I was in a pizza place in Bad Herrenalb (in Baden-Württemberg) the other day, and I ordered a pizza that included "Krabben". I like crab, so I ordered it, only to find that it came covered with shrimp.

My dictionary says that Krabbe means crab, and that Krabben is the plural. So how did I end up with a pizza full of shrimp instead?

  • 26
    At the rim of nowhere from the sea you should probably not expect too much of expertise in seafood - at least not on a pizza ;)
    – Takkat
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 12:56
  • 4
    Could you put a picture of the thing you want to eat in the question? I have an inkling that that what you want is normally not available on pizza. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:04
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    @Kyralessa Is "sea bugs" an official term for shrimps somewhere? I can not find it on my dictionaries.
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:19
  • 2
    No, it's not an official term yet, but I'm trying to make it happen.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:20
  • 6
    @Kyralessa So you are complaining about ambiguous terms and don't use well-defined terms yourself? Tststs :D
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


Ok, the short guide to crustaceans seafood in Germany.

Unfortunately the usage of Krabben (crab/shrimp), Krebs (crab), Garnelen (shrimp) and so in German reduce biologists to tears. It is ambigous and often wrong from the view of biology.

Also the english equivalents of crab, crayfish, shrimps or lobster are not exactly 1:1 translateable because of different meanings. In German, e.g. Krebs is both used for zodiac sign, the illness and a specific kind of crustaceans.

Nordsee-Garnele (even officially Nordsee-Krabbe), Porren, Granat, Krevetten (Crangon crangon).

This is what you get normally if you order "Krabben" or "Garnelen" on a pizza. It is widely used for literally everything as you can see in the German wikipedia page.). enter image description here Lou Stejskal, CC BY-SA 2.0 2016-08-17

enter image description here Public Domain, 2018-03-18

Gambas, Riesengarnele (mostly Litopenaeus vannamei)

Germans use the Spanish word "Gambas" normally to describe big shrimps aka king prawns. It is very unspecified, only length counts, they should be at least 6cm long.


  • White-Tiger Garnele (Litopenaeus vannamei), in English whiteleg shrimp or king prawn. enter image description here Xufanc, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2011-11-30

  • Eismeer-Garnele, Grönlandkrabbe (Pandalus borealis), in English northern prawn. enter image description here Alaska Fischeries, Public Domain, 2011-09-14

  • Argentinische Rotgarnele (Pleoticus muelleri, auch Langostinos Patagonicos), in English argentine red shrimp. enter image description here Assianir, CC BY-SA 4.0, 2015-06-02

Black-Tiger Garnele, Black-Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon)

An alternative to the Nordsee-Garnele it is marketed as Black-Tiger Garnele/Shrimp (yes, the English is unchanged in Germany), it is also offered on pizza. In English giant tiger prawn or Asian-tiger shrimp. enter image description here GFDL, 2008-11-10

Scampi, Kaisergranat, Hummerkrabbe (Nephrops norvegicus)

They are both known as "Scampi" or "Kaisergranat" (rare) in Germany.
Allegedly extremely delicious, they are shrimps which are found in luxury restaurants. There have been several incidences where restaurants in Hamburg have served cheaper shrimps despite being explicitly ordered Scampi. In English they are known as Scampi or Norway Lobster enter image description here Public domain, 2010-06-07

Taschenkrebs, Knieper (Cancer pagurus)

Despite being called a Krebs, it is actually a crab. This is the typical real crab fished in the North Sea, almost exclusively used for this purpose; the people on Heligoland call them "Knieper" (Pincher). It's very delicious and in Heligoland it is in fact used for pizza, the so-called "Knieper pizza" In English it is the brown crab. enter image description here Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, 2006-03-06

Krebs, Flusskrebs (river crayfish), Edelkrebs (Astacus astacus)

This is what Germans know as archetypical Krebs (crab). It you want Krebs, this is normally what you get (Because this crab is getting rare, another Astacus species, the Galizischer Sumpfkrebs (Astacus leptodactylus) from Eastern Europe is quite often used).

enter image description here Dragon187, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2011-07-01

Hummer, Europäischer Hummer (Homarus gammarus)

Like the Krebs, this is the archetype of a German Hummer (lobster). They are caught near Heligoland, but served everywhere in Germany. In English common lobster

enter image description here Bart Braun, Public Domain, 2017-10-22

Königskrabbe (king's crab), Kamtschatkakrabbe, Monsterkrabbe(Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Sure it is possible in German to get it wrong the other way round: The Königskrabbe is in reality a Krebs. While not native in vicinity of Germany (it is bred in the Barents Sea in northern Scandinavia), it is still widely used in restaurants here. In English it is the red king crab. enter image description here National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain

Languste, Europäische/Gewöhnliche Languste (Palinurus elephas)

The archetypical Languste for Germans, it is mostly caught in the Mediterranean Sea. In English spiny lobster or red lobster. enter image description here Georges Jansoone, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2009-05-09

  • 1
    Interesting! It surprises me, since very little of this confusion exists in Dutch. Shrimps are garnalen, crabs are krab. No one would ever use one to mean the other.
    – Confusion
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 8:55
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    @Confusion I disagree. The Dutch word for the Cancer zodiac sign is, wait for it, kreeft, 'lobster'.
    – Bakabaka
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 8:58
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    Not sure I'm representative for people from, say, southern Niedersachsen, but if you asked me to draw a »Krebs«, I'd definitely draw the Taschenkrebs/Knieper. And »Krabben« are the small North Sea shrimp that the OP complained about. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 13:33

Krabbe can mean


according to my dictionary, so all is well.

To a German, Krabben is equivalent to Nordsee-Krabben, which means shrimp. I have never seen any pizza come with crab (= Krebs) on it, actually.

Usually, what might be on it are either shrimp (Nordsee-Krabben, which you called sea bugs) or prawns - the latter, however, would be called Garnelen then.

As to your question why - the only valid answer is "because that's how it is".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Takkat
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 20:02
  • "Krebs" und "Krabbe" scheinen von "krabbeln" zu stammen. Es ist denkbar, dass die Namen schon immer regional unterschiedlich verwendet wurden und die offizielle Enigung, was Krebse und was Krabben seien erst später getroffen wurde
    – npst
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:24
  • Krabben are Krebse, see Strandkrabbe. Krabbe as to refer to "Nordseegarnelen" is only used in cuisine language.
    – adjan
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 12:44

Biologically, Krebs means any crustacean (crabs, shirmp, prawns, lobsters etc.).

In common language usage, a Krebs is a crab. Krabbe is another word used for crabs as well.

Now, in cuisine, Krabbe also refers to shrimp, which are actually named Garnelen

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