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Malaysian Freshwater Prawns

I can’t have a cow, or a goat, or sheep. So, imagine our joy when THE shipment finally landed last week — 1,100 little Malaysian Freshwater Prawns. It’s taken a month or so to track down a supplier who will ship to Canada. We’ve been eagerly anticipating their arrival…the tanks hubby built were ready with a maintained water temperature of 78°F, the aquaponic grow beds were hooked up and cycled, all we needed was the juvies! We picked them up at the airport, and quickly acclimated them into their new home.

Picking up our “live cargo” from the airport.

Basically what happens is you put the juveniles (that’s prawn talk for after post-larvae stage), in a pond (in our case, tanks) and you “grow them out” from June to October where they are harvested once the weather turns cold. These fast-growing malaysian fresh water prawns are born in salt water, and grow out in fresh water. They don’t survive once the water temperature dips below 65 degrees, and are harvested by plunging them quickly in ice water.

Hubby unwrapping the box, “oh… here’s the receipt”.

The tiny juveniles come in an insulated box pumped with water and oxygen.

They are no bigger than a centimeter, the 1/2″ screw is shown for scale.
Hard to believe they will grow up to 12 inches (overall length) in just 5 months.

The difficulty with raising freshwater prawns is that they need a lot of space. They are territorial and cannabalistic and need about 2 square feet per animal. To maximize their surface living area, layers of netting is suspended in the water where they can use both sides. If all goes well, more tanks will be added to give them more room. It’s a watch and wait approach as we don’t want to build new tanks if they don’t survive.

A smaller tank size for this many prawns means that the temperature and ph level has to be monitored daily. Any fluctuation can be fatal, unlike large tankways where you have time to make any adjustments.

So far I’ve managed to kill about 150 of them. You see, like all living creatures, they need oxygen. I had unplugged the bubbler to get a better look in the tank and forgot to plug it back in…for about 24 hours. Duh. However, I am hopeful, so watch for future updates. They hang out on the bottom, are translucent and hard to see, so for now, hubby and I gaze into a blank dark tank, hoping they’re not all dead.

So why are we doing this? Simply, because eat a lot of frozen shrimp in our dumplings, wontons, and stirfries. Over 90% of Canada’s imports come from somewhere in Asia, where they are pumped full of antibiotics and pesticides. Aside from that, there is the environmental destruction of coastlines, oceans, and marine life by high density farming practices and trawling. If we can fill our freezer every fall with a bumper crop of fresh prawns, as well as grow vegetables using their waste, then life is good.

The iphone pics above of juveniles are not very pretty or appetizing, so I had to include this shot.
Hopefully the next stirfry photo will feature some of our homegrown prawns and vegetables, and of course, the recipe.