger shrimp in the lab. Credit: David Knott, Southeastern Regional Taxonomic CenterAn Asian tiger shrimp in the lab. Credit: David Knott, Southeastern Regional Taxonomic CenterHowever as a result of massive mangrove forests destruction for conversion into ponds for shrimp farming, triggering erosion and harming habitat for mollusks and many other species, including shore-birds; overfishing of juvenile shrimp from the wild to supply farms; and significant human rights abuses the Greenpeace added Penaeus monodon to its seafood red list. It has also been reported that Farming pools are sprayed with many chemicals and antibiotics to maximize shrimp production and these chemicals can enter natural waterways, harming animals and humans alike. These pools are often abandoned after a few years and there is typically no effort to return these lands to their original conditions. (FAO, 2001; GreenPeace, 2012)

Note the long antenna! Credit: David Knott, Southeastern Regional Taxonomic CenterNote the long antenna! Credit: David Knott, Southeastern Regional Taxonomic CenterAfrica has all the natural endowments to aspire and become one of the world’s main suppliers of shrimp through a strategic agenda within the framework of the internationally set standards. Such agenda need to include the farmers, investors, researchers and scientists, policy makers, and international NGOs to address grey areas of shrimp farming most especially the environmental implications.





  1.  Chakraborti, J., P. Bandyapadhyay. 2011. Seasonal incidence of protozoan parasites of the black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) of Sundarbans, West Bengal, India. Journal of Parasitic Diseases, 35/1: 61-65.
  2.  Crockford, M. 2008. “White Spot Disease” (On-line pdf). Australia and New Zealand Standard Diagnostic Procedures.
  3.  Dall, W., B. Hill, P. Rothlisberg, D. Sharples. 1991. Advances in Marine Biology. Queensland, Australia: Academic Press. U-M Weblogin
  4.  Environmental Defense Fund, 2011. “Giant Tiger Prawn” (On-line). Accessed February 09, 2012 .
  5.  FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, 2012. “Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. About us - Fisheries and Aquaculture Depart-ment” Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme
  6.  FAO, 2001. “Crustacean Disease” (On-line).Asia Diagnostic Guide to Aquatic Animal Diseases
  7.  FAO-FIRA, 2010. “Giant Tiger Prawn Home” (On-line). Accessed February 10, 2012.
  8.  GreenPeace, 2012. “Shrimp Farming”.
  9.  Knott, D., P. Fuller, A. Benson, M. Neilson. 2011. “NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species”.
  10.  Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2012. “Farmed Shrimp Seafood Watch”.
  11.  Primavera, J., F. Parado-Estepa, J. Lebata. 1998. Morphometric relationship of length and weight of giant tiger prawn Penaeus monodon according to life stage, sex and source. Aquaculture, Volume 164. Issues 1-4: 67-75.
  12.  Sea Grant Louisiana Fisheries - Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon) -Penaid Shrimp Family (Penaeidae)

The Tiger Shrimp
Date 2017-04-21 Language  English Filesize 1.14 MB