Common shrimp (Crangon crangon)

Common shrimp

Top facts

  • The common shrimp has an average lifespan of around three years.
  • Common shrimp eggs take between three and ten weeks to develop, depending on the temperature of the water.
  • Common shrimp can grow up to nine centimetres in length.
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Common shrimp fact file

Common shrimp description

GenusCrangon (1)

The common shrimp (Crangon crangon), also known as the brown shrimp, is cryptically coloured (3); it is brown and covered with tiny flecks (2). Although most specimens tend to measure between 30 and 50 mm in length, some may grow to 90 mm. The carapace extends between the eyes into a short spine, and the flexible abdomen terminates in a tail fan (known as a 'telson') (2). The word 'shrimp' is Middle English; it may derive from the German word 'schrimpen', which means 'to shrink up', and is applied to small, weak things (4).

Also known as
Brown shrimp.
Length: 30-50 mm (2)

Common shrimp biology

The common shrimp feeds on a range of worms, molluscs and crustaceans. The sexes are thought to be separate, and the timing of breeding varies around the country (2). After mating, the female carries the eggs for 3-4 weeks in summer and up to 10 weeks in spring (2). The larvae, known as 'zoeae' are planktonic, and persist for around 5 weeks. Maturity is attained after 1-2 years, and average life span is 3 years (2). This species is predated upon by many species of fish, including cod (Gadus morhua) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus). If attacked, shrimps try to escape by means of rapid flicks of the tail (3).


Common shrimp range

Very common in European waters, and found around the coasts of Britain (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Common shrimp habitat

This species occurs from the middle shore down to submerged depths of around 150m; it also extends into estuaries and typically buries into the sand (2).


Common shrimp status

Common and widespread (2).


Common shrimp threats

This shrimp is fished commercially in some areas, including Morecambe Bay, however it is not currently threatened, and remains a very common species (2).


Common shrimp conservation

No conservation action has been targeted at this common species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



The top shell of a turtle. In arthropods (insects, crabs etc), the fused head and thorax (the part of the body located near the head) also known as ‘cephalothorax’.
Cryptic colouration
Colouration that makes animals difficult to detect against their background. The colouration may provide camouflage against a background or break up the outline of the body. Both can occur in a single animal, and tend to reduce predation.
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Aquatic organisms that drift with water movements; may be either phytoplankton (plants), or zooplankton (animals).


  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary
  2. Fish, J. D. & Fish, S. (1996) A student's guide to the seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Arnott, S.A., Neil, D.M. and Ansell, A.D. (1999) Escape trajectories of the brown shrimp Crangon crangon, and a theoretical consideration of initial escape angles from predators. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 202: 193-209.
  4. Buczacki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.

Image credit

Common shrimp  
Common shrimp

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