Are Shrimps and Roaches Related?

Being from the same phylum Arthropoda, shrimp and cockroaches share many similarities as they do glaring differences, such as sharing similar diets but having very different environmental needs. We will go through the many characteristics that connect these creatures and how they are related.

Why are shrimp called cockroaches of the sea?

Shrimp survive off of dead animals or dead fish, algae, worms, other dead shrimp, you name it. A shrimp eats pretty much anything it can get its little legs on. 

They even act as cleaners for other fish and animals, eating parasites and algae off of any visitors that come their way. It’s an amazingly symbiotic relationship between sea creatures! 

Because they are the scavengers of the sea, so too are shrimp cockroaches of the sea because cockroaches share the same eating habit with their closely related cousins, the sea cockroaches.

Cockroaches and shrimp are also of the same family, sharing a common ancestor. So being related, they would naturally share many similarities, such as being cold-blooded. 

Although they have differences, the environment is one obvious example – cockroaches live on land, and shrimp are sea animals. 

Are shrimp and roaches related?

Shrimp, cockroaches, same thing, right? Cockroaches belong to the Arthropoda phylum, which makes them related to shrimp as the shrimp’s classification falls under the same family tree of insects. That’s right, shrimp and other crustaceans are related to insects as shrimp belong under the crustacean.

Shrimp being related to cockroaches isn’t a big surprise given their common characteristics, their diet being the most similar. They are even similar in size and share other characteristics as well. 

As impressive as it may seem, with all the similarities they have, we are more closely related to the Tyrannosaurus rex than a shrimp is related to a cockroach

Comparison: shrimp


Shrimp have various dietary needs, which are met with the vast selection of foods in the deep, blue sea, the place they call home. 

They vary in size from microscopic to the size of your hand and sometimes larger, but they are just simple scavengers. So there is nothing to fear with these cockroaches of the sea that are called crustaceans. 

Dietary needs

Pretty much anything they can eat, they will eat. However, shrimps mainly feast on algae and dead creatures of the sea, including various coral in their diet. 

Even the tiny larvae stages of shrimp get thrown around by the currents and can only eat what is available to them, usually phytoplankton. 

Mantis shrimpThe Mantis shrimp is one beautiful exception to being a scavenger and is outright a natural predator. These ocean brutes will eat anything they can kill, so this gorgeous beast requires protein as its primary dietary need. Of course, they eat other shellfish, so I’m sure they would eat cockroaches and other insects if they could. 

They even have enough bite force to break open snail shells and other crustaceans, so they are definitely shrimp eaters. They detect their food with their amazing eyes, which can see ultraviolet light and polarised light in addition to visible light that you and I can see. 

“Cleaner” shrimp primarily practice omnivorous feeding, eating algae and plants, so they need to be fed various plant-based foods when kept as pets. These shrimp will also have a symbiotic relationship with the other species in your tank, picking away pests and parasites. 

Just be sure to supplement their diet with decaying organic matter, like some leftover salad every once. 

The ideal environment for shrimps

There is a significant difference among shrimps, as some are saltwater creatures while others live only in freshwater conditions. 

Some shrimp live at very deep ocean depths, while others rest towards the surface, thriving off of coral reefs. They generally prefer more acidic water ranges and soft water. 

Most shrimp can adjust to harsher living conditions as they are very adaptable. But you wouldn’t want to push your luck with your pet shrimps, testing their boundaries, so keep your tank clean! Well, actually, the shrimp will help do that for you, so as long as you change the water frequently, you shouldn’t have to clean all that much. 

Overall appearance

This aquatic creature has five pairs of jointed appendages and five pairs of swimmerets, a large head about the size of the flexible abdomen, comes with segmented bodies and has three pairs of antenna. 

Shrimp have a somewhat transparent body, so they can remain elusive, especially among coral and rocks, fluttering backward with their fan-like tail. 


While most shrimp species are daytime invertebrates, some species, like the peppermint shrimp, only come out at night to scavenge for dinner. 

These guys are very low on the food chain, so naturally, they are a bit shy when it comes to strangers coming around. The very thing that they hunt for prey may be the thing that turns around and has them for prey instead. 

The average lifespan of shrimps

These marine creatures live anywhere from three to four years, depending on the specific species of saltwater shrimp and its particular environmental conditions during its lifetime. 

Most freshwater shrimp varieties only live one to two years, but some of the larger species have been known to live a decade or more in captivity; the dwarf species of freshwater shrimp don’t usually make it to three years old. 

Comparison: cockroach

Cockroaches are the land creatures that the shrimp most identifies with their similar eating habits. They will eat just about anything from rotten, decaying organic matter to dead animals. 

Dietary needs

They too focus on omnivorous feeding but will eat just about anything available to them, like with their cousin the shrimp. Of course, they are from different families, but the cockroach doesn’t live much different a life as that of a shrimp. It, too, is a scavenger, feeding off just about anything they can find, from rotting fruit to roadkill. 

Ideal environment

A cockroach would prefer to live in tight crevices and cracks, making homes that are coming apart perfect targets for a cockroach infestation. They will seek shelter in dark areas, such as closets and cabinets or under sinks or refrigerators. 

Overall appearance

Cockroaches have a hard exoskeleton and flat, round bodies. They have three pairs of jointed legs, with its head bent downwards. 

Having just two long antennas doesn’t stop this creature from having a fantastic sense of smell to detect food. You can exploit this sensitivity by planting certain citrus plants to deter these pests in and out of your home


As odd as it may seem, it is reported that cockroaches have distinct personalities just like you and me. Some are shy and stand-offish, while others are friendly and want to be handled by their owners. It’s all in the dice roll that decides the temperament of these creatures. 

The average lifespan of cockroaches

You know that joke about how cockroaches live through anything? It exists for a reason – they are incredibly hardy insects. Cockroaches only live for twenty to thirty weeks, but they can survive through many extreme conditions. For example, a cockroach can survive three months without food and more than a month without water. 

Amazingly, these creatures can even survive for 45 minutes without oxygen and are capable of re-growing limbs, hence, the durability of these pests. 

Frequently asked questions

Are crabs related to roaches?

Are crabs related to roachesCrabs and cockroaches both fall under the paracrustacean umbrella, and therefore, yes, they are related. Amazing that the crabs in the sea are related to the pests in our homes. 

Are shrimps considered pests in my aquarium? 

When discussing pest control, rarely are shrimp the cause for concern. Instead, the shrimp can act as a hero in this situation, often feeding off of tiny parasites and unwelcome hitchhikers that can sometimes be found in your fish tank. 

Shrimp eat algae from the side of the tank, making cleaning an easier task. 

Do cockroaches belong in caves? 

Yes, in their natural habitat, the cockroach thrives in caves. The moisture and darkness make a perfect location for a cockroach infestation! Also, it makes going out at night safer, with the cracks and crevices of the cave not far away to hide. 

Are a cockroach, shrimp, and lobster related? 

Yes! They all share a common ancestor that lived over 400 years ago, so they are distant relatives to one another, despite one living on land and the others of the sea. 


Shrimp and cockroaches both practice omnivorous feeding, eating everything from rotting food to decaying animal bodies. The cockroach and shrimp eat just about anything, and it’s important to call pest control services if you suspect a cockroach infestation in your home, or they will literally eat you out of house and home.

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