Is A Prawn A Crustacean?

prawn, any of a few crustaceans belonging to the Natantia suborder of shrimp.


Penaeus monodon, sometimes known as the gigantic tiger prawn, is a crucial species for aquaculture.

The term “prawn” refers to a group of small aquatic crustaceans, some of which are edible, that have ten legs and an exoskeleton.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other Commonwealth countries, large swimming crustaceans or shrimp, particularly those with commercial significance in the fishing sector, are referred to as “prawns.” The shrimp found in this group frequently come from the suborder Dendrobranchiata. The phrase is less frequently used in North America, typically for freshwater shrimp. Even the phrases “shrimp” and “prawn” are not considered scientific. The phrases have evolved over time, and in modern usage, they are essentially interchangeable.


The group of animals known as crustaceans includes seafood favorites like shrimp, crab, and lobster. Prawns, crayfish, krill, and barnacles (yes, some people actually eat barnacles!) are also included.

Although the term “crustacean” refers to animals with hard shells or crusts, not all animals having exoskeletons fall under this heading. True crustaceans grow from larvae and typically have segmented, divided limbs or appendages.


Let’s start by making it abundantly apparent that shrimp and prawns are two separate species of animals. The numerous species of shrimp lie under the Pleocyemata suborder, while the species of prawn fall under the Dendrobranchiata suborder, despite the fact that both are members of the marine animal family known as Decapod crustaceans.

The fact that both suborders have ten-footed animals shielded by tough exoskeletons is the only similarity between them.

Shrimp have claws on their front two pairs of legs and lamellar, plate-like gills. Prawns, in contrast, have three pairs of claws on their legs, with the front pair being visibly larger. They also have branching gills. The distinct three parts of shrimp’s bodies, with the middle segment overlapping the front and back portions, serve as a subtle visual distinguishing feature. Prawns have straighter bodies than shrimp since they don’t have this body segmentation.

Additionally, there are other genetic and behavioral variations, such as how each animal lays eggs. Shrimp carry their eggs on the underside of their bodies, whereas prawns unleash a flood of their offspring into the nearby waters.

How to Spot a Shrimp and a Prawn Apart

Both shrimp and prawns are decapods, which are crustaceans with 10 legs, according to their biology.

The smaller crustacean, called a shrimp, lives in seawater. There are a few minor but distinctive characteristics to look for to determine whether your crustacean is a shrimp. The second shell segment of shrimp overlaps the first and third shell segments, and two of its legs contain claws. Additionally, this gives them a characteristic bend to their shape, another element to look out for when purchasing seafood.

Prawns frequently reside on the bottom of fresh or brackish (slightly saline) water. If you purchase your seafood unpeeled, you can see the claws on these crabs’ third leg. There is less of a pronounced bend in the body of prawns because of the way their shell segments overlap down their belly (first overlaps second, second overlaps third).

The size difference between the two is a helpful indicator, as prawns are frequently bigger than shrimp. Simply examine the shell to find out what crustacean you bought without having to travel out on a shrimp boat. A shrimp is what you have if the second segment overlaps the first and third; a prawn is what you have if the segments overlap down the abdomen.

Prawns, which are typically collected from freshwater, can get fairly big, and have claws on three of their legs, are smaller than shrimp, which typically dwell in salt water and have claws on two of their legs.

Crustaceans include crabs, lobsters, prawns, and others.

One of the most common and diverse groups of invertebrates are crustaceans. On land or at water, they can be found in a variety of settings. Many crustaceans, like slaters and beachhoppers, were once aquatic but have evolved to live on land.

The size of crustaceans ranges from tiny plankton under 1 millimeter length to huge crabs. In many ocean food chains, smaller crustaceans like amphipods, copepods, and isopods are the primary constituents. All crustaceans, despite their immense diversity, have a body made up of a head, thorax, and abdomen, two sets of eyes and antennae, a hard exoskeleton, and jointed, paired appendages.

Crustaceans have a rich fossil history, with living fossils like the mantis shrimp existing today in the same form as they were millions of years ago. Animals that have undergone little to no morphological change from their long-extinct forebears in the same lineage are known as living fossils.

Scientific Name for Prawn

Even though this creature, which resembles a shrimp, is known by the colloquial term “prawn,” the scientific name for it is Dendrobranchiata, and it belongs to the crustacea class. Its normal length is between 1 and 1.5 cm. There are 200 different subspecies of prawns. The majority of them spend their entire lives in freshwater, which helps them thrive.

The huge river prawn was one of the earliest subspecies of prawns that researchers identified. Machrobachium rosenbergii is the name given to this subspecies by scientists. In subtropical and tropical waters, it thrives. Throughout the Indo-Pacific region, Machrobachium rosenbergii can be found. Although the majority of these subspecies dwell in freshwater, several do as well in the salty river mouths.

Ponds, rivers, and streams in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are home to the Palaemon prawn.

The term “prawn” first appeared in 15th-century England. The animal was referred known as prane, prayne, or praine at that time. Today, Ireland and the United Kingdom are where you’ll most regularly encounter the word “prawn.”

What makes a prawn a crustacean?

Why do fried crabs and prawns’ and lobsters’ shells turn red? Connor, a child from Kensington, NSW, age 8.

The animal group known as crustaceans includes crabs and prawns. Exoskeletons, which are hard shells that grow outside of the body like human bones, are found in these creatures.

The chemicals inside the shell react with heat, which is why they change color after being fried.

Crabs and prawns typically have drab shell colors like brown, olive-blue, grey, or muddy color when they are swimming about in the wild on the ocean floor.

Crustaceans’ darker color aids in predator avoidance. It is more difficult for predators to see them if their bodies are in harmony with their surroundings. It’s likely that this tactic developed over time to keep crustaceans safe.

The many compounds known as pigments found in a crustacean’s exoskeleton are what give crabs and prawns their color. Astaxanthin, an orange-colored pigment, is one of them. This pigment belongs to the same family as those that give many yellow, orange, and red animals their color.

When the crustaceans are alive, a unique protein known as “crustacyanin” firmly wraps and traps the astaxanthin. In light of this, live crabs and prawns typically have a bluish gray hue.

Heat has no effect on astaxanthin, but it does on a protein called crustacyanin.

Heat kills the crustacyanin protein once you place a crab or a prawn in a saucepan of boiling water or on a grill.

The crustaceans’ shells then become bright red as soon as the orange-colored astaxanthin is released. In reality, the amount of color change indicates how well the seafood has been cooked. It’s probably not cooked enough if it’s not red enough.

The fact that flamingos are pink because they consume shrimp is another interesting fact. Given that flamingos consume raw prawns, you could assume that their feathers should be grey.

The orange-colored pigment that gives flamingo feathers their more pinkish hue actually comes from the crustacyanin protein, which after digestion dissolves in the acids and fats of the flamingos’ stomach.

To make salmon meat more reddish and clownfish bodies more orange, astaxanthin is fed to the fish in fish farms.

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A prawn is it a lobster?

Shrimps are the smallest, followed by prawns, which are the largest in size. Prawns can be found in both fresh and saltwater, but lobsters can only live in saltwater and brackish water. Shrimps can live in freshwater. While lobsters are crawling or walking crustaceans, shrimp and prawns are swimmers.

Shrimp only have one set of claw-like legs, whereas lobsters have three pairs. While prawns can appear relatively straighter, they cannot bend their bodies as sharply as shrimps can.

Are a shrimp and a prawn interchangeable terms?

The shrimp and the prawn are among the least understood of all crustaceans. Some people believe they are the same thing, while others believe they just differ in size or that they simply go by different names in other states, regions, or nations. But all of these folks are mistaken! Prawns and shrimp are very different animals. Yes, they are both decapods, which means they have 10 legs and external skeletons, but that is the only similarity between them. Prawns and shrimp both fall under the Pleocyemata suborder of the animal kingdom. Let’s investigate what this discrepancy signifies.

Gills: As you might recall from biology class in the ninth grade, gills are designed to have the most surface area possible. Prawns have branching gills, which is where I assume the “branchiata” portion of their name comes from, while shrimp have plate-like gills that are made up of flat, layered patterns.

Pincers and claws: The largest pincers and claws on a shrimp are on the front legs, which have two pairs of claws each. Three pairs of the legs on prawns have claws, and the second pincers are larger than the front ones.

Let’s say that these decapods have a body structure with four unique parts: the head, the thorax (the region directly behind the head), the abdomen (the “torso”), and the tail. Similar to roof tiles, the head of prawns overlaps with the thorax, which in turn overlaps with the abdomen. In shrimp, the thorax forms a cummerbund-like overlap with the head and the abdomen.

Shrimps can come from either freshwater or saltwater, whereas prawns reside in freshwater (though the majority of species come from salt water). Fun fact: Shrimp are smaller the colder the ocean they come from! (I used to find the little shrimp in shrimp salads that reminded me of Scandinavian cuisine to be scary, but I no longer do.)

Size: Prawns and shrimp are generally larger than each other, though this can vary by species.

Taste: It’s false to claim that shrimp and prawns have distinct flavors. Sure, some shrimp are sweeter than others, and vice versa, but this varies more by species than by sub-order as a whole.

The distinction between prawns and crabs

Compared to prawns, crabs are smaller. Prawns have 26 limbs while crabs only have 10 genuine legs. While prawns are restricted to fresh and estuary waters, crabs live near to the shore and need access to both land and water. Prawns don’t seem to like walking sideways, whereas crabs do.

Prawns and crabs are they related?

Malacostracans, also referred to as crabs, lobsters, and their relatives (Malacostraca), are a class of crustaceans that comprises many different species of crabs, lobsters, shrimp, mantis shrimp, prawns, krill, spider crabs, and woodlice.