Can you eat mantis shrimp?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat mantis shrimp?”. We will further elaborate on the habitat of mantis shrimps, the nutritional composition, and some benefits of mantis shrimps.

Can you eat mantis shrimp?

Yes, you can eat mantis shrimp. Although handling mantis shrimp is tough, the meat is delicious enough. It is not easy to extract meat from the shell of mantis shrimp but its meat is very sweet and tender.

Mantis shrimp is considered a good source of nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), essential amino acids, and vitamins (1).

The taste of mantis shrimp

Concerning taste, mantis shrimps have much resemblance to lobsters as compared to typical shrimps. People who eat mantis shrimps claim that their meat is delicious.

The flavor of seafood comes mainly from amino acids, nucleotides, sugars and mineral salts. Amino acids in particular are thought to modulate the sensory qualities of shrimp, including sweetness, bitterness and umami taste (2).

The habitat of mantis shrimps

Different mantis shrimps reside in different types of burrows. These burrows are located in tropical and subtropical waters. Spearing shrimps prefer soft substrate while Smashing shrimp prioritizes hard substances. Mantis burrow casts revealed two openings, one larger than the other. The mean length (distance between the openings) was 4-5 times the total length of the occupant mantis shrimp (4).

Fisheries of Squilla mantis are found in the Mediterranean mostly in the vicinity of mouths. The life cycle of this species is well known: the spawning period is concentrated to spring and planktonic larvae are found in summer, with the settlement of post-larvae from the end of summer to mid-autumn (4). They are also available in Southern and Eastern Thailand (1).

The behavior of mantis shrimps

The majority of the species of mantis shrimps prefer to be alone and are highly territorial. Mantis shrimps protect their burrows from different animals and rival shrimps. To indicate a threat, mantis shrimps use fluorescent colors and they fight with one another. To protect a burrow, a pair fights together.

Mantis shrimps are opportunistic predators, aggressive and territorial. Short-term studies of mantis shrimps in captivity revealed that they were fed penaeid shrimp, fish, short-necked clam, krill and sardine, among others (3). They have night peaks of activity even refusing to ingest feed during the day (4).

The nutritional composition of mantis shrimps

Following are some of the nutrients that you can avail of by eating mantis shrimps.

  • Protein
  • Minerals
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Iron

Studies show that 100g mantis shrimp meat contain 13-14g protein, 0.6-1.5g fat, 5g carbohydrate, 600 mg Sodium, 60-130 mg Calcium, 70-120 mg Magnesium, 1.0 mg Zink, 1.0 mg Iron and 0.2-0.7 mg Cooper (5).

Interesting facts about mantis shrimps

Following are some interesting facts about mantis shrimps

Classification basis: Mantis shrimps are classified either as speakers or smashers depending on the kinds of claws they are composed of. Tactics through which they kill their prey is also a criterion to classify them.

The velocity of punching of smashers: Smashers have a punching velocity that can be compared with the velocity of a gunshot from a 22 cal rifle. To punch their prey, mantis shrimps use two raptorial appendages located on the front of the body.

Can crack holes in aquarium glass: To keep mantis shrimps, special and strong aquariums are required. Because they have the potential to punch aquarium glass. It has also been noticed mantis shrimp attack their own reflection in the glass to make their way out.

They are not actually shrimps: Basically, mantis shrimps are neither shrimps nor praying mantis. Rather mantis shrimps are 450 distinctive species that are members of the order Stomatopoda. They are characterized by having a carapace that does not cover the posterior thorax and a broad abdomen bearing gills on the appendages (6).

Their eyes can move independently: Both eyes of mantis shrimp have ‘trinocular’ vision. This trinocular vision means mantis shrimps can gauge depth and distance on their own. For these, they focus on objects with 3 different regions.

Different recipes in which mantis shrimps are used

Mantis prawns in spicy dark soy sauce: 

Corn flour is used to coat mantis prawns. Then mantis prawns are fried until they become golden brown. After heating sesame oil in a wok garlic, dried chillies and garlic is added. These are sautéed and Shaoxing is added according to requirement.  

After adding salt, white pepper and sugar, gravy is simmered. When the gravy starts to boil, water and cornflour mixture is added. As it thickens, the stove is turned off. Fried mantis prawns are added into ‘Kung pau’ gravy and are coated evenly.

Mantis shrimp with garlic and chili: 

After heating the oil in a wok, garlic is added and cooked for about two minutes so that its color turns golden. Heat must be kept medium. After its color turns to gold, it is removed by using a slotted spoon and a paper towel is used to drain it. 

After increasing the flame, shrimps are added and are cooked for two minutes. Chillies, shallots and ginger are added and cooked for about a minute. Along with black beans, salt, sugar and fried garlic shrimp is returned to the pan and tossed well. It is served after garnishing it with spring onion and coriander.

The benefits of mantis shrimps

Presence of antioxidants: 

Mantis shrimps are composed of numerous anti-oxidants. Oleic acids are considered important natural antioxidants. These antioxidants can protect our cells from getting damaged. For instance, it contains a beneficial antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ that gives protection from wrinkles and skin damage. The amount of oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid with hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects, in mantis shrimp is 4.95% of total fatty acids (6).

Selenium: 

Selenium present in mantis shrimps is very helpful to give protection from numerous types of cancers.

Packed with nutrients: 

A lot of nutrients are present in the meat of mantis shrimps. These nutrients help in different body functions and maintain a proper body system.

Disadvantages of mantis shrimps

High cholesterol: 

The high amount of cholesterol present in mantis shrimps is bad for heart health. However, a study indicated that mantis shrimps from Guinea did not show cholesterol in its composition, and that the total fat amount was low, 0.9% (6).

Allergy: 

Some people have been reported with allergies after eating mantis shrimps.

Saturated fat: 

An excess amount of saturated fat is present in mantis shrimps. However, a study showed that mantis shrimp of Guinea is an important source of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid with hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects (6).

Other FAQs about Shrimp  that you may be interested in.

Can you eat freezer burnt shrimp?

Can you eat freshwater shrimp?

How to know if shrimp is spoiled

Can you eat Raw Shrimp?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat mantis shrimp?”. We have further elaborated on the habitat of mantis shrimps, the nutritional composition, and some benefits of mantis shrimps.

References

  1. Temdee, W., Singh, A. & Benjakul, S. Rapid quality deterioration of harpiosquillid mantis shrimp (Harpiosquilla raphidea) during iced storage. J Food Sci Technol, 2022, 59, 1812–1822. 
  2. Hsieh, Hsueh-Han, et al. The effects of low pH on the taste and amino acid composition of tiger shrimp. Scientific rep, 2021, 11, 1-9.
  3. Lee, Li-Yen, et al. First description of mantis shrimp, Miyakella nepa (Latreille, 1828), feeding preference behaviour in captive conditions. Aquac Rep, 2022, 22, 100969.
  4. Sartor, Paolo, Pere Abelló, and Francesc Maynou. A review of the fisheries biology of the mantis shrimp, Squilla mantis (L., 1758)(Stomatopoda, Squillidae) in the Mediterranean. Crustaceana, 2004, 77, 1081-1099.  
  5. Wardiatno, Yusli, Joko Santoso, and Ali Mashar. Biochemical composition in two populations of the mantis shrimp, Harpiosquilla raphidea (Fabricius 1798)(Stomatopoda, Crustacea). Ilmu Kelautan, 2012, 17, 49-58.
  6. Lawal-Are, Aderonke Omolara, Rasheed Olatunji Moruf, and Oluwafolakemi Anthonia Afolayan. Proximate composition, mineral profile and cholesterol level in whole and fillet of the Guinean Mantis Shrimp, Squilla aculeata calmani (Holthuis, 1959)(Crustacea: Stomatopoda), 2018

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.