Are Shrimp the Cockroaches of the Sea? Find Your Answer Here

Are Shrimp the Cockroaches of the Sea? Find Your Answer Here

If you love swimming or scuba diving in the ocean, perhaps you’ve come across shrimp – little ocean creatures that look like cockroaches. Because of their similarity to cockroaches, many people consider them the cockroaches of the sea. But are shrimp the cockroaches of the sea? Read on to find out.

Shrimp Introduction


Shrimp are small marine creatures of the suborder Natantia, which comprises about 2,000 species. These creatures are crustaceans with drawn-out bodies. They’re somewhat related to crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and other similar ocean creatures.

Shrimp are mainly characterized by their semi-transparent bodies that are flattened on each side and an elastic abdomen. The stomach ends in a fanlike appendage. Since these are marine dwellers, their tails are designed for swimming.

Another major distinguishing feature of shrimp is the elongated whiplike antennae. You can find shrimp in both shallow and deep water. They are also found in plenty of freshwater streams and lakes. The average length of a full-grown shrimp is 4 to 8 cm (1.5 to 3 inches).

Larger shrimp are normally referred to as prawns. Unlike fish and other marine animals, shrimp swim in reverse by flexing their abdomen and tail rapidly. They mainly feed on aqua plants and tiny animals.

These creatures can also eat carrion. Female shrimp can lay up to 14,000 eggs at once. These eggs are then attached to the mother’s legs. The swimming maggots will go through 5 developmental steps before they become juveniles.

Freshwater female shrimp can store sperm from multiple males thus producing progeny with multiple paternities. The procreative success of larvae connects inversely with their genetic relationship with the mother. There’s evidence to prove that sperm competition as well as pre-and post-ovulatory female choice takes place.

This female choice can enhance the suitability of the offspring by limiting inbreeding depression that usually comes from the appearance of homozygous damaging declining mutations. Although there are numerous species of shrimp, the two main ones are decapods and non-decapods.

Most species of shrimp are commercially harvested as food. One of the most popular species of shrimp is the European shrimp, also referred to as sand shrimp or Crangon vulgaris. This type of shrimp is commonly found in North Atlantic and it can grow to about 8 cm long.

The European shrimp is either gray or dark-brown with red or brown spots. It mainly feeds on tiny ocean creatures and plants. Young European shrimp live in shallow coastal waters and then migrate into deeper waters as adults. Since shrimps mainly live in the ocean, they’re considered to be a major source of nourishment for larger marine animals like fish, octopuses, etc.

Is Shrimp the Same Family as Cockroaches?

Same Family

Cockroaches are members of the Arthropoda phylum, which has a direct link to the family tree of insects. Shrimp are classified under the same family. This means that shrimp and roaches are somewhat related.

This correlation shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that shrimp and cockroaches have a lot in common, including their physical appearance and diet. Furthermore, their body sizes are almost similar and they share many other features. Here is a more detailed comparison between shrimp and roaches.

1. Dietary Needs

Shrimp have a wide range of dietary needs that are usually met with their large selection of marine diets. For instance, they mainly feed on algae and dead marine animals. At the larvae stage, shrimp eat what’s available, mainly phytoplankton.

Some species of shrimp, like the Mantis shrimp, are natural predators and will feed on anything they can kill. They require a significant amount of protein to survive. They can even feed on other shellfish and even cockroaches.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, are omnivorous scavengers that feed on any organic food available. However, roaches mainly prefer sweets, starches, and other dead insects. They’re also known to feed on things like hair, papers, and any other decaying matter.

2. Habitat

Shrimp live in both shallow and deep water bodies like oceans, lakes, and streams. However, there’s a major difference between shrimp because some can only survive in salt waters while others can only live in fresh waters. But shrimp are highly adaptable, so they can easily adapt to tougher living conditions.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, dwell in a variety of habitats, including leaf litter (inside the stems of foliage), cavities under barks, rotting wood, holes in stumps, and under piles of logs. Some roaches thrive in arid areas because they’ve developed ways to survive without enough water supplies.

Are Shrimp the Cockroaches of the Sea? Why?

Cockroaches of the Sea

Shrimp are commonly referred to as the cockroaches of the sea because of their similarities to roaches. Studies have established that shrimp and roaches are members of the same phylum Arthropoda and come from the same ancestors. That’s why they’re considered to be close relatives.

Despite their similarities, the two creatures aren’t the same because cockroaches are insects while shrimp are crustaceans. Also, shrimp have more legs than cockroaches. Shrimp have eight legs while roaches have six legs.

Their body segments are also different because roaches are insects, whose bodies are divided into three segments. Shrimp don’t have these three body segments because they’re not insects. Instead, they have two segments. From these differences, it’s safe to conclude that shrimp aren’t real roaches.

Therefore, shrimp aren’t the cockroaches of the sea as many people would like to believe. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t disregard the numerous resemblances they share with roaches. So, you won’t be punished for assuming that shrimp and roaches are the same.

Similarities and Differences Between Shrimp and Cockroaches

Similarities and Differences

As discussed above, shrimp and roaches have a lot in common. This has led to some people referring to shrimp as the cockroaches of the sea. However, the two creatures aren’t the same. To help you understand these tiny creatures, here are the similarities and differences between shrimp and cockroaches.


1. Exoskeleton

Both shrimp and roaches have a hard exoskeleton, which protects them against injuries and predators. It ensures that their predators can’t crush them easily. However, their hard exoskeleton isn’t completely effective in protecting them against some predators.

2. Legs

Shrimp and roaches have many legs designed to help them to move rapidly. These legs are also quite similar in terms of structure. Their legs help their bodies maintain balance when crawling or swimming.

3. Long Antennas

The two creatures have long antennas that look similar. For instance, both antennas come with scales. They use these antennas to sense different things, including food and predators. These antennas also help them to avoid objects in their path by sensing humidity near them.

4. Movement

Both roaches and shrimp move fast, thanks to their many legs. Their rapid speed allows them to escape predators.

5. Eating Habits

Shrimp and cockroaches have similar eating habits. For instance, they both feed on dead animals and plants. Their taste in food is the same.

6. Cold-blooded

Shrimp and cockroaches are cold-blooded. Shrimp are crustaceans, which are cold-blooded, while roaches are insects, which are also cold-blooded. However, cockroaches can easily adapt to very cold areas despite being cold-blooded.


1. Habitats

While shrimp live in water, roaches are terrestrial. Cockroaches can’t survive in water because they can’t swim.

2. Number of Legs

Although the two creatures have many legs, their quantity differs. For instance, shrimp have eight legs while roaches have six.

3. Body Segmentation

The body segments in roaches are different from those in shrimp. Since roaches are insects, their bodies are segmented into three parts. Shrimp, on the other hand, have two segments.

4. Crustaceans and Insects

Although shrimp and roaches belong to the same phylum Arthropoda, their families differ. Shrimp are crustaceans, while roaches belong to the family of insects. Therefore, they may appear the same but their families are different.

About Author

Priscilla Dreher

Known for her travel blogs, Priscilla Dreher started out as sociologist in her career only to combine her love for writing with her penchant for philanthropy in the later years. A widely traveled author, Dreher has championed many human rights causes and continues to advocate for socio-political inclusivity in all her writing.