Difference Between Krill And Shrimp



Krill, a group of small, shrimp-like crustaceans, found mainly in cold, polar oceans, although some species inhabit temperate and tropical waters. They belong to the suborder Euphausiacea within the class Malacostraca.

Krill are relatively small creatures, between 1 to 6 centimeters in length, although some species can grow larger. They also have elongated and streamlined bodies that are often transparent. One of their most distinctive features is their two long antennae, which they use for navigation and sensing their surroundings. These antennae, along with other appendages, help krill filter and capture their food.

Krill feed on phytoplankton, microscopic, single-celled plants that drift near the ocean’s surface and live off carbon dioxide and the sun’s rays. They in turn are the main staple in the diets of literally hundreds of different animals, from fish, to birds, to baleen whales.

Krill have a relatively short lifespan, typically ranging from 2 to 6 years, which is relatively brief compared to some other marine organisms. Their reproductive strategy involves external fertilization, where females release their eggs into the water, and males release sperm to fertilize them. Krill often form large swarms for protection and feeding, enhancing their reproductive success and chances of survival.

In recent years, krill have gained attention for their nutritional value. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients. Krill oil supplements are marketed for their potential health benefits, including cardiovascular health and inflammation reduction. Commercially, nonetheless, as the demand for omega-3 supplements grows, krill fisheries are expanding.


Shrimp are a group of crustaceans that belong to the order Decapoda, which means “ten-legged.” They are widely distributed across the world’s oceans, ranging from shallow coastal waters to deep-sea habitats. Shrimp come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, with over 2,000 species identified to date.

Shrimp range in length from a few millimetres to more than 20 cm (about 8 inches); average size is about 4 to 8 cm (1.5 to 3 inches). Larger individuals are often called prawns.

Shrimp have elongated bodies, which are segmented and covered in a tough exoskeleton. They have two pairs of long, slender antennae that help them navigate their environment, sense changes in water quality, and detect potential predators or prey. Shrimp also possess ten appendages, including five pairs of walking legs and a pair of specialized pincers, or chelae, located in the front. These chelae are used for purposes, such as capturing prey, digging burrows, or defending against predators.

Shrimp are highly adaptable and can be found in oceans, estuaries, rivers, and even freshwater lakes. Most shrimp species reproduce by laying eggs, which are carried by the female until they hatch into tiny larvae. These larvae undergo a series of developmental stages, eventually metamorphosing into juvenile and adult shrimp. Some shrimp species have complex courtship behaviors, while others employ external fertilization.

Shrimp are both prey and predators, feeding on algae, detritus, small invertebrates, and even smaller shrimp. Conversely, they serve as a crucial food source for numerous marine creatures, including fish, birds, and larger crustaceans like crabs and lobsters.

In many cultures around the world, shrimp are a popular seafood delicacy, enjoyed for their succulent and flavorful meat. They can be prepared in numerous ways, from boiling and grilling to sautéing and frying.

Krill vs Shrimp: Key Differences

TaxonomySuborder EuphausiaceaOrder Decapoda
SizeGenerally smaller, often 1-6 cm in lengthVaries widely; can range from a few cm to several inches in length
HabitatMainly found in cold, polar oceansFound in a wide range of marine habitats, from cold to tropical waters
LifespanUsually 2-6 yearsCan live from 1 to 8 years or more, depending on the species
Body ShapeElongated and streamlinedVaries, but often more compact and flattened
AppendagesTwo long antennaeTwo pairs of long antennae
DietPrimarily phytoplankton and zooplanktonOmnivorous, feeding on algae, small organisms, and detritus
ReproductionSexual reproduction with external fertilizationSexual reproduction with internal fertilization
Social StructureOften form large swarms for protection and feedingCan be solitary or live in social groups
CarapaceTransparent and thinHard exoskeleton made of chitin
Commercial ImportanceHarvested for omega-3 supplements and animal feedSignificant seafood industry, harvested for human consumption
Economic ValueLimited, but growing as a nutritional supplementHigh economic value due to culinary use and export