The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Macrobrachium rosenbergii
Macrobrachium rosenbergii
(giant river prawn)

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Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man, 1879)

Common name: giant river prawn

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Macrobrachium rosenbergii is characterized by having a pair of long and slender chellipeds that are blue or orange and extend well beyond the rostrum. The pair of chelipeds are equal in size, which is unique among Macrobrachium species. The carapace is smooth, and a greenish to brownish grey color, but is sometimes blue, these colors are darker for larger individuals. The abdomen has six distinct segments each with a pair of swimmerets. The species has two pairs of long antennae which are often blue. The eyes are stalked and compound. The rostrum is long reaching beyond the antennal scale with distinctive “teeth” on the dorsal (11-14) and ventral (8-10) sides (Jayachandran 2001). Macrobrachium rosenbergii is the largest of the Macrobrachium prawn species (Mather and de Bruyn 2003); mature male prawns are considerably larger than the females (Jayachandran 2001).

Size: Males can grow to 320 mm (FAO 2005–2012).

Native Range: Southern Asia from Pakistan to Vietnam, and east to northern Australia and Papua New Guinea (Mather and de Bruyn, 2003).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Macrobrachium rosenbergii are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
HI196819685Hawaii; Kauai; Maui; Molokai; Oahu
MS200120011Mississippi Coastal
PR198620012Cibuco-Guajataca; Puerto Rico

Table last updated 6/21/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Macrobrachium rosenbergii are a nocturnal benthic (bottom dwelling) prawn found as adults in freshwater lakes and rivers (Raman 1967). However, M. rosenbergii larva and possibly juveniles are found in estuaries where they metamorphosis prior to upstream migration to freshwaters (Bowles et al. 2000). During the day, the species will remain half buried in sediments and prefers shallow, detritus rich and vegetated areas. The prawns are capable of walking on the substrate, on land at water edges, and up vertical surfaces such as small waterfalls (FAO, 2005–2012). Macrobrachium rosenbergii are carnivorous during the first larval stages but become more omnivorous towards juvenile stages, feeding on plants, algae, mollusks, worms, and fish (Barros and Valenti 1997).

Mating occurs between soft-shelled females and hard-shelled males continuously or periodically, depending on their geographical distribution (New et al. 2000). Males deposit a packet of sperm (spermatophore) on the female where they are then fertilized externally. After fertilization, the eggs remain adhered to the female’s abdomen during embryotic development (New et al. 2000). The gravid females migrate downstream to the estuary where the eggs hatch as free-swimming larvae (FAO, 2005–2012). Females, in Brazilian populations, had on average 55,000 eggs, with a minimum of 9,086 and a maximum of 192,172 eggs, and will continuously spawn (Iketani et al. 2016). The newly hatched larvae pass through 11 molts in 35 days in the estuary to become postlarval (less than one-half inch in length), then migrate back upstream to become adults (Wynne, 2000).

Means of Introduction: Probable escape from aquaculture. Staples and Cowie (2001) state that Macrobrachium rosenbergii in Hawaii "is extensively cultured in ponds but probably has not become established in streams".

Status: Likely established in the Mississippi location.

Impact of Introduction: Macrobrachium rosenbergii is known to be a carrier of (and resistant to) white spot virus (Hameed et al. 2000), and therefore could be a threat of spreading the disease to native shrimp species.  Several specimens from the Mississippi population were placed in the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Remarks: Research by Savaya-Alkalay et al. (2018) suggests that the development of all-male prawn populations of Macrobrachium rosenbergii has the potential as a biocontrol agent over invasive hatchling and adult apple snails (Pomacea spp.). The medium-sized and large prawns (10–30 g) preyed on snails up to 15mm in size, while small prawns (up to 4 g) effectively consumed snail hatchlings.

References: (click for full references)

Barros, H. P., and W. C. Valenti. 1997. Comportamento alimentar do camarão de água doce, Macrobrachium rosenbergii (de man) (crustacea, palaemonidae) durante a fase larval: análise qualitativa. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 14:785-793.

Bowles, D. E., K. Aziz and C. L. Knight.  2000.  Macrobrachium (Decapoda: Caridea: Palaemonidae) in the contiguous United States: a review of the species and assessment of threats to their survival.  Journal of Crustacean Biology 29: 158-171.

Devick, W.S. 1991. Pattern of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaii freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 IN: New directions in research, management and conservations of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of 1990 Symposium on Freshwater Stream Biology and Fisheries.  Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  2005—2012, Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme — Macrobrachium rosenbergii — Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme, Text by New, M.B., IN: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online], Rome, Updated 1 January 2004.  Also available at http://www.fao.org/fishery/culturedspecies/Macrobrachium_rosenbergii/en Accessed 5/24/2012.

Hameed, A. S. S., M. X. Charles and M. Anilkumar.  2000.  Tolerance of Macrobrachium rosenbergii to white spot syndrome virus.  Aquaculture 183: 207-213.

Iketani, G., Aviz, M. A. B., Maciel, C., Valenti, W., Schneider, H., and I. Sampaio. 2016. Successful invasion of the Amazon Coast by the giant river prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii: evidence of a reproductively viable population. Aquatic Invasions 11(3):277-286.

Jayachandran, K.V. 2001. Palaemonid prawns: biodiversity, taxonomy, biology and management. Scientific Publishers, Inc, Enfield, NH.

Mather, P.B., and M. de Bruyn. 2003. Genetic diversity in wild stocks of the giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii): implications for aquaculture and conservation. Naja 26(4):4—7.

New, M. B., Valenti, W. C., Tidwell, J. H., D’Abramo, L. R., and M. N. Kutty. 2000. Freshwater prawns biology and farming. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA.

Savaya-Alkalay, A., Ovadia, O., Barki, A., and A. Sagi. 2018. Size-selective predation by all-male prawns: implications for sustainable biocontrol of snail invasions. Biological Invasions 20:137–149.

Staples, G. W. and R. H. Cowie (editors). 2001. Hawai'i's Invasive Species. Mutual Publishing, Honolulu. 116 pp.

Williams, E. H., Jr., L. Bunkley-Williams, C. G. Lilyestrom, and E. A. R. Ortiz-Corps. 2001. A review of recent introductions of aquatic invertebrates in Puerto Rico and implications for the management of exotic species. Caribbean Journal of Science 37: 246-251.

Woodley, C. M., W. T. Slack, M. S. Peterson and W. Vervaeke.  2002.  Occurrence of the non-indigenous giant Malaysian prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man, 1879) in Simmons Bayou, Mississippi, U.S.A.  Crustaceana 75: 1025-1031.

Wynne, F. 2000. Grow-out culture of freshwater prawns in Kentucky, Mayfield. Kentucky, Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Program. Also available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20080821114126/http://www.aquanic.org/publicat/state/ky/prawn_ext.htm Accessed 5/25/2012.

Author: Benson, A.J., Schofield, P. J., and W. M. Daniel

Revision Date: 2/16/2018

Citation Information:
Benson, A.J., Schofield, P. J., and W. M. Daniel, 2024, Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man, 1879): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1203, Revision Date: 2/16/2018, Access Date: 6/21/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/21/2024].

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