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Shrimp is more than just a popular delicacy served in seafood restaurants across the country. It is also an important part of the ocean food chain. There are many different types of shrimp, and this organism is a lot more complicated than the food we are used to seeing on our dinner plates. In fact, shrimps can range in many different shapes and sizes, anywhere between the size of a fingernail to as big as 8 inches in length.
What Are Shrimp?
Shrimps are scientifically classified as crustaceans and are most structurally similar to crabs and lobsters. Their bodies are designed with a hard outer shell, known as the exoskeleton, which forms the head, thorax and abdomen. They also have two pairs of antennae that allow them to taste and touch, as well as eight pairs of legs that help shrimp move around and feed.
Despite having very small brains, shrimp actually show rather complex behaviors. According to MSN Encarta, the cleaner shrimp feed on dead scales and parasites from the skin of living fish. However, the interesting part is not what they eat, but how they do it. Cleaner shrimp are known to participate in a stylized dance that attracts other fish to come close enough so that the shrimp can feed on it, or "clean" the other fish. Sometimes these fish are over twice the size of the shrimp feeding on it.
There are several different types of shrimps, all of which live in different parts of the ocean, as well as in freshwater lakes and streams. Open-water shrimp are known to be constantly moving around to avoid the threat of predators, so there is no specific place in the ocean where they can be found. However, they typically feed close to the ocean's surface during the night, and spend their days hiding in the depths of the ocean.
The types of shrimp most often eaten by humans are called bottom-dwellers. Just as the name implies, these shrimp live on parts of the bottom ocean floor, known as seabeds. More interesting though is a type of shrimp found in Southeast Asia, called burrowing shrimp. This type of species creates habitats by digging holes into soft sediment. However, the muddy waters created by their digging behavior decrease the oxygen levels in the water, and in turn can have a negative effect on rice fields growing nearby.