Shrimps and prawns look alike and some people use the terms interchangeably. But in reality, they are both different. However, it also depends on where you live as different cultures have different ways of using the term terms. In the United States, a prawn is any shrimp that is larger. According to the website of Museum Victoria, what is called a prawn in Australia is called a shrimp in the United States. Possibly due to lack of knowledge, some fishermen and seafood farmers treat both prawns and shrimps as one kind of species. To them, shrimp is another word for prawn. However, lately, a clearer distinction has been made in one aquaculture literature where the word shrimp was used for those live in fresh waters and the prawn for those which are found sea.
However, biologist classifies shrimps and prawns differently. They do this by looking at the body structure of the species.
This is how a shrimp is different from a prawn:
1. Both have distinct body structures.
Both prawns and shrimps have body segments overlapping one another. However, the way segments overlap in each species is different. With a prawn, the first segment overlaps the second segment, the second segment overlaps the third segment, and so on. On the other hand, with a shrimp, the second segment overlaps the the first and third segment, and so on.
Another major difference between shrimp and prawns are the ways the claws and legs are arranged. A shrimp has two claws while a prawn has three. A shrimp has two pairs of claw-like legs while a prawn has three.
Biologist also look at the appearance of the gills differentiate between a prawn and a shrimp. The structure of the gills of a prawn is branching in while the one for a shrimp is lamellae.
2. Both belongs to a different family.
According the Museum Victoria’s website, the prawns is Australia belong to one decapod family called Penaeidae. An adult prawn in Australia can grow up to 200 m long. There are 70 species of prawns in Australia but only 10 of them can help someone to earn a living or benefits the economy of the nation. Some of the species of prawns in Australia include banana prawn, Endeavour prawn, king prawn, red-spot prawn ,school prawn, and tiger prawn.
Shrimps in Australia, on the other hand, are members another group of decopoda called Caridea. Most carideans cannot be eaten as they are too small. The shrimps that can be eaten are caught in Asia and brought into the country in cans.
3. Both reproduce differently.
According to the same website, both prawns and shrimps produce offspring differently. A prawn reproduces by freely letting go its eggs into the water. A shrimp, on the other hand, carry its eggs attached on swimmerets found under its tail.
Museum Victoria, “What’s the difference between a prawn and a shrimp?”, http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/what-is-the-difference-between-prawns-and-shrimp/ (accessed July 1, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors, “Prawn,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Prawn&oldid=370659222 (accessed July 1, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors, “Shrimp,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Shrimp&oldid=368130281 (accessed July 1, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors, “Lamella (zoology),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lamella_(zoology)&oldid=348294803 (accessed July 1, 2010).
FAO Aqua-book, “Shrimp Aguaculture, http://aquaculture.tn.nic.in/pdf/farming.pdf (accessed July 1, 2010).