The Banded Coral Shrimp

There are a few shrimps that find favour with reef aquarists. Two favourites are the cleaner shrimps Lysmata amboinensis and Lysmata grabhami. Another is the banded coral shrimp, often called the banded boxing shrimp, properly called Stenopus hispidus.

Have a look:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Stenopus_hispidus_1.jpg

Where the common name comes from is partly obvious as the bands on the shrimp are quite clear. The ‘boxing’ bit comers from the way the pincers are held.

This shrimp gives the reef aquarist the opportunity to keep something ‘different’ and interesting. Of course, there must not be any livestock resident that could pose a threat to the shrimp. The shrimp is reef safe. It is very common in retail outlets.

The shrimp requires security and will often take up residence in a small cave, which is why the reef aquarium is a good habitat. It is used to fairly dim light but usually adapts quite quickly to the normal brightness of the captive reef.

Feeding is straightforward as the shrimp will take pieces of small de-frozen lance fish, mussel and the like directly offered to it. Once acclimatized the shrimp will normally rise to take the food from the aquarist’s fingers, though usually they are not quite as confident as cleaner shrimps which often walk on the aquarist’s submerged hand.

When the shrimp arrives at its new home it must be acclimatized properly. This is not because the shrimp is particularly delicate as it isn’t being fairly hardy in a good environment. Shrimps are sensitive to sudden changes in seawater quality so it is best to adjust to the home aquarium seawater slowly, and one good method is to use an air line and air line clamp. Empty half the seawater from the travel container and allow the aquarium seawater to drip in, the drip speed being short of a slow continuous trickle. Allow the seawater in the container to reach the previous level. Some aquarists carry out this procedure twice. When transferring the shrimp to the aquarium do not allow it to be exposed to air.

Unlike cleaner shrimps, boxing shrimps should be kept singly. If they are not, it is likely that the aquarist will end up with only one anyway. This is because males will fight. If it is definitely known that a couple are a pair then fine, but this would be unusual. Additionally, it is reported that if the boxing shrimp is kept with other shrimp types it is possible they will be aggressive and kill them. I don’t dispute this but did in one earlier aquarium keep two cleaner shrimps and one boxing shrimp in a 4 ft aquarium and never had a problem. Perhaps I was fortunate. The cleaner shrimps were noted to always give way and get out of the way of the boxing shrimp.

Another danger to the boxing shrimp is anemones. It would seem that the shrimp could be kept successfully in small aquariums and so they can. However, if an anemone is present the shrimp will sooner or later be caught as they have long antennae and need to maneuver.

As with other shrimps they need to molt. This is because there is a requirement to grow and the hard exoskeleton will not permit this. Therefore the shrimp discards the old exoskeleton and creates a new one. It is at this time that shrimps are most vulnerable as it takes a little time for the new exoskeleton to harden. It is likely the shrimp will go into hiding for this period. When the old exoskeleton has been successfully removed there remains a perfect replica of the shrimp. It is quite easy to jump to the conclusion that the shrimp has died.

If regard is given to the few restrictions mentioned the boxing shrimp will provide interest and entertainment for a long period.


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  1. Our coral banded definitely preferred coming out when the lights were out. That’s when he was the “star,” if you will, of our reef tank. During the day, except for the AM feeding, he would mostly stay behind the rock work, occasionally making his presence known by scuttling around into view.

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