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FAQs about Harlequin Shrimps Health

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Related Articles: Harlequin Shrimp, Shrimp A Few Common Shrimps for the Marine Aquarium by James W. Fatherree,

Harlequin shrimp- black spots and holes spreading!   7/30/12
Hello WWM crew!
I absolutely love my harlequin shrimp pair and they have been very good pets and have been eating live chocolate chip starfish arms about once per week with an occasional frozen arm that they take and eat with equal enthusiasm that I catch while diving in the Northeastern US. I have had them for approximately eight or nine months now with no issues. Their tank mates are all very respectful and they have never been bothered or picked on even if they travel all across the tank near other crabs and shrimp.
About a week ago my make had a single black spot about four or five millimeters in diameter on his left cheliped (big claw). Over the past week he has developed other spots (similar size), and now he has a hole in his antennules and his cheliped, and the female now has black spots and a hole in hers over the past few days. My other Decapod crustaceans are healthy and thriving. All of my stats like Ca salinity etc. are always stable. My temp is a little
high (78-81F) but I have an AC for the aquarium room that always runs for them (no chiller). Other than that my nitrates have been around 30ppm but I have been doing 20-25% changes per week until my new skimmer arrives to hopefully improve that, but with all the water changes I'm sure they are getting the needed iodine.
<How is this administered? In what format, concentration, frequency?>
I did some searching and found two possibly applicable cases in which the one about the harlequin shrimp (or both) could have been an injury. The other is a cleaner shrimp the spot became a hole.
<Mmm, well, these spot issues and holes are almost always an issue of insufficient/imbalanced alkaline earth and alkalinity or iodine/ate insufficiency. Not pathogenic. Other than lowering NO3, I'd like to know your KH, Ca and Mg. Bob Fenner>
Harlequin shrimp- black spots and holes spreading! (pictures)

I forgot to attach the pictures of the harlequins! Here are two.
<Saw them first, thanks. BobF>

Re: Harlequin shrimp- black spots and holes spreading!   7/30/12
<Didn't see the part below:>
It's just my opinion, but I think it is a disease or infection of some sort, probably fungal or bacterial, and I doubt there are any shrimp safe treatments, but I want to know what I should do (or can do) to make their recovery more successful or likely, and possibly if anyone has ever heard of this before. The holes really upset me and I'm sure they are suffering.
I can see clear through them. Also something interesting, is I've never seen their moltings.
<Another clue>
 I regularly find them from all of my other shrimp and crabs but not these guys. They have however gotten bigger since I first got them and their coloring is bright, and they seem happy and "dance" quite a bit. I'm going to assume that they are getting consumed, ground up, or I'm just missing them. Please help me help my shrimp if you can! I want them to recover. In the case that they do pass... I was wondering if there was someone who could identify it?
Also, all day today they have been trying to climb up the glass, it seems like they want out.
<I wonder why? Perhaps something is after them?>
I gave them a big arm two days ago but I suspect they buried it, and they don't have it with them.
Here are my aquarium specs, stats, and stock:
55g tank 9 months with livestock
light: solarmax 4 bulb with two daylight two actinic (5 mos. old)
70lbs live rock 75 lbs live sand
5g sump/refugium
two powerheads
skimmer: SeaClone 100 (I know I know, new Coralife 220 gallon skimmer in the mail)
UV sterilizer
Tunze auto top off
other filtration: carbon sponge and sock
(Taken before my water change I plan to do tomorrow to see the worst, did 20% a week ago)
salinity: stable 1.024 (refractometer)
<Needs to be much lower... like under 10 ppm maximum>
Nitrite: 0
Ca: 440ppm
KH: dKH-8.4 (Meq/L-3.0)
Mg: 1430 ppm (probably lower, I think I missed endpoint a bit)
<A bit high...>
pH 8.2 (high end meter)
candy cane
mushrooms on yellow sponge
Kenya tree
Fish (none are full size except maybe the cardinal and blenny)
pair of ocellaris clowns
blue/green Chromis
purple Dottyback
Yasha goby
Lawnmower blenny
flame angel
Inverts and cleanup crew:
pair of harlequins
porcelain crab
2 pom poms
blue banded coral shrimp
1 tuxedo urchin
1 other urchin
1 sifting star (never saw him again when I put him in there lol)
1 pistol shrimp
3 hermits
<What species?>
3 red banded troches snails (100's of babies 4mm>)
6 Nassarius? snails
-Natasha Miller

Sudden Harlequin Shrimp death Hello, I am totally astounded to why my harlequin died today in the afternoon when it was perfect and lively just in the morning. I have had my shrimp for about 2 months now, and I have fed it chocolate chip Seastars since the beginning. It already molted about a month ago, and I just gave it a new Seastar last week. (The shrimp took over a month to devour the first Seastar). Since it molted, it has gotten huge, in my perspective, that it could actually almost lift and drag the starfish with him.  When I gave it the new starfish last week, the harlequin appeared from its hiding place, quickly turned the starfish over and started dragging it to the back of the tank. Within a couple days, the starfish was ripped to pieces. Just yesterday, the harlequin ripped out part of the leg and I could see the meaty white strings as the shrimp tried to pull the meat on top of a rock. Now today, it just died. All of a sudden died. My corals have been acting funny too. <Oh oh> My water parameters are just fine, but there was one thing that I think I might be able to blame it on. My powerhead temporarily shut off, and I had to fix it today. It is now running, but could this be the reason for my dead shrimp? thank you, Paul <Mmm, perhaps the death, decomposition of the Seastar is a factor here... and may be a bit of the powerhead as well... These shrimp are very sensitive to water quality changes... Bob Fenner> 

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