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FAQs about Hippolytid Cleaner Shrimps, Behavior

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

Related FAQs: & FAQs on: Hippolytid FAQs 1, Hippolytid FAQs 2, Hippolytid Identification, Hippolytid Compatibility, Hippolytid Selection, Hippolytid Systems, Hippolytid Feeding, Hippolytid Disease, Hippolytid Reproduction,  & by species: Atlantic Cleaner Shrimp (L. grabhami), Blood/Debelius Shrimp (L. debelius), California Cleaner Shrimp (L. californica), Pacific Cleaner Shrimp (L. amboinensis), Peppermint Shrimp (L. wurdemanni), Saron ShrimpsSexy Shrimp (T. amboinensis), & FAQs on All Cleaner Shrimp 1, Cleaner Shrimp 2, All Cleaner Shrimp Identification, Cleaner Shrimp Behavior, Cleaner Shrimp Selection, Cleaner Shrimp Compatibility, Cleaner Shrimp Systems, Cleaner Shrimp Feeding, Cleaner Shrimp Disease, Cleaner Shrimp Reproduction,

Better run and hide... here comes predators! Sepiateuthis lessoniana

fire shrimp color change  3/22/11
I have a question about my fire shrimp. I have had him in a 10 gallon tank for about two months now, water parameters checked frequently and all where they should be.
<Good. Am sure you know how inherently unstable small volumes can be>
Everything has been fine until a week ago when my fire shrimp molted and turned white. He has not regained his original red color, and has only red on his legs and around his eyes. He has not moved around
the tank as much as he used to, and yesterday my cleaner shrimp shed, and he, too, has lost his red coloring. He is now a pale yellow with white stripe down his back. I have searched your site and also others and cannot find anything relating to this. I would appreciate any help you could give me.
They are fed flakes, sinking pellets, occasionally frozen brine shrimp and there is a supply of algae in my tank kept for my crabs.
Thank you.
<Mmm, Crabs? Of what sort? Not likely compatible... but/though not an issue w/ the colour here. There are a few inputs to sustain this red... nutrition (carotenoids, vitamins and minerals...), water quality aspects (biomineral, alkalinity balance), and some micronutrients, esp. iodide-ate. IF these can all be supplied, next molt this animal may be more colorful. I would be moving/keeping Lysmata debelius in a larger, full-reef type system, sans Decapods. Bob Fenner>

Assertive Cleaner Shrimp   7/2/10
Hi WWM crew,
I do enjoy reading your site, but noticed your team seems to get more questions, than information sharing. I know you guys have commented you learn more every day, so I thought I would try to help with that.
<I/we thank you>
My tank has been set up for 9 months now, and after the cycle, part of the clean up crew I added was 3 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner shrimp. 1 of them got into a fight with a power head shortly after introduction, but the other 2
have thrived. On to my point, I have read in your threads these guys can sex change, and form a mated pair (I think I read that correctly), and either that happened, or I got lucky. For the first several months, they didn't seem to be all that interesting, then I had a pod population explosion, and with that those 2 guys/gals became the life of my tank. They have both tripled in size, and at least one of them has the "fertile" green eggs on its underside every time I look. It seems like every night I get a scare, because a carcass will go floating by, only to realize one of them
molted. What really fascinates me is their curiosity with me. I have a Frogspawn I feed some frozen meat bits to, and every time I stick my hand in the tank with the baster, they come up to see me. In fact, I have to ensure I put enough food for them too. I have to feed both shrimp, and while they are stuffing down what I gave them, quickly feed the Frogspawn and hope it gets enough, because after the shrimp stuff down their food, they climb all over the Frogspawn, picking any food they can get their "hands" on. They will even jump on the baster, and start pulling food out of the hole. Its a stark comparison to my tang, which hides in the rock work while I feed this way. Another part, is when I clean the tank, these guys are always trying to clean me, lol. I'll be brushing off detritus, or
scrubbing algae off the glass, and they both will climb the rocks closest to me saying "Hey you, come over here!" Every now and then they'll make a jump on my hand, and start going to work. I wonder if they are under worked, as only 3 of my 7 fish in the tank will allow them to clean them. I read as the fish matures, they'll figure out what the shrimp are for, but I almost feel bad for the guys. They have their cleaning station open during daylight ours, but can't seem to entice all their customers to give them a try. Maybe I should suggest a better marketing strategy than swaying on the rocks?
<Neon (goby) signs?>
Last thing, when the lights go out, the hunt begins. They spend all night scouring the rocks, and I'll see them dash at something, and start munching down. I cannot see what they are going after, but I assume its pods. Your team probably has experience with what I'm sharing, but just in case, I wanted to relay what I feel is fascinating behavior by these shrimp. My wife would call me a geek for this kind of email, but I figured your team would appreciate my fascination with the wonderful world of reef tanks. As always, keep up the great work, and I hope this brightens someone's day.
From one fish enthusiast to another,
<Thanks again. Bob Fenner> 

Peppermint shrimp vomited? -- 08/23/09
A couple days ago one of the peppermint shrimp spewed out of it's mouth a cloud of white. Almost reminded me of when my margarita snail released a sperm cloud but, the shrimp cloud though white, was not as much nor as dense.
Yet I did see something. Anyone have knowledge on what it was. The shrimp eat freeze dried Mysis, krill bits or anything else the fish miss plus I give the carnivore invertebrates a silverside about once a week. Karen Campbell
<Got me... perhaps regurgitation as you speculate; maybe even parasitic.
Bob Fenner>
OH BTW I have 2 of the 3 peppermint shrimp carrying eggs. When will these be shed?
<Could be anytime to weeks... See WWM re Lysmata spp. repro.>

Lysmata amboinensis, Lysmata debelius.- compatibility/behavior 01/23/09 Hello crew, good day to you. It's me again...with another question for you. Seems like I am constantly worrying about my tank. I have 2 skunk cleaner shrimps that are well acclimated, and both are pregnant. <These animals are almost continuously pregnant (especially when there are males about-- as I'm sure there likely were where you got them).> They used to love crawling all over my rockwork, but recently, they just hang ON my Clavularia at the corner of my tank. <This is normal... they picked a spot they like, and now they'll likely stay there unless they find a spot they like better.> They started doing this when they both decide to get pregnant. My Clavularia looks disturbed by their incessant crawling! Both shrimps are fine, feeding, cleaning, basically, normal. However, it is quite weird to see them just hanging on my Clavularia and wonder when they are going to continue exploring the tank like before. <They might not ever start doing this again (unless you rearrange the tank or add new live stock that disturbs things).> I hope there is nothing wrong with them, like, psychologically. <nope> Also, I have a Blood fire shrimp, that I recently acquired from a fellow reefer. All he does is hide hide hide behind rocks and crevices, and I do not even see him at all! <Again... is normal.> Not in the day or night! It is a little bit disappointing as I was attracted to this shrimp due to its intense red and white colouration. Now all I see are its antennae sticking out of the rock..Ok, one last quick question. I have bought a Yasha goby and a Randall's pistol shrimp as a pair, and a diagonal high fin goby and a tiger pistol shrimp separately. After introduction into the tank, the high fin goby and the Randall's pistol shrimp paired. The tiger pistol shrimp and the Yasha goby are both separated, but hiding in individual holes. Will the Yasha and the tiger eventually pair up? - Regards, Kai <I don't know... maybe. You'll have to wait and see. :-) Best, Sara M.>

Lysmata shrimps, SARA.M 01/23/09 Hi Mrs. Sara, <Hehe... Mrs.? Not after Feb.10... will be back to Ms. ::sigh::> appreciate your reply regarding my shrimps :) I can start to see my fire shrimp peeking out of his hidey hole now haha. Hopefully he will showoff his pretty carapace ;) Also, bought 3 US Zoanthids today.. Excellent colours and even better, got them at a steal. US zoos are much better than those from Indonesia IMO. <Really? I thought they were pretty much all from the Indo-Pacific. Or, are you referring to captive propagated ones?> Once again, really appreciate your help. Thanks again! <De nada> Regards, Kai, And here in Singapore, we are celebrating the Chinese lunar new year. HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR WETWEBMEDIA :) <And to you! Sara M.>  

Sara and my Lysmata 01/24/09 Haha! They are called US zoos everywhere I go, I'm not sure why. The polyps are smaller.. and more colourful!! :) Sorry to hear about Feb 10 =( All the best to you and hope you live happily =)Regards -Kai Happy year of the Ox! <Ah... my mom's year/sign! I'm the less exciting, but compatible rooster. ;-P Cheers, Sara M.>

Lysmata and Sara 01/23/09 Hehe, Hi again Sara, thanks for all ur help thus far. Sorry if you find it offensive I associate your name with a Lysmata shrimp :) <Oh, no, of course not... they are beautiful shrimp.> But hey, you are helpful, and so are they. Anyway haha, I have one last question. I currently have a fire shrimp, Lysmata debelius, in my tank. Will adding another one cause aggression? Is it possible to add another one? Thanks once again. Regards - Kai I love lemons. <They are non-aggressive towards their own kind. However, they do sometimes go after/attack/chase cleaner shrimp. Right now your cleaner shrimp out number your one fire shrimp, so maybe that's why they're doing ok all together. If you add another fire shrimp, who knows what might happen? I'd proceed with caution.... Cheers, Sara M.>  

Lysmata saranensis :) 01/25/09 Hehe hello Sara! Thanks for all the help and wisdom you have planted into my head. <my pleasure> I will add another fire shrimp, but will monitor the behaviour towards my other cleaner shrimps. Right now, the 2 L. amboinensis have staked their claim to a piece of rock, covered with Clavularia on the extreme right end of the tank. Don't think they are going anywhere soon. My blood fire shrimp is nowhere in sight today, so I am assuming it is hiding in some cave.... Hopefully, the 2 fire shrimps will find a home for themselves somewhere on the left or middle of the tank, and ignore the 2 cleaner shrimps. <Is possible/likely... maybe not together, but they will likely each find their own little niche.> Ty for your time and effort Sara, I wish you all the best. Regards- Kai, your number one fan <Heheee! Cheers, Sara M.>

Fire shrimp (dis)coloration... 11/25/2007 Hi! Hope you're doing fine! A quick one today (hopefully...:) My Fire shrimps (L. debelius) always get paler after a while in my tank. I believe they are otherwise healthy, they even spawn. They look good but they don't have the striking vivid deep red color they had. I got a third one yesterday and the difference in color is even more obvious as I can compare one beside another... What could be the cause (nutritional problem?) and what would be the remedy to this? Many thanks! Dominique <I have seen this over and over... though not always... and don't know for sure what the real cause/deficiency/ies might be... Perhaps nutritional as you state... likely, if so, tied to biomineral or other water quality issue/imbalance... The Debelius' shrimps that seem to retain their color have been in well-established reef systems... Perhaps someone will read this message and write in to supplement... I did visit TMC in the UK during the time when they were working out Helmut's Fire Shrimps practical aquaculture... and theirs were brilliant red, sans the presence of LR... the foods offered were told to be enriched with carotenes, HUFAs... Bob Fenner>

Re: Fire shrimp (dis)coloration... 11/25/2007 Hi Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the reply. I'll try feeding them on a regular basis with Cyclop-eeze wafers soaked in Selcon. Be assured I will write back in a few weeks to tell you the result (even if negative). Have a nice day! Dominique <Thank you for this. Cheers, BobF>

Follow up regarding L. debelius discoloration, beh. fdg.   -02/20/08 Hi Mr. Fenner,> Hope you're doing great. If you remember last time I told you I would try to boost HUFA's in my L. debelius diet (Cyclop-eeze soaked in Selcon) in an attempt to counter discoloration and said I would report the result. <Yes> Unfortunately it's inconclusive. I have the impression it helped to an extent but it's not so clear. The problem is that they 3) are very shy and reclusive and are somewhat difficult to target feed especially in presence of more outgoing shrimps such as L. amboinensis. An employee at my LFS believes discoloration comes from the fact that this species lives naturally deeper, in low light situation. <Interesting> I think indirectly he's right. They might not get optimal nutrition and not enough HUFAs because we place them in shallow water / intense light biotope tanks were they are stressed and too shy to come out and take the offered food (even when kept in group). That's just another illustration that it's best to stick to species that fit a specific biotope I guess (which I usually do). Long story for a too obvious fact probably... I will avoid that species for that kind of set-up in the future. Ok, just wanted to let you know as I said I would... Thanks! Dominique> <Thank you, BobF>

Lysmata amboinensis, beh.   11/4/07 Crew, This is not really much of a question but more of an observation. My Lysmata (pacific scarlet cleaner shrimp) stops eating for a day or two prior to molt. Then after a day eats from my hand. Also a week prior it's antennae start to turn red. Is the red thing normal? <Yes. Good observations. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Nick

Cleaner Shrimp Molt question - 4/17/07 I am wondering if it is normal for my Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp to molt more than once in a 15 day period? < No, could be due to stress. Check water parameters/chemistry. Normal is every 3-8 weeks.> Thank you Dee <You're welcome! -Lynn>

Killer Sailfin (& Cleaner Shrimp f') Hi Bob, how do I get my Sailfin Tang to stop attacking, my cleaner shrimp. Got the shrimp today at 12:00 pm, all of the antennas picked off by 5:00pm.  <Put in more rock, hiding spaces for the shrimp and/or remove the Tang from its presence otherwise for a few days. The Sailfin is very likely only trying to "get the shrimps attention" for cleaning services... and the shrimp "suffering from jet-lag". It just needs a rest> Also, I noticed that they get wobbly after there antennas are gone, (fourth one he has killed). What purpose do the antennas serve, is it balance by any chance. Thanks for all the great resources. <At the base of the antennae there are spatial orientation sensors... but not the antennae themselves... These will "regenerate" next molt BTW. Just save it from dying from exhaustion, being knocked about for now. Bob Fenner>

Peppermint Shrimp Dear Mr. Fenner (or WetWebMedia crew), Let me start off by giving praise to "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", it is the best book ever written. I would also like to thank you for this wonderful website and your feedback to our questions! I know your time is extremely valuable and that you read a BULK of e-mails. I will try and keep this short. I have a question regarding Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni). Do they clean parasites off of fish like the common cleaner shrimp? <I have seen them clean Moray Eels before.> I know they are known for going after Aiptasia. <Yes, their claim to fame.> The reason I ask is because my Clarkii (Amphiprion clarkii) keeps swimming over to a pair of Peppermint Shrimp I have in the tank. The Clarkii doesn't appear to have any ich (white dots) on his body. <Come on, scratch my back! Please!> If the Peppermint doesn't clean parasites, can I add common cleaner shrimp with the peppermint shrimp? <Depends on tank size and individual's disposition.> I have a 30 gallon setup with 10 gallon sump. <I would put your odds at 50/50. I have seen Peppermint's with Cleaner's, but I have also heard of several instances where one killed the other.> Light bio-load, only the clown fish, a green carpet anemone, two Peppermint Shrimp, and a couple turbo snails. If I can add the common cleaner shrimp, is there an easy way to identify the Indo-Pacific White-Striped Cleaner (Lysmata amboinensis) from the Atlantic White-Striped Cleaner (Lysmata grabhami)? <Yes, the Pacific amboinensis has more dots on its tail. Baensch's Marine Atlas, volume 1, has excellent back to back photos comparing the two.> One last question, if my Clarkii does develop ich, what is the best way to treat him? <Quarantine and daily water changes to start would be my preference.> Move to quarantine? <Yes> Lower salinity, temp? <An option> I read that copper shouldn't be used with anemone fish. <I have seen the same thing in Wilkerson's book.> I've had the Clarkii for over six months, he seems healthy, will the problem go away on its own if I don't intervene? <I am not sure there is a problem.> Is the Clarkii going over to the shrimp a bad sign, or is it just natural behavior? <It could be either.> Thanks for your time and patience, Jeremy <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Why's he doing that? Response to Cleaner Shrimp Good morning WWM crew! Hope all is well!  <and to you as well> One quick question for ya this morning... My yellow tang has finally started using the cleaner shrimp (boy are they happy!) and they have gotten virtually all of the remaining black spot off of him (I am pleased, but still watching carefully in case of an "outbreak" that they can't handle).  <very well> He sometimes seems to buck while they're cleaning him though. Earlier today I watched him buck quite a bit, actually. Is this just because they get a little rough?  <perhaps... still a vulnerable position for the tang to be sitting still. Naturally nervous> (I know from experience that sometimes they do pick a little hard) He won't (intentionally) hurt them if he's going over to their "station" to be cleaned will he?  <doubtful... no worries here> Thanks! TJ the Novice :) <Kindly, Anthony... the apprentice>

Why's he doing that? Good morning WWM crew! Hope all is well! One quick question for ya this morning... My yellow tang has finally started using the cleaner shrimp (boy are they happy!) and they have gotten virtually all of the remaining black spot off of him (I am pleased, but still watching carefully in case of an "outbreak" that they can't handle). He sometimes seems to buck while they're cleaning him though. Earlier today I watched him buck quite a bit, actually. Is this just because they get a little rough? (I know from experience that sometimes they do pick a little hard) He won't (intentionally) hurt them if he's going over to their "station" to be cleaned will he? Thanks! TJ the Novice :) <<Hi TJ, Craig answering your question. I wouldn't worry about this at all. If the Tang doesn't like it he won't go to the station or stay long. This is fairly common behavior for fish and cleaners. Kind of like a really good scratch. My Sailfin Blenny took one of my cleaners for a ride in response to something like this. Just imagine if they were like dogs and had rear leg scratching spasms....Enjoy the show! Craig>>

Gourmet Shrimp! Kind Sirs, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I recently purchased a cleaner shrimp. From the tail markings it looks as though it's the Pacific White Stripe Cleaner Lysmata amboinensis, I read through the FAQ's and If I may, pose a few questions to see if I understand shrimp care correctly. Tanks size, 30 ga, His future clients consist of 2 percula clowns (2" and 1 ½" ) and a 1 inch yellow damsel. Because as much as the shrimp tries, the fish currently don't want anything to do with it. From what I read, It's a learning process and in about 2 weeks the fish should be forming a line to the cleaning station? <All depends on the fish!> As for the molting process, It was mentioned once in the FAQ's, But the way I understand it is, I should leave the molted shell in the tank and the shrimp will eventually eat it? <Wow! If it were me, I'd remove anything from the tank that has the potential to decompose and add to the level of dissolved organics in the water> Feeding? My impression, at first, was that the shrimp would scavenge for food. After reading more about it, It looks as though I should turkey baste some food in his direction? <Always appreciated!> Daily? I did that this morning and he had a feast with the blood worms. Not sure how to get flake food to him, except maybe crumble, mix with tank water and baste it to him. <Not a bad technique, but I'd stick to frozen, marine-based foods instead.> I slowly released the blood worms and he was able to catch them. My current feeding habits consist of  2 times daily of a mix of the following:  blood worms (thawed, and every 3 days soaked with 5 drops of vita-chem vitamins), marine flakes, Spirulina flakes, freeze dried plankton (krill) as a treat, (also soaked with Selcon ? twice weekly), DT's (blended) and clam juice for the dusters (two). 2 days of each through the course of a week. My guess is that the vita-chem soaked blood worms would pose no problem for the shrimp? As well as the Selcon? <Certainly couldn't hurt- but I'd try to give more 'marine-based" foods as mentioned above. Do feed the clam juice sparingly to your 'dusters, as excessive amounts can pollute your water horribly!> My plans for this weekend are to mix up some fresh shrimp, clams, Spirulina flakes and vita-chem (need to check bob's recipe again) and freeze to feed the clowns as well as  have the juice in the tank for the dusters. <Good stuff! Again, I urge caution not to overfeed the "juice".> Should I look to add anything for the shrimp? <I think your mix sounds just fine!> From what I've read on your site, Mysis(?) shrimp is the choice of frozen, but seems to be lacking at my LFS. I've found the fish take to the blood worms but feel I should switch to more of a marine type food. <My recommendation, exactly!> I have found frozen krill, squid (I think) and pro green at my LPS, would any be recommended over the other or should I stick with the blood worms and soon to be homemade stuff? <They all sound good- even the bloodworms, but I'd try to vary the diet as much as possible, again stressing the use of marine foods> As for the  crew's Reef Invertebrates book, Will it be available for pre-order up  to around Christmas time? <Sure! And it looks to be a good book! you can even get an autographed one if you preorder!> I kind of got "the look" when "Clownfishes" showed up after purchasing, and continually reading both Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" and  Bob's "CMA". <All are great books!> And figured I'd better curb some on-line purchasing for a bit. <After you order the Crew's new book, of course!> Again my fish as well as myself thank you. Dave <And thank you for writing, Dave. Your animals seem to be in very capable hands! Good luck!>

29G FO Husbandry Season's greetings to all of the WetWebMedia Crew!!! <And thou> Ok, thanks to all of your support I am now on the path that will hopefully bring health and happiness to all of my marine "guests".  I would be grateful for clarification on a couple of questions: (1)  Santa is bringing an Eheim ECCO 2233 (rated for 60G) and a CPR BakPak skimmer for the 29G tank.  Would live rock find enough "food" to remain alive with the implementation of the Eheim and the skimmer?  Would 30lbs still be a reasonable amount? <Yes, and yes> (2)  "Help, my snails have fallen and can't get up!!!"  What's the deal with my turbo snails, are they handicapped?  I keep finding them upside down.  If I don't upright them will they be able to right themselves?  How long can they survive "upside down" before they expire? <Please see WetWebMedia.com re "Marine Snail FAQs"... a few possibilities here. Likely alkalinity anomaly> (3)  Cleaner shrimp and damsels have not developed the relationship I had hoped.  One of the damsels began to show an interest in the scarlet cleaner shrimp.... unfortunately I have discovered it is not the "cleaning" that he is interested in.  The damsel periodically tries to kick the shrimps butt.  Charging, nipping, even swam under his tail and tried to up-end the shrimp one time.  Is my shrimp in danger?  Oh why oh why couldn't I find all you helpful people before the LFS told me to put damsels in my tank? <Give them more time together. Purposely feed the shrimp with a "feeding stick" in a corner, on a daily routine> Thanks for any advice you can share. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Cleaner Shrimp Question - 2/12/03 Hello, <cheers> I just found your site and I love it. <thanks kindly... do keep reading, sharing and growing! Tell a friend too please> I have one cleaner shrimp right now...I plan to get at least one more but I was wondering how often the shed their shells? <varies by feeding and nutrient levels (iodine)... but not by gender like some other shrimps. Cleaner shrimps are hermaphrodites... any 2 can breed together> I've had this one 2 weeks and he has shed 2 times. <awesome! Once or twice monthly is common> He seems very happy and healthy. He eats, cleans himself and cleans my damsel. (My Regal Tang won't go to him...yet) Is this normal for them to shed so much? <a very good sign> Thanks for your help. Kit "In the end, we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." <best regards, Anthony>

Re: My Aquarium Good morning to whoever is listening today. <Hello, Steven Pro online now.> Over the past week or so Bob Fenner has been helping me to recover from many problems in my aquarium (I've attached some of our correspondence below for you reference). I know Bob is away for a week, but he asked me to still send through if I have any input during this week. <Sure, Anthony and I have things under control as far as Q&A's go.> Out of all Bob's recommendations I have managed to get most done over the past couple of days - I replaced the substrate with fine coral sand (phew), added a bag of activated carbon to the sump, installed a light above my sump and introduced some Caulerpa (which seems to have grown a little), removed the lobster/hermit crabs. I also added one cleaner shrimp (Lysmata grabhami) and did a 20% water change. I traded the Carpet anemone and the triggerfish. So the only practical challenge I have left for the moment is to modify my sump into a refugium. The only question I have for you is about the Lysmata - I introduced him to my aquarium 2 days ago. Immediately my Tang and the 2 Angels started begging him for a cleaning, but he just ignored them and found a hiding place under a rock. All day yesterday he kept hiding there and continued to ignore the fish who are still constantly begging to be cleaned. This morning I noticed that the Lysmata has molted during the night, but it is still hiding. <Probably just settling in.> From what I've read in your cleaner shrimp articles and FAQ's, it seems normal for the Lysmata to hide just before and after it molts and also to take a couple of days before it feels comfortable enough to start cleaning new tankmates etc. <Yes> I was just wondering if you have any comments regarding this? <Nothing extra to add, in time your shrimp will relax and come out more and more.> It doesn't come out of hiding when I feed either and I'm not sure if I should specifically feed him or just leave him be for the next couple of days. I can see the shrimp in its little cave and its very much alive, just not coming out. <No worries yet, my friend.> Thanks for all the help over the past couple of weeks. Chris Cronje <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Cleaner shrimp Hey Bob, Been reading your site and FAQ's a long time, and I have learned a lot. <Ah, good> My question is about the Atlantic White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp. I put him in the tank a few days ago (55 gallon) and he's doing fine, moving about probing with his antennae, even jumping up at times to grab food. My only question is there any way to make the shrimp set up a cleaning station? <To "make it"... Not really... but given a bit of time, some prominent rock, with space to get out of the light, "customers"... it likely will establish a cleaning station on its own> The only problem the shrimp has had is a small scuffle with a lightfoot crab which he lost an antennae too. (It was the shrimps fault though, he kept poking the lightfoot till the thing got mad. The shrimp knows now to stay away from him. ) <No worries. It will regenerate the antenna next molt> Could it be that my live stock is too small? I have 4 false percula clowns, a striped damsel, all under 2 -2.5 inches. And two small fire gobies. Any suggestions would be helpful...oh there is 70+ pounds of live rock in the system with plenty of hiding space...Miguel <Not too small per se, but perhaps too young/unfamiliar. Give all a few weeks and you should observe them "learning" to use each other. Bob Fenner>

Cleaner Shrimp Question Bob, A little over a week ago, I purchased a Common Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis). He seems to be quite healthy and eating well, but in the past day or two he seems to be hiding more than he was originally (although he's still not very reclusive). At the same time the parts of his body which were previously fairly white have turned a yellowish tint. Is he getting ready to molt or do you think he had molted shortly before I bought him or might something else be wrong?? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Again for your help, Phil in San Diego <Very likely just pre-molt behavior and coloration. Please do read through the Cleaner Shrimp FAQs for others experiences: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnshrpf.htm Bob Fenner>

Shrimp molting I've had a Pacific Cleaner shrimp for about a month and a half. In that time it had molted twice. Is it normal for them to molt with such frequency? <<Not too unusual... given plenty of food, growth, and good "water quality"...  Bob Fenner>>

Peppermint shrimp Bob- I recently purchased a Peppermint Shrimp. Since day 1 it has been missing in action. The only other inhabitants in the tank are a Percula Clown, Yellow-Tailed Damsel, and a host of red legged, blue legged and left handed hermit crabs. The shrimp never comes out when I feed the tank, which is unlike my old Coral Banded Shrimp which aggressively ate. Is it in the nature of Peppermint Shrimps to hide or should I assume he is dead? Thank you, Rob <<Hmm, they (Lysmata wurdemanni) do hide almost all the time... better kept in a small number if they'll fit... I wouldn't give up just yet.... Especially if it is molting... you won't see much of it for a while. Bob Fenner>>

Some questions about reefs (Lysmata) Hi Bob, Thanks for the answers :) I brought a 2228 Eheim this time. I will also leave the shrimp shell in the tank. I'm very lucky to have this shrimp and I really like it also. When I do tank maintenance he sometime jumps onto my hands and start picking at them. Very cute these cleaner shrimps. <Yes, and very useful> I will leave the pictures until I get the whole thing setup, including the new tank. When that happens I will let you now where to find the pictures on the net. <Okay> Thank you again for your patience and help :) Warmest regards, Lucien <You're welcome my friend... Bob Fenner>

Smart shrimp, dumb fish Hello WWM cleaner-shrimp guru :<IanB here> I have a very active white banded cleaner shrimp that is aggressively try to clean any of the fish in my 100 gal reefer (4 assorted small, apparently all retarded.) None of them seem to know what to make of the shrimp and don't allow it to get too close. <some fish don't like little pesky cleaner shrimp> None have any visible parasites, but the shrimp's been in there 6 weeks now and the fish don't seem any more interested in utilizing the shrimp's services. <some don't like shrimp and some shrimp don't like fish...some dogs like cats and some don't>  I stick my hand in the tank often, and this shrimp just tackles it, cleaning and pulling and scouring all over my fingers and forearm. <yes, they tend to do that>  This may be the poor shrimp's only cleaning exercise that it gets, so I feel obligated to do this. <You can do this if you would like. As long as the little shrimp eats he should be fine, no worries my friend (its cleaning services are just a bonus. they don't need to clean to survive. they are very content with eating leftover food> Any idea why the fish don't care? <good luck, IanB> Thanks,  SLC

Cleaner shrimp overuse? 3/8/04 Greetings!  Thanks again for providing a wonderful site!  I always learn so much while reading through the FAQ's.  I have scanned and have not found anything like what I have now so perhaps you could shed some light on it. <Hi Ray. Adam here.  Let's see what we're dealing with...> I have a 55gal mini-reef.  I got a coral beauty last Sunday after waiting 5 weeks for one to come in with the right colors (I love him!).  He is in my main tank now after only 3 days of QT (damn dog, knocked over lamp and broke QT tank, lucky I was home to respond).  I did do a quick fresh water & formalin dip (didn't like it past 1 min). <What an unfortunate event!  I am sure you know that a quarantine period of more like 3-4 weeks is optimal.  Also, FW dips less than about five minutes are very ineffective.  The fish often appear to be very stressed, but it is best to tough it out.> Thursday (day after putting in coral beauty) I saw that both he and my yellow tang (been in there a while and was doing fine) were scratching.  On closer exam I saw several small black dots (10-15) on my tang.  I did a quick search on WWM and realized that it was most likely black spot disease.  After a long and wet battle, I managed to get the tang out and gave him a 5 min dip of pH and temp balanced RO/DI with formalin.  Thinking my Coral beauty was infected the same, I did the same with him and he tolerated the 5 minute dip well this time.  By Friday, no black spots were visible on the Tang and neither was scratching on the rocks. <"Black spot" is very common in yellow tangs.  It is an external parasite and as you have seen, it responds very well to FW dips.  Your five minute dip is still at the very minimum.> Friday I went to my LFS and the guy that works there was kind to my situation.  He sold me a scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis ) from one of his display tanks (been in there months) so I could bypass my now destroyed QT with little chance of introducing anything. <This is very bad advice.  Biological cleaners like shrimp, neon gobies and wrasses are helpful, but in an aquarium environment they don't have a chance of preventing or stopping outbreaks of common parasitic diseases.  Quarantine should still be considered a mandatory practice!> It took all of an hour for my Coral Beauty to find the cleaner shrimp and he visited it almost every 5 minutes for the remainder of the day.  He will go up to it, tilt on his side and open his mouth and gills for it.  Now for my questions (thanks for sticking with me this long).  Can a fish over use a cleaner shrimp?  Will too much use hurt my fish?  Is there still something infecting my coral beauty and if so, will the shrimp get rid of it?  He is eating great and everyone else in the tank is doing fine.  Tank parameters optimal. <If the fish is still infected with something, the cleaner shrimp might help, but it will likely be too little too late.  All biological cleaners have the potential to injure the subject they are cleaning, but in the case of the shrimp, the fish would simply swim away and regulate it's own cleanings.  It sounds like you are likely safe in terms of disease, but please do replace your q-tank for future additions and don't rely on cleaner shrimp to prevent outbreaks!  Best Regards.  Adam>  Thanks -Ray

REFUGIUM FLOW & OTHER QUESTIONS Crew, <Hi John> Definitely appreciate the support you guys do for the hobby every day! <As the newest member on here, I'm continually amazed at the people I am honored to work with>  I read your site pretty continuously to keep up to date & learn as much as I can. <Very nice.> I have a few, somewhat unrelated questions that I've spooled up that I couldn't find direct answers to on your site (or are specific to my setup). My setup is a 120 gal (4'x2'x2') FOWLR with 180# LR.  The tank's been established 6 years with improvements made over time (upgrade to 520W of PC lights, LR addition, added refugium, upgraded skimmer, etc.).  Water param.s are 1.024 salinity, 8.4 PH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates, 4.0 Alk, 450 calcium. Stocked w/ Emperor Angel (5yrs in tank), Regal Blue tang, Foxface, flame angel, lawnmower blenny, cleaner shrimp & numerous snails/hermits. Here's my questions: - Refugium GPH?  I've got a 15gal refugium with Miracle Mud, a couple different types of Caulerpa, hermits, snails & some small frags of LR in-line via 2" pvc with my wet/dry sump.  Skimmer & UV pull from the sump & empty in the front chamber of the fuge.  Due to room constraints, my Iwaki pump (a little over 2000gph) is at the end of the refugium returning to the display tank.  Yes, the water is seriously flowing through the fuge, but everything looks great in there & water param.s have improved over the months since it's introduction. <Nice to hear.> We are moving to a new house & I'll have a room dedicated to my sump/filters, so I have the opportunity to optimally adjust plumbing. <Wonderful, I am jealous.> I'm thinking of changing the setup to have my Iwaki return pull from the sump, skimmer pull & dump back into the sump, and have my UV pump (250 gph) pull from the last chamber of my fuge & return to the sump. This would lower my fuge gph more in line with what I think most would recommend? <It would definitely take the flow amount down.> I'm struggling having my UV pull from the sump due to killing off some of the "beneficials" exiting the fuge vs. a separate/dedicated pump. <I have to say honestly I think you would loose a lot of the benefit that you are gaining from the refugium. Personally I would consider going with a dedicated pump.> The dedicated pump drawback is that in the summer, my temps are 81-82 & adding another pump would probably increase the heat. <I see what your concern is but I think it might be worth the addition of a small fan or two to take care of the additional heat problem.>  Your thoughts?  FYI - the 15gal has made such a difference that in the new setup, I'm going to eventually add another 30 gal refugium to increase the overall health of the system (either extended off the 15gal or on the other side of the sump). <I'm a major proponent of refugiums. I have seen them make a huge difference on many peoples tanks.> -Reducing Caulerpa in refugium?  My Caulerpa is going gang busters & I need to cut it down. <Ah a common problem. Let me just caution you, if your Caulerpa is going gangbusters there's more to the story than that. There's LOTS feeding the Caulerpa, usually phosphates and that can be a problem.>  What's the best way? <I can tell you my method. Every couple of weeks I climb up on a step ladder and just pull out Caulerpa. I don't take scissors, I just pull it out. Usually it comes out in specific bunches at a time, and I'm lucky I have a distributor who I sell it to and he sells it to stores.>  Actually remove several of the plants or prune the excess? <When I pull sometimes it does take out whole plants but usually it takes bits and pieces of the plants and it seems to be natural places it is ready to split. Let me warn you if you see anything in the Caulerpa turning white pull the entire plant.>  I think pruning would be easier, but I think I remember hearing that cutting Caulerpa can sometimes cause degradation of the whole plant?  Also, when removing it, should I place some in the display for food or flush it to eliminate the extra nutrients/nitrates in the whole system? <I always put some in my tank for the tangs to eat and they devour it. But it does release some of the nutrients and yes nitrates back into the tank. Lots of people just toss the entire plant.  One thing I always try to do is make sure I have at least some of each type of grass or Caulerpa I have in my refugium still there.> -Refugium lighting?  What's better ... alternate lighting with display or 24/7? <Lots of people use the 24/7 because it keeps the ph higher and prevents the Caulerpa from going sexual.> I've heard arguments for both. 24/7 is what I'm doing, but it is probably not the best for the snails/hermits. With alternate lighting I run the risk of the Caulerpa going sexual, right? <If you do proper culling you won't have problems with it going sexual but both methods work.> Any preference?  Probably don't use Caulerpa & go alternate, right? <I know lots of people who use grasses instead of Caulerpa. Personally my refugium has a mix of both the grasses and the Caulerpas.> -Clown for BTA?  Probably my last fish to this tank will be a clown.  I know the maroon is the natural fit for BTA's, but I really prefer true Perc's (looks & less aggressive).  I've always known true Percs to inhabit a lot of anemones outside of the natural selections.  However, I just personally have never seen true Percs in a tank with BTA's.  What's your thoughts on the pairing/selection? <I have not seen true Percs take to a  BTA but others have. I know my black Perculas from Australia totally ignore it.> BTW - I've only had the BTA 6 months and it's almost doubled in size from the LFS, only wandered the first night & I believe has increased it's color intensity.  The only set back was a 6 hour power outage last week that resulted in a 25 gal water loss (painful lesson - unclean check valve<OUCH>) that I had to replace with hastily made up salt mix (RO water already made, but not salt). Better of 2 evils I thought - quick mix water vs. airstones/powerheads dropped in display. The BTA did shrink after the outage & only recently has made it to close to pre-outage size. <Lately the skunk clowns appeal to me and I know they will go to a BTA. Just a different idea.> Not a question, but interesting comment.  I just introduced my Flame angel & cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to my display after a month in quarantine.  The cleaner never touched the flame in QT - probably due to the fact that they're almost the same size.  However, I was really worried about my Emperor having a $40 cleaner snack. The Emperor knocks around any new snails/hermits that are introduced & hasn't seen a cleaner shrimp for at least 5 years (had her that long). <Wonderful> I killed the lights upon introduction & got the shrimp to go into a nice crevice.  The Emperor showed immediate interest, despite the lights not being on. Tapping on the tank didn't push her away. I decided to intervene with my hand (algae scrapper didn't work) to make sure the cleaner was deep enough in the crevice that if the Emperor bite it would only get the antennae.  Well, the Emperor moved up close (mouth first), the shrimp stepped right out (I thought it was it's last move) and it climbed right on the Emperor's head with no altercation.  The Emperor was cleaned for an entire hour right there only 5 minutes after the shrimp was introduced! Today she has spent more time being cleaned (no lie - 6+ hours) than her usual free swimming.  She's actually hounding the shrimp & keeping the tang & Foxface away - which both keep swimming in sideways into the area.  The introduction of a 1.5" shrimp has completely changed the entire behavior of my whole tank.  Really amazing hobby & animals! <Such a wonderful experience, thank you for sharing.> Sorry for the long mail. <Wonderful email and thank you so much for sharing all of this. Good luck, Mac> Thanks, John

Cleaner shrimp pestering anemone 8/1/04 The cleaner shrimp that I have is always in and around my anemone. My long tip anemone is doing very well and is quite large compared to when I first got him. I got him at a very good dealer. but whenever I feed the anemone or even when I haven't, the shrimp either takes the anemone's food or is always digging around in the anemone. I don't know if the shrimp is bothering him- or just cleaning whatever is around the anemone's mouth. <The shrimp is looking for food.  It has been very well trained that a big chunk of food arrives in that spot occasionally.  If the anemone doesn't seem bothered, I wouldn't worry, but some shrimps can turn particularly greedy and damage anemones or corals in their efforts to steal food.  Over all, I would suspect that the shrimp is in more danger than the anemone... my carpet anemone ate both of my cleaners!  It may be best to give up one or the other.> I was also going to ask if bristle worms are a problem in a tank. I get them out when I can and I haven't seen as many as I used to, but they wont harm the anemone or the few mushrooms I have in the tank will they? <Most bristle worms are harmless scavengers.  Only the true Caribbean fire worm and a couple of rare others are harmful to other animals (unless you get a hand full of bristles that is!).  I would leave them in the tank to do their job and consider them innocent until proven guilty.  Best Regards, Adam>

Lonely Shrimp? (9/7/04) Greetings all. <Greetings to you. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a Skunk cleaner and two Camel shrimps in a 75 gallon system, with about 70 lbs. of live rock.  The Cleaner has been in there for about 2 1/2 weeks and is finally starting to show himself more often.  When I reached in the tank today to move some things around, he got all excited and started trying to clean my arms and hands.  Is this normal?  <Yes. Tickles, doesn't it?> I am not too worried, as he only tried to bite the scars once or twice, but is he that desperate to clean something? <Simply engaging in natural instinctive behavior. Mine do it all the time too. I doubt such neurologically-simple creatures experience or act on "desperation."> I am guessing that he or she would probably benefit from having another companion Cleaner, but should I get a fish or two for them to clean? <Again, there is no reason to believe that shrimp would experience loneliness. Although they are usually peaceful, there is some risk of territorial aggression if you introduce another. As for needing fish to clean, these shrimps eat just about anything, including flake and pellet foods.> The only fish in there are two small (3") surf smelt I brought home from work to start cycling the tank a month ago, and they will not let the Cleaner clean them.  If it matters, Ammonia levels were 0, Nitrites almost 0 (like .1 ppm), and Nitrates were 10 ppm.  (The elevated Nitrites were probably due to the addition of some small rubble-sized pieces of live rock added 4 days ago.)  I am not particularly worried, everything seems healthy, just wondering if having a companion and/or cleanable fish would make his "stay" that much more comfortable. <Neither of these are needed. However, since cleaners are hermaphroditic, they will likely mate on an ongoing basis in your tank, thereby supplying live food.> Thanks for your time. <You're welcome. Hope this helps.> Jeremy

How does a cleaner shrimp eat those parasites? Dear Bob & All <Peter> Happy New Year and thanks for the helpful reply on the sea-squirt.  I will now sit back and enjoy the little fellow. Could you answer a daft question?  How on earth can a cleaner shrimp eat e.g. Ick parasites??  My tang loves to drift near the shrimp.  Would you expect to see a shrimp eat parasites with its jaws (sic??).  Or do they retain parasites on their antennae and pass them to the mouth? Best wishes Peter Hosier The whole thing is a mystery to me. <Mmm, me too... I do think these shrimp species can actually see the resultant raised spots on the fish, and pick away at these general areas... and maybe they get clues from the host fish... like twitching when the area is cleaned up... Bob Fenner>

Cleaner Shrimp - 05/05/2005 Hi again - one last question - I was watching my cleaner shrimp tonight, and it did an odd thing.  It's in my 45 gal tank, with 5 green Chromis, a flower pot coral, two frogspawn and a green star polyp coral (also many little star polyps that are growing on the rock), and a large feather duster.  Every thing seems fine and happy.  Tonight, the cleaner shrimp was cleaning one of the Chromis fish, then actually got onto the fish's face and put it's little white leg things into the fish's mouth! The fish endured it for a minute, then swam away.  It returned later and the shrimp attempted to do this again.  Is this normal cleaning behavior?   <Yes very much so.  A cleaner shrimp will completely clean a fish.  they will get in the gills, mouth, scales, etc.. This is a great way to help control parasites on your fish. As long as they will let the shrimp pick at them.  They even like to clean the cuticles on your fingers if you let them :).  Thanks EricS> It was pretty funny!

Cleaner shrimp, Ammonia Hello, I have a 29 gallon tank with about 30-35 pounds of LR.  I have had the setup for nearly 2 months and according to my nitrite tests, it is finished cycling.  I have gotten rid of the damsels I had to help with the cycle and added a percula clown and a Firefish along with 2 large and 2 small turbo smalls and a few blue legged hermit crabs, (not including some stowaway snails and at least 1 crab in the LR). That's not overcrowded, right? <right>  I recently noticed that my clown was developing Ick and since I don't have a QT ( soon to get one) I lowered SG raised the temp and even gave him a freshwater dip.  He looked better for a while then the spots returned (I realize I'm treating the symptoms , not the cause).  I then bought a indo-pacific cleaner shrimp the other day but the clown hasn't gone near it.   Is there anything that I can do to entice the clown into recognizing the shrimp as a cleaner? Granted I have only had the shrimp for a few days. The clownfish is tank raised, so does that play a part? <  Just give them time>Also, the ammonia is at about 0.25-0.15 ppm and a little concerned.  I saw some contrasting points in your FAQ about this, so is it better to let my LR and bio filtration get used to the lessened bio load or should I do a water change, ( I do 10 percent changes weekly regardless since the tank cycled). One last thing, I was considering a royal Gramma and/or a coral beauty angel.  What are your thought on that as far as compatibility with the live stock I have, bio load, etc. Love the site and the info is life saving.  Thanks for any advice, Joshua Wells < If you have livestock in there you will want to lower the ammonia to zero ASAP.  I would choose the Gramma over the angel as the angel will need more room than this and will probably terrorize the rest of the fish.  Wait at least 3 weeks before adding anymore fish to let the system stabilize and to be sure and make sure the tank is Ick free.  Cody>

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