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