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Missouri's Freshwater Shrimp

Aug 16, 2020

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.

Ohio Shrimp

  • One species of freshwater shrimp found in Missouri is the Ohio Shrimp (also known as Ohio River Shrimp).
  • The Ohio shrimp is usually found amid submerged aquatic plants in sluggish backwaters and other low, swampy places.
  • Like salmon, Ohio shrimp must migrate between salty water and fresh water in order to reproduce
  • Although named for the Ohio River, it is rarely found in that river anymore.
  • It can be found in and along the Mississippi River. It occurs in river systems draining into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean; Missouri is about as far north as it gets.
  • This species formerly migrated from the Gulf of Mexico upstream into the Ohio River, but dams, levees, and wing dikes on our big rivers now prevent it from migrating so far up- and downriver.

Discover more about the Ohio Shrimp in our Field Guide.

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Mississippi Grass Shrimp
Mississippi Grass Shrimp (Glass Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp)

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Ohio River Shrimp
Ohio Shrimp (Ohio River Shrimp)

Amazing Mississippi River shrimp

Go on a survey of river shrimp on the Mississippi in this Audubon video
Go on a survey of river shrimp on the Mississippi in this Audubon video

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