From the culinary varieties to the ones used for ornamental purposes, take a look at the different types of shrimps that are found in the sea as well as those that live in freshwater.
Shrimps have long been the favorite seafood dish for people all over the world and for the right reasons too. Not only can they be prepared in a wide variety of ways but they also taste beyond delicious given their soft and juicy meat.
Did you know that the Gulf States of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and West Florida together produce over 240 million tons of shrimp each year? An average American consumes about 4 pounds of shrimps annually, which is the highest amongst all other seafood options. But while you eagerly order a shrimp salad or any other shrimp dish at your favorite seafood dinner or buy the raw varieties for preparing at home later, can you tell apart from one shrimp variety from another?
You might be surprised to find out that there are over 2000 species of shrimps that have been discovered till date. However, not all of them have been researched in depth nor is every variety available for culinary use.
The following article highlights the most common types of shrimps you will come across at a regular seafood shop (plus some more shrimp species for nurturing for decorative purposes).
Types of Shrimp for Culinary Use
1. Pink Shrimp
Primarily obtained from the west coast of Florida, these shrimps are really popular in seafood cuisine. As the name suggests, these shrimps are generally pink when raw although some can be white and gray as well. These shrimps are relatively smaller in size and are also called ‘salad shrimps’ because they are widely used for serving mild and sweet flavors in shrimp salads.
2. Brown Shrimp
They have a firm texture, brownish-red shell, and come in a variety of flavors that can range from mildly sweet to mildly salty or iodine-like. They turn pink upon being cooked and have a unique flavor compared to other edible shrimps. Chefs prefer to simply steam or boil the brown shrimps in order to enjoy the natural taste that these shrimps have to offer.
3. White Shrimp
Growing to nearly eight inches long, the white shrimps have a firm texture and hence, offer a great variety of cooking options to the chefs. For instance, white shrimps can be consumed after boiling, steaming, stuffing, grilling, baking, or even frying. They come in three main varieties, namely Chinese White, Gulf White, and Pacific White Shrimps. They are a good preference for many chefs due to their classic flavor, firm texture, sweet taste, and ease of cleaning.
4. Rock Shrimp
These shrimps have been named so because of their hard shells and were generally considered a big ‘throwaway catch’ until a special machine was designed in the late 1960s to peel off their rock-hard shells prior to selling them. They have a firm texture and sweet flavor similar to the spiny lobster. This flavor makes them an affordable protein as compared to buying expensive lobster varieties.
5. Tiger Shrimp
Native to the waters of Asian and African continents, Tiger shrimps are also available as farmed as well as wild varieties in Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, and India. They are easy to identify by the tiger stripes on the body and are prized for their mild flavor profile coupled with a firm texture which makes them the go-to option for people who are cooking shrimps for the first time. They can grow in jumbo sizes of 12 inches long and are ideal for steaming, grilling, or eating in various other ways.
6. Spot Shrimp
Resembling a lobster in shape and color, Spot shrimps are often called the ‘Lobsters of Alaska’ and provide an exotic flavor and sweetness to the dishes in which they are used. They are amongst the most tender shrimps available for cooking and therefore taste amazingly soft and juicy. However, this also makes them difficult to clean and prepare because the shells are break into small pieces if you are not careful enough. These are the jumbo varieties that can grow up to 12 inches.
Types of Freshwater Shrimp for Aquarium
Everyone loves eating shrimps, be it in seafood gumbo, salads, soups, shrimp cocktails or simply fried on their own. But not everyone knows that certain species of shrimps also make an exquisite addition to aquariums.
If you already have an aquarium and are looking for new varieties to keep, then look no further than the following types of freshwater shrimps. And well, if you aren’t an aquarist yet, then the following exotic shrimp species might just inspire you to become one.
7. Striped Harlequin or Bumblebee Shrimp
Originating from Southern China, this exclusive species got its name due to the yellow or white body with black stripes that somewhat make them look like a bumblebee. Bumblebee shrimps come from the Caridina breviate family, and although the name might suggest otherwise, this variety is not related to the popular Bee Shrimp which belongs to the Caridina cantonensis family.
This type of shrimps loves to be fed meaty varieties of shrimp food, such as small pieces of fish, regularly. To help them flourish, keep them in pairs with a strict check on the nitrites, iodine, and copper concentrations in the water. Before adding them to the aquarium, take care that there are no large aggressive fishes as Bumblebee shrimps can be easily eaten up by predators due to their tiny sizes.
8. Red Cherry Shrimp
This red variety of Neocaridina davidi species might not seem so different at first, but it is still a popular choice amongst many aquarists due to its bright and showy color. These shrimps flourish in freshwater that is at room temperature or mildly cool (18 to 28 degrees Celsius). Higher temperatures promote breeding but can be dangerous at times because the oxygen concentration is reduced in warm water.
Red Cherry shrimps are peaceful creatures and do well in community tanks. They are omnivorous in nature and love to feed on algae as well as on any other fish food leftover by other species in the tank. You can also feed them pellets as a supplemental diet or if you have a tank that only houses the Red Cherry shrimps.
9. Blue Tiger Shrimp
Tiger shrimp or to be more precise, Blue Tiger shrimp is the blue variant of the Caridina cantonensis shrimp family that measure about 1- 1.5 inches long when mature. These shrimps are characterized by the distinct blue stripes on their body that are highlighted all the more by their vivid orange eyes.
Blue Tiger shrimps flourish in freshwater tanks that are maintained at a neutral pH level but can do equally well in slightly acidic conditions as well (about 6 pH). This variety looks remarkable against the green decorations that are typical of most fish tanks but note that while they are not really very difficult to keep, maintaining Blue Tiger shrimps is not as easy as keeping Red Cherry shrimps either.
Blue Tiger shrimps require proper tank cleaning every week (or every alternative week), well-maintained pH level as well as a proper diet. There are omnivorous in nature so you can feed them with both, plant and meat-based fish food but remember that overfeeding supplemental foods tends to raise the nitrite and ammonia levels in water and can prove hazardous to these shrimps.
10. Blue Bolt Shrimp
A member of the Caridina cantonensis family, this variety is also known as the Taiwan Bee. Originating from Southern China, Blue Bolt shrimps are not available at every local fish shop, but if you are really interested, you can order them from online stores.
As is evident by its name, this type of shrimp features a bright blue head that gradually changes to creamy white or pale blue hues near the tail. The striking color makes these shrimps an outstanding species in the aquarium because they are easily spotted as unique, intense blue beauties against the green plants and other colorful pebbles in the water tank.
Being related to the Blue Tiger shrimps, the Blue Bolt shrimps have similar care requirements which include frequent water cleaning and careful feeding.
11. Snowball Shrimp
The pure white eggs of these shrimps look like snowballs! If you are new to the world of setting up an aquarium, snowball shrimps are a great choice as they can be cared for in large numbers and in different water conditions such as hard and soft water. However, overfeeding them will disturb water quality and can lead to shrimp health issues.
Clean water with a pH of 6.5 to 8.0 is significant for their healthy survival. Although they are omnivorous in nature, most of them love to eat algae and hence, are a good collection to control the algae in aquariums. Snowball Shrimps breed quickly, and if kept safe from predators, will be seen actively swimming around and bringing life to the aquarium.
12. Crystal Shrimp
Sharing ancestry with the original Bee shrimp (Caridina cantonensis), this type of shrimp was selectively bred for ornamental use. Crystal shrimps are available in two varieties: the Crystal Red and the Crystal Black shrimp.
They both have the same maintenance needs and are similar in nature except the fact their bumble bee-like pattern is of different colors. The Crystal Red shrimp features a combination of vibrant red and white stripes while the other species is its monochromatic equivalent.
Caring for this type of shrimps in a home aquarium is relatively difficult as great purity of water is needed for them to thrive. You will also have to decorate the water tank in such a manner that sufficient hiding places are created for Crystal shrimps. This is because they don’t really like to swim much freely in exposed and visible waters.
Also, if you wish to house them in a community tank, then don’t forget that the other tank inhabitants must be peaceful in nature otherwise you must keep the Crystal shrimps separately because they easily fall prey to the aggressive tank mates.
13. Glass or Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp, also known as Glass Shrimp are a fascinating species of the Palaemonetes family. Nothing describes them better than their own name because given their mostly clear, transparent body they truly do look like a shaped glass. These see-through shrimps are easily protected from predators and can be kept alone or in a group.
Housing a considerable number of Glass Shrimps is usually a smart choice for community tanks because these tiny creatures do an excellent job of keeping the tank relatively clean. Not only will the Ghost Shrimp eat the leftover bits of fish food but also lick off any algae patches.
This type of shrimps is easy to look after and will stay happy even in small tanks that have a capacity of only 5 gallons. Ghost shrimps have a lifespan of about one year and measure almost an inch and a half when matured.
Like most other varieties, these are not very selective about their diet because they are omnivorous and can do with meaty and plant-based foods alike. Ghost shrimps love to hide in nooks and crannies. So, make sure that you have appropriate decorations in your tank.
14. Caridina Babaulti Shrimp
If you love to have multicolor species in your shrimp tank, then the Caridina Babaulti shrimps are your best bet. This is because they are a colorful species that can be found in red, brown, green, and yellow shades as well in a monochromatic, zebra-style pattern. Quite easy to care for, the Babaulti shrimps are omnivorous but are more inclined towards feeding upon decaying plant matter in the aquariums rather than being given meaty food.
Despite the low-maintenance needs, the basic factors for their healthy flourishing are still a must, for instance, good filtration, balanced pH levels, stable temperatures, and controlled levels of ammonia and nitrites.
15. Black King Kong Panda Shrimp
With imposing stripes of black and white, these elegant-looking tiny fellows make an exquisite addition to the tank, but they are not easily sustained and therefore not a very good choice for novice aquarists. Belonging to the Caridina cantonensis family, these ‘Panda’ shrimps are sensitive to water changes, so it is best to house them in larger tanks where the fluctuations in water conditions are easier to control.
Panda shrimps are herbivores but require careful nourishment because overfeeding can be extremely hazardous to their health or at times, even fatal.
16. Amano Shrimp
If you are a first-time aquarium owner, then Amano shrimps will be a lovely choice for you to begin setting up your own water tank as long as you keep the aquariums free from predator fishes. Super easy to care for, the Amano shrimps have an appetite for algae and will ease your task of tank cleaning. Plus, given their 2 to 3 inch long bodies, they are quite larger than the other freshwater shrimp varieties and will a more prominent addition to the tank.
17. Sulawesi/ Cardinal Shrimp
Originating from the lakes of Sulawesi, Indonesia, keeping these bright red colored shrimps is challenging but surely rewarding. All you need is to have a good knowledge of shrimp care and home water tanks. They are omnivores and love feeding on algae. Provide them with hard, warm water with a higher pH (but not brackish) and these species will even surprise you with their offspring once the adults get used to the water conditions that you maintain for their optimal care.