Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Missouri's Freshwater Shrimp

Aug 13, 2018

Forrest Gump’s pal Bubba said that shrimp was the "fruit of the sea". They can also be found in our rivers and lakes.

Two kinds of freshwater shrimp live in Missouri waters.

The Mississippi grass shrimp, also known as glass or ghost shrimp, is common to sluggish, freshwater habitats. You can see their organs as their body is transparent like glass. At little more than an inch long, they are small and inconspicuous. These shrimp are relished by fish and other predators.

A much larger species, the Ohio shrimp, lives in fresh and brackish waters and may reach four inches long. They were known to migrate along the Mississippi river from the Gulf of Mexico and back. Ohio shrimp were commonly harvested for food in the 1800's. Today they are rare in our state.

Freshwater shrimp are food for fish and other wildlife and may live in the waters where you fish and boat. They are closely related to crayfish and are an important element of some Midwestern habitats.

Clear as Glass

  • In Missouri, the glass or ghost shrimp is a very common freshwater shrimp that lives among aquatic vegetation in the shallows and backwaters of slow-moving lowland streams and in pools and swampy areas.
  • This species occurs in Missouri’s eastern counties along the Mississippi River and in the Bootheel.
  • Freshwater shrimp are not eaten by people and are not important as bait. However, the freshwater “ghost shrimp” commonly sold at pet stores are usually some species of Palaemonetes. You might also have heard of cleaner shrimp, which are in the same family; they are popular in marine aquariums.
  • Freshwater shrimp are a favorite prey of fish and other animals. They are important in estuary habitats, transferring food energy from the simple plants and decaying plants and animals they eat, to the carnivores that eat them.
  • Researchers use freshwater shrimp as indicators for evaluating pollutants in a body of water.

For more on glass shrimp, visit MDC’s Field Guide.

mississippi_grass_shrimp_8-7-15.jpg

Photo of a gravid Mississippi grass shrimp in an aquarium.
Mississippi Grass Shrimp (Glass Shrimp; Ghost Shrimp)
Of Missouri’s two species of freshwater shrimp, the Mississippi grass shrimp is by far the most common and widespread.

ohio_river_shrimp_8-7-15.jpg

Photo of an Ohio shrimp with small grayish pincers in the foreground.
Ohio Shrimp (Ohio River Shrimp)
Of Missouri’s two species of freshwater shrimp, the Ohio shrimp is certainly the rarest.

Recent Posts

The Bird with the Sky on Its Back

Mar 17, 2019

Poet Henry David Thoreau wrote that the bluebird, "carries the sky on its back".  Learn more about this symbol of happiness and how you can help them and watch them raise a family by building a nest box.

Maidenhair fern

GAGA Over Ferns

Mar 10, 2019

There are thousands of ferns with creative names and healthy features. You can now officially go "gaga" over them with a new genus of 19 plants named after Lady Gaga, inspired by a grammy costume and DNA sequencing. Discover the resurrection fern. It comes back to life, has been to space, and is used medicinally. Learn more in this week's Discover Nature Notes blog.

Prairie chickens

Nature's Slow Take on Speed Dating

Mar 03, 2019

Male prairie chickens boom, jump in the air, and compete for the attention of hens. The hens take their time strolling by before picking a mate. See their spring dance and learn what's being done to save them in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes