Both shrimp and fish are considered seafood, but does that make them both fish? What are the main differences between fish and shrimp?
And what about prawns, where do they fit in these categories? Aren’t shrimp and prawns the same thing?
The answer can leave us wondering which might be the healthier option to eat or if we have an allergy to one. We know both fish and shrimp are delicious, but is one option better than the other?
Are shrimp considered fish? No. Shrimp are not fish. They are crustaceans. A completely different class of animal.
Now, to make things interesting we need to note here that shrimp are actually in a class of crustaceans called shellfish. Confused yet? Don’t worry. We’ll clear everything up in detail below.
Shrimp and Fish Overview
All of the edible animals under the sea consumed by humans can be classified as seafood. Fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and mollusks are the top categories in relation to seafood.
There are hundreds of species of fish and shrimp, but only a few have made it to our dinner plates. Let’s break down the differences between them.
What is a Fish?
Fish are cold-blooded vertebrate sea creatures who move with fins and breathe through gills. Having a vertebrate simply means they have a backbone, like a spinal column. And in the case of fish, this backbone is contained inside their body.
Something interesting about fish are their swim bladders which help them float. They also typically have scales, and lay eggs to reproduce.
Furthermore, fish also have an internal skeleton, a sophisticated central nervous system, and no limbs. They have a relatively flexible head, neck, and thorax with muscle under the skin over a bone frame.
Fish are considered popular pets in the American home. They may be raised in an aquarium with proper care. They demand high-quality water, and the owner should conduct the proper research into the specific sort of water required by the species.
When preparing fish for a meal, make sure they’ve been prepared properly to avoid illness. But don’t let that deter you from putting fish on the recipe.
The health benefits we get from fish are too amazing to let it slide off our plate. Fish can give us the best fats are body desires including the commonly sought after omega-3.
What are Shrimps?
Shrimp is one of the several swimming, deliciously edible, crustaceans with slender legs, long whiskers, and lengthy abdomens. Shrimp have an exoskeleton, which means their skeleton is on the exterior of their bodies.
Shrimp are labeled as both consumers and decomposers in the food chain. The food web consists of producers, consumers, and decomposers.
Producers create their own food by converting sunlight into sustenance. Producers usually consist of plants which use the magic of photosynthesis to survive.
Consumers are hunters and commonly eat the producers, like plants. Humans would fall into this consumer category.
Decomposers break down the waste and the remains of other animals and eat that for food. While this might sound incredibly gross, we humans do the same thing when we garden. The soil makeup of our gardens will more often than not consist of waste from other species.
Shrimp are omnivores, which means they will eat plants and other tiny animals for energy. This easily classifies them as a consumer. However, shrimp can also break down their food into nutrients for other animals in the food chain to consume. And that’s how they can also be classified as decomposers.
While we’ve never heard or seen someone keeping shrimp as a pet, it is not uncommon for seafood industries to keep shrimp “farms” where they grow their own shrimp for eating purposes.
When preparing shrimp for a meal, be sure it’s been prepared with care to avoid any illnesses. As with fish, shrimp come packed with nutrients our body is desperate to have.
So, don’t let any worries sway you from preparing a shrimp based meal. Your body will thank you for the nutrient-packed meal.
Is Shrimp Considered a Fish?
No. Shrimp and fish have very little in common. Shrimp have limbs and their skeleton is on the outside of their bodies- just the opposite of fish.
They are also classified differently as fish are in a league of their own and shrimp are put under the crustacean grouping. The only similarities we’ll find in fish and shrimp is how we choose to classify them. They are both considered aquatic life and seafood, but beyond that the similarities end.
It might be a tad confusing when we start calling shrimp shellfish, but that category is used for other types of seafood as well. Basically, the edible aquatic life with a skeleton on the outside of its body is referred to as a shellfish. Further details are provided below.
It’s also interesting to note here that a person can be allergic to shellfish but not fish, or vice versa. It’s also not uncommon for people to develop allergies to only one type of shellfish or one breed of fish.
What are Other Examples of Crustaceans Aside From Shrimps?
First, let’s start off with shellfish as they are considered a category under crustaceans. There are two groups of shellfish: crustaceans, such as shrimp, prawns, crab and lobster, and mollusks/bivalves, such as clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, octopus, squid, abalone, snail.
And we can break that down even further for just crustaceans. It’s worth mentioning here that none of these groupings have any breeds or types of fish as defined above.
There are five main categories of Crustaceans:
- decapods (crabs, lobsters and shrimp)
- stomatopods (mantis shrimp)
- euphausiids (krill)
- amphipods (sandhoppers)
- isopods (land-based crustaceans)
We can plainly see from these different groupings how fish have no relations to shrimp or anything else in the shrimp families.
Are Shrimp and Prawns the same?
While shrimp and prawn are both types of seafood consumed all over the world, we shouldn’t think of them as the same.
Even though they are very similar in appearance and the terms are often used interchangeably in commercial farming and wild fisheries, shrimp and prawns belong to different suborders of the decapod category of crustaceans.
A good rule of thumb to help understand the difference between the two is size. Prawns are typically larger than shrimp.
You can simply check the shell if you want to know what crustacean you purchased without making a trek out on a shrimp boat. If the second segment of the shell overlaps the first and third, it’s a shrimp. If the segments overlap down the abdomen, it’s a prawn.
Don’t bet on distinguishing between the two based on taste, unless you’re a foodie with a sensitive palate. The two flavors have no major distinguishing factor, culinary-wise, aside from prawns’ slightly sweeter taste.
Prawns also tend to be more expensive than shrimp.
But overall, your purchase is more likely to be affected by the seafood’s diet, habitat, and region. Shrimp caught out in the wild will usually taste better, as most farmed shrimp comes from areas where regulations are limited.
Is shrimp seafood?
Yes, shrimp is seafood. Seafood is a broad category that consists of all the aquatic life that finds its way to our dinner plates.
Is shrimp shellfish?
Yes. Shrimp are categorized as a type of shellfish. Remember, shellfish is a grouping under crustaceans, so all shellfish are crustaceans.
Are prawns and shrimp the same?
No, they are different types of decapods. But they do look the same and taste similar, so distinguishing between the two can be difficult. See the aforementioned discussion on prawns and shrimp for better details.
Fish and shrimp are seafood, but they are not the same.
They are both labeled as aquatic life, but they live and survive in vastly different ways.
Fish is in a category all by itself which will need to be broken down into different subcategories of breeds and types.
Shrimp are a very specific category listed under shellfish and crustaceans.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here