The population dynamics of Metapenaeus ensis in a traditional tidal shrimp pond (locally known as gei wai) at the Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve, Hang Kong, were studied over a 29-month period. The population of M. ensis was dominated by either one or two age groups throughout the year. Life span was < 16 months. M. ensis is sexually dimorphic in terms of size, with females growing faster and attaining a larger maximum size than males. The sex ratio did not differ significantly from 1:1. The prawns do not mature and reproduce in the gei wai so that the population is sustained by postlarval immigration which begins in June and ends in December, with peaks in August and November. The gei wai population of M. ensis is characterized by slower growth, lower maximum attainable size, shorter life span, reproductive sterility and an incomplete life cycle, as compared with ‘natural’ population in the coastal waters of Hong Kong.