The Blood Shrimp

This shrimp is in the same family as other cleaner shrimps such as Lysmata amboinensis and Lysmata grabhami. It has more than the one common name blood shrimp; others are fire shrimp and scarlet cleaner shrimp. The proper name is Lysmata debelius.

This small shrimp will probably grow no larger than around 1¼” (circa 3cm). As the common names suggest, its body is a lovely red to scarlet. There are a few white dots on the body and the antennae are red at the base but white over the remaining length. The legs are similar. It is a real beauty. Here’s a picture:

As can be seen, if this little shrimp is seen in a retail shop the temptation to purchase could be high. However, as with other shrimps, there are one or two cautions or requirements.

The home aquarium should be a captive reef with high quality seawater. The shrimp is reef safe. They are suitable for a small aquarium and, small or large obviously there shouldn’t be any livestock present that could be a threat to the shrimp. They are quite social so can be kept as a pair or more. In a high quality habitat they are quite hardy.

It is important to introduce the shrimp to its new home carefully. A good way of doing this is to use a length of air line and an air line clamp. Empty half of the transport seawater out of the container then allow aquarium seawater to drip slowly in. The drip rate is short of a slow continuous trickle. When the seawater has reached its previous level some aquarists remove half again and repeat the process. When the shrimp is placed in the display aquarium it should not be exposed to air.

It is likely the shrimp will disappear for a good while, perhaps some days. Once more settled it should appear and become bolder. It will most likely not be as bold as other cleaner shrimps, and may or may not rise for food. The shrimp does not require bright lighting but should become accustomed to it as time passes.

Feeding is straightforward as the shrimp will take directly offered de-frozen foods such as small pieces of lance fish, mussel and similar. They may chase other free floating foods such as brine and mysis shrimp, and will even try to catch flake. If the shrimp remains a little timid and does not rise for the food only appearing lower down, then target feeding is easily accomplished.

As with other shrimps the blood shrimp will molt. This is when the shrimp discards its exoskeleton for a new one to permit growth. The new exoskeleton takes a while to harden and the shrimp normally hides during this period as it is at its most vulnerable. The aquarist shouldn’t be immediately alarmed if a replica of the shrimp is seen – it may be thought the shrimp is dead but it could be the discarded exoskeleton.

The blood shrimp is a super addition to a reef aquarium adding variety, interest and colour.