Difference Between Prawn and Crayfish

When we see various sea creatures especially crustaceans, they all look very similar but actually are very different.

There are a lot of questions arise regarding the confusion people find between Prawns and Crayfish. The main reason behind this is a similar structure and almost the same physique between the two. 

Prawns and Crayfish belong to the same family and are crustaceans but have many differences including their production countries.

People prefer one over the other when it comes to food due to even difference in taste between them.

Prawns and crayfish have very different tastes and prawns are smaller in size than Crayfish.

Prawn vs Crayfish

The difference between Prawn and Crayfish is that prawns are saltwater crustacean and crayfish is a freshwater crustacean. Though they may look the same, if one does not look very closely, they have tons of differences. One such noticeable difference can be seen in their process of reproduction.

Prawn vs Crayfish

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonPrawnCrayfish
PhysiqueThese are sized larger than Shrimps but are smaller than Crayfish.Crayfish are usually bigger than prawns.
Alternate namePrawns are also called large Shrimps.Crayfish are also known as Crawfish and Crawdads in different parts of the globe.
Type of CrustaceanPrawns are saltwater Crustaceans which means these are mainly found in the sea and oceans.Crayfish are freshwater Crustacean which means these are found in freshwaters like rivers and streams.
FamiliesPrawns are classified into seven families: Two in Sergestoidea and five in Penaeoidea.Crayfish are classified into three families: One in the Southern Hemisphere and two in the Northern Hemisphere.
Taste Prawns are sweeter than Crayfish and people all around the world prefer prawns over Crayfish.Crayfish have a bit salty, a bit sweet, and a bit mineral taste present. Many people enjoy having it but are not as popular as prawns.
FertilizationPrawns release their eggs into the water for the process of fertilization.Crayfish release their eggs on their pleopods.
FossilsPrawn fossils can be found as old as 250 million. Crayfish fossil records 30 million or newer.

What is Prawn?

Prawn is the common name used for small aquatic crustaceans.  It has an exoskeleton and 10 legs and hence it is the number of order Decapoda.

After many years of confusion and scientific lack of data, Shrimp and Prawn are used almost interchangeably these days.

However, there is a considerable difference between Prawn and Shrimp too. 

The Exo or outer skeleton feature of the Prawn does not let it bend at all and hence prawns are nearly straight.

Prawns have their claws on three pairs of legs and have the largest pincers present on the second pair of legs. Prawn release their fertilized eggs into the water that makes the eggs grow.

If we talk about taste, prawn has a little sweet taste associated with it and it is seafood. People around the world love to eat it in various versions and dishes.

The Indian Prawn also called Fenneropenaeus is one of the main commercial species of the world.

Prawns are largely found in the Indo-west Pacific, India, South-eastern Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, northern Australia, and southern China.


What is Crayfish?

Crayfish is a nocturnal freshwater crustacean. It has somewhat resemblance with small lobsters and it is found mostly in rivers and streams.

Crayfish are usually much meatier and have a strong flavor in them. They are a bit salty, a bit sweet, and have a slight mineral flavor. 

Crayfish do not have pincers and have feather-like gills. Their fossils can be found of about 30 million years. Crayfish fertilize their eggs inside their body.

They feed on plants and animals, either living or decomposing. These are susceptible to environmental disturbances like acidification and acid rain

Crayfish are used as pets and are kept in freshwater aquariums and can literally anything and thus are omnivores.

Being omnivores in nature, they can cause ecological damage when introduced to non-native bodies of water. 


Main Differences Between Prawn and Crayfish

  1. Prawns are usually larger than Shrimp and thus also called large Shrimp. On the other hand, Crayfish has many names like Crawfish, Crawdads, Freshwater lobsters, mudbugs, yabbies, and many more.
  2. Prawns are saltwater and generally found in seas and oceans whereas Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans and usually can be found in rivers and streams.
  3. Prawns are classified into seven families which have two in Sergestoidea and five of Penaeoida. Crayfish, however, are classified into three families only: one in the Southern hemisphere and two in the Northern hemisphere.
  4. When we talk about taste, Prawns are sweeter than Crayfish. Crayfish have a strong taste with salty, sweet, and mineral types of flavor while Prawns are more on the sweeter side. Most of the time, people Prawns prefer over Crayfish.
  5. Prawns release their eggs into the water for fertilization while Crayfish release their eggs on pleopods for fertilization.
  6. The oldest prawn fossils are found 250 million years old while Crayfish fossils are as old as 30 million years. 
Difference Between Prawn and Crayfish


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0044848676900557
  2. https://www.kmae-journal.org/articles/kmae/abs/2009/03/kmae09055/kmae09055.html
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10641269509388566
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