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Phylum Arthropoda > Subphylum Crustacea > Class Malacostraca > Order Decapoda > prawns and shrimps
Penaeid prawns
Family Penaeidae
updated Dec 15
Where seen? These large prawns are commonly seen on many of our shores, usually in sandy, silty areas and near seagrasses. They are more active at night, during the day hiding in the sand.

Features: Generally about 5-8cm long. Prawns of the Family Penaeidae have a well developed raised portion along the centre of the heads extending between the eyes called the rostrum. The rostrum usually has 'teeth' both on the upper side (dorsal) and underside (ventral). The eyes are huge. Antennae very long, often longer than the body. Walking legs 5 pairs, all well developed, the first 3 pairs tipped with tiny claws. 5pairs of paddle-shaped swimming limbs (pleopods) used to slowly swim with. A shrimp escapes rapidly with quick contractions of its flexible and muscular abdomen and broad fan-shaped tail.

Those of the genus Penaeus have large pointed 'teeth' on the rostrum. These include the popular 'Tiger prawns' probably so-named for the banded patterns on their bodies. But these prawns may also be green or grey.

The Black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) has a well-developed rostrum armed with 7 or 8 upper (dorsal) teeth and 3 ventral teeth. Depending on ground, what they eat and how murky the water is, body colours vary from green, brown, red, grey, blue. With bands alternating blue or black and yellow. Pleopods brown to blue pleopods with reddish fringing hairs. Grows to 30cm and weighing 130g, females larger. It is also called the Giant tiger prawn and Asian tiger prawn.

The Green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulcatus) has a more or less straight rostrum armed with 7 or 8 upper (dorsal) teeth and 3 ventral teeth. Antennae with white and red bands. Grows to 18-22cm and weighing 130g, females larger.

Parapenaeopsis species are 12-17cm long prawns that live in deeper water 10 to 90m.

Metapenaeopsis species lack obvious 'teeth' and can grow to
7-20cm long. They may be found from the intertidal to deeper waters 4-90m.

Baby prawns: Young Black tiger prawns live in mangroves and estuarine areas. Young Green tiger prawns settle in seagrass meadows. Adults move to deeper waters 20-50m. Adults mate and lay eggs in deeper waters.

Human uses: The larger prawns are important commercially. Tiger prawns are widely aquacultured and often raised unsustainably. More about the impact of prawn farming.

Chek Jawa, Jul 05


Some hide in the sand with only
the 'nose' and eyes sticking out.

Chek Jawa, Jul 03


Like other shrimps, it contracts its abdomen
to quickly swim backwards.
Sentosa, Jun 07

Penaeid prawns on Singapore shores



Family Penaeidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
^from T. Upanoi. The penaid prawns of the Straits of Johor: Preliminary results. 10 July 2015. The Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey

*from Tan, Leo W. H. & Ng, Peter K. L., 1988, A Guide to Seashore Life.
**from WORMS

  Penaeid prawns awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination of small features. On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.
  Blue-tailed penaeid prawn
Banded penaeid prawn
Slender penaeid prawn
Speckled penaeid prawn

  Family Penaeidae
  ^Alcockpenaeopsis hungerfordi

Atypopenaeus stenodactylus
(Periscope shrimp)

^Fenneropenaeus merguiensis=**Penaeus merguiensis
^Fenneropenaeus silasi=**Penaeus silasi

Heteropenaeus longimanus

Metapenaeopsis assimilis
Metapenaeopsis barbata
(Whiskered velvet shrimp)
Metapenaeopsis mogiensis
(Mogi velvet shrimp)
^Metapenaeopsis palmensis

Metapenaeus affinis
(Jinga shrimp)
^Metapenaeus anchistus
Metapenaeus brevicornis
(Yellow shrimp)
Metapenaeus burkenroadi=**Metapenaeus moyebi
(Moyebi shrimp)
^Metapenaeus ensis
^Metapenaeus intermedius
^Metapenaeus lysianassa
^Metapenaeus moyebi
^Metapenaeus spp.

^Mierspenaeopsis sculptilis

^Parapenaeopsis hardwickii
Parapenaeopsis maxillipedo=**Kishinouyepenaeopsis maxillipedo
(Torpedo shrimp)
Parapenaeopsis venusta
(Adonis shrimp)=**Batepenaeopsis venusta
Parapenaeopsis merguiensis

*Penaeus monodon (Black tiger prawn)
*Penaeus semisulcatus
(Green tiger prawn)

Trachypenaeus salaco

^Trachysalambria curvirostris

Links References
  • T. Upanoi. The penaid prawns of the Straits of Johor: Preliminary results. 10 July 2015. The Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey: Johor Straits International Workshop (2012) The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 2015 Supplement No. 31, Pp. 169-181.
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
  • Ong, Jin Eong & Gong, Wooi Khoon (eds.), 2001. The Encyclopedia of Malaysia (Vol. 6): The Seas Didier Millet, Malaysia. 144 pp.
  • Jones Diana S. and Gary J. Morgan, 2002. A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed New Holland. 224 pp.
  • Debelius, Helmut, 2001. Crustacea Guide of the World: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp.
  • Gosliner, Terrence M., David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal life from Africa to Hawaii exclusive of the vertebrates Sea Challengers. 314pp.
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