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Mud shrimp


up to 4.5 centimeters long


transparent with beige-brown tints


2 to 3 years


unkown; presumable bacteria and plankton



  • Ned: moddergarnaal
  • Lat: Callianassa subterranea (C. stebbingi)
  • Eng: Mud shrimp, (burrowing ghost shrimp)
  • Ger: Sandkrebs, Maulwurfenkrebs
Callianassa, NIOZ,

Mud shrimp

Mud shrimp live on clayish sea floors. They are found a lot on the Oystergrounds in the North Sea. The right claw is substantially larger than the left. 'Castle prawn' is perhaps a good name for this animal because it digs complicated systems of passages and rooms, down to 81 centimeters deep in the sea floor. Because mud shrimp live so deeply buried in the ground, there is little known about this animal. Oyster fishermen are not happy if this shrimp is found on oyster banks. Their digging makes the banks unstable.

  • Influence on the bottom and its inhabitants

    Mud shrimp can be compared to a small bulldozer. When in large numbers the bottom starts to resemble Swiss cheese. Sand and mud particles are loosened from the bottom and are easily carried away with the currents. Animal species living in the vicinity of this shrimp are not always very happy with this neighbor. The water becomes turbid, hindering visibility. Marine animals attached to the bottom can become uprooted. The pores and mouth pieces of other animals clog up with sand, interfering with eating and breathing. Despite its small size, mud shrimp have a significant impact on their environment.

  • Unknown menu

    Mud shrimp have a number of sieves by its mouth to filter sand. They eat the finest sand and mud particles in their tunnel passages. It is unknown what exactly they extract out of the particles. Perhaps bacteria, but maybe plankton or small animals. Mud shrimp can survive very low levels of oxygen. Every once in a while, the animal sucks up large amounts of fresh seawater, pumping it through its network of tunnels.

  • Unwelcome hitchhiker

    Mud shrimp are sometimes infested with parasites. One of these parasites is the Parthenopea subterranea, which is similar to the Sacculina carcini. Mud shrimp carrying this parasite have a notable pea-shaped growth hanging under its body.

  • Distribution and habitat

    Mud shrimp are found on muddy sand bottoms in the North Sea. Nowadays, densities of up to 500 mud shrimp per square meter are found. They aren't found close to the shore.