Prawns turn red in black buckets

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
25 September 2007, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Prawns turn a deeper shade of red if you dunk them in a black bucket of water for a few hours, say Australian scientists.

Prawns try to blend in with their background so turn darker red in a black bucket

They say the prawns are trying to blend into the dark background, so change their pigmentation to match.

As the public tends to favour darker coloured prawns, this simple step will increase the market value of farmed prawns, says CSIRO's Dr Bruce Lee, who was speaking at a recent conference in Sydney.

It may also make the prawns more nutritious as the darker pigment is a type of antioxidant, the scientists say.

"This was pretty much a fortuitous discovery," says Lee, director of CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship.

He says CSIRO researchers involved in improving the texture, flavour and size of farmed prawns happened to leave some in a black bucket one day while they were changing the tank water.

About 3 hours later they noticed the prawns had turned dark red, a feature that attracts a market premium of between A$2-4 per kilo.