The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, scientifically known as Lysmata amboinensis, is an interesting creature.
It’s not just a regular shrimp; it has a special job. It’s a cleaner shrimp, which means it eats parasites and dead tissue from fish. This is a big part of its diet. It’s like a little doctor for the fish in the ocean.
Where Does the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Live?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is found in several parts of the world. It’s native to the coral reefs in the tropics, including the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
These shrimp typically live at depths of 5–40 meters (16–131 ft). They are usually found in caves or reef ledges.
So, next time you’re snorkeling or scuba diving, you might just spot one of these shrimp in the nooks and crannies of the reef.
What Does the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Look Like?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is quite the looker. It can reach a body length of 5–6 centimetres (2.0–2.4 in).
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp has long white antennae and its body and legs are pale amber.
What makes it really stand out are the bands on its carapace: a central white band with wider scarlet red bands on either side.
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp also has several symmetrical white spots on its red tail. It’s really quite a colorful creature!
How Does the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp’s Life Cycle Work?
The life cycle of the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is a fascinating one. The adults lay eggs which are attached to their pleopods.
The eggs hatch into larvae called nauplii, which later develop into zoeae. They go through a free-floating stage, feeding on other plankton and growing to approximately 2 centimeters (0.79 in) in length over 5–6 months.
After a few moults, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp becomes a hermaphrodite, functioning as both male and female.
Interesting Fact About Skunk Cleaner Shrimp: Protandric Simultaneous Hermaphroditism
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp’s form of sexual maturation is called ‘protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism’. That’s quite a mouthful!
It simply means that each shrimp starts out as a male but after a few moults, it can function as both male and female.
What Is the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp’s Behaviour Like?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp don’t live in large groups. They are usually found in pairs and are omnivorous. They get most of their nutrition from cleaning parasites and dead tissue from fish.
In captivity, Skunk Cleaner Shrimp have been seen to be socially monogamous. That means if more than 2 shrimp are kept together, one pair might kill the rest.
It’s unknown if Skunk Cleaner Shrimp behave the same way in the wild.
What’s the Role of The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in The Ecosystem?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp plays a very important role in the ecosystem. It has a symbiotic relationship with the fish it cleans.
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp gets a meal from eating parasites living on large fish and the fish benefits from the removal of parasites. It’s a win-win situation.
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp can even help in the healing of injured fish. They are often found living in caves with their client fish, like moray eels, which protect the shrimp from predators.
Why Is the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Popular in Aquariums?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is a popular choice for home and public aquaria. Its striking colors, peaceful nature, and useful cleaning services make it a favorite.
Sometimes, they are even kept in ‘touch pools’ where visitors can put their hands in the water and the shrimp will clean their hands. Isn’t that neat?
Challenges in Keeping Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in Aquariums
Even though Skunk Cleaner Shrimp are popular in the aquarium hobby, they remain difficult to culture in captivity.
Most shrimp sold in the industry are wild-caught. This has led to concerns about the impact of their removal on natural reefs.
What’s the History of The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp’s Name?
The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp was described and named by Johannes Govertus de Man in 1888.
It’s also known as the White-banded Cleaner shrimp or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp. These names are due to its appearance.
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp Characteristics