Are Shrimp Considered Fish? – Explained

One thing that confuses people is that both shrimp and fish are seen as seafood, but where this can confuse people is if this means that shrimp is fish as well.

This can be confusing since you hear just as many people calling shrimp fish as people who are arguing that it is not fish. Because of this, people have been wondering what the actual differences are between shrimp and fish.

Are Shrimp Considered Fish - Explained

Also, prawns are often brought into the conversation since they are so similar to shrimp and often confused as the same thing.

The answer of whether shrimp is categorized as fish or not also leaves people unsure of which is the healthier alternative, and if you can have an allergy to one or not the other.

Some people love some fish, but not others, so if one is healthier than the other.

For a quick answer, shrimp are not considered to be fish and are instead classified as crustaceans.

This is a completely different type of animal from a fish, however, this does not mean that shrimp are not seafood, and crustaceans can still be considered as seafood in spite of not actually being fish.

One thing that can confuse people is that since shrimp are not the same class as fish, then what are crustaceans?

Turns out that crustaceans are actually shellfish, this can be a confusing twist, but do not worry about this as we will go into further detail on all of this throughout the article, so keep reading to get all the information you need about shrimps!

Shrimp Overview

No matter if it is a fish or not, all animals that are edible that live under the sea and are eaten by people are seen as seafood.

So, if it is a shellfish, a fish, a crustacean, or a mollusk, all of these are seen as seafood and can be categorized as such.

And, there are hundreds of species of different fish and shrimp, however, not all of them are eaten as seafood, so what makes the seafood, and what puts them in the different categories.

What Can Be Categorized As Fish?

If something is a fish, it is a cold blooded sea creature that is a vertebrate that will move using its fins and will breathe using gills. To be a vertebrate means that these fish have a backbone similar to our spinal column.

However, for a fish, this backbone is contained inside of the body instead of one on the outside like some other types of animals.

Also, something else that is interesting about fish is that they have swim bladders that make them float. They also have scales and will lay eggs for reproduction.

Something else worth noting is that a fish will have an internal skeleton, as well as a more sophisticated central nervous system. They also do not have limbs either.

Fish have a more flexible head, as well as a neck and thorax which has muscle that is under the skin but over a frame of bones.

You can find fish being quite popular pets in a typical American home, and they are usually raised in an aquarium, and will need proper care to thrive.

This includes having high quality water, as well as the proper type of water to support the species.

If you are preparing your fish to be eaten, you want to ensure that they have been properly prepared in a way that will avoid the potential for illness.

However, this is not too difficult, and you should not let it deter you from eating them.

This is because you can get some great health benefits from eating fish, for example some of the best fats the body needs, as well as omega 3 as well.

Are Shrimp Considered Fish? - Explained

What Is A Shrimp?

Shrimp on the other hand is one of the edible crustaceans, meaning it features slender legs, a long abdomen, and long whiskers as well. You can find that shrimp feature an exoskeleton unlike fish.

This means that the skeleton for a shrimp is on the exterior of their bodies instead of on the inside. You can find that shrimp are both consumers as well as decomposers within the food chain.

The food chain contains three groups, producers, consumers, as well as decomposers.

A producer will create their own food by turning something like sunlight into sustenance, these are usually plants that do this using processes like photosynthesis.

Then a consumer is a hunter that will eat something like plants, this includes humans. The decomposers will break down the waste from other animals as well as their remains and use this as food.

While it sounds unappealing, this is what we do when gardening as the material in our garden includes waste from other species.

One other thing worth noting about shrimp is that they are omnivores, so as well as eating plants, they also eat smaller animals for energy, so this means they are classified as a consumer, however, since the food is broken into nutrients that can be enjoyed by other animals in the food chain, they are also decomposers officially.

Unlike fish, shrimp are very rarely kept as pets like a lot of fish are, however, shrimp are kept in farms, however this is only for inevitable consumption purposes.

When you are preparing a shrimp to eat, you want to make sure it has been cared for properly and will not contain any illnesses.

However, like fish, they are packed with nutrients, so if prepared properly, you will have an amazing meal in the end!

Is Shrimp Fish?

Even though they are both undersea creatures that are both classified as seafood, shrimp are not seen as fish and do not have much else in common.

This is mainly because shrimps have limbs and they have a skeleton on the outside of their body, neither of which are features of a fish which are the opposite of this!

This is why shrimp are not even in the same group as fish and are instead crustaceans. 

It is a little confusing to see shrimp as shellfish since this is the group they are in, in spite of not looking similar to some other shellfish, this is why the label crustacean is used to further specify them more often than not.

But a shellfish is edible sea life that has a skeleton on the outside. Also, worth noting, that you can be allergic to shellfish but not other fish.

Other Crustaceans

Under the category of shellfish, there are two groups, being crustaceans, and then mollusks or bivalves. Then within crustaceans, you can further specify.

There are 5 main groups of crustaceans being decapods, like crabs, shrimp, and lobster.

Then there are stomatopods like mantis shrimp, euphausiids are something like krill, then amphipods are something like sandhoppers, and isopods include land based crustaceans.

Difference Between Shrimp And Prawns

While you can find that shrimp and prawns are often confused for each other, they are not the same thing and they should not be thought of as such.

They are a different suborder of the decapod category, because of this they can be distinguished from each other.

The main way to tell the difference between a prawn and a shrimp is that shrimps tend to be smaller than the larger prawn. 

Also, if the second segment of the shell will overlap the first and the third, this means that it is a shrimp, however, if the segments overlap down the abdomen, this makes it a prawn.

One way they are not too easy to distinguish is taste unless you eat both commonly or have an incredibly sensitive palette.

However, prawn is just slightly sweeter than shrimp. However, prawns tend to be a little more expensive than shrimp.


Hopefully this guide has made the difference between shrimp and other fish clear, as well as cleared up the differences between shrimp and prawns as well.

However, the confusion is easily explained, so not knowing the difference is actually pretty common.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shrimp Shellfish?

Yes, because the shrimp has its skeleton on the outside, this makes it a shellfish, as opposed to the other fish. They are crustaceans as well.

Are Prawns And Shrimps The Same?

No, however, they are similar since they are decapods. The easiest way to tell them apart is that prawns are a little bigger, but they only taste slightly different!

Mark Williams
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