The Dancing Shrimp

There are a few shrimps which find favour with aquarists; some of them have been the subject of other texts on this website. This is another favourite, both for its colouring and character.

Before starting, a picture is needed:

This shrimp comes under a few common names which could lead to confusion: dancing shrimp, rosy dancing shrimp, camel back shrimp and common dancing shrimp being some of them. The proper name is Rhynchocinetes uritai.

They’re lovely to look at and one of the common names – ‘camel back shrimp’ – refers to the clear hump on the back. Another common name – ‘dancing shrimp’ – refers to the jerky way in which they move.

The shrimp is social and can be kept in a group. They do not usually have any trouble with other commonly kept shrimp except perhaps the boxing shrimps, Stenopus sp. Obviously the number kept depends on the size of the aquarium – two could be kept in a relatively small system.

The best habitat for the shrimp is a reef aquarium as this affords all the crevices and caves that are needed. There shouldn’t be any other livestock that could threaten the shrimp of course. Keeping the shrimp in a reef aquarium does have a potential drawback though, and that is the shrimp could ‘have a go’ at soft corals, including colonial anemones. Then again, many aquarists do not have this problem. Hard coral types are usually left alone.

There is another possible advantage to having these shrimps. Please note the word ‘possible’. This concerns that unloved nuisance of many aquarists aiptasia. These anemones are often introduced on the rock of a new coral, or with live rock. After a time during which the anemones spread, an ongoing battle usually takes place between the aquarist and the anemones. This battle usually ends with the aquarist being in control generally but having to periodically re-attack. An uneasy truce could describe it. There have been anecdotal reports on the internet that these shrimps attack aiptasia, mainly young ones. It has also been reported just as often (to my knowledge) that the shrimp ignore the anemones! I haven’t seen any reports following controlled experiments. Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t.

Generally the shrimps are more timid than other commonly kept types and avoid the bright light of a reef system, initially anyway. They should settle down and be seen more often, though they usually retain their preference for dimmer light. It is more unlikely that they will rise to take food so the aquarist may have to target feed the shrimp. This is not difficult, not least because they will take the usual fare such as de-frozen lance fish, mussel etc. They may well chase brine and mysis shrimp that have been released as food.

As with other shrimps they will shed their exoskeleton from time to time. This is to permit growth. A new exoskeleton will harden over a fairly short period and the old one looks like a shrimp albeit a dead one.

All shrimps need careful acclimatization to the new home aquarium and it is reported that this one is perhaps more sensitive. Therefore transfer to the new seawater should be completed with care. Empty out half of the seawater in the transport container. Then, using an air tube and air tube clamp, drip aquarium seawater into the container until it reaches the previous level. The drip rate is a little short of a slow continuous trickle. It is probably worthwhile carrying out this procedure twice. When the shrimp is introduced to the aquarium it must not be exposed to air. It is also worthwhile switching off the main lights for a day – this period will not harm any corals.

The dancing shrimp in the proper habitat is a delight. They will probably not be seen as often as other types. For those aquarists who battle the troublesome aiptasia wouldn’t it be great if all the anemones disappeared. No guarantee though.

  1. Will a dancing shrimp harm my bubblr tip anemone anyone

  2. Hello Diko.
    I recall seeing a shrimp (can’t remember the type) that had been caught by one leg by an anemone (again can’t remember the type but it was a fairly large one). The shrimp slowly extricated itself by squeezing the offending ‘tentacle’ with a pincer until the anemone let go. The shrimp kept the ‘tentacle’ stretched during this exercise.
    It’s rare that a shrimp would be caught by an anemone as, like fish, they seem to have an inbuilt instinct for danger. Obviously it’s better that the shrimp (and fish) have plenty of room to manouvre, so the aquarium should be big enough and the anemone not too big for the aquarium.
    It’s unlikely that the shrimp will harm the anemone. Sometimes shrimp are, for a while, interested in some soft corals and this could apply to an anemone. As above, some say (this seems unproven?) that they could be interested in young aiptasia. However, larger size anemones would seem a different matter – the instinct for self preservation would, as said, make this generally unlikely.

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