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Shrimps - Introduction

Diverse & varied

Shrimps - Introduction



Shrimp Index

Shrimps



Introduction

Hingeback Shrimps

Broken-back Shrimps

Brokenback Shrimps

Commensal Shrimps

Commensal Shrimps

Dragons & Shells

Dragon & Shell Shrimps

Hairy Shrimps

Tiny Shrimps

Harlequins & Tigers

Harlequin & Tiger Shrimps

Ladybugs & Co.

Ladybugs & Co.

Saron Shrimp

Saron Shrimps

Mantis Shrimps

Mantis Shrimps

Prawns

Prawns

Sashimi Shrimps

Sashimi Shrimps

Snapping Shrimps

Snapping Shrimps

Shrimps and prawns are found in all habitats in tropical reefs. Some shrimps and prawns can be quite large, others barely reach 3mm long. They feed on everything from detritus to algae to starfish. Some hide in mud, others live with stinging anenomes, hover, or sit in caves waiting to clean passing fish, or even sit on the nose of mud eels!

A number of species are commercially exploited for food (though not reef species) or for the aquarium trade.

As many other reef creatures, they are very diverse and their biology is often unknown. With your help the reefs can be protected and their place in nature better understood.

Snapping Shrimps



Snapping or Pistol Shrimps are well-known to divers, mostly because of the loud snapping noise they make with their greatly enlarged claw. Although only a few centimers long, the amongst for the loudest animals in the sea.

The snapping shrimps that most people see are those that partner with gobies. The gobies can see very well, but cannot burrow, and the shrimps are expert tunnel engineers but see very badly. This makes for a truly mutually beneficial relationship. It is fascinating watch the shrimps and gobies working together, but you must be very still or both will disappear into their tunnel. There are many species of partner shrimps, many of which are still undescribed.

Another group of snapping shrimps live with feather stars, soft corals or bryozoans. They are very secretive, camoflage coloured, and thus difficult to see and find.

Alpheus bellulus
Alpheus randalli
Alpheus sp.
Synalpheus stimpsoni
Synalpheus stimpsoni
Synalpheus delmani
Synalpheus neomeris

Bumblebee & Harlequin Shrimps



Bumblebee Shrimps (Gnathophyllum americanum) and the related Tiger Shrimps (Phyllognathia ceratophthalmus) are very shy, seldom emerging during the day. Adult Tiger Shrimps can sometimes be seen at night wandering over encrusting sponges in protected locations. Simplex Shrimps (Phyllognathia simplex) are rarely seen, and at under 10mm, fairly small. From personal experiance, they appear to be day-active in mixed sand/short macro-algae areas.

Harlequin Shimps (Hymenocera elegans) are amongst the most spectacular with their blue/light pink and white clown patterning. Small individuals keep well hidden, but fully adult pairs can sometimes be seen with their starfish prey (often Linkia) sheltering by a larger stone or in hollows created by sponges and black corals.

Hymnocera elegans
ymnocera elegans - male & female
Hymnocera elegans - pink form
Hymnocera elegans - male & female
Hymnocera elegans
Phyllognatha ceratophthalmus
Phyllognatha ceratophthalmus
Phyllognathia simplex
Gnathophyllum americanum
Gnathophyllum americanum hiding

Shell & Dragon Shrimps



Shell Mimic Shrimps (Vercoia interrupta) must be the most cryptic of all shrimps. Unless they move, they look exactly like the shell of a dead cerithiid snail. Even when they do move, they are very easily mistaken for shells with hermit crabs and ignored, as they might give a hungry fish a powerful nip.

Inshore Hairy Shrimps (Neostylodactylus litoralis), with their strongly U-shaped backs look superficially like Broken-Back Shrimps, but more close examined, are quite different. They appear to be night-active, and then mostly females are seen.

Dragon Shrimps (Miropandalus hardingi) with a little imagination, do look a little like dragons, albeit small ones. They are commensal on black coral - mostly small colonies growing within a hollow in a bommie. Matching the host colour, they are either dark brown or green. The males, as usual, are smaller and very slender.

Miropandalus hardingi - female
Miropandalus hardingi - female
Miropandalus hardingi - female
Miropandalus hardingi - male
Miropandalus hardingi - male
Neostylodactylus litoralis
Neostylodactylus litoralis
Neostylodactylus litoralis - from behind
Vercoia interrupta - female with eggs
Vercoia interrupta - female with eggs
Vercoia interrupta - female with eggs

Hinge-beak & Boxer Shrimps



Two of these, the Durban Dancing Shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensi) and the Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) are well know by divers. The Dancing Shrimp can often be found in large numbers in dark hollows and cracks in bommies skitting to and fro at the entrance to the dark areas. Banded Coral Shimps are quite common, but usually it is the long waving white antennae that are seen first. They are occasionally clean fish, but are not as active as either Urocarinella or Lysmata.

ynetorhynchus reticulatus - old male
Cynetorhynchus reticulatus
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Stenopus hispidus
Stenopus hispidus
Stenopus tenuirostris - with maantis shrimp
Stenopus tenuirostris
?Stenopus sp.
Sicyonia sp.

Help Save Reefs!



The organisations that work to protect coral reefs and our oceans need as much support as they can get. Check out:

If you are a diver, and especially if you are an underwater photographer, donate. If you do nothing, there will be nothing to dive on and nothing to photograph.

These are suggestions, but not endorsements of the suggested organisations. It is your responsibility to review and check the charities you wish to donate to.

Snapping Shrimps

Snapping shrimp

Snapping or Pistol Shrimps are well-known to divers, mostly because of the loud snapping noise they make with their greatly enlarged claw. Although only a few centimers long, the amongst for the loudest animals in the sea.

The snapping shrimps that most people see are those that partner with gobies. The gobies can see very well, but cannot burrow, and the shrimps are expert tunnel engineers but see very badly. This makes for a truly mutually beneficial relationship. It is fascinating watch the shrimps and gobies working together, but you must be very still or both will disappear into their tunnel. There are many species of partner shrimps, many of which are still undescribed.

Another group of snapping shrimps live with feather stars, soft corals or bryozoans. They are very secretive, camoflage coloured, and thus difficult to see and find.

Alpheus bellulus
Alpheus randalli
Alpheus sp.
Synalpheus stimpsoni
Synalpheus stimpsoni
Synalpheus delmani
Synalpheus neomeris

Bumblebee & Harlequin Shrimps

Bumblebee & Harlequin Shrimps

Bumblebee Shrimps (Gnathophyllum americanum) and the related Tiger Shrimps (Phyllognathia ceratophthalmus) are very shy, seldom emerging during the day. Adult Tiger Shrimps can sometimes be seen at night wandering over encrusting sponges in protected locations. Simplex Shrimps (Phyllognathia simplex) are rarely seen, and at under 10mm, fairly small. From personal experiance, they appear to be day-active in mixed sand/short macro-algae areas.

Harlequin Shimps (Hymenocera elegans) are amongst the most spectacular with their blue/light pink and white clown patterning. Small individuals keep well hidden, but fully adult pairs can sometimes be seen with their starfish prey (often Linkia) sheltering by a larger stone or in hollows created by sponges and black corals.

Hymnocera elegans
Hymnocera elegans - male & female
Hymnocera elegans - pink form
Hymnocera elegans - male & female
Hymnocera elegans
Phyllognatha ceratophthalmus
Phyllognatha ceratophthalmus
Phyllognathia simplex
Gnathophyllum americanum
Gnathophyllum americanum hiding

Shell & Dragon Shrimps

Shell & Dragon Shrimps

Shell Mimic Shrimps (Vercoia interrupta) must be the most cryptic of all shrimps. Unless they move, they look exactly like the shell of a dead cerithiid snail. Even when they do move, they are very easily mistaken for shells with hermit crabs and ignored, as they might give a hungry fish a powerful nip.

Inshore Hairy Shrimps (Neostylodactylus litoralis), with their strongly U-shaped backs look superficially like Broken-Back Shrimps, but more close examined, are quite different. They appear to be night-active, and then mostly females are seen.

Dragon Shrimps (Miropandalus hardingi) with a little imagination, do look a little like dragons, albeit small ones. They are commensal on black coral - mostly small colonies growing within a hollow in a bommie. Matching the host colour, they are either dark brown or green. The males, as usual, are smaller and very slender.

Miropandalus hardingi - female
Miropandalus hardingi - female
Miropandalus hardingi - male
Neostylodactylus litoralis
Neostylodactylus litoralis
Neostylodactylus litoralis
ercoia interrupta - female with eggs
Vercoia interrupta - female with eggs

Hinge-beak & Boxer Shrimps

Hinge-beak & Boxer Shrimps

Two of these, the Durban Dancing Shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensi) and the Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) are well know by divers. The Dancing Shrimp can often be found in large numbers in dark hollows and cracks in bommies skitting to and fro at the entrance to the dark areas. Banded Coral Shimps are quite common, but usually it is the long waving white antennae that are seen first. They are occasionally clean fish, but are not as active as either Urocarinella or Lysmata.

Cynetorhynchus reticulatus - old male
Cynetorhynchus reticulatus
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Stenopus hispidus
shrimp-hingeback-boxer-08-Stenopus-hispidus.jpg
Stenopus tenuirostris - with maantis shrimp
?Stenopus sp.
Sicyonia sp.