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Prawn vs. Crayfish: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 22, 2023
Prawns are marine crustaceans with elongated bodies and ten legs, while crayfish are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, with a robust, clawed body.

Key Differences

Prawns are typically found in saltwater environments and have a slender, elongated body, while crayfish, also known as crawfish or crawdads, inhabit freshwater environments and have a more robust body.
Prawns have longer legs and antennae, with a segmented body that appears more delicate, whereas crayfish possess pronounced claws and a bulkier appearance.
Prawns are a popular seafood choice globally, known for their sweet, delicate flavor, while crayfish are a staple in regional cuisines, especially in the southern United States, and have a richer, more robust flavor.
Prawns lay thousands of eggs, which are released into the water, while crayfish lay fewer eggs that are carried under the female's tail until they hatch.
Prawns are significant in international seafood trade, being farmed and fished globally, whereas crayfish are more regionally significant, especially in areas like Louisiana where they are a cultural icon.

Comparison Chart


Primarily saltwater environments.
Freshwater habitats, like rivers and lakes.

Body Structure

Elongated body with long legs and antennae.
Robust body with prominent claws.

Culinary Flavor

Sweet, delicate flavor.
Richer, more distinct flavor.


Lay thousands of eggs in water.
Lay eggs carried under the female's tail.

Economic Role

Important in global seafood trade.
Regional importance, especially in cuisines.

Prawn and Crayfish Definitions


Prawn is a marine crustacean with an elongated body and long antennae, often used for food.
She added fresh prawns to the paella for a seafood touch.


Crayfish are small, freshwater crustaceans resembling lobsters, found in rivers and lakes.
We caught crayfish in the creek for a backyard boil.


In culinary contexts, prawn refers to a sweet-flavored seafood ingredient.
Prawn cocktail is a classic appetizer at seafood restaurants.


In culinary terms, crayfish are known for their rich, distinctive taste.
Crayfish étouffée is a beloved dish in Cajun cooking.


Prawns are distinguished from shrimp by their longer legs and antennae.
The chef explained how to differentiate a prawn from a shrimp.


In some regions, crayfish are also called crawfish or crawdads.
Crawfish boils are a traditional event in southern states.


Prawn farming is an important part of aquaculture, supplying seafood markets.
Prawn farming has become increasingly popular in coastal regions.


Crayfish have a robust body structure with strong claws used for defense and feeding.
The children were fascinated by the crayfish's large claws.


Prawns are a popular choice in various cuisines for their versatile flavor.
Grilled prawns are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine.


Crayfish are integral to regional cuisines and are often used in festive gatherings.
The annual crayfish party was a highlight of the summer.


Any of various shrimps, especially one that is large or inhabits fresh water.


Any of various freshwater crustaceans of the families Astacidae and Cambaridae of the Northern Hemisphere and the family Parastacidae of the Southern Hemisphere, resembling a lobster but considerably smaller. Also called mudbug; also called regionally crawdad.


The flesh of a prawn, used as food.


See spiny lobster.


Are crayfish and lobsters related?

Yes, crayfish are often considered miniature versions of lobsters due to their physical similarities.

How do crayfish reproduce?

Crayfish reproduce by laying eggs that are carried under the female's tail until they hatch.

Can prawns live in freshwater?

Prawns primarily live in saltwater, though some species can survive in brackish water.

What is the primary use of prawns?

Prawns are primarily used as a food source, popular in many cuisines worldwide.

Are prawns and crayfish the same species?

No, prawns are marine crustaceans, while crayfish are freshwater crustaceans.

How are prawns harvested?

Prawns are harvested through both aquaculture (farming) and wild capture.

Is there a taste difference between prawns and crayfish?

Yes, prawns have a sweet, delicate flavor, while crayfish have a richer, more robust taste.

What is the habitat of crayfish?

Crayfish typically inhabit freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes, and streams.

What is the cultural significance of crayfish in the southern United States?

In the southern U.S., crayfish are a cultural icon, celebrated with festivals and social gatherings.

What is a popular way to cook crayfish?

A popular method is a crayfish boil, often seasoned with spicy Cajun flavors.

Are prawns a healthy food choice?

Yes, prawns are a healthy choice, being low in fat and a good source of protein.

What types of dishes are prawns used in?

Prawns are used in a variety of dishes, from paellas to salads and curries.

Are crayfish commonly farmed?

Crayfish farming is less common than prawn farming and is usually region-specific.

Do prawns play an ecological role?

Yes, prawns play a role in aquatic ecosystems, both as predators and prey.

What are common methods of cooking prawns?

Prawns can be grilled, sautéed, boiled, or added to dishes like soups and stir-fries.

Can prawns be found worldwide?

Yes, prawns are found and consumed worldwide, in both fresh and frozen forms.

What's a unique fact about crayfish behavior?

Crayfish can walk forwards and backwards, and they use their claws for various activities.

Are crayfish considered invasive species anywhere?

In some regions, non-native crayfish species have become invasive, impacting local ecosystems.

Can crayfish be kept as pets?

Yes, some people keep crayfish as pets in freshwater aquariums.

How do prawns and crayfish differ in appearance?

Prawns have elongated bodies and long antennae, while crayfish have a more robust body with large claws.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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