Shelter colour preference of the postlarvae of the giant freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii
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The addition of artificial shelters of various materials has been used in Macrobrachium rosenbergii tanks and ponds as a means of increasing productivity. The present study investigated the shelter colour preference of M. rosenbergii postlarvae (age 15–18 days after metamorphosis) in the laboratory. Shelter occupancy tests were performed on four groups of 200 postlarvae in four 57-l aquaria, into which were placed shelters made of rigid coloured netting sewn into four-layered cubes open on two sides. The shelters were presented in six colour pairs: black vs dark green, black vs light green, black vs blue, dark green vs light green, dark green vs blue, and light green vs blue. Colour preference was tested six times for each colour pair. The data obtained were analyzed using Thurstone’s law of comparative judgment. The mean z-score was significantly highest (i.e., highest preference) for the black shelter. Vision was involved in the detection of and approach to the shelter. When released in aquaria, intact-eyed individual postlarvae directly approached the shelter straight away, whereas blind postlarvae (paint over the eyes) swam around randomly and occupied the shelter only after accidental contact much later. Postlarvae in open water out of the shelter exhibited frequent aggressive contact, while those in the shelter were quiescent. The use of black shelters in rearing tanks is thus recommended for reducing stress and aggression among M. rosenbergii postlarvae in the hatchery.