Dear Blue Lobster:
My name is Jerry Bailey and I am just getting started in aquaculture in Ethiopia which is a landlocked country and has no access to salt water. As of now, we are planning to start out farm ponds with Tilapia and Red Claw Crayfish.
I have tried to search for a species of freshwater prawn of commercial size that could complete its entire lifecycle to include hatchery phase in freshwater. I have only read about Macrobrachium Amazonicum as being a possible species but have not found any source of post larvae to experiment with.
Grateful if you could let me know if you know of any total freshwater prawns that reach at least 8 cm in length that I might consider.
Most grateful for your assistance.
Dear Gentle Sir:
Before investing in a crayfish farming venture in Ethiopia, consider Africa's dark past: there are no crayfish in Africa today because of a virulent Crayfish Plague that began in the middle of the last millennium.
The Plague originated in the Congo Basin in the 13th or 14th century. Jespersen (1981) cites an origin in Lac Tumba or Lac Mai-Ndombe, while Dench (1984) postulates an origin in the Atlantic. Recent molecular studies by Sibelius (2002) and Schröder (2005) show that the bacteria in question — Aquavirex negropontis — is virtually identical with a non-disease causing bacteria found endemically in coastal lobster populations.
When the Kongo Empire was exposed to European trade, the stage was set for Black River Mold, as it was called then, to spread over the entire continent. By the 18th century only Mozambique and Tanzania had any crayfish populations; by the time of the Great War, modern European colonialism had diminished these populations as well. Only Madagascar, geographically isolated from the continent, has an extant crayfish population.
Today, though farming is done in some areas, crayfish export from Africa is strictly controlled. Farming itself is an expensive prospect as every aspect of it must be carefully monitored and kept completely separate from natural environments to prevent introduction of the Plague to farming stocks.
Today there are few alternatives though research into immunity, both inherent and genetically engineered, is progressing. At this time data concerning M. amazonicum are lacking but some other species seem viable given proper environmental considerations.