Lysmata Amboinensis - Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

Family - Hippolytidae

Order - Decapoda

Length - 2 to 5 centimeters

Recognition - The cleaner shrimp has a reddish upper body with a white stripe down the middle. The lower body is entirely white and the eyes are black. The species also has very long antennae and a fan-shaped tail.

Habitat - Tropical saltwater bodies

Behavior - Omnivore

Residency - Warm parts of the ocean

Life Span - About 4 years in captivity

Of Special Note - The cleaner shrimp is a very interesting creature, since it exhibits a bizarre behavior that gives it its name. The cleaner shrimp will bravely approach large fish and even moray eels in order to clean their skin and gills of small parasites and food matter. Most fish seem to enjoy this service and will allow the shrimp to crawl all over them while they remain stationary. This species is a scavenger and makes a good addition to marine aquariums since it helps to eat parasites and keep the tank clean.

In the wild, these shrimp are common in coral reefs. Their cleaning services are so valued that essentially no fish will attack them and some fish will even actively protect them. It is a common sight to see one of these creatures crawling in the mouth or gills of a large fish, while other fish wait in line for their turn. This symbiotic relationship is one of many found in the ocean.

I have two of these in my 75 gallon tank and I absolutely love them. If you stick your hand in the tank, they will swim right up to it and start cleaning it of dead skin. Also, when you feed the tank, they will swim up to the surface and skate along it upside down, grabbing whatever food it can. My shrimps have cleaned all of my fish on occasion and it should hopefully prevent an outbreak of ich.

The cleaner shrimp is also very easy to breed since it is hermaphroditic. If you get two of these, you are essentially guaranteed a mated pair and they will mate continuously. After fertilization, the shrimp that was impregnated will cover its swimmerets with tiny green eggs that are visible through the exoskeleton. After a few weeks, it will distribute them into the water column, where they hatch, and your tank will be crawling with baby shrimp. Usually, they become food for the fish, but they can be raised in a separate tank.

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