Scientific Name and Authority

Penaeus vannamei   (Boone, 1931)


Penaeus vannamei is a penaeid shrimp. Family characteristics include movable chelae (claws) on the first three pairs of walking legs and a third thoracic segment which never overlaps with the second (Williams 1984). The rostrum is moderately long with 7-10 dorsal and 2-4 (occasionally 5-8) ventral teeth. The tip of the rostrum in adults reaches the mid-length of the 2nd rostal segment. The lateral rostral groove ends near the posterior rostral tooth. The post-rostral keel is variable in length, and sometimes almost reaches the posterior edge of the carapace. The antennal spine and hepatic spines are pronounced, and located a short distance apart. The color is similar, but lighter than that of the Atlantic White Shrimp (P. setiferus). Its color is translucent, bluish or olive with dusky bands, reddish-brown on the antennules, but distinguished by white legs (Perez Farfante and Kensley 1997; Perry and Yeager 2006). The last abdominal segment has three lateral scar-like ridges. The maximum length is 220 mm (Food and Agriculture Organization 2011).

Synonyms- Since the publication of Perez Farfante and Kensley's (1997) 'Penaeoid and sergestoid shrimps and prawns of the world', this shrimp has been known as Litopenaeus vannamei. That work split the former genus Penaeus into 6 genera. A recent study (Ma et al. 2011) found that the morphological features used to split the genus were not consistent with genetic data. They concluded that the genus Penaeus should be re-unified.

Taxonomic Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Subclass: Eumalacostraca
Superorder: Eucarida
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Dendrobranchiata
Superfamily: Penaeoidea
Family: Penaeidae
Genus: Penaeus
Species: vannamei


Litopenaeus vannamei (Boone, 1931)

Potentially Misidentified Species:

Penaeus setiferus

Northern White Shrimp (Western Atlantic native). The rostrum has 5-11 (usually 9) dorsal teeth and 2 ventral teeth. The rostum, in adults, extends bewond the second segment of the antennule.

Penaeus stylirostris

Pacific Blue Shrimp (Northeast Pacific native, an aquaculture species)