BIOTIC Species Information for Crangon crangon
Researched byKen Neal Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameCrangon crangon Common nameBrown shrimp
MCS CodeS1385 Recent SynonymsCrangon vulgaris

PhylumCrustacea Subphylum
Superclass ClassEumalacostraca
SubclassEucarida OrderDecapoda
SuborderPleocyemata FamilyCrangonidae
GenusCrangon Speciescrangon

Additional InformationCrangon crangon can be confused with Crangon allmani, but Crangon allmani has a longitudinal ridge on the sixth abdominal segment. Crangon crangon has very high productivity and is an important food source for many birds, fish and crustaceans. It is commercially exploited for human consumption in northern Europe.
Taxonomy References Hayward & Ryland, 1990, Naylor, 2000, Howson & Picton, 1997,
General Biology
Growth formArticulate
Feeding methodOmnivore
Environmental positionEpibenthic
Typical food typesA wide variety of animal and plant material. HabitFree living
Bioturbator FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
HeightInsufficient information Growth Rate14 mm/month
Adult dispersal potential100-1000m DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional Information

Crangon crangon is the most commonly encountered shrimp of sandy bays and estuaries, reaching densities of 60 per m² during summer peaks (Beukema, 1992). Crangon crangon buries itself in sand to avoid predators and to ambush prey. It prefers sediment of 125-710 µm grain size (Pinn & Ansell, 1993). Burial takes 9-10 seconds and is achieved by rapid beating of the abdominal limbs (pleopods) followed by violent shuffling and completed by the antennae sweeping sand over the back to leave only the eyes and antennae above the sediment surface (Pinn & Ansell, 1993). Onset of foraging activity of Crangon crangon is light controlled, and occurs at night (Addison et al., 2003) except in very turbid areas such as the Bristol Channel (Lloyd & Yonge, 1947).

Population dynamics
The maximum age of Crangon crangon was reported as 3.3 years with the large majority (70-90%) of the population in the 1st year class, 10-20% in the 2nd year class and the rest in their 3rd year (Oh et al., 1999). Relative abundance of males changes with season and can vary between 6-82% in the Solway Firth (Abbott & Perkins, 1977). Juvenile Crangon crangon recruit to the benthos in May -July to exploit the annual calanoid copepod bloom that is the main food of the early benthic stages (Boddeke et al., 1986). Small post-settlement Crangon crangon migrate to inshore nursery areas for better foraging and predation protection, remaining in these areas for 2-3 weeks before heading back offshore (Cattrijsse et al., 1997). Adults migrate offshore November to March to avoid low salinity water (Boddeke, 1989; Henderson & Holmes, 1987).

Crangon crangon moults frequently: every 13-30 days at 12°C (Lloyd & Yonge, 1947), every 8-9 days at 16-18°C (Price & Uglow, 1979), and increases in size by 1-3 mm with each moult (Lloyd & Yonge, 1947). Various authors have reported growth rates. For example, Boddeke et al. (1986) reported growth from a ripe egg to 54 mm adult length in 4 months but then growth slows, possibly due to the onset of maturity and the diversion of energy to gamete production, and growth from 54-68 mm takes a further 2 months. Juvenile Crangon crangon using tidal flats in the Wadden Sea as a nursery area have very rapid growth, reaching 25 mm in their first month (Beukema, 1992).

Crangon crangon will consume just about any animal material including polychaetes, fish, molluscs and small arthropods (Dolmer et al., 2001; Henderson & Holmes, 1987; Kamermans & Huitema, 1994; Oh et al., 1999) but will also consume algae especially Ulva lactuca and Ulva intestinalis (Oh et al., 2001). In the Irish Sea, the mysid shrimp Schistomysis spiritus and amphipods (Gammarus sp.) made up 26-63% and 11-42% of gut contents respectively (Oh et al., 2001).

Crangon crangon is consumed by seabirds especially gulls (Larus sp.), terns (Sterna sp.) (Walter & Becker, 1997), and redshank Tringa tortanus (Holthuijzen, 1979) and Tringa erythropus (Goss-Custard et al., 1977). Crangon crangon is an important food source for gadoids and pleuronectids, pogge Agonus cataphractus, gurnards, sea snails Liparis liparis (ICES, 1996), gobies Pomatoschistus microps and juvenile bass Dicentrarchus labrax (Cattrijsse et al., 1997).

Biology References Oh et al., 1999, Beukema, 1992, Pinn & Ansell, 1993, Addison et al., 2003, Lloyd & Yonge, 1947, Perkins & Abbott, 1977, Boddeke et al., 1986, Cattrijsse et al., 1997, Boddeke, 1989, Hnederson & Holmes, 1987, Price & Uglow, 1979, Dolmer et al., 2001, Abbott & Perkins, 1977, Kamermans & Huitema, 1994, Oh et al., 2001, ICES, 1996, Walter & Becker, 1997, Goss-Custard et al., 1977, Holthuijzen, 1979, Al-Adhub & Naylor, 1975, Boddeke, 1975,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandFound on sandy and muddy bottoms around all British and Irish coasts.
Global distributionFound from the Finnish coast South into the Baltic and into the Mediterranean.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeIntertidal to 150 metres
Distribution Additional InformationSix distinct populations of Crangon crangon have been identified around the English and Welsh coasts.
  • Northern North Sea from Spurn Head northwards.
  • Southern North Sea from Spurn Head to Dungeness including the Dutch and Belgian coasts.
  • English Channel from Dungeness West to Start Point and the north coast of France.
  • South West Britain, the Atlantic coast of Devon, Cornwall and Wales to the northern areas of Cardigan Bay.
  • A Bristol Channel population that has its eastern limit between Nash Point and Porlock Bay.
  • Irish Sea north from northern areas of Cardigan Bay.
All populations are kept distinct by fronts of water masses preventing larval mixing (Henderson et al., 1990).

Substratum preferencesFine clean sand
Muddy sand
Sandy mud
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Ria / Voe
Isolated saline water (Lagoon)
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneMid Eulittoral
Lower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Circalittoral Offshore
Wave exposureVery Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Ultra Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowModerately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Low (<18 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Reduced (18-30 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Henderson et al., 1990, Pinn & Ansell, 1993, Al-Adhub & Naylor, 1975, Boddeke, 1975,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typePermanent hermaphrodite
See additional information
Developmental mechanismPlanktotrophic
Reproductive SeasonSee additional information Reproductive LocationAs adult
Reproductive frequencyBiannual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span3-5 years Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time<1 year Fecundity2800-4500. See additional information
Egg/propagule size370-430 µm diameter Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage1-6 months   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information

There is some disagreement in the literature concerning the reproductive type of Crangon crangon. Boddeke (1989) proposed that Crangon crangon was a protandrous hermaphrodite with mature males 30-55 mm long and females >44 mm long. Males mate once and then change into to females, taking 2 months to do so. Other authors, e.g. Lloyd & Yonge (1947), stated that Crangon crangon was gonochoric but males were smaller and had a shorter lifespan than females. It was reported from the Solway Firth that the abundance of males varied between 6 and 82% of the adult population over the course of a year (Abbott & Perkins, 1977). This could be due to differential mortality of males and females or due to males changing sex.

Similar to lobsters and crabs, female Crangon crangon carry their eggs glued to the abdominal appendages (the pleopods) for a period of 4-13 weeks, depending on temperature (Boddeke, 1989). Egg-bearing (berried) females can be found for 46 weeks of the year but there are two peaks in numbers of berried females in the southern North Sea (Boddeke, 1989) and one in the Irish Sea (Oh et al., 1999).

Peak reproductive periods occur between April and September, when females carry up to 4,500 small 'summer' eggs approximately 370 µm across. The number of berried females decreases sharply in September but then increases again in October/November as females produce up to 2,800 larger 'winter' eggs approximately 430 µm across (Boddeke, 1982; 1989).

Onset of maturity may be temperature dependent. Maturity was reported to occur in the second year of life in the Solway Firth (Abbott & Perkins, 1977). Maturity probably occurs in the first year of life in southerly areas (Gelin et al., 2000; ICES, 2001) considering that mature males are >30 mm in length and mature females >44 mm in length (Boddeke, 1989) and that growth can be from ripe egg to 54 mm body length in the first 4 months (Boddeke et al., 1986), and up to 25 mm in the first month (Beukema, 1992).

Male Crangon crangon do not have copulatory organs. Instead, packets of sperm (spermatophores) are deposited adjacent to the genital openings of the female (Lloyd & Yonge, 1947). Copulation and spawning occur within 48 hours of mating (Abbott & Perkins, 1977), and egg extrusion takes between 4 and 8 minutes. The eggs are attached to the pleopods after copulation with secretions from a cement gland, which takes a further 30 minutes (Lloyd & Yonge, 1947).

The larvae that hatch from summer eggs are 2.14 mm long, while those from winter eggs are larger at 2.44 mm in length (Boddeke, 1982), presumably to improve survivorship at a time of year when planktonic productivity is low.

Reproduction References Boddeke, 1982, Beukema, 1992, Lloyd & Yonge, 1947, Perkins & Abbott, 1977, Boddeke et al., 1986, Boddeke, 1989, Abbott & Perkins, 1977, Gelin et al., 2000, ICES, 2001, Rees, 1954,
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