Are Shrimp Related to Cockroaches? | Surprising Insights!

Written by George Climer

Shrimp are those delicious delicacies we enjoy eating at home and at different seafood restaurants. Cockroaches are those disgusting bugs that we swear will make us move out of our houses if we ever see them. They have absolutely nothing in common, right?

Are shrimp related to cockroaches? Shrimp are related to cockroaches; though it may seem like they have absolutely nothing in common, they’re both part of the same kingdom – Animalia – and the same phylum – Arthropoda. These creatures share common characteristics, including exoskeletons, three-segment bodies, and jointed legs.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both shrimp and cockroaches. We’ll examine their similarities and their differences and see just how closely related they really are. So, keep on reading!

Shrimp Information

Where Do Shrimp Come From?

Where Do Shrimp Come From

In their natural environment, shrimp come from every ocean on Earth and many freshwater lakes and streams. They live in deep water and shallow water. In short, shrimp is pretty much anywhere you can find water. 

However, most of the shrimp we encounter come from coastal farming ponds and are explicitly raised to be sold as food. Since shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States and other countries, there’s a massive market for farming and selling.

What Does a Shrimp Look Like?

Depending on what specific type of shrimp you’re looking at, it may look different from another shrimp you’ve seen before; however, shrimp anatomy is the same for all shrimp and prawns. Their colors and sizes may be different, but they have the same basic anatomy. Shrimps have a three-part body that includes:

  • A head
  • A thorax
  • An abdomen

Furthermore, all shrimp have jointed legs and rigid exoskeletons on the outside of their bodies.

How Big Is a Shrimp?

How Big Is a Shrimp

Shrimp range in size from super small to surprisingly large. Among the smallest shrimp species are fairy shrimp and brine shrimp. Sea monkeys are a type of brine shrimp, and many are familiar with how tiny they are – almost too little to measure. In contrast, the largest shrimp species known to man is the mantis shrimp. It can reach sizes of 18 inches (46 cm) long. 

For the most part, though, shrimp tend to stay within the 1.5 to 3-inch (4 to 8 cm) range. A few of the larger commercial breeds reach eight inches (20 cm) in length. 

How Many Legs Do Shrimp Have?

Some people credit shrimp with having 26 legs. Others claim they only have 20. However, the breakdown is actually as follows:

  • Five pairs of walking legs (10 total)
  • Five pairs of swimming legs (10 total)
  • Three pairs of feeding appendages

The six disputed legs depend entirely on whether you consider their feeding appendages to be legs or not.

What Do Shrimp Eat?

What Do Shrimp Eat

Freshwater shrimp and saltwater shrimp have different diets because they live in different ecosystems. However, the easy answer to this question is that shrimp eat anything they can get in their mouths. They’ll eat fish, plankton, snails, other shrimp, dead things, algae, worms, plants, and more. The only difference is whether they’re eating saltwater or freshwater fish and plants.

How Long Do Shrimp Live?

In general, shrimp usually live between one and seven years. Of course, the lifespan of commercially sold shrimp is much shorter, as younger shrimp are caught and kept since they tend to be more tender. The larger species of shrimp tend to have longer lifespans than the smaller shrimp species.

Cockroach Information

Where Do Cockroaches Come From?

Where Do Cockroaches Come From

There are over 4,500 species of cockroaches living worldwide, from the Arctic to the tropical rainforests. Cockroaches are resilient and can survive extreme temperatures. As a result, you can find them pretty much anywhere in the world. Unlike shrimp, though, they live on land, although some enjoy living near the water.

What Does a Cockroach Look Like?

Like shrimp, different species of cockroaches look different. However, also like shrimp, they all share some of the same characteristics, including:

  • A three-part body: head, thorax, and abdomen
  • Jointed legs
  • Rigid exoskeletons

Those are the traits they share with shrimp. Additionally, different cockroach species have a few characteristics they all share with each other. They include:

  • Flattened, oval-shaped bodies
  • Long antennae
  • Six, spiny legs
  • Hidden heads (when seen from above)

Additionally, several types have wings, but can cockroaches fly? As it turns out, some cockroaches can fly; most, however, tend to stay on the ground.

Related: What Is a Cockroach | Comprehensive Overview

How Big Do Cockroaches Get?

Cockroaches can range in size from about 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) to over 3.5 inches (8.89 cm) long. One of the largest is the giant burrowing cockroach. You can learn a bit about this type of cockroach from this video:

They don’t get quite as large as shrimp, but they get pretty huge compared to most insects.

How Many Legs Do Cockroaches Have?

Cockroaches have far fewer legs than shrimp, only six in total. However, just like shrimp, the cockroaches’ six legs are all jointed. They’re also covered in tiny spines, which help give the cockroaches traction even when running across smooth surfaces. These spines are why they’re so fast.

What Do Cockroaches Eat?

What Do Cockroaches Eat

This is another way in which cockroaches are similar to shrimp because they eat a little bit of everything. Cockroaches are omnivores, so they eat both meat and plants. They’ll eat almost anything they can find, whether it’s alive or dead. This goes for plants, small animals, and other insects.

How Long Do Cockroaches Live?

Most cockroaches live between one and one and a half years, and the females typically live longer than the males. However, since it takes many cockroaches about 600 days to reach the “age of maturity,” many die before they ever officially become “adult” cockroaches, especially males.

Related: How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food? | Surprising Insights!

Are Shrimp Related to Cockroaches?

So, now that we know all there is to know about shrimp and cockroaches, it’s time to answer the question we came here to answer: Are roaches and shrimp related? The short answer is yes; they are somewhat related. There are seven taxonomic classification ranks:

  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family 
  • Genus
  • Species

Shrimp and cockroaches both share the first two rankings: kingdom and phylum. 

Are Shrimp and Cockroaches From the Same Family?

People often wonder if shrimp and cockroaches are from the same family. Shrimp’s classification falls in the family of Crustacea, while cockroaches are from the superfamily Blattidae. (It’s called a “superfamily” because different types of cockroaches belong to different families. However, they all fall into the same superfamily.)

Despite the familial difference, these two are both from the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Arthropoda, which makes them somewhat related.

Why Are Shrimp the Cockroaches of the Sea?

People often refer to shrimp as “roaches of the sea,” but are shrimp bugs? What do shrimp and cockroaches have in common? 

First, let’s settle the fact that shrimp are not bugs. They are crustaceans. However, the two have quite a few things in common, which is why people gave shrimp that nickname in the first place. 

Shrimp vs. Cockroach

Are Shrimp Related to Cockroache

Cockroach and Shrimp Similarities

The similarities between cockroaches and shrimp are more numerous than you might imagine. We’ve already discussed several of their anatomical similarities, but let’s recap quickly. They both have:

  • Jointed legs
  • A three-part body consisting of a head, thorax, and abdomen
  • Strong exoskeletons

Additionally, shrimp and cockroaches both have antennae. However, the two also have similarities beyond the way they look.

For example, the two have similar eating habits, in that they both will eat practically anything, whether it’s alive or dead, plant or animal. They’re also scavengers, swimming or crawling around to find whatever they can find to eat or use. 

Finally, the two are both cold-blooded, and they move and behave similarly. Unfortunately, they don’t taste the same, so don’t expect to trade in your somewhat expensive seafood for a readily available cockroach anytime soon!

Differences Between Shrimp and Cockroach

Shrimp, compared to cockroaches, can get larger and live longer. They also spend their time living in the water, whereas cockroaches stay on dry land. Furthermore, they look like two totally different animals, despite the similarities in their anatomy. 


Although they come from different families, orders, and classes, shrimp and cockroaches share the same phylum and kingdom. They’re both arthropods (phylum) and animals (kingdom). This means they’re more closely related than people realize. 

People often call shrimp “the cockroaches of the sea” because they’re just as numerous and widespread as cockroaches and because the two share similar body types, feeding characteristics, and behaviors. Lucky for us, no one has tried to market cockroaches as a delicacy just yet. 

List of Sources

Indian River Research and Education Center. Anatomy of a Shrimp/Crawfish.

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office. (2017). Longhorn Fairy Shrimp.

Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program. Brine Shrimp.

Nuwer, R. (2013). How Many Species of Cockroaches Plague Humanity?, Smithsonian Magazine.

Hahn, J., Ascerno, M. (2019). Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension.