ABSTRACT. In the aquaculture of prawns in inland facilities, the supply with natural seawater is technically difficult and expensive, while the use of artificial salt may be suboptimal due to unfavorable ionic composition. In the present study, Amazon River prawn, Macrobrachium amazonicum, were reared from hatching through nine larval stages to the first juvenile instar, comparing four experimental conditions with two salinities (5, 10) and two different types of salt (artificial, natural). Larval biomass growth was measured in terms of changes in dry weight (W), contents of carbon and nitrogen (C, N), and proximate biochemical composition (lipid, protein); moreover, body size (carapace length, CL) was measured in first-stage juveniles. After passing through the nonfeeding first larval stage, later stages showed an exponential increase in values of biomass per individual. Rates of increase differed significantly among treatments, showing generally lower growth in experiments with artificial vs. natural salt, and at 5 vs. 10. The same response pattern was found also in CL of early juvenile shrimps. Similar but mostly weaker effects were observed in the percentage C, N, lipid, and protein values (in % of W), and in the C: N mass ratio. Our data indicate that larval rearing of M. amazonicum is feasible with artificial salts and at lower than commonly used standard salinity (10). This makes the cultivation of this species feasible also in aquaculture facilities located at large distance from the coast, where a reduction of costs and logistic investments may compensate for reduced larval growth and production of smaller juveniles. However, these salinity effects on offspring production have to be taken into account in comparisons of growth data from different laboratories and locations.
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