Mantis Shrimp, Banded Coral Shrimp, and Other Shrimp
Mantis shrimp (
Much like the terrestrial insect for which they are named, mantis shrimp lie in wait for prey to approach, then grasp the hapless victim with a lightning quick thrust of its hooked forelimbs. Nearly any small animal is fair game, and, indeed, they're happy to consume smaller members of their own kind. In fact, even males and females are difficult to keep together, so these interesting beasts are best kept singly.
Large mantis shrimp are capable of opening a nasty cut with their powerful forelegs and thus should be handled only with a net. Be careful when servicing their aquarium, because they are attracted to movement and may strike out at your fingers in anticipation of a meal.
Despite their rather ferocious nature, mantis shrimp require a secure hiding spot if they are to thrive. Some species evacuate their own burrows, while others prefer to shelter within small caves or under abandoned shells. Although they prefer living prey such as shrimp, small fish, and worms, many individuals can be induced to strike at small bits of clam or fish dangled on a straw in front of them.
Banded coral shrimp (
Interestingly, these unique creatures seemed to form long-term pair bonds, and males have been observed sharing food with pregnant females. Developing eggs are glued to the female's swimmerets, below her abdomen. There they are aerated by constant movement and, perhaps, derive some protection from the mother. Once the young hatch, her maternal instincts vanish, and any offspring that choose to remain close by are quickly consumed. For this reason, tanks containing mated pairs should be provided with a good deal of cover in the form of coral and live or artificial plants, so that the young may escape the attention of their formally attentive parents.
The world's seas and shorelines contain a nearly limitless variety of shrimp that are suitable to keep in home aquariums. Only a very small percentage of these have been maintained in captivity, so the field is wide open for those with the interest and experience to experiment. Particularly hardy are various species of grass shrimp (genus Palaemonetes) and sand shrimp (genus Crago). Mostly very small in size, these fascinating creatures are constantly in motion, darting about the aquarium and foraging through the substrate for anything they might consume. They live quite well in large groups, and you will be fascinated by their interactions. Many breed quite readily. They are, however, delicate and will not survive with aggressive tank mates. While there are, of course, specialists in the shrimp world, most species are useful scavengers and will quite happily feed up flake and pelleted foods, as well as whatever bits of meat escape the attentions of their tank mates.