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Mantis Shrimp

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Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp

Jim Hazen
While investigating the mantis shrimp, we found mixed emotions about these marine animals. Some aquarists feel that they make an interesting, intriguing, and enjoyable pet to have in an aquarium, while others feel they are the total scourge of any aquarium. Lets take a look at their characteristics and nature to learn more about them, then you can decide for yourself if you want to keep one or not.

What are Mantis Shrimp?

  • They fit into the Crustacea phylum in the class Malacostraca, subclass Hoplocarida (which means "armed shrimp"), and order Stomatopoda.
  • They are most often referred to as Stomatopods.
  • They come in what seems like an endless variety of species.
  • They are found in tropical waters worldwide.
  • They are carnivores and will eat just about anything and everything.
  • They are experts at catching and killing prey, being very clever, stealthy hunters.
  • They are masters at hiding.
  • They are not related to shrimp, but are referred to as shrimp because of their front appendages and how they use them to capture food.
  • They are called a "Mantis" Shrimp due to the fact they resemble the appearance and have the same hunting characteristics of a praying mantis insect.
  • There are two hunting categories, the "spearers" and the "smashers". The "spearers" use their spear-like claw to silently stab soft tissued prey. The "smashers" use their forceful, club-like claw to hit, crack open or pulverize harder bodied prey. It is interesting that the power of the "smashers" appendage can produce a blow close to the power of a .22 caliber bullet and are notoriously known as "thumb splitters". It is rumored that because of the tremendous strength these animals have, they can crack aquarium glass. From a story about how a pet Mantis Shrimp broke 1/4 inch aquarium glass, that was posted in The Daily Mirror (a British Newspaper) on Friday, April 10, 1998, page 11, this documentation leads us to believe that this is possible.
  • These animals are burrowers, and can create tubes or cavities in sand, rubble or mud.
  • They will adapt to living in holes, cracks or crevices in rocks, and may take up residence in snail or hermit crab shells as well.
  • They are solitary animals, and unless you have a VERY large tank, they should be kept alone.
The Mantis Shrimp is no wimp, Some species can reach up to a length of about 12 inches. We find a very large six to eight inch, black and white striped species here in Moloka'i waters on the mud flats that are not to be taken lightly. We also have a two to three inch green species that may be small, but still very powerful.

So how does a Mantis Shrimp get into your tank, aside from intentionally putting one there? By hitchhiking in on live rock.

Next Page > How Can You Tell If You Have One in Your Tank?

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