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Freshwater Shrimp & Prawns

Photo by Terje Sollie: https://www.pexels.com/photo/boiled-shrimps-566344/

Farming freshwater shrimp and prawns in the desert involves creating artificial environments that mimic their natural habitat while ensuring optimal conditions for growth and reproduction. Here’s an overview of how it typically works:

1. Site Selection: Choose a suitable location in the desert with access to freshwater sources, such as underground wells, aquifers, or desalinated water. The site should also have adequate space for setting up the farm and future expansion.

2. Water Management: Water is a precious resource in the desert, so efficient water management is crucial. Implement a closed-loop recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) that continuously filters and recycles water within the farming system, reducing water wastage and maintaining water quality.

3. Pond or Tank Construction: Construct earthen ponds (better for salt water) or large tanks (limiting evaporation for fresh water farming) for raising the shrimp and prawns. These ponds should be designed to withstand the harsh desert conditions and maintain stable water levels.

4. Water Quality Control: Maintain strict control over water quality parameters, including temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH levels, and salinity. Monitors and automated systems help regulate these factors to ensure the optimal environment for shrimp and prawn growth.

5. Species Selection: Choose appropriate species of freshwater shrimp and prawns that are well-suited to the desert environment and have good market potential. Some common species include Macrobrachium rosenbergii (giant freshwater prawn) and various freshwater shrimp species.

6. Stocking: Introduce juvenile shrimp and prawn larvae, known as post-larvae, into the ponds or tanks. These young organisms are obtained from specialized hatcheries and are typically at a stage where they can be raised in controlled environments.

7. Feeding: Provide appropriate feed to the shrimp and prawns. Depending on the species, their diet may consist of commercial pelleted feeds, algae, or other organic matter. Proper feeding management is essential for optimal growth and development.

8. Disease Control: Regularly monitor the health of the shrimp and prawns and take necessary measures to prevent and control diseases. Quarantine protocols and good biosecurity practices help minimize the risk of infections.

9. Harvesting: Once the shrimp and prawns reach marketable size, typically after several months of growth, they are harvested. Harvesting methods can vary based on the setup and size of the farming operation.

10. Processing and Marketing: After harvesting, the shrimp and prawns are processed and prepared for sale. Proper packaging and handling are essential to maintain product quality. Establishing distribution channels and marketing efforts are crucial to reach consumers and generate revenue.

11. Sustainability and Environmental Considerations: Emphasize sustainability in the farming practices to minimize environmental impacts. This includes responsible water usage, waste management, and the use of renewable energy sources where possible.

12. Light: An advantage of growing shrimp and prawns in the desert is the ample sunlight which can be used to light up and heat water tanks, saving a lot of electricity.

Freshwater shrimp and prawn farming in the desert requires careful monitoring and attention to detail throughout the process. Advanced technologies and expertise in aquaculture are essential to ensure the success and profitability of the operation in such challenging conditions.

Business Case: Farming Shrimps and Prawns in the Desert


  • Novelty and Niche Market: Desert shrimp and prawn farming can tap into a unique market, attracting consumers interested in sustainable and exotic seafood options.
  • Land Availability: Utilize vast expanses of unused land in desert regions, making large-scale shrimp and prawn farms feasible.
  • Water Efficiency: Implement advanced recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and sustainable water management practices for high water use efficiency.
  • Climate Control: Maintain precise regulation of temperature, humidity, and other conditions in controlled environments, reducing the impact of adverse weather on production.
  • Higher Profits: Produce shrimp and prawns locally to minimize transportation costs and potentially increase profit margins.
  • Job Creation: Establishment of shrimp and prawn farms can lead to job opportunities for local communities.


  • High Initial Investment: Setting up advanced shrimp and prawn farms with proper infrastructure and technology requires substantial capital investment.
  • Energy Consumption: Maintaining optimal environmental conditions demands energy-intensive operations, leading to higher operational costs and potential environmental impacts. Using the sun directly as in the video shown below can offset many of these costs.
  • Water Supply: Acquiring sufficient water in arid regions can be challenging and may involve desalination or the use of alternative water sources.
  • Market Demand: Uncertain demand for desert-farmed shrimp and prawns may require targeted marketing efforts to attract consumers willing to pay a premium for such products.
  • Technical Expertise: Running advanced shrimp and prawn farms demands specialized knowledge and skills in aquaculture and desert agriculture.

Earning Money: To earn money with desert shrimp and prawn farming, follow these strategies:

  • Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify potential buyers and their willingness to pay for desert-farmed shrimp and prawns.
  • Sustainable Practices: Employ sustainable and environmentally friendly farming techniques to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Premium Pricing: Position the products as premium, exotic, and sustainably farmed to justify higher prices.
  • Value-Added Products: Create value-added products such as processed shrimp and prawn items, which can fetch higher prices in the market.
  • Diversification: Explore other revenue streams, such as selling by-products like shrimp shells for chitin production or organic waste as fertilizer.
  • Government Support: Look for government subsidies or incentives for sustainable aquaculture practices and agriculture in desert regions.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with restaurants, retailers, or seafood distributors to secure stable and profitable distribution channels.
  • Continuous Innovation: Stay updated with the latest aquaculture technologies and continuously improve operations to optimize efficiency and reduce costs.

Note that you might want to grow freshwater prawns & shrimp for yourself or your village, and not necessarily as a business. Either way you can incorporate them in your aquaponics or terraponics setup to add more variety to the food you produce.

Remember that while desert shrimp and prawn farming offer unique opportunities, it also comes with its challenges. Successful implementation would require careful planning, innovation, and adaptability to market demands and environmental conditions.

Freshwater Shrimp & Prawns in Namibia:

As of our last update in September 2021, Namibia’s freshwater shrimp and prawn aquaculture industry was still in its early stages, and there were no widely established commercial farms. However, the giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is one of the species with the potential for aquaculture in Namibia due to its adaptability to varying environmental conditions.

Giant freshwater prawns are known for their ability to tolerate a wide range of salinities and temperatures, making them suitable for cultivation in different water bodies, including freshwater and brackish water environments found in some parts of Namibia.

Success in the Negev

Here’s the story of a farmer in the Negev Desert in Israel farming ornamental fish (aquarium fish) as well as freshwater shrimps and prawns.

It’s important to note that the aquaculture industry is dynamic, and developments might have occurred after this last update. Therefore, we recommend checking with more recent sources or local authorities in Namibia for the latest information on the status of freshwater shrimp and prawn farming in the country and the specific species being cultivated.

Farming these in the desert has the advantage that the area is disease free and there is virtually no risk of the species escaping into local waterways. Jump to minute 32 in the video below for this story.

You can also visit their website at https://www.colors-farm.com

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