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Shrimps Crabs and Lobsters: Decapoda

Giant Tiger Prawn (penaeus Monodon): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The dark bodies of adult giant tiger prawn have several distinct black and white bands and reach 13.2 inches (336 millimeters) in length.

Geographic range: They are found off the eastern coast of Africa and the Red Sea, east to India, Australia, and Japan.

Habitat: Juveniles live near the shore and in mangrove estuaries (EHS-chew-AIR-eez). The adults prefer waters with silty or sandy bottoms and live down to depths of 525 feet (162 meters).

Diet: Giant tiger prawn eat mostly smaller shrimps, crabs, mollusks, and other animals, as well as algae (AL-jee). They will also swallow sand and silt mixed with bacteria and bits of plants and animals. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that break down the tissues of dead organisms.

Behavior and reproduction: During the day, giant tiger prawn remain buried on the sea bottom. Groups of two hundred to three Groups of two hundred to three hundred individuals have been observed swimming in shallow water at dawn and dusk. (Illustration by Jonathan Higgins. Reproduced by permission.) hundred individuals have been observed swimming in shallow water at dawn and dusk.

Giant tiger prawn mate at night, just above the sea bottom, right after the female molts. The male deposits sperm in a special structure underneath the female's thorax. Females release 250,000 to 800,000 eggs into the water, where they hatch in less than eighteen hours. They do not resemble the adults and have only mandibles and two pairs of antennae for appendages. The non-feeding larvae use these appendages to swim in the water. The larvae reach adulthood in about twelve days and live less than a total of two years.

Giant tiger prawns and people: Giant tiger prawn are harvested by boats dragging nets in the water. They are an important species for aquatic farms because they grow large very quickly and bring a high price at the market.

Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) does not consider this species to be threatened or endangered. ∎



Bliss, D. E. Shrimps, Lobsters and Crabs. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Debelius, H. Crustacea Guide of the World. Frankfurt, Germany: IKAN, 1999.

Factor, J. R. Biology of the Lobster. New York: Academic Press, 1995.


Herrnkind, W. F. "Strange March of the Spiny Lobster." National Geographic (June 1975) 147, no. 6: 819-831.

Web sites:

Crayfish Homepage. http://crayfish.byu.edu/ (accessed on March 15, 2005).

Crustacean Gallery. http://www.mov.vic.gov.au/crust/page1.html (accessed on March 15, 2005).

Crustacean Printouts. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/invertebrates/crustacean/index.shtml (accessed on March 15, 2005).

Fiddler Crabs (Genus Uca). http://www.fiddlercrab.info/ (accessed on March 15, 2005).

Lobster FAQs. http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/faq/fishfaq7.html (accessed on March 15, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related SpeciesShrimps Crabs and Lobsters: Decapoda - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Decapods And People, Red Swamp Crayfish (procambarus Clarkii): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CONSERVATION STATUS