What Do Shrimp Eat?

What Do Shrimp Eat?

Shrimps are crustaceans with long slender bodies. Their muscular abdomens come in handy during locomotion. It is worth noting that most of the shrimp species are omnivorous and, some have developed specialized feeding mechanisms.

A typical diet of shrimp may include algae, mollusks, other shrimps, detritus, and a vast range of parasitic organisms.

What Do Shrimp Eat?

Type of Shrimp Binomial Name Diet
Pink Shrimp Farfantepenaeus duorarum Planktons, plants, yeast, molds, diatoms, small mollusks, plant detritus, copepods, bacterial films, and algae.
Gabon Shrimp Atya gabonensis Algae, detritus, insects, and diatoms
Pacific Cleaner Shrimp Lysmata amboinensis parasites, dead fish, plant matter, and meat.

Shrimp Diet by Types

When it comes to crustaceans’ phylogeny, taxonomists have little agreement. For this reason, the classification of shrimp is not entirely clear. What is apparent is that “true shrimp” are considered in the infraorder Caridea.

Over 3000 species are classified in the infraorder Caridea. The examples of shrimps discussed in this section will be drawn from the “true shrimp” category.

What Do Pink Shrimp Eat?

The pink shrimp is also referred to as the green shrimp, pink spotted shrimp, or the pushed shrimp. The members of this species grow somewhat faster. They can grow to about 8 inches in length.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Decapoda Penaeidae Farfantepenaeus Farfantepenaeus duorarum
  • The pink shrimp’s larvae feed on planktons, which are small floating animals and plants.
  • Juvenile and fully grown shrimps are best described as omnivores.
  • Their diet consists of yeast, molds, diatoms, small mollusks, plant detritus, copepods, bacterial films, and algae.
  • This shrimp gets its food by stirring the ocean’s bottom and using their feelers to smell and locate their prey.

What Do Gabon Shrimp Eat?

The Gabon shrimp is also referred to as the Cameroon fan shrimp, African filter shrimp, African fan shrimp, vampire shrimp, or the African giant shrimp. This species can grow to 12cm length.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Decapoda Atyidae Atya Atya gabonensis
  • A typical diet of the Gabon shrimp entails algae, detritus, insects, and diatoms.
  • The food preference for the Gabon shrimp varies depending on the season and its size.
  • The chelipeds of the Gabon shrimp comes in handy during looking for prey.
  • This crustacean often uses its chelipeds to sweep the ocean floor and collect food material.
  • They can also use filter-feeding to get their prey.

What Do Pacific Cleaner Shrimp Eat?

The pacific cleaner shrimp is known by many different names such as the skunk cleaner shrimp or the scarlet cleaner shrimp. The Pacific cleaner shrimp starts as male, but eventually become hermaphroditic.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Decapoda Hippolytidae Lysmata Lysmata amboinensis
  • The Pacific cleaner shrimp gets its name from the fact that a significant part of its diet is drawn from parasites and dead tissue they get from fish.
  • The exciting thing about the Pacific cleaner shrimp is that they set up a cleaning station, where fish can stop by to get “cleaned“.
  • In addition to eating meat, the Pacific cleaner shrimp also eats plant matter, given that it is omnivorous.
  • The hunting strategy the pacific cleaner shrimp uses is simply picking parasites from the bodies of fish.

When Do Shrimp Eat?

Shrimps are nocturnal creatures, which means they are likely to be found foraging and feeding at night. During these dark hours, shrimp feel much safer in their native waterways because most of their predators are inactive at this time.

How Often Do Shrimp Eat?

Shrimps will feed as frequently as they can to realize their daily energy needs. These crustaceans are likely to be found scouring their native waterways in search of food when they feel the need to.

What Do Shrimp Eat in Freshwater?

Freshwater shrimp primarily eat tiny particles (usually of decaying algae) at the bottom of the body of water.

  • These shrimp act as garbagemen disposing of this “trash” in the water, making the environment much cleaner.
  • They consume these particles by firstly using the edges of their claws to scrape them up; then, they bring the particles to their mouth.
  • Finally, note that the continual process of freshwater shrimp eating the algae helps with recycling the organic matter in the water.

What Do Shrimp Eat in the Coral Reef?

Coral shrimp (shrimp that live near coral reefs) eat many things, including aquatic worms, zooplankton, crustaceans, certain arthropods, and much more.

  • These shrimps also eat the parasites that might be on predator fishes’ scales, making them cleaner.
  • As such, they are usually protected from these fish;
  • they are in a symbiotic relationship (the shrimp get food, and the fish stay clean).

Do Shrimp Eat Seaweed?

It is not very common for shrimp to eat seaweed;

  • However, if it is available, they might choose to consume it.
  • Specifically, if seaweed happens to reach the water floor and no other animals have consumed it, shrimp could eat it if necessary.
  • Seaweed-which is actually a type of algae-simply isn’t a part of their natural diets. It is typically harder for them to find it (unlike other types of algae, which are readily available at the bottom of the water).

What Does Saltwater Shrimp Eat?

Saltwater shrimp have a varied diet that includes algae, dead skin of other organisms, seagrass, small fish, and much more.

  • It should also be noted that they eat plankton and tiny invertebrates as well if they can find them.
  • Saltwater shrimp are typically extremely important to their environment’s food chain since they help keep the algae and plankton population low enough and act as food for many big predators.

What Eats Shrimp?

Examples of organisms that feed on shrimps include but are not limited to sea urchins, catfish, whales, starfish, crabs, dolphins, sharks, various sea
, and humans.

Where Do Shrimp Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Shrimp play an essential role in the animal food chain, and without their presence, food webs would be thrown out of balance.

  • Adult shrimps are scavengers. They feed on dead crabs, clams, snails and fish, and worms. In this role, they help rid the ecosystem of dead decaying matter.
  • Shrimps have been observed to eat live worms or cannibalize other shrimps. Because of this role, they help regulate the local population of the creatures they consume.
  • A vast range of organisms consider shrimps to be a perfect delicacy for them, so they hunt for their food. In this capacity, shrimps provide a good nutrient source to organisms like whales and fish, promoting their growth and survival.

It is also worth noting that commercial shrimps (also described as prawns) support an excellent industry for humans (about 50 billion dollars per annum). Shrimps are farmed/caught for their muscular tails, which are edible for humans.

Cite this article as: "What Do Shrimp Eat?," in Bio Explorer, April 12, 2021, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-shrimp-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Pink Shrimp | NOAA Fisheries”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “Gabon Shrimp (Atya gabonensis)” – Ecological Risk Screening Summary. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “Aquarium of the Pacific | Online Learning Center | Pacific Cleaner Shrimp”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “Shrimp of the El Yunque National Forest”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “California Freshwater Shrimp , Kids’ Species Information | Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “ADW: Stenopus hispidus: INFORMATION”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “Grass Shrimp”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “The Spotted Cleaner Shrimp | Smithsonian Ocean”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “White Shrimp | NOAA Fisheries”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.
  • “What Are Shrimps’ Prey? | Sciencing”. Accessed August 04, 2020. Link.



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