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fish Freshwater Shrimps

Identify It >   Freshwater Wildlife Section >   Freshwater Shrimps >


Scientific name:  Gammarus

Size:  Up to 11mm long

Distribution:  Found throughout the UK

Months seen:  All year round

Life Span:  Approximately 9 - 12 months

Habitat:  Slow moving streams and rivers.  Sometimes in ponds and lakes

Food:  Algae and organic detritus

Special features:  Freshwater shrimps (sometimes known as 'scuds') are amphipods with a curved, flattened body.  They are greyish, green or an orange-brown colour.  There have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae.


Freshwater shrimps tend to prefer slow moving, well oxygenated water, where they can often be found in large numbers.

The shrimps are a popular food for birds, fish and some insect larvae so they tend to spend most of the day beneath stones and vegetation.  They move around by crawling, but they are also good swimmers.  Because of the shape of their body they tend to swim on their sides - hence their other common name of 'sideswimmers'.

In springtime, the males can be seen holding the smaller females as they move through the water.  The females carry their eggs inside their bodies in a brood pouch.  The eggs hatch in 21 days but the young remain in the pouch until the female moults.

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