Family Hippolytidae

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Shrimp of the genus Savon are occasionally offered for sale to aquarists. When kept in fish only aquariums, they make very

Saron marmoratus (female). A.J. Nilsen.

Hippolytidae Shrimp

interesting additions. They are also easy to sex and should prove to be a good breeding challenge. However, they can wreak havoc in a reef aquarium with corals and clams.

The Marble shrimp, Saron marmoratus, so named due to their green mottled appearance (although they can alter their colour to blend in with the background), is a large shrimp, reaching over 9 cm (3.6 in.) in length. They usually occur singly or in pairs. The males are easily identified due to their extremely large foreclaws. The females have short, hairy foreclaws held lower beneath the body (Achterkamp, 1985a).

Marble shrimp are shy and only venture about the aquarium at night. It is during these forays that the shrimp can attack tridacnid clams, corals, mushroom anemones and small polyped corals such as zoanthids (Achterkamp, 1985a; Wilkens, 1990). We do not recommend that you keep these shrimp in a reef tank but if you wish to do so you should keep a close eye on the health of your corals and clams.

The Buffalo shrimp, S. inermis, is a smaller version of S. marmoratus, reaching a maximum length of 5 cm (2 in. ) (Achterkamp, 1989). The males of this species also have elongated foreclaws, but the difference between males and females is not as pronounced as in S. marmoratus. This species is also shy and will spend most of it's time hidden. At night, however, they will venture out to feed. These shrimp will eat most small polyped corals, especially zoanthids and parazoanthids such as Parazoanthus gracilis (Achterkamp, 1989). Also included in this family is the common cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis. Although not a coral eater, when hungry they will not hesitate to wade into a coral and remove food from it or even tear open the body cavity to remove food (Wilkens, 1990; J.C. Delbeek, pers. obs.) The related Lysmata wurdemanni from the Caribbean, also commonly called a Peppermint Shrimp, does not feed on corals but will steal food from them. It is a cleaner shrimp that will pick parasites from fishes, and it is most useful for the generation of plankton within the aquarium. Large numbers of these shrimp can be housed in the same aquarium, and they readily spawn, producing a continuous supply of planktonic larvae. Do not confuse this beneficial shrimp with Rhyncbocinetes spp.

Family: Rhynchocinetidae

Common Names: Dancing or Peppermint shrimp

The commonly sold, Rhyncbocinetes uritai, is another potential coral eater. These small, 4 cm, shrimp are usually found in harems of one male with 4 to 6 females. The males are easily recognized by their enlarged foreclaws. This species can produce a nearly constant supply of planktonic larvae that can serve as a food supply for other aquarium inhabitants. In Holland, this species has been raised to adulthood using rotifers, protozoans and baby brine shrimp (Achterkamp, 1985b). In an aquarium with large active fish these shrimp will remain hidden during the day. At night they move out across the reef to feed.

Unfortunately, these shrimp will feed on most corals in the aquarium including stony corals, mushroom anemones and

HippolytidaeStony Coral Pictures

especially zoanthids (Achterkamp, 1985b; Wilkens, 1990). Although they can be utilized to eat juvenile Aiptasia anemones (see Tullock, 1991), they will not restrict their diets to just this one food item and will eventually attack other cnidarians. Note: though they have similar appearance and the same common name, do not confuse this species with Lysmata wurdemanni, a cleaning shrimp which does not feed on cnidarians.

Family: Stenopodidae

Common Name: Banded Coral Shrimp

Shrimp in this family include the Banded Coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus. These shrimp are commonly referred to as cleaner shrimp but they tend to clean mainly larger fish and it is not unheard of for them to catch and eat smaller fish. These shrimp can also destroy corals and anemones by ripping them open to remove ingested food. We have seen these shrimp kept in reef tanks but the aquarist should be made aware of the potential for trouble.

Rhynchocinetes uritai, the Dancing or Peppermint Shrimp, is a voracious predator of anthozoans. J.C. Delbeek.

The Banded Coral Shrimp, Stenopus hispidus. J.C. Delbeek.

Suborder: Reptantia

Section: Macrura Common Name: Lobsters t

Most small lobsters offered for sale belong to the genera Enoplometopus (Reef lobsters) and Panulirus (Spiny lobsters). These lobsters are omnivorous scavengers and can be quite destructive in the reef aquarium. We do not recommend them for an aquarium with corals and clams, as they will undoubtedly feed upon many of the tank inhabitants, including small fish and shrimp.


Most crabs are not to be trusted in the reef aquarium. When small they usually do not present much of a problem but as they grow they can become more and more destructive. There are so many varieties of crabs that it is difficult for the lay person to identify which ones may be dangerous, therefore the safest course would be to remove any crabs found. Crabs are divided into two main sections, Anomura and Brachyura. Anomura are between crabs and lobsters in appearance, having characteristics of both, and their abdomen is folded underneath the body. There are approximately 13 families. Brachyura are the so- called "true crabs" and compose over 45 families.

Section: Anomura

Hermit and Porcelain Crabs

Most hermit crabs are harmless when small, but as they grow they can become quite destructive. Some may attack living snails and some will pester corals. Certain species remain small and can be used to help control algae. Porcelain crabs are usually harmless and most such as the common Anemone crab, Neopetrolisthes maculatus, are filter feeders.

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