Freshwater prawns are crustaceans with a life cycle that includes both freshwater and brackish water phases, though many aquaculture operations have adapted to entirely freshwater systems. They have a complex lifecycle that involves various stages, from larval to juvenile and finally to adult. They thrive in tropical and subtropical climates and are primarily found in regions of Asia, South America, and parts of Africa.

In aquaculture setups, prawns are often grown in pond systems with carefully controlled conditions to ensure optimal growth and minimal disease. Their diet in these setups includes specially formulated feed, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients for healthy development.

Freshwater prawns are not only valued for their taste but also for their environmental benefits. Their cultivation can have lower environmental impacts than some other forms of aquaculture and even aids in controlling certain pests in rice paddy fields when integrated into such ecosystems.


The history of freshwater prawn cultivation traces back to ancient times in regions of Southeast Asia. Traditional farming methods made use of the prawn's natural lifecycle, capturing wild post-larvae and then growing them in pond systems. The 20th century saw advancements in the farming of freshwater prawns, particularly in techniques that allow for complete lifecycle cultivation in controlled environments.

The global spread of freshwater prawn consumption was a result of both its delightful flavour profile and the rise of aquaculture practices that made mass production possible. While regions like Alberta do not have a native history with freshwater prawns, their introduction through global food networks has ensured they're a known and enjoyed delicacy.

Ways To Cook

The delicate flavor and succulent texture of freshwater prawns make them a favorite in various cuisines:

  1. Grilling: Marinated prawns can be skewered and grilled, offering a smoky essence that pairs wonderfully with their natural sweetness.
  2. Boiling: Freshwater prawns can be boiled with aromatic herbs and spices, making them perfect for salads or as a main dish.
  3. Stir-frying: Quick to cook, prawns can be stir-fried with a medley of vegetables and sauces for a hearty meal.
  4. Steaming: Steamed prawns, often with a splash of garlic or soy sauce, retain their natural flavors and offer a light dish option.
  5. Curries: Their firm flesh ensures they hold up well in rich, spicy curries, making them a favorite in South Asian cuisines.
  6. Deep-frying: Breaded or battered prawns deep-fried to a golden crisp are a beloved treat worldwide.

When preparing freshwater prawns, it's essential to clean them properly, removing the head and shell, deveining, and rinsing before cooking. Fresh or frozen, their versatility ensures they can be the star of various dishes across culinary traditions.