» Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Blog, Education, Reef Aquariums, Ryan S, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Marine Invertebrates for Sale: The Mantis Shrimp

Marine Invertebrates for Sale – Absolutely Fish, NJ


Marine Invertebrates for Sale: The Mantis Shrimp


By Ryan Sickles


Peacock Mantis Shrimp
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Crustacea
Subclass: Hoplocarida
 (which means “armed shrimp”)
Order: Stomatopoda

Mantis Shrimp are varied under many species names. They are also found in tropical waters all over the world. These shrimp are carnivores and will eat just about anything and everything. The majestic Mantis Shrimp can also be an expert at catching and killing prey which makes them very clever, stealthy hunters. They are masters at hiding in burrows, holes, and especially live rock. 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 of this deadly predator, the “spearers” and the “smashers”. The “spearers” use their sharp pointed claw to silently stab soft tissue 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 rumoured that because of the tremendous strength these animals have, they can crack ¼ inch thick aquarium glass.
Stan and Debbie Hauter Mantis Shrimp-Pest or Pet: http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/msubpestmshrimp/a/aa110498.htm

These animals are burrowers, and can create tunnels and caves in sand, rubble or mud. They will adapt to living in holes, cracks or crevices in rocks, and may take up residence in large snail or hermit crab shells too. They are solitary animals and should be kept alone. The Mantis Shrimp is aggressive and some species can reach up to a length of about 12 inches. So how does a Mantis Shrimp get into your tank, aside from intentionally putting one there? By hitchhiking in/on live rock!

When fish, crustaceans and other invertebrates begin to mysteriously disappear from your aquarium without a trace, the first assumption a lot of aquarium hobbyists make is that a Mantis Shrimp is the culprit. Even though this is a prime sign that a Mantis Shrimp may be present in your tank, it sometimes can be a wrong conclusion as well. There could be other marine animals that contribute to this same problem. Don’t just consider a Mantis Shrimp as the enemy, especially if fish are disappearing, but try to investigate other possibilities. Some say when you hear clicking, popping or snapping noises coming from your tank, you have a Mantis Shrimp. Not always. The Meddling Mantis Shrimp is commonly mistaken for some types of Pistol Shrimp.

Since these animals are natural burrowers, creating tubes or cavities in sand and debris, look for holes or tunnels in the substrate. These are usually accompanied by a mound of sand or substrate rubble piled up outside the hole. Pistol Shrimp have this characteristic trait as well, so if you find a hole like this, just dim the tank lights and sit back to see what comes out. Pistol Shrimps like to burrow “under” things, rather than directly in an open space of the substrate.

In the aquarium hobby, Mantis Shrimp are made out to be the worst, monstrous creatures that have ever inhabited oceans or aquariums. For those marine aquarists that have lost many valuable specimens to a Mantis Shrimp, you can see the point of view as to why they have this reputation. However, if a Mantis Shrimp is accidentally introduced into your tank while adding some new live rock, what do you expect from a carnivorous creature like this? Mantis Shrimp may “seem” to be monsters, but they are just doing what they naturally do… hunt.

When a Mantis Shrimp is introduced into your tank by accident, by all means, you should remove it. However, before going into methods of removal, I suggest considering other options of what to do with it prior to catching it, other than killing it? Before catching and removing one, please consider these other options first.

Some could keep it and provide it with a tank of its own to live in. Maybe you could ask a friend if they might want it. It might sound silly, but there are aquarists who love and enjoy keeping Mantis Shrimps. You may be able to find a local fish store that likes them, and may take it off your hands. Now that you know the options, other than killing the shrimp, once you have decided what to do with the specimen, it’s time to remove it from the aquarium.

If you have found it has taken up residence in a piece of live rock, watch and wait patiently for it to go into its hole. Once it’s in the rock, you want to loosen and remove the piece of live rock and place it in a bucket or container with a little saltwater. Use a turkey baster or syringe, squirt freshwater into the holes of the rock. The shrimp should either come flying out of the hole, or eventually coming out after time, and patience. You could also dip or place the rock into a bucket of freshwater, but only use this method if you are not concerned about losing any other marine life that may be living on the rock. Mantis Shrimp are nocturnal feeders, so they are best caught out in the open at night in a dark tank. Sitting, waiting, watching and moving quickly can work if you can catch them out in the open away from their burrow or cavity by scooping them with a net. Ask us at Absolutely Fish about how to “trap” a Mantis Shrimp or any other pest that are not wanted in your home aquarium.  

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