While plenty of shrimp are small, some can grow large enough to compete with the size of a prawn. Both shrimp and prawns are classified as decapod crustaceans and in some countries like the U.K, the name prawn is used for both. The main difference between the two is their bodily structure. Prawns are equipped with longer legs and three sets of claws. Prawns belong to the suborder of dendrobranchiata, are bigger, and are mostly found in freshwater. Shrimp belong to pleocyemata and are generally smaller, living mostly in the ocean. There are other differences between the two, but it is impossible to deny their similarities.
On this list, we will look at the largest prawns and shrimp in the world. The mantis shrimp will be omitted from this list even though many believed it to be the largest shrimp in the world. Mantis shrimp are not shrimp, but shrimp-like crustaceans in the order of stomatopods. Shrimp come in many sizes, some species being regularly consumed. Here are 10 of the largest shrimp you can find lurking in the fresh waters and oceans.
#10. Deep Water Rose Shrimp
Deep Water rose shrimp can be found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea inhabiting muddy and sandy sea floors. Their preferred depth is around 20 to 700 meters in the ocean and larger shrimp will be found in deeper waters. Males can reach up to 16 cm, while females may reach 19 cm. They have a varied diet which becomes more diverse as they age. Foraminifera is its main food but they will also feed on other benthic organisms. The deep water rose shrimp has an orange-pinkish tint with a long antenna. These shrimp are large and are sometimes eaten for their sweetmeat.
#9. Chinese White Shrimp
The Chinese white shrimp live in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and along the Korean coast. They are massively farmed in China and are enjoyed for their large size and tender meat. They average a length of 17 cm to 19 cm and can sometimes grow larger. These shrimp prefer colder waters and will be at a depth of 90 to 180m. They are all white and are also called the oriental shrimp or fleshy prawn. This species was in decline in population but an effort to release young shrimp back into the ocean resulted in its rebound.
#8. White Shrimp
White shrimp live in warm waters and are unable to survive below 3 degrees Celsius (37 F). With the right temperatures and salinity, they are fast growers and can reach 18 to 20 cm. In the wild, they are found at a depth of 30 to 80 m and feed off plankton. White shrimp usually live less than one year but when they mate they can make up to 1 million eggs. Larger white shrimp have been seen to become cannibals. Other names for this species include the Daytona shrimp, southern shrimp, and gray shrimp. They inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic waters.
#7. Pink Shrimp
Pink shrimp are found on the east coast of the U.S, Bermuda, and the Gulf of Mexico waters. This shrimp lives at depths of 2 to 70m and will reach around 28 cm and larger. The many names of this shrimp include the Skipper, Red shrimp, pink spotted shrimp, hopper, and pink night shrimp. They are widely farmed in the U.S and are considered one of the tastiest species. Larvae and plankton are what their diet consists of. Finfish, minnows, water boatmen, and other shrimp feed on this abundant species. They have a lifetime of under two years and when mating they will lay around 500,000 to 1 million eggs.
#6. White Leg Shrimp
White leg shrimp are also called pacific white shrimp or king prawn and inhabit the eastern region of the Pacific Ocean. They require waters to remain above 20C (68F) and live at depths of 78m. Proper water temperatures allow this species to grow and reproduce. The maximum length for this species is 23-28cm. White leg shrimp are commonly caught and farmed for food.
This shrimp has a lifespan of fewer than 2 years and can reproduce when it reaches around 5 inches. Adult shrimps are omnivorous and eat plants, microorganisms, small fish, and microorganisms. White leg shrimp are bluish-white with pink sides.
#5. Kuruma Prawn
The Kuruma prawn is also known as the Japanese tiger prawn and inhabits inshore waters up to 90 m deep. They live in areas with sandy mud and muddy bottoms, invading multiple oceans throughout European waters. This species is native to the Southwestern Pacific and the Indian ocean. They will migrate and have been found in numerous areas around European waters, taking over other local populations of shrimp.
Kuruma prawns reach a length of 25 to 30 cm and can survive in lower temperatures compared to other prawns. They are beige covered in brown stripes with a blue shaded tail. Kuruma prawns are easy to farm due to their minimal water conditions and a simple omnivore diet.
#4. Eastern King Prawn
Eastern King prawns are found near the coastal regions of eastern Australia and are an important species popularly fished within the area. This species has been a staple of the Australian commercial fishing market for over 50 years and is a favorite delicacy. They inhabit sandy and soft sediment areas and dwell up to 220 m deep. This large prawn can grow up to 30 cm. They are a beautiful species with a bright rainbow tail. Plankton, small shellfish, worms and organic matter is what this species eats.
#3. California Spot Prawn
California spot prawns are endemic to the Northern Pacific Ocean and dwell in depths of 46 to 488 m deep. Juveniles will live in shallow waters and as they age they dwell towards the depths. The spot prawn can reach 25 to 30 cm and weigh 0.25 lbs.
The California spot prawn can live up to 6 years and will feed on shrimp, plankton worms, and sea caresses. Spot prawns are fished and consumed by humans in high-end restaurants. Unlike other shrimp, spot prawns are targeted and caught in specific traps. Large marine animals like seals and octopuses will also feed on this species in the wild.
#2. Giant Freshwater Prawn
The Giant freshwater prawn is one of the largest prawns in the world and is endemic to the tropical regions of Indo-Pacific, India, Southeast Asia, and Northern Australia. Other names include the Malaysian prawn and freshwater scampi. Giant freshwater prawns’ can grow to be 30 cm and larger. Their bodies are greenish or brownish gray and larger specimens have darker hues.
The freshwater prawn or giant river prawn has been introduced to countries across the world and is widely cultivated. Larvae will live in brackish water and as they mature they switch to freshwater. Zooplankton and oligochaete are what this species survives off. Shallow waters and detritus, vegetated areas are where this prawn lives. They will bury themselves halfway in the sand during the day.
#1. Giant Tiger Prawn
Giant tiger prawns are the largest prawn in the world and will reach about 33 cm. They can be found in water sources in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Australia, and the United States. In the U.S they are rarely found and are an invasive species released from farming. This prawn is a delicacy across the world and is valued for its large size.
They can weigh up to 10 ounces. The stripes across its dorsal are its most identifiable feature. The stripes can be black or orange resembling a tiger. The giant tiger prawn prefers warm waters and has a lifespan of around 3 years. They are omnivorous and eat decaying matter, plant material, and small invertebrates.
Summary of The 10 Largest Shrimp (And Prawn!) In the World
|Rank||Prawn and Shrimp||Size in Centimeters|
|1||Tiger Prawn||33 cm|
|2||Giant Freshwater Prawn||30 cm|
|3||California Spot Prawn||25-30 cm|
|4||Eastern King Prawn||30 cm|
|5||Kuruma Prawn||25-30 cm|
|6||White Leg Shrimp||23-28 cm|
|7||Pink Shrimp||28 cm|
|8||White Shrimp||18-20 cm|
|9||Chinese White Shrimp||17-19 cm|
|10||Deep Water Rose Shrimp||16-19 cm|
Honorable Mentions: The Largest Shrimp (And Prawn!)
Here are a few bonus shrimp that did not make our list:
- Botan shrimp
- Indian prawn
- Shiba shrimp
These fish are caught at depths ranging from 656 to 984 feet in Suruga Bay and along the western coast of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. Once abundant, they have become scarce over time, and only small specimens are found these days.
Indian prawn shrimp variety can grow up to 20 cm in length. Their bodies are white with faint pink stripes. They are commonly found in the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, where they are mainly harvested using trawlers.
Shiba shrimp, also called Shiba-ebi, are found in the waters south of Tokyo Bay along the Pacific Ocean side and extend from Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan side. They have a maximum length of 2.7 cm for males and 3.4 cm for females.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Koy_Hipster/Shutterstock.com
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