Demystifying the Classification: Is Shrimp a Fish?

Is shrimp a fish? Understanding the differences

Seafood encompasses a wide range of aquatic delicacies, including fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. Among these, shrimp is a popular choice that often raises the question: Is shrimp a fish? While shrimp falls under the umbrella of seafood, it is not classified as a fish. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the differences between shrimp and fish.

Shrimp: A Crustacean, Not a Fish

Shrimp are crustaceans, specifically decapods, which are characterized by having ten legs. Unlike fish, shrimp have exoskeletons, meaning that their skeletons are on the outside of their bodies. This unique feature distinguishes them from fish, whose skeletons are internal.
The shape and structure of shrimp further distinguish them from fish. Shrimp have rounded and curved bodies, and their flexible exoskeletons act as armor rather than bones. Unlike fish, shrimp have segmented abdomens and ten sets of limbs, commonly referred to as legs. These legs, along with their tails, allow shrimp to move and propel themselves. Unlike fish, shrimp do not have fins.

Shrimp: Similar to shrimp, but not fish

Shrimp are often confused with shrimp because of their similar appearance. While shrimp and prawns share many characteristics, they are not the same as fish. Shrimp are larger crustaceans that resemble shrimp in body structure. Like shrimp, shrimp have an exoskeleton and ten legs. However, shrimp lack the pronounced bend or curvature found in shrimp bodies. Despite these similarities, shrimp, like shrimp, are classified as crustaceans, not fish.

Shrimp as a crustacean

Shrimp fall under the category of crustaceans, which includes a variety of aquatic animals, including crustaceans and mollusks. Shellfish are characterized by having an exoskeleton, which can take the form of a shell or a hardened outer layer. Shrimp, along with other crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs, and oysters, share this characteristic. While fish and shellfish both fall under the broader category of seafood, it is important to distinguish between the two.

Fish: Characteristics and Differences

To better understand the differences between shrimp and fish, it is important to examine the characteristics that define fish. Fish are aquatic animals with an internal skeleton. Unlike shrimp, fish do not have limbs or appendages. Instead, they have fins that help them move and propel themselves through the water. Fish also have complex central nervous systems.
Fish have a distinctive body structure, with a flexible build that allows them to move efficiently through the water. Their muscles are located under the skin, and their skeletons are embedded in the muscles and other tissues. Fish rely on their tails and heads to maneuver through the water, using their fins for directional control. Unlike shrimp, fish have no legs or arms and rely solely on their mouths to feed.

Shrimp and Fish: Seafood Categories

Both shrimp and fish are categorized as seafood, but it is important to recognize that seafood is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of sea creatures. Seafood refers to any edible animal that comes from a body of water, including salt water, lakes, and rivers.
Shrimp, as a crustacean, falls under the category of seafood along with fish. It is important to note that seafood does not mean that all creatures within this category are the same. Rather, seafood serves as an umbrella term that encompasses various species found in aquatic environments.


In conclusion, while shrimp is indeed a form of seafood, it does not fall under the classification of fish. Shrimp is a crustacean, specifically a decapod crustacean, characterized by its ten legs and external exoskeleton. The distinct differences in body structure, skeletal composition, and presence of limbs distinguish shrimp from fish.
Understanding these differences is essential to accurately categorizing and identifying different types of seafood. By recognizing the unique characteristics of shrimp and fish, individuals can make informed choices when it comes to their culinary preferences and dietary needs.


Is shrimp considered a fish?

No, shrimp is not classified as a fish. It is a crustacean, specifically a decapod crustacean, and falls under the category of seafood.

What are the main differences between shrimp and fish?

Shrimp and fish differ in several important ways. Shrimp have exoskeletons, while fish have internal skeletons. Shrimp have a segmented abdomen and ten sets of limbs, while fish have fins for movement. In addition, shrimp have a rounded and curved body structure, while fish have a more streamlined shape.

Are shrimp the same as prawns?

Shrimp are similar to shrimp, but they are not the same. Both shrimp and prawns are crustaceans, but prawns are generally larger and lack the distinctive bend or curvature found in shrimp bodies.

Can shrimp be classified as crustaceans?

Yes, shrimp are considered crustaceans. Shellfish is a broad category that includes various crustaceans and mollusks, and shrimp falls into this category.

Why is it important to distinguish shrimp from fish?

Distinguishing between shrimp and fish is important for accurately categorizing and understanding different types of seafood. It helps in making informed choices regarding dietary preferences, culinary applications, and dietary restrictions.

What are some other examples of seafood?

In addition to shrimp, other examples of shellfish include lobster, crab, oyster, clam, shrimp, crayfish, octopus, squid, and scallops. Shellfish include a wide variety of aquatic animals with exoskeletons or shells.