Shrimp are crustaceans, and no crustaceans have scales. Shrimp also have no fins. These bottom-dwelling creatures are characterized by their elongated bodies, and their primary form of locomotion is swimming.
“Shrimp” is sometimes synonymous with “prawn,” and many small crustaceans that resemble shrimp are often mistaken for such.
Some of the shrimp’s most notable crustacean relatives are the crab and lobster, which, unlike the shrimp, have strong walking legs.
Shrimp have thin, fragile legs, which they use for perching.
Table of Contents
- How many species of shrimp are there?
- What’s the shrimp’s role in the food chain?
- Where do shrimp primarily live?
- What do humans use shrimp for?
- Do shrimp have any characteristic behaviors?
- What are some of the best-known shrimp species?
- How long do shrimp live?
- Can I raise shrimp as pets?
- Which shrimp species have existed the longest?
- Are any shrimp species dangerous to humans?
- Do shrimp sleep?
- Are shrimp shells good for you?
Most people probably don’t realize that there are numerous species of shrimp. In fact, there are about 300 shrimp species.
However, only a small percentage of these species are available for commercial consumption.
Generally, shrimp species are differentiated by their colors. These crustaceans, depending on their species, can come in a wide array of colors, including red, green, yellow, and brown.
There are even species known for their striped patterns.
Perhaps, the most colorful shrimp species is the peacock mantis shrimp, which can often be found in aquariums due to its striking appearance.
Although this species is generally not commercially available, it is eaten in some Asian countries.
Shrimp are an integral part of the food chain. Without the presence of shrimp, food webs would be in disarray.
Adult shrimp mainly scavenge for food, feeding on dead clams, crabs, fish, snails, and worms. By doing this, they help the ecosystem get rid of dead decaying matter.
Although shrimp are mostly scavengers, they have been observed to feed on live worms and other shrimp.
Because of their role as predators, they contribute to the regulation of the local populations of the creatures they eat.
Shrimp are also prey for a wide range of organisms, including whales and fish, contributing to these animals’ survival and growth.
Shrimp are widespread and can be found in all the world’s oceans (in both deep and shallow water), and they can also be spotted in freshwater lakes and streams.
They’re bottom dwellers, meaning they’re typically found on sandy or muddy ocean floors and riverbeds.
But some small shrimp species are known to live inside sponges. Others, such as the mantis shrimp, burrow into mud, coral crevices, sand, and rocks along the seashore.
For virtually every kind of habitat you can think of, there’s a shrimp species that has adapted to that environment.
Shrimp has been a popular delicacy for people from all over the world since time immemorial.
Not only do people consider shrimp delicious, but they also eat shrimp for its wide range of health benefits.
These benefits include improved bone and brain health, anti-aging properties, and prevention of diseases and conditions like macular degeneration, hair loss, cardiovascular disease, and menstrual pain.
The most popular shrimp species to eat are rock, pink, tiger, Chinese, brown, white, Atlantic Northern, spot, Aesop, banana, and blue shrimp.
Most of the time, shrimp scavenge for food. When they fill themselves with food, they stop moving for a while.
But, after about an hour and a half, they return to their scavenging and feeding behaviors. Generally, shrimp are always on the move.
When they’re not looking for food, they’re traveling or breeding. It’s quite easy for them to adapt to new water environments, which is why they can be found in vast numbers all around the world.
Due to their small size (on average, they’re usually between 0.1 and 2 inches in length), they tend to stay in groups to protect themselves from predators.
Some of the best-known shrimp species include the pink, tiger, rock, Chinese, white, brown, spot, Atlantic Northern, Aesop, blue, and banana shrimp.
Although these species are all prized for their taste, no two species are the same. They come in all sorts of varieties, from pink to lean to C-shaped.
And while some are eaten plain, others are dunked in cocktail sauce.
The type of shrimp you eat is mostly a matter of preference. It helps to know about the many shrimp options since this can make the difference between a buttery and juicy appetizer and a bland shrimp cocktail.
Shrimp are known for living relatively short lives. Although some species can live as long as 12 years, on average, shrimp live for only 1 to 6 years.
Dwarf shrimp have some of the shortest life spans, usually living for only 1 to 2 years. Fan shrimp can significantly outlive dwarf shrimp, with some individual fan shrimp having reportedly lived for as long as 12 years in the aquarium.
Freshwater shrimp can make for ideal pets. Cherry and ghost shrimp are about as sturdy as many fish and are often used as an aesthetically appealing alternative to common pet fish, like goldfish, betta fish, catfish, and platies.
Because of the small tank requirements, you can easily house your shrimp in your office, classroom, or bedroom.
Generally, it’s not recommended to combine shrimp with other fish in a tank, unless you’re using the shrimp as a food source.
After all, freshwater shrimp are particularly susceptible to predation, especially when housed with larger creatures.
As far as we know, the tadpole shrimp has existed for the longest among all living species of shrimp.
This shrimp species has been around for 220 million years, which means it lived during the time of dinosaurs.
Its strange lifestyle and survival strategies make it a standout within the shrimp family. It can vanish for decades while its eggs travel in the wind looking for the perfect moment to hatch out in a pond.
After hatching, tadpole shrimp grow impressively fast, growing to maturity in only 2 to 3 weeks.
The now-mature shrimp can lay eggs of their own before their homes dry out.
For the most part, shrimp are incapable of killing or causing life-threatening injuries to humans.
However, many fishermen consider the mantis shrimp dangerous and avoid contact with these creatures as much as possible.
That’s because mantis shrimp are armed with strong claws, which they use to defend themselves and capture their prey.
When they feel threatened by humans, they sometimes attack and cause severe pain by piercing or striking humans.
Although mantis shrimp are mostly edible like other shrimp species, they’ve been known to cause severe (and sometimes deadly) allergic reactions among humans who are allergic to mantis shrimp.
Yes, shrimp do sleep, but not in a motionless state like other creatures. Rather, they sleep while moving minimally.
While sleeping, they’re generally non-responsive to external stimulation, and their heart rate decreases.
Among all shrimp species, only the dwarf shrimp is known to sleep motionless (sometimes upside-down).
So far, no studies have been conducted about the sleep duration of shrimp.
In general, shrimp shells aren’t digestible for humans, but they are considered safe to eat. In fact, they contain nutrients that are good for your health.
You can also make stock using shrimp shells for seafood soups, sauces, and stews. Despite their hardness, it doesn’t take a long time to extract the decadent shell flavors.