Prawns vs Shrimps: Are They The Same?

Is it a prawn? Or is it a shrimp? They look so similar that their names are often used interchangeably, and often inaccurately.

Some might think that shrimps are merely smaller prawns. Some might think that shrimps and prawns are the same species. Sure, prawns and shrimps share many similarities. They both are decapods, which literally means “ten-footed” as both of them have ten legs. 

In addition, they both have an exoskeleton, or carapace, with bodies divided three ways: the head, both prawns and shrimps have a thin exoskeleton and their bodies are divided into three main segments: the head or cephalon, thorax and abdomen.

Although both are crustaceans, prawns and shrimps are entirely different species. Shrimp are members of the Pleocyemata suborder, along with crayfish, lobsters, and crabs. Prawns, on the other hand, are members of the Dendrobranchiata suborder.

Physical differences

Prawns have a more pronounced head and larger antennae, while shrimp are smaller with a rounder body. Fully grown shrimps can be about 10cm in length while grown prawns can get up to about 20cm! 

Although many varieties of prawns are grey and white, prawns can also have a reddish-brown coloring, whereas shrimp are generally pale in color. Learn more about the differences between white, grey, and red prawns in our blog here

In shrimp, the thorax (the middle part of the body below the head), overlaps the head and abdomen. However, in prawns, the head overlaps the thorax, which in turn, overlaps the abdomen. 

In addition, structure of their legs are different. Prawns have three prawns of claw-like legs while shrimps only have one. Prawns also have longer legs relative to their size than shrimp, and have straighter bodies. 

Lastly, prawns and shrimps have different natural habitats. Shrimps can be found in both warm and cold waters and largely found in sea water. Prawns are mostly found in warm freshwater. 

Taste differences 

Another similarity that shrimps and prawns have is taste. They are remarkably similar in taste and texture and often used interchangeably in the kitchen.

However, some subtle differences are noticeable for those with a highly sensitive palate. Some say that prawns are a tad sweeter, while shrimp has a salty, more delicate taste. 

This could be due to the fact that prawns live primarily in freshwater while shrimps are found in salt water. 

Linguistic differences 

While shrimps are not technically prawns and vice versa, some countries distinguish them purely by size alone. 

Some say that the term “prawn” is more commonly used in Euope, Australia, and the UK, while “shrimp” is used more often in North America

Some regions differentiate shrimps and prawns merely by their size. In Australia, for example, shrimp refers to a small crustacean that is less than 10 cm long, while prawns are larger crustaceans that range in size from 10 cm to 1 metre long.

In the United Kingdom, shrimps are a type of prawn. There, the word "prawn" is used alone to refer to a large shrimp, while in the United States, both terms are used interchangeably.

Price differences 

The price of prawns and shrimps can be affected by a variety of factors, including the size of the crustaceans, the season, and the availability. 

Prawns are larger and typically more expensive, especially with jumbo varieties such as tiger prawns or red king prawns. It also depends on whether the crustaceans are wild-caught or farmed. Wild-caught prawns and shrimps will cost more than farmed. 

In addition, fresh and frozen, peeled and de-veined or sold whole will also affect price points. 

Prices will vary according to stores, so do your homework before you head out and buy your tiger prawns

Shop high-quality prawns and shrimps online 

From tiger prawns to white prawns, All Big Frozen Food’s range of top-quality frozen crustaceans will satisfy the most discerning seafood lover. Buy prawns online at our store and shop our extensive collection of seafood for your low-fat, omega-3 rich seafood fix now! 

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