The shrimp, actually called carídeo (Caridea), It is a marine crustacean that we can find on all the sea beds of the world. They are very small and some species are really small, so much that many animals are unable to detect them.

There are more than 2.000 different species of shrimp, all of them being invertebrate animals, that is to say, none of these species have a backbone. However, it has a hard exoskeleton (shell) that is usually transparent and colorless, making it difficult to see in water.

Jumbo shrimp, freshwater

Jumbo shrimp, freshwater


Shrimp have a size that varies between 2 and 35 millimeters in length. The legs are small, the edges of the jaws are fibrous, the body is compressed, the tail is prolonged with respect to the body, the shell not very resistant and can be found in various colors. The species that inhabit the caves are white or discolored and the species that live in the reefs are usually more colorful, brightly colored and attractive and other species are transparent.

Its body is quite simple, being cylindrical and divided into two parts: head and thorax. Both are coupled together to form a long, narrow abdomen called the cephalothorax, in turn the abdomen is divided into six sections.

All species are decapods, which means they have ten legs. Being you are the last five of the eight pairs of thoracic appendages (jointed legs) that all crustaceans have. The first three pairs function as mouthparts, which would correspond to human hands, which are used to hunt, feed and groom themselves. The first pair of appendages are elongated in the shape of pincers. In the rest of the abdomen they have other appendages that have the shape of paddles that are used to propel themselves through the water. Although some species of shrimp use them for other purposes such as to incubate the eggs, to breathe through them by having gills, and in some species the first pairs are used for fertilization. The remaining appendages of the abdomen, along with the tenacity, form the tail and are used to swim backwards, functioning as a rudder when the shrimp swim forward. Together with the tenacity and the appendages, their extended tail forms a fan that is used to execute a rapid escape movement that propels them backwards called the «caridoid escape reaction».

Most eyes are well developed in all most species, with the exception of cave-dwelling species that are blind as no light enters. They have several pairs of antennae but the shape, length and quantity change according to the species of shrimp depends on feeding habits. The species that live in caves have a greater number of appendages to touch around or feed.


Shrimp inhabit river beds and on the seabed of the entire planet as long as there is enough oxygen, so they live in shallow waters and spend their entire lives on the bottom of the sea or in coastal lagoons. They move in schools or banks of thousands of individuals and are distributed throughout the planet due to the fact that they move through the marine currents and adapt very easily to changes in water temperature.

The preferred waters are tropical and temperate, preferring rocky areas, sea grasses, mud, beach sands, coral reefs, coastal and lake bottoms, brackish lagoons, or in fresh water, inland areas, caves etc. In summary, it inhabits everywhere except for the polar zones (although there are species that live on the edge of these) because they only support the temperature range between -2.03 and 29.16 ºC.


Shrimp is an omnivorous animal, so they consume both vegetables and animals. They feed mainly on algae and other plant particles together with microscopic crustaceans, carrion, animal remains and fish remains.

Some species of shrimp are considered cleaners, as they feed on parasites and dead tissues that other fish have. They come in groups to help infected fish, which are usually large fish such as moray eels, which do not eat them despite the fact that they can enter the mouth and even the cavity of the gills.

Other species are able to stun their prey with one of their claws before eating it by making a loud noise through the water.


Shrimp are preyed upon by many predators, due to their small size and great abundance. Their predators are found both in and out of the water. They are hunted by fish, crustaceans like crabs, sea ​​urchins, sea ​​stars, seabirds such as puffins, whales, dolphins, sharks, humans and many other animal species.

Transparent shrimp

Transparent shrimp


Several species of shrimp are hermaphrodites. They are born as males and will become female if the hierarchy / sexual relationship becomes female. The female can lay a million eggs at a time and they are incubated by it, the eggs will be paid to the swimming legs until they hatch in a couple of weeks.

The tiny shrimp at birth will be part of the plankton until they become large enough to hunt in groups, larger foods.

State of conservation

The main threat to shrimp is fishing by humans. They are part of the diet due to their easy capture and transport. They are also common species in aquariums as a natural method of cleaning algae, parasites and debris.

Despite its problems, the species is widespread throughout the world and reproduces very easily, but certain species such as Palaemonetes cummingi y Palaemonetes lindsayi they are threatened.

Relationship with humans

Shrimp is a species that reproduces easily and they are really abundant as they can live in fresh and salt water, which makes them a great food resource for humans.

They are consumed practically all over the world and in each country they are consumed in a different way. Perhaps the common point is that in all of them the shrimp is cooked, eliminating their head, body shell and fins. It is also common for their intestines to be removed as they are easily recognizable, since it is a dark line that runs throughout their body, at the top and ends at the tail.

Preparation method

  • Cádiz (Spain) - Shrimp tortillas and chipitilla dishes or cooked and eaten by hand are traditional.
  • Motril, Granada (Spain) - The shrimp of Motril are well known.
  • Valencian Community (Spain) - In the regions of La Safor and La Marina Alta they are known for their shrimp dish with chard, called Gamba o Shrimp with Chard.
Shrimp omelette

Shrimp omelette

List of other interesting animals