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Is Shrimp A Fish? Detailed Categorization Of These Concepts

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When you think about any type of seafood, the first thing that comes to mind is fish. And many people, indeed, have a misconception about these two, i.e. many people think that seafood is equal to fish.

So, when they talk about some types of seafood like clams, prawns, scallops, starfish, or shrimp in fisheries, they actually identify these seafaring creatures as fish. But, are they really fish? Or, in this particular case, is shrimp a fish? The exact answer is no. Shrimp is not a fish.

Although it is seafood and both fish and shrimp live in bodies of water, shrimp can not be classified as fish. There are many reasons for this constatation and, in this article, I will show you what the main reasons are.

Aside from that, you will also learn some other important and interesting pieces of information related to shrimp, and fish, their classification, and seafood in general. So, your best bet is to stay tuned and you will acquire some precious knowledge.

Is Shrimp A Fish?

shrimp scampi with garlic and butter sauce

As already mentioned, the answer to the question “is shrimp a fish?” is “no, shrimp can not be considered fish”. First, what is the main reason for that? Many experts in this field agree that the main reason for this lies in the body composition of these two types of seafood.

Fish possess an internal skeleton which, of course, means that their skeleton is inside their body and it includes a spine and a skull. That internal skeleton, alongside their fins and tail (edible tail, not to forget), helps them to move through the water.

On the other hand, shrimp possesses an external skeleton, which is called an exoskeleton. It has a unique shape and structure since it is almost rounded and curved.

Their skeleton also acts as a shield that protects their body, unlike the internal skeleton of most other varieties of seafood. This is the most visible difference between these two types of seafood, but there are a lot more differences that I will reveal to you below.

So, it is best to continue reading in order to find out.

What Are The Main Differences Between Shrimp And Fish?

a bunch of shrimps

Here, I will present you with a list of the most important things that differentiate shrimp from fish. I think that this is the easiest and most effective way to understand the essence of this important topic.

Fish are vertebrates that possess internal skeletons, while, on the other hand, shrimp are invertebrates with an exoskeleton.

• Contrary to shrimp which possess thick, rigid cases that act like armor, while fish have a flexible heads, necks, and thorax.

• Fish use their fins and tail to move through the water and shrimp are decapod, which means they possess 10 sets of limbs that help them to move. They also have long whiskers and long abdomens.

• Fish have teeth and a complex central nervous system like some other vertebrates such as dogs. Shrimp, on the other hand, are arthropods and they are more similar to spiders and grasshoppers than to fish.

What Are Shrimp Classified As?

white spotted shrimps on the table

First, I have to emphasize that shrimp, based on the broadest categorization, falls under the category of seafood. And that is also the case with all types of fish. But, when we go further into the categorization, things become a little more complicated.

Shrimp are classified as shellfish alongside other members of the shellfish family including mussels, oysters, and clams. The main reason that all these types belong to the shellfish family is the outer shell that protects them from external threats.

That outer shell is called an exoskeleton. Mollusks and crustaceans fall under the shellfish category because both possess a hard outer shell. Crustacean is a broad subcategory that includes various types of shellfish including our shrimps, as well as crawfish, lobsters, and crabs.

But, what is the difference between crustaceans and mollusks? Well, crustaceans have sets of legs that, despite the shells, can be moved and controlled. It is similar in crabs, lobsters, and crayfish which also possess limbs that they can use.

On the other hand, mollusks also have a hard crust or shell but do not have limbs that they can use to move around and that is a major difference.

All in all, shrimp is an edible crustacean that falls under the category of shellfish. That same shellfish, alongside other types of fish, is part of the broadest category of species that live underwater and it is called seafood.

Among the subtypes of seafood is also a fish and it differs from shellfish on the basis of several important things, of which perhaps the most important one is the position and structure of their skeleton.

What Are The Main Types Of Shrimp?

biled shrimps on wooden surface

There are many species of shrimp, i.e. about 2000 to be exact, and it is important to know that some of them are edible and some others are not. Here, I will mention and say a few words about those edible ones.

• White Shrimp: White shrimp are actually classified as prawns and that is what they are mostly called. They are also called whiteleg shrimp or Whiteleg prawns.

They are very popular among chefs because of their firm texture and sweet taste. There are 3 main varieties of white shrimps and those are Pacific White, Gulf White, and Chinese White Shrimps.

Pink Shrimp: These raw shrimps, also called Northern Prawns due to the fact that their habitat is the North Sea, are pink as the name suggests, but they can also be white and gray in some cases.

They mostly come from the west coast of Florida and are very small in size. Sometimes, people refer to them as “salad shrimps” because they are suitable for adding mild and sweet flavors to shrimp salads.

• Tiger Shrimp: This type of shrimp, also known as the Black Tiger Prawn, is most often found in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australia.

You can find farmed shrimp of this kind in Vietnam, Thailand, India, and the Philippines as well. The Tiger shrimp got its name because of the tiger stripes on its body. This type of shrimp is mild in flavor and has a firm texture. It is ideal for steaming and grilling.

• Brown Shrimp: Brown shrimp has a brownish-red shell and it is firm in texture. There are various flavors since they can range from mildly sweet to mildly salty.

When cooked, brown shrimps turn pink. Many chefs prefer to boil or steam this type of shrimp in order to enjoy their amazing natural taste.

These are the most important edible types of shrimp, but there are also a few other types of freshwater shrimp for aquariums that I will mention here. Some of the most important ones include:

• Striped Harlequin Shrimp

• Red Cherry Shrimp

• Blue Bolt Shrimp

• Blue Tiger Shrimp

• Snowball Shrimp

• Ghost Shrimp

• Glass Shrimp

What Are The Health Benefits Of Shrimp?

shrimps in cheese-cream sauce or kase sahne sauce served in an old small pan

Just like fish can provide you with a lot of health benefits, eating shrimp can also be very beneficial for your health. There are many reasons to say this and the main one is the fact that shrimp is low in calories and very high in nutrients.

Shrimp is a food source of one of the most important nutrients for human health and that is omega-3 fatty acids. Alongside fatty acids, there are also proteins, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, sodium, and magnesium.

All of the counted nutrients are extremely good for your overall health. And, of course, there are antioxidants that are beneficial for your heart and brain health. In fact, shrimps contain one of the strongest antioxidants in the world and it is called astaxanthin.

This type of antioxidant can protect you from inflammation by stopping free radicals from damaging your cells. It can be especially beneficial for those people who suffer from chronic diseases.

More Interesting Facts About Shrimp

delicious shrimp meal on a plate

Here, I will mention some more interesting facts about shrimp which you certainly won’t mind knowing.

The scientific name of shrimp is Caridea and it belongs to Caridea and Pleocyemata families

• Shrimps are frequently found in light bluish, grey, and white colors, and the color is determined by the type of shrimp

• The main part that creates the shell of the shrimp is the so-called chitin, which represents a thin but hard exoskeleton

• The most eaten shrimp species are the Northern prawn, Tiger prawn, and Whiteleg shrimp

• Countries that are considered to be top producers of shrimp include Ecuador, Bangladesh, India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Thailand

• The top importers of farmed shrimps are in Europe and America

• Some of the most popular recipes that include shrimp are Italian pasta (fusilli or rotini, for example), sushi, and Spanish paella (it is best to combine brown rice, shrimp, and the flavor of seaweed)

• It is not recommended to eat raw shrimp since you are at a high risk of getting food poisoning

• Shellfish allergies are classified as one of the top nine food allergies in the US and the symptoms include skin reactions, digestive tract issues, breathing difficulties, and tingling in the throat


Tasty shrimp tails in baking dish

Is Shrimp Meat Or Fish?

Shrimp is definitely meat since it is a type of seafood and seafood also includes all types of aquatic animals edible to humans such as sea urchins, octopus, squid, lobsters, crayfish, and fish.

Since most of the experts in this field, as well as vegans and vegetarians, say that every living thing is considered to be meat, you can easily conclude that all types of seafood are meat and not just shrimp.

Is Shrimp Invertebrate?

Yes, shrimp is an invertebrate. It means that they possess a so-called exoskeleton or carapace. That is the external skeleton that supports and protects the shrimp’s body.

Contrary to this, fish possess an endoskeleton, i.e. an internal skeleton, and they are considered to be vertebrates.

What Is The Difference Between Shrimp And Crabs?

The main difference between shrimp and crabs is in their abdomen. Crabs’ abdomen is short and small, and the abdomen of shrimp is large and long.

The main function of shrimps’ lower abdomen is to support pleopods, which are well-adapted to swimming.

There is also a difference in carapace since crabs are wide and flat and shrimps are more cylindrical.

What Is The Difference Between Shrimp And Prawns?

The main difference is in size since prawns are bigger than shrimps. Another difference is that prawns have branching gills and shrimps possess lamellar ones. Also, prawns have claws on three pairs of legs, and shrimps have only two.
Last but not least, prawns have full-segmented bodies and shrimps only have the first and third segments.

What Is Shrimp’s Habitat?

Shrimps are both found in freshwater and saltwater habitats. They can be seen near the seafloor of most estuaries and coasts, but also in most rivers and lakes.
Because the wild shrimp is a bottom-dweller, it is mostly found in muddy or sandy river beds and ocean floors.

Final Answer

Answering the question “Is shrimp a fish?” was very easy since it is obvious that shrimp isn’t a fish. The main reason so many people confuse shrimp with fish is that both are seafaring creatures that live underwater.

Most people who are not very familiar with seafood easily conclude that everything that lives under the water is simply called fish. But, that definitely isn’t true since there are so many types and subtypes of seafood.

One of them is shellfish. Two main subtypes of shellfish include mollusks and crustaceans. Shrimps fall under the category of crustaceans. Crustaceans alongside other types of shellfish possess external skeletons that differentiate them from other seafood including fish.

The main reason for that is that fish have an internal skeleton, i.e. it does not have shells as shrimps do.

Is Shrimp A Fish Detailed Categorization Of These Concepts