Why Is Shrimp So Expensive?

I have been ardently in the aquarium industry for some time. I have already raised guppies and bettas in my aquarium, and also, once I was terribly in love with shrimps. And that love again stuck with me during the pandemic, and I searched for an online shop to deliver me a quality breed of shrimp for my new aquarium.

And then something happens….

My eyes got stuck on a SS Grade Crystal Red Shrimp since I really loved its vibrant red appearance. But I almost had my heart in my mouth when I saw the price.

It was an insane $15 for each piece!!!!

I thought I was mistaken with the numbers. I checked a few websites, showing more or less a similar price range. What’s more, I got through a few articles that showed that even in restaurants, the shrimp price in Europe and America got a steady hike since the 2010s’.

So, why is shrimp so expensive?

I kept gliding through from one article to another and searched different newspapers to know the exact reasons for shrimps’ expensiveness in the USA and European markets. It covered shrimps both in terms of the aquarium and edible shrimps.

Also, I will discuss the ways you can make some fortune from shrimp breeding in the aquarium. Believe me, it works!

I raised the red cherry shrimp and made a handsome $500 cash within six months. It will help if you read how to grow shrimp for money in the articulated section of this write-up.

Table of Contents

A Real Scenery of Shrimp Prices in Restaurant:

According to an old report published in The Orange County Register, the residents paid a premium for regular shrimp. 

In early September 2012, they had to pay near about $3.70 per pound of shrimp.

But within a few weeks, the price hiked to an insane $6 per pound, with the live shrimps getting even pricier. In fact, they became so costly that they were kept for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, and so on.

For restaurant delicacy, the extra-large shrimps in frozen and peeled conditions were priced at $13-$16 across different parts of the USA.

The most awful of all the scenarios was the declaration by most wholesalers, supermarket owners, and aquarium shops where they hinted that the shrimp price might see a record hike during this winter and fall.

Month Price Hike (In %)
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017

So, you should be prepared to break your bank account soon if you want to devour the delicacy of shrimps.

Shrimp Price Scenario for Aquariums:

While you may think that the aquarium shrimps are less expensive and will give you relief, I am afraid that I have BAD NEWS for you.

Even the aquarium shrimp price isn’t showing any sign of lowering to give us a sigh of relief and peace. In fact, during the pandemic situations, the global aquarium shrimp price is expected to hit the record hike.

To be specific, different shrimps such as crystal red shrimp (CRS), red cherry shrimp (RCS), ghost shrimp, etc. are too highly-priced. In fact, a single piece of CRS or RCS with higher color variations may cause you well over $10 and, at times, may hit the record-breaking $20 mark.

So, you see that even the aquarium shrimp price isn’t low in any means.

But what factors are playing their roles behind such insane prices of restaurant and aquarium shrimps across Europe and the USA?

Let’s deep dig into the matter.

Why Is Shrimp So Expensive?

These days shrimps are an expensive delicacy. And several factors are responsible for the expensiveness of both aquarium and restaurant shrimps. Let’s have a look at these factors.

1. The Early Mortality Syndrome:

As the name suggests, early death syndrome in shrimps causes an immature death of the farm shrimps. Donald V. Lightener, working in the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology at the University of Arizona, worked with his team.

Their article Early Mortality Rate Affects Shrimp in Asia found that the disease is spreading fast among the shrimps of four shrimp breeding countries in Asia. It included China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Bangladesh.

As a result, the worldwide supply of a different variety of shrimps in the restaurant is tightening. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared that the early mortality syndrome could wipe out an entire shrimp farm within a few weeks.

Hence, the shortage of shrimp supply in the market causes such an insane price hike for the shrimps in the restaurants.

2. Cost of Shrimp Harvesting Process:

Another cause of the shrimps’ expensive is the high cost of harvesting the different breeds. The harvesting process includes both ocean water shrimps and farm shrimps.

For the ocean shrimps, anglers often have to go deep into the oceans and seas and net the shrimp. What’s more shocking and frightening that researches show shrimps and fishes are diving into deeper parts of the oceans where the traditional nets can reach anymore.

Since shrimps are going deeper into the sea level, the cost of reaching them with nets is increasing steadily. It is adding to the overall costs. Also, shrimp farms have to go through regular testing for shrimps’ health.

Furthermore, owners often suffer from viral and bacterial attacks that cause the premature death of the shrimps. So, shrimp farms often have to go through unforeseen yet unavoidable odds for the shrimp breeding.

All these factors count for the pricey shrimps.

3. The processing cost:

While meats for restaurants are readily available and costs a minimal amount, the scenario lies in the opposite direction for the shrimps. Likewise, all the shellfishes, shrimps go through extensive processing before shipment.

The shrimp processing needs a fillet factory, which is not a cheap option by any means. In the factory, workers will remove the heads, scales, and tails of the shrimp according to the guidance of different authorities.

Also, the shrimp needs proper cleaning before the shipment is ready for the markets.

4. The shipment cost:

It is related to both aquarium and restaurant shrimps. The shipment for shrimps goes through multi-layers of shipment. Firstly, they are harvested from the ocean or in the shrimp farms near coastal areas. From there, the shrimps are then transported to the fillet factory for processing and cleaning.

After that, the shipment will go to wholesalers, who will finally distribute the shrimp into different fish markets. Additionally, a majority of the shrimps come from Asia, which requires a massive amount for shipments.

Hence such extensive shipment cost is responsible for the expensiveness of the shrimp.

5. Aquarium shrimp breeding is challenging:

You may find the lower grades of aquarium shrimps widely in the pet and fish store. These are cheaply available, and so you may think that shrimp for aquarium breeding is inexpensive.

I am afraid you haven’t seen the prices of higher grades of different shrimp breeds. For instance, crystal red shrimp (CRS) has different classes with the SSS-grade sitting on the top. These are rare and may cause well over $10 for each piece.

Also, the red cherry shrimp (RCS) have a similar grading with the Bloody Mary red Cherry Shrimp topping the grading. They are too expensive.

The cause of expensiveness comes from the challenges to breed and improve the higher grades. In fact, only a handful of experts actually have a higher grade shrimp breeding experience. So, the rarity of the higher grades is responsible for the price of the aquarium shrimps.

6. The Impact of COVID-19 on Shrimp Market

The recent price hike of shrimps is directly linked with the global pandemic conditions due to the COVID-19 spreading quickly and fast.

A recent article on the effect of COVID-19 on the shrimp and salmon market provides a genuine scenario on the future pricing of the shrimps in the USA market. According to the article, during early February and March, the Chinese demand for shrimps consumption went down drastically.

It resulted in a slight price reduction in the USA market due to the disturbing supply chain. However, as lockdowns are being withdrawn in the European and American regions, slowly, the demand for shrimps is going up.

Also, some people are frightened about the second wave of the Corona attack. So, they are developing a tendency to stock frozen shrimps. What’s more shocking is that the experts anticipate a 20% to 50% reduction in shrimp production in South-East Asia.

So, in the coming days, the frozen shrimp stock in the USA will get consumed, and then, a shortage of fresh shrimp supply is bound to happen. Also, in the USA, the fishermen are not returning to the oceans for harvesting shrimp soon.

All these may cause another hike in the shrimp price in the nest winter and fall season.

How to Make Money From Shrimp Breeding in Aquarium?

You should already understand that breeding higher grades of shrimps in the aquarium can help you make some serious fortune. And this is particularly true for the CRS and RCS. I recently reared a few batches of red cherry shrimp and earned around $500 in less than six months.

I am putting up the strategies that I followed during the breeding process.

1. Buy a good quality of shrimp batch:

Many shrimp breeders often opt for a cheaper batch of shrimps for their aquarium. This is not useful if you plan to make money from shrimp breeding. I would suggest you avoid A, B, and C grades and opt for at least the S and S.S. class for crystal red shrimp.

When you buy the higher grades, the chances are high that you will get even a higher and improved batch of the next generation.

You should budget $5 to $10 for each shrimp when you get them from the fish store. It is crucial since you can improve the grades and successfully sell them for up to $15. Also, seeking for the lower classes in less than $5 won’t help you. It is because these lower grades are extremely tough to improve through breeding.

2. Take proper care:

Always maintain the tank temperature, pH level, and other kinds of pieces of stuff. Also, provide a better diet to the shrimps. If you can keep the shrimps’ tank with proper filtration, diet, and water parameters, you should be ready with an improved shrimp batch.

3. Sorting out the higher grades:

When everything is up-kept properly, you should see tiny and cute shrimplets swimming happily in the aquarium water. However, oversee them until they reach at least 1cm length.

At this point, check their color variations and intensity carefully. If you keep picking the higher grade shrimps and let them breed successfully, within a few months, you will get the highest grades. For example, an S-grade pregnant shrimp can breed a Hino-class Crystal Red Shrimp that you can quickly sell for $70-$250.

Also, A-grade shrimp will give birth to a few S or S.S. class shrimps that you can sell for $30 to $50 apiece. So, it is, indeed, a handsome money earing alternative.

The Final Words

There are several reasons why is shrimp so expensive. These are the rarity of higher grade aquarium shrimps, harvesting cost, extensive processing, and finally, the shipment cost. Also, shrimp price for both aquarium and restaurant is steadily going up since the last one decade.

And with the pandemic situation showing no sign of respite anytime soon, the chances are high that shrimp will become even more expensive due to discrepancy in the supply chain and reduction in the shrimp production in South-East Asia.

Last but not least, you can breed for higher grades shrimp to make some money- some handsome money!


  • Russel

    Hi, my name is Russel and I am the founder of Okfisher.com. I am an ardent fish lover, professional angler and writer, and I hope to share my passion with you.

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