Prawns vs Shrimps: Difference and Comparison

Shrimp and prawns are both decapod crustaceans, meaning they have 10 legs and an exoskeleton. They may be seen swimming in both saline and fresh water throughout the planet.

Shrimp and prawns both prefer to dwell close to the seabed. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from microscopic to rather huge, and they have comparable tastes.

Key Takeaways

  1. Prawns possess a gill structure called branching, while shrimps have lamellar gills.
  2. Shrimps have a distinct curved body, whereas prawns exhibit a straighter body.
  3. Prawns are larger than shrimps and belong to different suborders within the same order.

Prawns vs Shrimps            

Prawns are larger than shrimps, with some species of its growing up to a foot long. Shrimps are much smaller, growing to no more than a few inches in length. Prawns have a branching gill structure and larger second pincers, while shrimps have a lamellar gill structure and smaller second pincers.

Prawns vs Shrimps

Prawns can be found towards the bottom of fresh or brackish (slightly saline) water. Three of the legs of these crustaceans contain claws, which you may see if one buys their seafood unpeeled.

The shell segments of prawns overlap down their abdomen, resulting in a less pronounced bend in their bodies.

Shrimp are little crustacean that lives in seawater. There are a few little but distinct traits to check for to determine whether your crustacean is a shrimp.

Two of the shrimp’s legs have claws; the second shell segment covers the first and third shell segments. This gives their form a characteristic curve, which is another element to look for while shopping for seafood.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPrawnsShrimps
SizeBigger in size compared to shrimps.Smaller in size compared to prawns.
ClassificationCategorized as part of sub-order dendrobranchiate.Categorized as part of sub-order pleocyemata.
Gill structureBranching gills.Plate-like gills.
Body structureStraight body shape.Curled body shape.

What is Prawns?

A prawn is a tiny aquatic crustacean with an exoskeleton and ten legs that belong to the Decapoda order and may be eaten.

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Prawns are large swimming crustaceans or shrimp, particularly those with commercial significance in the fishing industry in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Commonwealth nations.

Prawns are available in a range of colors, including black, pink, white, and grey.

A Palaemon prawn may grow to be six to eight inches long when completely developed. When collected, the fish seems to have a light blue color.

It has an elongated and cylindrical body. The prawn’s body is somewhat flattened from one side to the other. Prawns live for two to three years.

They achieve sexual maturity between the ages of six and eight months and spawn in the open ocean.

Tiger prawns spawn in the spring and summer, but king prawns spawn all year. A single prawn can spawn many times in a single year.

The female lays hundreds of thousands of eggs. The prawn’s life cycle is variable, with three distinct stages. The three groups are estuarine, marine, and mixed. In saltwater, the estuarine life cycle is completed.

One subspecies that goes through this life cycle is the greasy-back prawn. Royal red prawns live in ocean habitats and are part of the marine life cycle.

The mixed life cycle is special because it is the life cycle that baby prawns follow.

Female prawns shed their fertilized eggs at the ocean’s bottom during this life cycle. The eggs remain on the ocean floor until the kids are ready to be born.

This cycle is repeated until the youngster reaches maturity. The mixed life cycle happens for two to three weeks.

prawns 1

What is Shrimps?

Shrimp have a semitransparent, flattened body with a flexible abdomen that culminates in a fanlike tail. The legs have been developed for swimming, and the antennae are broad and whiplike.

Shrimp may be found in deep and shallow waters, freshwater lakes, and streams. For food production, several species are essential.

Shrimp may range in length from a few millimetres to more than 8 inches, with the average size being 1.5 to 3 inches. Prawns are a term used to describe larger persons.

Shrimp swim backwards by bending their abdomens and tails quickly. Although some shrimp eat carrion, they eat largely tiny plants and animals.

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Female shrimp may deposit anywhere between 1,500 and 14,000 eggs on their swimming legs.

Before they mature into juveniles, the swimming larvae go through five phases of development. A shrimp’s color is affected by its natural environment.

Some subspecies may alter their hue to blend in with their environment. Shrimp in tropical and subtropical environments have vibrant colors. Others are translucent, making it harder for predators to notice them.

In muddy riverbeds, brown and green shrimp can be found. Shrimp filter the water around them or sift across the ocean floor to absorb minute plant and animal materials.

Small fish are also caught and eaten by some shrimp species.


Main Differences Between Prawns and Shrimps

  1. Prawns live in both fresh and saltwater, however, unlike shrimp, the majority of kinds live in freshwater.
  2. Prawns are bigger and have three sets of claws on their legs. Shrimp are smaller, have shorter legs, and just two sets of claws.
  3. Shrimp and prawns belong to separate branches of the crustacean family. The pleocyemata suborder includes shrimp, whereas the dendrobranchiate suborder includes prawns. Their anatomy differs in different ways.
  4. The gills of shrimp are plate-like and lamellar, but the gills of prawns are branching.
  5. The shrimp’s outer skeleton prevents it from bending, resulting in a rather straight body shape, whereas shrimp have a tight curl to their body.
Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps

Last Updated : 13 June, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Prawns vs Shrimps: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article presents a thorough examination of the differences between prawns and shrimps. The information is well-supported and provides a clear understanding.

  2. Great article! I’ve always been confused by the differences between shrimp and prawns. Now I finally understand, thanks to the clear explanations provided here.

  3. The article is quite comprehensive and full of detailed information about the differences between prawns and shrimps. Good job!

  4. I’m sorry, but this is a common misconception. Prawns are different from shrimp. Shrimp are smaller and have a different gill structure.

  5. The article is very informative. I had no idea that prawns and shrimps were so different. The information is well-researched and quite valuable.


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