Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: July 22, 2023


Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


Shrimp and prawns are likely the most popular options when it comes to cooking and eating seafood. They can be bought fresh, frozen, cooked, peeled, or even with the shell on for the home cook. They are also readily available in raw or cooked form. They range in size from small bay prawns that can fit twelve on a spoon to enormous tiger prawns that can weigh up to half a pound each or more. The terms “shrimp” and “prawn” are frequently used synonymously in speech and on menus, which makes sense. They are essentially impossible to tell apart because of how similar they look and taste. However, while being equally delicious and remarkably similar, prawns and prawns are two separate species, and these distinctions help to distinguish them from one another. How can you tell them apart then?

Prawns Vs. Shrimps

Shrimp and prawns have separate scientific names since they derive from various branches of the crustacean family tree, even though there is no universal meaning for either in fishing, farming, or culinary contexts. The order of decapods includes both prawns and shrimps. The word “decapod” literally translates as “1—footed.” Thereby, prawns and shrimps both have 10 legs. The two varieties of crustaceans, however, are from various suborders of decapods. For many species of dendrobranchiate and pleocyemata, however, the terms “prawn” and “shrimp” are interchangeable in everyday speech. Shrimp and prawn bodies are composed of the head, thorax, and abdomen, which are each separated by a thin exoskeleton. The shape of the prawns’ and shrimps’ bodies is the primary anatomical distinction. The head and abdomen overlap the thorax and thorax, respectively, of shrimps. The segments in prawns, however, all overlap. In other words, the head and thorax cross over and the abdomen crosses over the thorax. Prawns cannot sharply bend their bodies like shrimps can because of this.

Difference Between Prawn and Shrimp in Tabular Form

Zoological ClassificationThe decapod crustacean suborder Dendrobranchiata includes prawns.According to the suborder Pleocyemata, shrimps are decapod crustaceans.
Relative SizePrawns are typically larger than shrimps.Shrimps are generally smaller than prawns.
Gill StructurePrawns have branching gills.Shrimp feature lamellar gills, which are plate-like in structure.
PincersPrawns’ second pincers are larger than their front ones.Shrimp often have their largest pincers in the front.
Leg structurePrawns have longer legs than shrimps. Prawns typically have three pairs of claws on each of their legs.Shrimp only have two sets of claws on each of their shorter legs.
CulinaryBecause prawns are bigger, you receive fewer of them per pound and they cost more per unit as a result. Even though prawns and shrimps have comparable tastes, prawns are prized more for their size.Shrimp cook a bit more quickly than prawns since they are smaller. Longer sautéing times could turn the shrimp rubbery and more akin to dried fish. They taste a lot like prawns, other than that.
TypesIndian prawns, Giant river prawns, Tiger prawns.White leg shrimp, Atlantic white shrimp, Pink, Dotted and Brown shrimp.

What is a Prawn?

The term “prawn” refers to small aquatic crustaceans (decapods) having ten legs and an exoskeleton, some of which are edible. When referring to large swimming crustaceans or prawns, especially those with commercial value to the fishing industry, the term “prawn” is most frequently used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries. The suborder Dendrobrachiata is frequently home to prawns in this group. The phrase is used less commonly in North America, usually about freshwater prawns. The words “shrimp” and “prawn” are not scientifically recognized. In modern usage, the terms are essentially interchangeable due to changes in how they have been employed over time.

Behavioral Characteristics of Prawns

  • Physical Characteristics: Prawns can be found in a range of hues, such as pink, white, black, and grey. A Palaemon prawn is between six and eight inches long when completely developed. When caught, the fish displays a mild blue tint. It has a cylindrical and elongated body. The body of the prawn is somewhat compressed from one side to the other.
  • Location: The northern regions are home to bananas, brown tigers, and western king prawn fish. They love to live close to the shore in coastal waters and are larger in these regions than in other parts of the planet. Australia’s northern areas are home to both bananas and tiger prawns. The banana prawns from the English town of Exmouth are famous. Tiger Prawns live in Shark Bay. Fish called king prawn can be found all along Western Australia’s Coast. They can also be found in Australia’s Swan River.
  • Body of the Prawn: The hue of a prawn might vary depending on the situation. The pigment in their epidermis, which is located directly underneath their shell, allows them to do this. Their skin cells allow them to change colors, including blue, yellow, red, yellow-white, and sepia. Which hue they become depends on how many of those color cells are present in their body. School prawns develop light spots, but deep-water prawns develop brilliant crimson or even scarlet spots as a result of the cells. Deepwater prawns exhibit intense red coloring as a result of their oceanic habitat. They appear dark since the color can’t be seen. Because of this, predators will have a harder time spotting them.

Life Cycle of the Prawns

A prawn’s lifespan is between two and three years. When they are six to eight months old, they are sexually mature, and they reproduce in offshore seas. Tiger prawns generally spawn in the spring and summer, whereas king prawns spawn all year long. One prawn can spawn numerous times throughout any given year. The female releases tens of thousands of eggs. A prawn’s life span is not very long. The usual lifespan of a school prawn is one year. Prawns with bigger body sizes have a two-year lifespan. In exceptional cases, they may even live for three years.

There are three distinct stages in the life cycle of the prawn. There are three categories: estuarine, marine, and mixed. Seawater is used to complete the estuarine life cycle. This life cycle is experienced by one subspecies, the greasy-back prawn. Royal red prawns live in ocean habitats and are a component of the marine life cycle. The mixed life cycle is different from other life cycles since it is the one that baby prawns follow. During this phase of their life cycles, female prawns deposit their fertilized eggs on the ocean floor. The eggs stay on the ocean floor until the newborns are prepared. Until a child reaches adulthood, this cycle keeps repeating. The mixed life cycle unfolds over a period of two to three weeks.

Prawns Considered as Healthiest Food

Due to their multiple nutritional advantages, prawns are regarded by many health professionals as one of the world’s healthiest foods. In addition to providing some of the most crucial victims and minerals for a balanced diet, prawns are a fantastic source of high-quality protein. Prawns are strong in heart-healthy cholesterol and have a surprisingly low-calorie count, so frying them helps them break down into their beneficial components. Prawns contain large amounts of selenium, one of the most effective antioxidants for supporting healthy cells. Additionally, they contain a lot of zinc, particularly in dry prawns, which is important for the growth of a strong immune system. Copper, magnesium, and phosphorus-all of which are present in prawns-help to build strong bones.

What is a Shrimp?

There are plenty and lots of shrimp. Numerous species have evolved to fit a variety of environments, numbering thousands. The majority of coastlines, estuaries, rivers, and lakes all have them feeding close to the seafloor. Some animals dive into the sediment and flip off the seafloor to avoid predators. Their average lifespan is one to seven years. Although they can form vast schools during the breeding season, shrimps are mostly solitary. They are a crucial component of the food chain and a significant source of nutrition for larger creatures like fish and whales. Many shrimps have muscular tails that can be eaten by people, and they are frequently harvested and raised for this purpose. An industry worth $50 billion is supported by commercial shrimp species, and in 2010 there were roughly 7 million tons of shrimp produced for commercial use. In the 1980s, shrimp farming gained popularity, notably in China, and by 2007, the yield from shrimp farms had surpassed that of wild shrimp. When shrimp are caught in the wild, there are serious problems with excessive bycatch, and when they are utilized to support shrimp farms, there are problems with pollution harming estuaries.

Characteristic of Shrimp

Shrimps are known to have two bulbous eyes on each side. On either side of the podium, they are seated. These eyes have a wild field of view. These eyes are naturally complex. These eyes’ eyesight is incredibly useful for seeing movement. They have whiskers thanks to the shrimps’ heads. Typically, prawns have two sets of whiskers. One of the most fascinating prawn facts is that one of these pairs of whiskers can grow to be twice as long as the shrimp’s complete body. The second pair is kept brief. Shrimps' antennae contain sensors. They can feel the surfaces they touch thanks to their sensors. They can taste and smell things thanks to the receptors on their antennas. The shrimps' long antennas aid them in orienting themselves to their surroundings. The prawn can better assess its prey because of the shortened antennae.


Shrimps are widely available. The majority of coastal areas, estuaries, lakes, and rivers have them on the seafloor. There are many species, and some of them have been adapted to a particular ecosystem. The majority of shrimps are typically marine, while very few are found in freshwater. The maritime species can be found up to a depth of 5000 meters (16,000 feet). Except for the two species of Merguia, almost all shrimps are completely aquatic. They live a large chunk of their lives in mangroves and are semi-terrestrial.

The Main Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps in Points

  • The size and flavor of prawns are frequently sweeter than those of shrimps. Both species have ten legs, but only prawns have three sets of pincers while shrimps only have one pair of claws. Due to shrimps’ flexible shell structure and more flexibility than prawns, which have overlapping segments and less mobility.
  • Both prawns and shrimps can be found in saltwater and freshwater, but when it comes to the culinary crustaceans you’re likely to buy at your fishmonger or order at your favorite seafood restaurant, the majority of the shrimp you’re buying will come from saltwater, and the majority of the prawns will come from freshwater sources.
  • Shrimp bodies have a membrane between each segment of their shell, resembling an accordion, which makes them incredibly flexible and bendable. The shell of a prawn has segments that overlap one another, giving them a stiffer body and less movement.
  • In contrast to prawns, which release their eggs into the water for a more carefree parenting style, shrimps carry their fertilized eggs on their abdomens.
  • Shrimp is significantly more affordable than prawns, and it is readily available in supermarkets, seafood markets, and eateries. Fresh or frozen, peeled or with the shell on, and other factors affect the price.
  • Prawns that are harvested from freshwater have a naturally sweet taste, whereas shrimps spend their entire life marinating in saltwater, giving them a taste that is unmistakably salty and savory.


The phrases “shrimp” and “prawns” are frequently used synonymously throughout the World. They can be divided into groups based on their size, form, or the kind of water they inhabit. But prawns and shrimps are different from one another scientifically. They are anatomically distinct and descended from various branches of the crustacean family tree. Nevertheless, they have extremely comparable nutritional profiles. Each one is a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein. Therefore, even though they may differ significantly, both are healthy additions to your diet, and you have trouble switching one for the other in most recipes.


  • https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-a-92489


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sat. 13 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-prawns-and-shrimps>.

Edited by

Share this article