Harlequin Shrimp – Profile | Care | Food | Reef Safe | Size | Facts

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Harlequin Shrimp stays with and work together with one another in their natural surroundings, they will in lots of circumstances be housed collectively in captivity with little concern or particular consideration.

In this article, I am going to talk about Harlequin Shrimp profile, facts, care, food, reef safe, lifespan, size, price, diet, etc.

Harlequin shrimp profile

In other circumstances, they require just a little bit more care with respect to food plan and tankmate compatibility.

For a lot of superior aquarists (who are likely to relish new challenges and strange livestock), the specialized husbandry that this species demand is extra of an incentive than a drawback.

When a species has these particular traits and is exceptionally stunning, these venturesome hobbyists can’t bear to disregard it. One such creature, for positive, is the harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera elegans and H. picta).

Hymenocera picta, generally generally known as the harlequin shrimp, is a species of saltwater shrimp discovered at coral reefs within the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans.

It’s often thought-about the one species within the genus Hymenocera, however, some cut up it into two species:

H. picta from the central and east Pacific the place the spots are deep pinkish-purple with a yellow edge, and H. elegans from the Indian Ocean and West Pacific the place the spots are extra brownish and have a blue edge.

They attain about 5 centimeters (2.0 in) in size, stay in pairs and feed completely on starfish, together with crown-of-thorns starfish.

It does appear to favor smaller, extra sedentary starfish, however as these usually are usually not sufficiently quite a few for its wants, it generally will assault Acanthaster, each decreasing its consumption of coral whereas beneath assault, and killing it inside a number of days.

Harlequin shrimp Overview

The Harlequin shrimps are probably the most hanging crustaceans on the planet, exhibiting distinctive coloration and morphological options.

They will additionally function diligent little safety guards, retaining your corals protected from parasites (like Asterina starfish) by looking and consuming them, earlier than the pests have the prospect to do any hurt.

By taking good care of your Harlequin shrimp, they may return the favor by retaining your aquarium safe and healthy.

The colorful Harlequin shrimp is a particularly invaluable marine decorative species. Sadly, the feeding behavior of this species additionally possesses an issue for hobbyists wishing to show it in reef aquariums

The Harlequin shrimp, in my view, is without doubt one of the most stunning marine invertebrates on the planet. Simply have a look.

They’re largely white with colorful spots throughout their mantis formed physique. Normally, they develop to a maximum dimension of two inches.

Females might be considerably bigger than males. The three commonest causes aquarium house owners to think about buying them are:

As a result of they’re beautiful
To clear up an asterina starfish infestation
To look at their superb looking conduct

Harlequin shrimp Description

The Hymenocera, or Harlequin shrimp, is often cream-colored or white with occasional spots.

Across the Pacific Ocean, many of those shrimp could have pink spots whereas the Indian Ocean shrimp sometimes have purple spots whereas its shut cousin, the Hawaiian H. picta, has purple and pink spots on their body, the shrimp have two strolling legs on all sides and enormous claws, or cheliped.

The claws and eyes seem to look flattened and skinny. On its head, the shrimp have “petal-like sensory antennules” to odor out their prey.

Their physique often reaches as much as 5 cm or 2 inches, and the male is just a bit smaller than the feminine.

Natural habitat

Harlequin shrimp happen broadly throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean, although they’re by no means very ample in anyone space.

They’re mainly discovered on or around coral reefs in deeper elements of the subtidal zone.

A smaller animal, it usually grows no bigger than two inches in size. Females (which carry and brood the eggs) are considerably bigger than males. Male/female pairs are very generally encountered within the wild.

These shut {couples} hardly ever enterprise very far aside, and people will even confront rivals that get close to their mate. The bonds, apparently, are long-lasting.

Of their pure habitat shrimp type breeding pairs who hardly ever transfer quite a lot of inches away from one another.

Their pairing is considered each for the needs of mating and for the additional benefit of getting a looking associate–which is unhealthy information in the event you’re a starfish.

Placement within the tank

These shrimp are usually shy at first and want a safe place to cover. Usually instances they may choose a cave and switch that into their lair, they use this for resting and for consuming, dragging their prey into it to have the ability to eat in security.

They want water temperatures between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit and are very inclined to modifications in water chemistry and salinity.

Water modifications must match each chemically and in temperature. They cannot deal with copper or nitrates within the water (chemical compounds generally used to deal with parasite infestations in fish).

The shrimp are additionally weak to sturdy currents and can shy away in case your tank has too much circulation.

A fast scan of discussion board posts discussing these colorful crustaceans show a number of posts from individuals who misplaced their fish to their powerhead filters.

Discovering circulation and filtration techniques that don’t create an excessive amount of present within the tank is an absolute should for retaining harlequins pleased and wholesome.

A gyre pump could also be greatest for these shrimp in the event you intend to maintain them in a bigger reef tank.

Nonetheless, due to their dimension and delicate construction, you might need to strive to retain them in a nano tank, the place they are often safer (and due to this fact seen) and be the main focus.

Harlequin shrimp Molting

Hymenocera picta, like all shrimp, shed their exoskeletons as they develop, as a result of their laborious outer shell doesn’t develop with them.

As they develop, a brand new shell develops beneath the previous one.

When it’s able to develop, their previous shell splits open they usually emerge of their new shell.

Sometimes an old shell will come off in such an ideal piece that it’ll seem just like the shrimp is useless and mendacity immobile on the underside of the tank.

The issue is commonly made worse by the truth that a freshly molted shrimp is aware that its new exoskeleton continues to be tender and weak to predators and can conceal for a number of hours till it hardens. So don’t leap to conclusions too rapidly, in the event you discover a lifeless carapace in your tank.

Harlequin shrimp Diet

Harlequin shrimp’s only supply of diet comes from starfish. They’re very expert at flipping over the gradual starfish on its again, and consuming the tube ft and tender tissues till it reaches the central disk.

They, often one feminine and one male, use their claws to pierce the robust pores and skin and feeding legs to assist them to maneuver the starfish.

Typically the starfish will shed the arm that the shrimp attacked and regrow (the shrimp can then re-eat it), but it’s often too wounded to regrow.

They could additionally feed on sea urchins, as a result of they’ve tube ft as properly, however that’s uncommon and provided that they’re very hungry.

Harlequin shrimp Habits

Harlequin shrimp are largely lively at night. Being fairly conspicuous in look and having few natural defenses, it may be fairly nervous in captivity, significantly within the presence of bigger, extremely lively fishes.

It definitely shouldn’t be saved with recognized shrimp-eaters corresponding to hawkfish and plenty of wrasses. If overly cautious, even a hungry harlequin shrimp could select to cover fairly than take a feeding alternative.

Additionally, due to the species’ excessive level of territoriality and its protectiveness in the direction of mates, a number of pairs must be thought-about just for very massive aquarium techniques (and, even then, they need to be monitored intently for indicators of aggressive conduct).

Certainly, a devoted species tank (or one shared with completely placid tankmates corresponding to seahorses) is best.

As a result of harlequin shrimp are pretty delicate little creatures, it’s a good suggestion to cowl inlets to any water pumps. Otherwise, their holding tank itself would require no particular modifications.

Harlequin shrimp In captivity

In captive circumstances, less sturdy starfishes (corresponding to Linckia spp.) might grow to be malnourished and thus wrestle to regenerate severed arms.

For this reason (and maybe as a result of Linckia spp. are a bit dearer to buy), aquarists steadily make the most of an alternate feeder starfish sort.

The common (if not pest) starfish Asterina spp. has been used as an appropriate Linckia substitute.

In different cases, as a substitute for feeding an entire starfish without delay, the keeper could take away one of many starfish’s limbs and use it as feed. The rest of the starfish is maintained elsewhere (maybe the refugium) to safeguard it from its predators.

Protected in this way and fed a beneficiant food plan of meaty meals, the starfish will quickly recover and regrow its misplaced elements.

Holding a bunch of feeder starfish readily available will additionally assist to ease restoration by extending the time between cuts for every individual.

The massive, sturdy starfishes generally known as the chocolate chip stars are perfect for hymenocerathis feeding approach. Harlequin shrimp reportedly don’t feed on brittle stars.

Harlequin Shrimp

Keeping Harlequin Shrimp

There are different environmental elements to contemplate when bringing a Harlequin shrimp house such as the temperature of the water.

Ideally, it must be set between 28 – 32 C (82 and 89 F). In most guides about Harlequin shrimp, you will note that it’s attainable to maintain them at lower temperatures like 22C (72F).

In fact, you possibly can however they won’t breed. Which means that this isn’t their optimum temperature.

The precise gravity required is 1.023 – 1.025. The optimum pH for the Harlequin shrimp is between 8.zero and eight.4. The carbonate hardness needs to be from 8 to 12.

Along with the filter and water pump, you’ll have to consider that useless or rotting starfish will pollute your water in a short time. Due to this fact, a protein skimmer is an important piece of kit as properly.

Like all shrimp, Harlequin shrimp don’t tolerate massive ammonia and nitrate level. Be very cautious with copper.

It’s necessary to additionally remember that the shrimp are delicate to water chemistry and any sudden modifications can have a negative impact on them so, if gentle modifications are made it’s safer to do it slowly, giving the shrimp time to adjust.

Additionally don’t transfer a Harlequin shrimp right into a tank that has a powerful current. Some sorts of fish want this so which means they don’t seem to be the very best tank mates for a shrimp.

Solely transfer a shrimp into an aquarium that has a light current.

The shrimp wants to have the ability to transfer across the tank comfortably for their very own security, so don’t transfer shrimp right into a tank that has a really highly effective filtration system.

Harlequin Shrimp and Hiding Locations

As soon as a solo shrimp is inserted into an aquarium, they may attempt to find a house for themselves.

That is often someplace lined and distant. Harlequin shrimps are sometimes drawn to cave-dwelling, so marine ornaments like toy skulls or sunken pirate ships make a really perfect lair. Someplace the shrimp can retreat if it feels threatened in any method.

The creatures will get your hands on such a location as quickly as they arrive and can enterprise out and discover their environment as soon as they grow to be extra comfy and acclimatized to their new house.

This may truly be a pleasure to observe, particularly in case your shrimp have been significantly shy. Seeing them go exploring is usually a satisfying factor to see.

Are harlequin shrimps reef safe?

Sure, harlequin shrimps are thought-about to be reef safe, with one massive exception.

The one factor they eat are echinoderms (starfish), so they don’t seem to be appropriate with starfish, however, they may go away corals and fish alone.
Compatibility and Harlequin shrimp tank mates

Hymenocera picta will be saved with smaller fish and plenty of sorts of crabs. Different shrimp will be a problem, although, like all shrimp are usually territorial.

Harlequin shrimp do not need quite a lot of pure predators within the wild.

In a tank set, nonetheless, they’re prone to be picked on by any fish that eats shrimp.

Wrasses, specifically, is usually a drawback, however, any massive fish can pose a possible risk.

Even when the bigger fish won’t eat the shrimp, the risk from predators can hold them in hiding. It goes without saying (though I assume I’m saying) that it isn’t clever to maintain this shrimp with fish which can be recognized to eat shrimp, like dwarf lionfish or hawkfish.

Since their pure meals are starfish (extra on that in a bit), don’t hold them with any ornamental starfish or sea urchins that you simply don’t need to see eaten.

Sexing Harlequin Shrimp

1. In Harlequin shrimp, females are usually bigger than males.
2. Females additionally exhibit bigger colored blotches within the ventral area of their stomach segments (they’ve blue/purple spots under the tail). Grownup males lack the blue suggestions of the pleopods, current in grownup females, and have the second shade patch on the facet of the stomach solely weakly developed.
3. Harlequin males develop an appendix masculina and an appendix interna, whereas females develop solely an appendix interna.

Harlequin shrimp Reproduction

Harlequin shrimp favor to stay in breeding pairs and can spawn each month or so.

Elevating them from their larval stage in a house tank has been met with restricted success. Nonetheless, simply final year a business aquarium firm was in a position to get 500 harlequins from larval to maturity.

Hopefully, there will be more success and a technique for house propagation might be out there quickly.

How lengthy do harlequin shrimp stay?

Just a few web sites report that harlequin shrimp stay for about 7 years. Anecdotal studies on-line type hobbyists counsel about 2-Three years as soon as launched to the tank.

Harlequin Shrimp Care

Harlequin shrimp solely eat starfish (and in instances of absolute desperation, sea urchin). Particularly the tube ft of starfish.

There isn’t any different meals supply you possibly can simply entice them with.

A pair of harlequins goes on the hunt for starfish, in a position to odor their prey, even when the echinoderm is hidden.

As soon as they discover a starfish, they may stand on the prime of it to immobilize it earlier than flipping it over.

As quickly because the starfish is on its again the pair will start to pull it to their lair for feasting upon.

A single harlequin shrimp could make a starfish last as long as two weeks. Typically talking, they begin consuming on the level of the star and work their method by means of the tube ft towards the middle.

Some hobbyists have reported that their harlequins will even convey algae into their cave to force-feed the starfish in an effort to hold it alive and contemporary for his or her eating.

Some species of starfish have the flexibility to shed their legs to get away from predators and can do that when being eaten by the shrimp.

Due to their very explicit tastes, harlequin shrimp will be fairly costly to maintain. Chocolate chip starfish are a number of the lowest price choices and even these are available at $9-$12 every.

Harlequin Shrimp and Tankmates

Talking of tank mates, it’s important to know which sea creatures make excellent neighbors for Harlequin shrimp.

They often can’t stay with different Harlequins. Each male and females are aggressive in the direction of people of the same sex. There are also studies that males can readily battle one another to death in an encounter.

Nonetheless, I’d not suggest mixing them with different breeds of shrimp as properly.

As soon as the shrimp strikes into his/her tank they may think about it Harlequin territory and won’t need to share this with every other breed. Fights can and can occur.

Harlequin shrimp can stay alongside small fish (for instance, Panda goby) in concord.

Don’t embody them in an aquarium with a lot bigger or probably aggressive fish (like Wrasse, Puffers, Damsels, Bigger Hawkfish, Lionfish, and so on).

Even when fish don’t are likely to assault Harlequin shrimp, the shrimp could really feel intimidated by a lot bigger creatures.

This may be detrimental to their long-term well being. Both inflicting them to cover away and starve or simply usually dwelling in irritating surroundings.

Some aquarists handle to maintain Harlequins with crabs. Personally, I don’t thank that will probably be a good suggestion (for instance with Grapsus grapsus (The Sally Lightfoot crab), Stenorhynchus seticornis (Arrow crabs), and so on.).

Crabs are opportunistic eaters. They are going to eat no matter what they will catch. Due to this fact, I would not danger retaining Harlequin shrimp with them.

Take away

Harlequin shrimp are beautiful. It’s superb to observe their looking conduct and the way adeptly they’re able to disarm (pun supposed) an unexpected starfish, however elevating them in a reef tank definitely comes with quite a lot of challenges.

Their dietary wants aren’t for the faint of coronary heart (or these on a budget). No matter how starfish, be able to be on clean-up obligation.

Harlequin shrimp eat starfish feet. They won’t eat the entire starfish. So the remainder of the physique might be left in your tank.

Most clear up crews won’t eat the outer bits of the celebrities that means that usually eradicating decaying starfish from the tank is a chore that accompanies harlequin shrimp possession.

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