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Differences Between Shrimps And Prawns

Aug. 25, 2022

People often get confused about the differences between shrimps and prawns, and you may have heard that they are the same. Yet though prawns and shrimps are closely related, they can be distinguished in several ways. Our company has been in the shrimp processing equipment business for decades, supplying and building machinery for the seafood industry, and guess what? We know for sure the differences between a prawn and a shrimp.


We often hear people using prawns and shrimps interchangeably, even within the farming, fishing, and culinary realms. There are even misconceptions out there that prawns are merely gigantic shrimps. In this article, we will show you some notable differences between them.


Anatomy of Shrimps And Prawns


Shrimps And Prawns


Looking closely at the two of them, you will see how distinctly different they are. Both prawns and shrimps have a thin exoskeleton, and their bodies have three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. While both are decapod crustaceans, meaning both have ten legs and external skeletons, their classification similarities end there. The main difference in anatomy between prawns and shrimps is their body form.


Shrimps belong to the sub-order Pleocyemata, which also includes crayfish, lobsters, and crabs. Their thorax overlaps their head and abdomen in shrimps, allowing them to bend their bodies more so than prawns. Shrimp have two pairs of claw-like legs, unlike prawn, and plate-like gills.

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Prawns belong to the sub-order Dendrobranchiata. Each segment of a prawn overlaps the one below. For example, the head overlaps the thorax, and the thorax overlaps the abdomen. That is why prawns are unable to bend their bodies in the way shrimps do. Prawns also have three pairs of claw-like legs (longer than shrimps), second pincers larger than the front, and branching gills.


Another difference between prawns and shrimps worth mentioning is how they reproduce. Prawns release their eggs into the water then leave them to grow on their own. Shrimps will carry their fertilized eggs on the undersides of their bodies.


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Habitat Differences of Shrimp And Prawns


While both live in waters worldwide, there are some notable differences in where they can live. Depending on the shrimp species, you may find them in saltwater, both warm and cold areas, and even some in freshwater areas. Most prawns live in freshwater, although you will sometimes find some species in slightly salty water. While they prefer warm water, some live in cold water in the Northern Hemisphere.


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