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Why You Need Cleaner Shrimps in Marine Aquariums

Adding cleaner shrimps not only enhances the beauty and aesthetic value of your marine aquariums but also these little creatures will act as an effective cleanup crew. It is often fascinating to watch them go about with their daily activities as they chew and tear apart the unwanted build-up of algae at the coral reef surfaces and sometimes certain species can also play the role to attract the aquarium fish to get closer to them so that dead skins and parasites are removed by these shrimps from the fishes’ body. Taking into consideration on how useful they can be, it doesn’t come as a surprise that if you ask any aquarist, they will sure tell you that these small crustaceans are perhaps the best addition one can choose to have in any saltwater tank.

There are a wide variety of the shrimp species found in the ocean but for the “cleanup crew”, all collectively known as Cleaner Shrimps, basically they can be narrowed down into to 3 different families. These are the Palaemonidae, Hippolytidae and Stenopodidea and within the group, there are a few notable choices that I would recommend you check it out and learn as much as possible about them. I would say these friendly creatures are the best that a hobbyist can get for their community aquarium. Let’s start with some of the most commonly heard names.

Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

banded coral shrimpThis particular species is known to fight until they injure or kill themselves when encountering each other in the tank and that is why they are often bought in mated/bonded pairs. Males especially can be quite aggressive and during the time when they are young, the shrimp will not pose much threat to the other aquarium inhabitants but as they mature and grow older; there is a high possibility that they might even attack the smaller sized fish with their elongated pair of claws. Otherwise, banded coral shrimps would be a fine addition to your reef tank as they can quickly adjust and adapt to the surrounding without giving much problem. When scouting for the perfect shrimp in pet shops, I would suggest you pay close attention and get those that are the most active. Forget about avoiding one with a lost leg or claw because these will eventually grow back during the next molting period. Also you might want to take note that losing part of the limb is not a major issue to these shrimps, as they purposely give them away so that this will distract the attention of the predators and thus, it acts as one of the protective mechanism to ensure survival.

Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)

peppermint shrimpIf your preferences are towards having a more community feel in the tank, then I would suggest getting the peppermint as they are more sociable and would live in large groups without showing signs of aggression. They are less colourful with their partially translucent see-through body but one of their strong points is that they act as natural predator to the Aiptasia anemones which can be accidentally introduced to the tank if the live rocks are not properly cured. Thus having these shrimps around will ensure that these unwanted pests are removed once and for all. Peppermint shrimps are known to readily breed in marine aquariums but however, in order to ensure that the young ones survive until they reach maturity age, it is best that the other community fish are isolated to another tank. Either way, you can also ensure that the tank is as large as possible with ample hiding spots so that the larvae will stand a better chance of not getting eaten. Peppermint shrimps are curious onlookers and playful pets because once they get themselves acclimatize to the surrounding environment, you will often find them trying to tickle your skin every time you put your hands into the tank when doing water changes or performing aquascaping. If well looked after with plenty of foods and clean living condition, a peppermint shrimp can survive long enough to produce multiple offspring while based on my own experience raising them in a smaller 29 gallon biocube aquarium, they managed to live more than a year.

Common/Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

skunk cleaner shrimpThis is one of the most beautiful shrimps due to its dark red coloration mixed with some white stripes. Just like the peppermint shrimp, they can easily spawn to produce young larvae in the tank and survive under harsh condition as long as it is not in the extreme. They are one of the favorites among hobbyist because these little fellas like to move in groups and then set up cleaning stations whereby fish which are infested with parasites will often stop by and let the shrimps do the work of removing the pests from their body or even mouths. However, care has to be taken especially if you have soft corals in the tank, whereby potentially these shrimps will feed on it. Another variant within the Lysmata genus is the Fire Blood Red Shrimp which is an all red type with some white spots on the carapace.

Finally, certain things you need to take note though. No matter how big the tank can be or how well you setup the reef system to provide sufficient hiding space, your shrimps can still be vulnerable to any fish added to the tank. Lionfishes, basses and starfishes in particular will often make a good meal out of your pet shrimp, thus choose your tank mates wisely and finding out more details about each individual species before you take drastic action of putting them together.



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About Me

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My fascination and interest towards aquarium fish has led me to devote my time towards caring and learning about this wonderful pet.

Aquarium fish keeping is a very challenging and exciting hobby. When I first started, I never knew much or have the necessary guidance back then because none of my family members were actually a keen hobbyist. And because of that, I’ve encountered numerous failures and the worst part is having to deal with dead fish every time when you started to grow fond and getting attached to my pets. However, I persevered and took steps to find out and search for information from other hobbyist, apart from the knowledge gained and learned from my own experience and research. The blog that I’ve created here is meant to share useful information and tips about aquarium fish keeping so that new hobbyist will not make the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past."

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