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Aquaculture in Queensland

Kuruma Prawns


The farming of kuruma prawns (Penaeus japonicus) in Australia has developed in response to demand from lucrative Japanese markets.

The kuruma prawn isa subtropical species found in the entire Indian Ocean including the Red Sea and the Pacific Ocean as far as the Caroline Islands but short of the Marshall Islands.They are found on the Queensland coat north of Mackay.

Kuruma Prawns

Most prawns in Queensland are grown in ponds but there are some grown in sea farms.

Kuruma prawns are usually found over mud or sandy bottoms of the open ocean in shallow coastal areas. Their young are often found in estuaries and mangrove forests. They are nocturnal animals burrowing in sand by day and feeding and spawning by night. They grow best in water temperatures between 25°C and 30°C.

Prawns are Crustaceans with 5 pairs of appendages. The Decapod Crustaceans include crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp. It is estimated that there are almost 15,000 species in this group.

Kuruma Prawn
Image from DAFF website

Farming Kuruma Prawns


Rocky Point Prawn Farm grows both Black Tiger and Kuruma prawns. The average price of Kuruma prawns is around $50 per kilogram. They have a Prawn hatchery where Kuruma, Black Tiger, Banana and Brown Tiger prawns are bred.

Kuruma prawns are grown in earthen ponds next to good supplies of seawater. The ponds are about 0.8 to 1.5 hectares in size and are 1.5 to 2.0 metres deep with gently sloping bottoms that allow complete drainage and dry out of the pond floor. Steep pond sides (1:2 slope) will prevent benthic algal growth and minimise wading bird predation. The pond floor needs to be covered with a layer of sand to allow for the prawns to burrow.

Prawn larvae are produced in hatcheries from pond-reared spawners or breeding stock collected from wild populations. Fifiteen days after fertilization the young are ready for the grow out phase.

The prawns are fed two to three times at night and organic fertilisers are used to produce algal blooms in the pond water. These algal blooms are needed to maximise survival and growth rates of the prawns. Within six months the prawns reach marketable size and with survival rates greater than 80% production of 3-4 tonnes per hectare can be reached.

Harvesting usually starts in March or April and continues through to July and August. The prawns are usually harvested by using traps or wing nets set at night when the prawns are active. The traps are baited and the larger prawns are trapped inside while the smaller prawns escape. The wing nets channel the swimming prawns into a tunnel and then into a box net.

The prawns then are slowly cooled in two stages down to 12°C to 14°C before packing. The graded prawns are then packed in cool, moist wood shavings or sawdust in 1 kg packs. These packs are then placed in insulated boxes and flown to Japan. Survival rates of 95% can be achieved using this technique.

Rocky Point Prawn Farm
Image from Rocky Point Prawn Farm website

Rocky Point Prawn Hatchery
Image from Rocky Point Prawn Farm website

Next: Black Tiger Prawns   


Black Tiger Prawns
Kuruma Prawns


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