Here’s a fun fact:
There are over 300 types of shrimp species that have been discovered so far!
Yet, most of us are satisfied with the same rubbery and bland shrimp we’re served at our favorite chinese restaurant.
But that ends here. Because we’ve compiled a list of some of the juiciest and buttery-soft shrimps that you too can order from any seafood restaurant.
In fact, this knowledge might even impress many of your friends!
We’ve also got some great species reviews if you’re in the market for decorative shrimp, so make sure you stick around till the end.
Table of Contents
- 1. Pink Shrimp
- 2. White Shrimp
- 3. Brown Shrimp
- 4. Rock Shrimp
- 5. Tiger Shrimp
- 6. Spot Prawns
- 7. Banana Shrimp
- 8. Chinese White Shrimp
- 9. Atlantic Northern Shrimp
- 10. Coonstripe Shrimp
- 11. Blue Shrimp
- Aquarium Shrimp
1. Pink Shrimp
Known best for their sweet taste and light pink color, pink shrimps dominate the American seafood market as the go-to option for salads and cocktails. There are three varieties of pink shrimps sold commercially; Gulf Pink, Northern, and Oregon Pink Shrimp. Both North and Oregon Pink shrimp belong to cold water and are sweeter, while the Gulf pink belongs to warm waters and are on the milder end.
All of these varieties are caught and sold throughout the year, but Northern shrimps are much harder to find because of fishing restrictions. If you’re adamant about getting the cold-water variety, you can choose the Oregon Pink, which is just as succulent and can grow up to 5 inches.
Preparing and cooking pink shrimps is also a breeze, partly due to their short size. These shrimps can be steamed, grilled, boiled, or pan-fried and served within minutes. You can enjoy them with a shrimp cocktail, add them to your salads, or turn them into garlic shrimp. They’re available throughout the year an
2. White Shrimp
First discovered in 1709, White shrimp were the pioneering species of the shrimp industry in the USA. They are typically caught near the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific coast, and Atlantic coast that stretches from New York to Florida. When raw, white shrimp appear translucent and greyish but turn pink when cooked. Three of the famous white shrimp species in America are the Gulf White, Pacific White, and Atlantic White.
On maturity, all of these shrimps can grow up to 9 inches in size. They’re succulent, firm in texture, and have a hint of sweetness in them. Both Gulf and Pacific white have noticeable minerality, while the cold-water shrimp of Atlantic is sweeter and milder in taste.
Despite this minor difference, all white shrimp absorb flavor and seasoning remarkably well. You can cook them through steaming, boiling, grilling, frying, or baking and use them for classic seafood dishes like garlic/butter shrimp, shrimp scampi, and shrimp linguine.
3. Brown Shrimp
Also known as Mexican Brown shrimp, these bold-tasting shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico are among the most famous shrimp species in the USA. They’re recognized by their brownish color that comes from their high bromine content. This bromine concentration is also carried over in the meat of this shrimp, albeit very lightly. It still mostly tastes like your typical shrimp — sweet, sometimes salty, and briny.
Once cooked, though, brown shrimp also turn pink like most other species. Because of their stronger taste, these shrimps are loved in Mexican and Cajun cuisine. You can add them in jambalaya, skillets, spicy pasta, and many other dishes with lots of strong flavors.
4. Rock Shrimp
Sporting a solid shell and firm meat — rock shrimp are often termed as the perfect alternative to lobsters. They’re found abundantly across the coast of Florida to the Bahamas but were usually thrown back into the sea because of how difficult it was to extract meat from their shell. Luckily, there are machines that can automatically deshell and devein these delicious crustaceans within minutes.
In terms of taste, rock shrimp are closer to lobsters than any other species of shrimp, and that’s mostly because of their firm yet creamy texture. Besides that, they are sweeter and cook faster than their cousins. Rock shrimp are also on the smaller end of the spectrum, measuring at 2-3 inches on average. You can cook them in numerous ways, whether it’s sautéing, grilling, boiling, steaming, or frying.
5. Tiger Shrimp
Named after the tiger-like black stripes on their tail, these shrimp are commonly found in the Indo-pacific region and are recognized by their massive size. On average, the tiger shrimp measures around 9 to 11 inches, while larger specimens can grow up to 13 inches long. Their taste is rather bland compared to species like the red shrimp, but their meat is softer and quite versatile. In Asian countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, India, and the Philippines, these prawns are the staple in seafood and used in sushi, curry, and various other dishes.
However, there is some controversy surrounding tiger shrimp. For one, the method they are harvested through is damaging to the ecosystem. These shrimp are usually trawled from the ocean floor, which can also trap unwanted or endangered species and put them at risk. Secondly, tiger shrimp are known to carry many diseases that can spread to other shrimp species. This can reduce the total shrimp population of all waters and harm the shrimping industry as a whole.
6. Spot Prawns
Sweet, buttery, and succulent; spot prawns are true gems of the American shrimping industry. They’re widely regarded as the best-tasting shrimp amongst all species, notably due to their delicate texture, sweet notes, and briny flavor.
Such is the softness of these shrimps that you can accidentally break their shell if you don’t handle them properly. Another appeal of spot shrimp is their jumbo foot-long size, meaning you can obtain a ton of delicious meat from just one.
The shrimp are native to the Pacific Ocean and are caught wild near the coast of California, Alaska, Washington, and British Columbia. Their distinct appearance comes from the white stripes on their head and dots on their tail, hence the name spot shrimp. They are frequently used as an alternative to lobsters and taste quite well when eaten raw with sushi and other dishes.
7. Banana Shrimp
In the Indian and Australian waters, the banana shrimp is a highly desirable and tasty shrimp valued for its sweet, delicate flavor. The species is commonly found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and caught wild in Asian countries like Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore. One of the sub-species of banana shrimp, also called Indian prawn, is known for being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and various minerals. The other species, called redleg banana shrimp, is more widespread in Australian waters.
At maturity, banana shrimp can grow anywhere from 7 to 9 inches big. They make an amazing protein choice in tropical dishes like coconut shrimp, shrimp salsa, shrimp soup, shrimp salad, and steamed shrimp wraps. The species is quite rare compared to other shrimp and can only be caught wild, and can fetch a good price in Asian markets due to its unique sweet taste.
8. Chinese White Shrimp
Despite belonging to the same family and habitat as other white shrimp — Chinese White are notably softer and more delicate than their cousins from the Gulf. They are primarily caught from East China and the Yellow sea and from farms across the mainland. They sport the same translucent and grayish color with tender meat.
Though when it comes to taste, these Chinese shrimp are on the milder end. They still have that distinct cold-water sweetness as other shrimp from the Pacific but remain slightly watery until cooked. Most of them grow over 7 inches in size and can be prepared over a stove within 2 minutes. In Asian countries, these shrimp are widely used for making stir-fry, garlic shrimp, or even grilled seafood platters.
9. Atlantic Northern Shrimp
Ideal for use in salads — this mini-sized shrimp from the Northern Atlantic Ocean packs loads of taste and versatility in a small package. Since their habitat is the colder northern water of the Atlantic, they are typically caught wild near New England, Maine, and Canada, to as far as Greenland and Norway. Unfortunately, these shrimp have seen a rapid fall in population due to an increase in predators. Therefore, it has been prohibited to commercially fish them in the USA as relative oceanic authorities keep a strict check on their count.
Despite this shortfall, northern shrimp remain some of the tastiest small-sized shrimp in the industry. They are notably sweeter as they belong to colder temperatures and have very fragile meat that also tastes great when served raw. At times when northern shrimp are available in markets, they are typically used for sushi, salads, soups, and cocktails.
10. Coonstripe Shrimp
Unlike other species, Coonstripe are a rare type of shrimp known for their outstanding buttery meat and sweet flavor. They are native to a very specific part of the Northern Pacific Ocean and are caught wild from the Bering Sea to as far as the Korean strait. In terms of size, Coonstripe shrimp fall somewhere in the middle from 4 to 6 inches in length. Like the spot shrimp, they are overall pink in color but also have darker markings over their body.
Once deveined and deshelled, the moist and succulent meat of Coonstripe shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can sauté, grill, fry, boil, or steam these tasty shrimp and add them to your favorite foods. However, the best way to enjoy their delicious meat is to poach it in butter and eat it separately.
11. Blue Shrimp
Out of all the different shrimp species, blue shrimps have the most distinct appearance due to their grayish-blue color. They inhibit the low-salt waters near the Pacific coast of Mexico, hence why they’re also called Mexican Wild Blue Shrimp. But in terms of taste, these shrimp taste significantly better than other native species from the same ocean. Their meat is sweeter, less salty, succulent, and packs the same shrimpy flavor as any other shrimp.
Another reason why blue shrimp are so greatly loved by chefs is that they absorb flavors and seasonings readily. You can use them for all kinds of cuisines and dishes, and they taste particularly well with spicy ones like Fajita and Camarones a la Diabla. Despite being fished commercially across Mexico, a close relative of the blue shrimp is popularly kept in aquarium set-ups.
Everybody loves eating juicy and flavorsome shrimp from time to time. But some species are better suited to aquariums than your plate. The ocean is full of these exotic, beautiful shrimp species that anybody can place in their tank to add some diversity and color. Here is a list of our favorite ones:
12. Bumblebee Shrimp
Despite their small size, bumblebee shrimp make a noticeable difference to the charm of your aquarium. They span only 2-inch in length on average but are instantly recognizable by their white/yellow body with black stripes that gives them a similar appearance to bumblebees. The species is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and usually minds its own business in community tanks.
Unfortunately, they are not very good at defending themselves and can often become prey to larger fish. That’s why you should take care when introducing them in a tank with lots of fish and give them plenty of covers to hide. Bumblebee shrimp are also quite sensitive to water changes and high levels of nitrates, copper, iodine, so take care when cleaning your tank.
13. Snowball Shrimp
Named after the eggs in their bellies that resemble snowballs, this is one of the few aquarium shrimps on our list that hails from Europe, or more specifically, Germany. They are selectively bred for their white translucent body, which people find quite intriguing, especially during the first time seeing them. To give your guests a special performance, give these shrimp some food and watch them gather around each other!
Besides their unique appearance, snowball shrimp are also quite peaceful and make great tankmates for non-predatory fish. Just keep an eye out for copper and nitrate levels as both are toxic to this shrimp. Furthermore, try to maintain the temperature above 72°F and feed them only once a day. These shrimp also graze on algae, so overfeeding could lead to a chemical imbalance that will cause snowball shrimp to die prematurely.
14. Blue Tiger Shrimp
This orange-eyed blue tiger shrimp is a rare and fairly expensive type of decorative species that is highly sought after by shrimp hobbyists. And the reason for that is the shrimp does not breed true. In a batch of blue tiger shrimp eggs, many will turn out orange, and only a few will develop the rich blue color. However, they all have black stripes across their body and striking orange-colored eyes.
In terms of survivability, blue tiger shrimp are just as sensitive as other species, meaning they cannot tolerate high levels of ammonia and nitrates. But the good news is that they do not require active substrate like other Cardinia species. These shrimp are very peaceful and non-aggressive, meaning they also need shelter against predatory fish, so make sure you have plenty of rocks in your tank.
15. Glass Shrimp
Also called ghost shrimp, this species is a step above snowball shrimp as their body is almost completely transparent! So much so that you can view their internal organs and food pass through their system with a bit of peeking. Besides that, glass shrimp are also quite affordable at around $1-3 each and are great cleaners of algae and leftover fish food. They also attract a lot of attention from people seeing truly transparent marine creatures for the first time, especially kids!
If you’re a beginner, glass shrimp would be an ideal purchase for you as they have relatively lenient tank requirements. You can keep them in smaller tanks while maintaining water temperature between 65°F to 82°Fand pH between 7.0 to 8.0. Besides that, you just need to make sure your water chemical levels stay low and consistent. And even though it’s pretty hard to see ghost shrimp, even for a fish, they still need protection against attacks through shelters and caves.
16. Blue Bolt Shrimp
If budget isn’t a problem, the blue bolt shrimp can be a worthy purchase to enhance the look of your aquarium. Like many exotic species, its origins are unclear and the vivid blue color only appears to a certain degree in certain shrimps. And although they only grow up to 1 inch at best, their brilliant color makes them stand out in front of rocks, substrate, and moss around your tank.
On the contrary, you do have to splurge a bit to get your hands on a colorful batch of blue bolt shrimp. Depending on how colorful they are, these shrimp can cost anywhere from $30-$80 and above for a batch of five. Luckily, their care requirements are a bit lenient compared to other exotic species. They are good-tempered, extremely quick, and can protect themselves to an extent against other fish. Other than that, you still need to provide them with a stable water temperature, pH, active substrate, filtration, and adequate space to thrive.
17. Crystal Shrimp
A hybrid from the bee shrimp family — crystal shrimp will grace your aquarium with its red and white striped body that looks like a ‘candy cane.’ Even though the contrasting stripes are what gives this shrimp the prominent appearance, they are mostly red in nature and rather translucent. To make their stripes more visible, these shrimp are selectively bred to have opaque bodies, after which they are graded and priced.
So a low-grade red crystal shrimp is graded ‘C’ and sold for around $5 each, while the best ones with prominent stripes are graded ‘SSS’ and sold for over $20 each. When buying crystal shrimp, make sure you can provide them with slightly acidic and warm water with low copper and nitrate levels. And because they cannot defend themselves very well, try to have several places in your tank where your shrimp could take shelter. This will also protect them against attacks when they are molting (regrowing their shell).
What are shrimp?
Shrimp are one of the most popular crustaceans in the world, known best for their sweet, briny, and highly versatile taste. In scientific terms, they are classified as decapods, which is the same family as crabs and lobsters. The shrimping industry generates about 50 billion dollars each year globally, with China being the largest exporter of the shellfish.
However, shrimp are actually consumed most in the USA. Each person in the United States consumes approximately 4.4 pounds of shrimp in a year, while the whole country collectively consumes over a billion pounds. And that’s mostly because of how easy these crustaceans are to cook and prepare. You can boil, broil, fry, sauté, poach, or grill shrimp and either use them as the highlight ingredient or pair them with other dishes.
Another crustacean that most people confuse with shrimp is prawn. Even though both words are used interchangeably, there are a few key differences between the two that everyone should be aware of. These are as below:
Shrimp vs. Prawn
Shrimp and prawns are often confused as the same crustaceans because they belong to the same decapod family. However, they have quite a few distinct differences in terms of anatomy, habitat, and size.
One of those differences is in their pincers, body shape, and gills. Shrimp have larger front pincers, while prawns have larger secondary pincers. Prawns also lack the distinct c-shaped body found in shrimp. Moreover, the gills on shrimp are plate-like, while prawns have branching gills.
Another difference between prawns and shrimp is their habitat. Prawns are majorly freshwater species that prefer to live at shallow depths, while shrimp are more commonly found in saltwater and live near the ocean floor several miles outside the coast.
In terms of size, prawns again take the lead when compared to shrimp. Take the tiger prawn as an example, which can grow up to 10 inches in length, while the white leg shrimp can reach a maximum of 9 inches.
But there’s another way of measuring the size of shrimp. Let’s take a look at it below:
Sizes in shrimp
Shrimp are measured in size by the number of single shrimps it takes to make up a pound. You will frequently see them labeled like 21/25 or U/10. This means that it will take 21 to 25 shrimps of that size to make a pound, or under 10 if they’re with the letter U. With this method of measuring, smaller numbers generally indicate a larger shrimp. Here’s a more detailed chart of the different shrimp sizes and how they are labeled:
|Extra Small (Salad)||61/70|
Frozen or Fresh
It’s no surprise that the fresher shrimp are, the better they taste. However, not everyone lives near the coast or fishery where they can get live shrimp. At this point, you are only left with two options; buy frozen shrimp or find fresh ones.
In most states, you can easily find frozen shrimp at meat shops and supermarkets. These shrimps are caught at sea and frozen with ice blocks or IQF (individually quick frozen). Ice blocks are only suitable if you’re buying the shrimp a few hours after they have been caught. If you ship them on ice, they can get mangled and deformed from the temperature variances. Unfortunately, most shopkeepers sell off those shrimps as ‘fresh’ on the same ice blocks.
IQF is a much better freezing method in comparison as it preserves the natural texture and freshness of shrimp for longer. You also have the freedom to cook a specific number of shrimp as they are not bundled in a block of ice.
Farmed or Wild
It’s no surprise that farmed and wild livestock have many differences in quality and sustainability. This is particularly true for seafood, and more importantly, shrimp. Even though shrimp farming is strictly regulated in the USA, they are still being raised and sold inside the states.
More importantly, the USA imports both wild and farmed shrimp from other countries. And this is the part where the difference becomes more visible. Here are a few ways how farmed and wild shrimp contrast against each other:
As one can assume, wild shrimp cost more than farmed shrimp because they are only caught in limited quantities, perfectly preserved, and professionally inspected before being sold in supermarkets. What further drives up their cost is the fact that many of these wild species are endangered and can only be caught during a certain time of the year. This rarity has led to an increase in the price of many of those shrimps.
Compared to that, farmed shrimp are much cheaper. A major reason for this is most farmed shrimp are imported from abroad, where there are fewer environmental and health restrictions by the government. Even though their quality is sub-par, the resulting yield is much higher in contrast to the shrimp farms in the USA. That’s why most shrimp that you find at local marts in the states are farmed shrimp.
Taste and Quality
While most people assume that farmed and wild shrimp would have a drastic difference in taste, it is often negligible. Wild shrimp do taste slightly better because they go through changes in the natural ecological system and eat a different diet. Moreover, the salinity and temperature of the ocean can also make wild shrimp taste sweeter and juicier.
But in farms, the situation is completely reversed. The shrimp are fed the same soybean and plant diet, sometimes with chemicals to accelerate their growth. If any disease spreads in the tank, all the shrimp have to be treated with antibiotics. The use of these additives and chemicals, especially if they are not restricted, can harm both the quality and taste of the shrimp.
Safety is often the biggest question mark when choosing between farmed or wild shrimp. Shrimp caught in the wild are always inspected by regulatory authorities before they are commercially sold in markets. Since they are caught from the ocean, it is also highly unlikely that their diet was tampered with. Because of these restrictions, wild shrimp are always a much safer option if you’re worried about being exposed to artificial additives.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with farmed shrimp. In these farms, the main objective of the farmer is to maximize his profits. Thus, they try to reduce the maturity period of their shrimp and overall expenses by feeding them cheap, modified diets. Even in the USA, the food in shrimp farms is not inspected, therefore GMO-based diets are commonly used. So the only way to buy safe and healthy farmed shrimp is to look for appropriate certifications and buy from trusted fishmongers.
How to buy sustainable shrimp?
To put it simply:
When you’re catching more shrimp from the ocean than are being reproduced, their sustainability becomes at risk. And unfortunately, this is becoming a serious issue in the shrimping industry today.
Not only has commercial fishing caused the endangerment of many shrimp species, but the entire ecological system is at risk because of unethical fishing methods like trawling. In order to support sustainable shrimping, you should always seek to purchase certified and authorized shrimp products from stores.
Which certifications are we talking about? At the very basic, you should look for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch seal. It rates and approves seafood from across the world by its sustainability practices, whether it’s being caught wild or farmed. In addition, we also advise you to pick shrimps with approval from Marine Stewardship, Aquaculture Stewardship, and Naturland.
Another vital certification you should look for is the Fair Trade Certification. Not only do they require that sea life is not harmed by shrimping, but they also promote fair wages and safety of the people involved in this industry.
How long do shrimp live?
Shrimp can live anywhere from 1 to 6 years, though most species have a maximum lifespan of only 2 years. They taste best right before they sexually mature, which is around 6 months for most shrimp.
How are shrimp caught?
The most common method of catching shrimp is trawling. It involves dropping large nets called trawls on the ocean floor and towing them to catch shrimp. While this method helps catch several tons of shrimp at a time, it also traps turtles, juvenile fish, dolphins, and other endangered species called by-catch. This damages the natural ecosystem and is the reason why many organizations criticize commercial trawling.
How long do shrimp live out of water?
Some shrimp species die 15 to 30 minutes after being pulled from the water, while others can survive for up to 2 days under the right conditions. These shrimp can store water inside them and stay alive in humid conditions for a day or two.
What do shrimp eat?
All shrimp are omnivorous and eat algae, planktons, plants (both dead and living), decaying organic matter, and basically anything that doesn’t eats them first. Their diet can also affect their taste and color, such as the brown shrimp that gets its color from consuming iodine-rich food.