Banded Coral Shrimp, or Boxer Shrimp

Shrimps are nice for a reef tank because 1) they're cute; 2) they never grow to be so large that you have to either sell them or eat them; 3) they eat algae, and 4) they do not impose a large biological "load" on the tank.

The shrimp I purchased has a body which is perhaps 1 inch long, with six (!) huge (4-5 inch) antennae, and seemingly innumerable legs.  The two most obvious legs are [relatively] huge, with [relatively] huge nippers.  They are covered with bristles and have red and white bands on them, as does the body of the shrimp.  The front set of legs is covered with fine hairs, and at times almost look like feathers.  These legs are the most difficult to see clearly in the pictures.  The remaining four pairs of legs are clear/white and are used for locomotion.  He has a bright blue spot near where his legs attach to his body, but this is not always apparant in the photos.  [After this was written, Stacey pointed out to me that this blue spot means that "he" is a "she"...] He also has a pair of feathery unicorn horns of some sort, which are also difficult to see in some shots. 

The Banded Coral Shrimp can function as a "cleaner shrimp" in the wild. It advertises its cleaning services to [potentially large and carniverous] fish with its antennae; when fish approach, they hold still while the shrimp cleans off dead skin and scales and parasites.  No big fish in my tank, so my poor shrimp has to eat algae.

With 12 legs and 6 antennae all sprouting from his [relatively] tiny body, it is amazing how well he navigates around the tank. The antennae are all totally under his control, as he demonstrates when he cleans them by pulling them through his feet.

Now to the pictures...

Note the bristles on the main legs/claws, the feather-like appearance of the secondary legs (the ones under the main legs, but which are not on the ground), the six antennae, and the unicorn horns (visible as a long daggar like blur above his head).

The blue spots at the base of his legs are clear, as are the bristles on his main legs; the "horns" are also clear.  You can almost make out the feathery legs held directly in front of him.

When anyone/thing approaches him, the shrimp threatens mayhem.  Here he is, hanging upside down from a rock, guns a blasin'.  He sometimes lunges at me, just to make sure I get the message.

The same posture, only this time right side up.  He sure loves his rock!

Here he is cleaning one of his antennae with his feet.  The "horns" look clearly bifurcated in this shot.

Here he is cleaning two antenna at once; again, the horns seem to be split.

Again he is cleaning multiple antennae.  Note the bristles on the largest legs and the blue at the base of the legs.  You can almost make a complete leg inventory on this shot.

One of the best shots of the "feathery" legs, just above his head.  It almost looks like the uppermost white "hand" is about to grasp the tip of the feather.

The feathery legs are visible in front of him, as are the bristles on the main legs and the two "horns".

Late breaking news: here is my latest shrimp, a Camel Shrimp. Kind of like a lobster, only tiny, and without any huge claws.