Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

Lysmata amboinensis

In this edition of Species Spotlight we will be taking a look at the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp.

The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is probably one of the most sought-after shrimps in the marine Aquarium hobby, this is for good reason as this is a gorgeous shrimp that really does clean the fish in your tank.

The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, also called the Pacific Cleaner Shrimp, Scarlet Cleaner shrimp, White Banded Cleaner Shrimp and Red Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp has a light amber body with two bright scarlet red stripes along their back with a white stripe in the middle. The tail is also red with four spots in white. These shrimps grow to be about 2 and a half inches in length and have long white sweeping antennae.

The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp will place itself in the tank and extend its long antenna inviting fish to come for cleaning. When the fish come close the shrimp will jump onto them and inspect the fish for small parasites, dead skin, scales, or other tissue. The shrimp will even go into mouths and gills of the fish as they clean. It is easy to see why this shrimp is so popular, between the vibrant colors and the behavior this peaceful shrimp is a great addition to almost any tank.

The lifecycle of the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp begins as an egg, once hatched every Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is a male, after a few molts they become hermaphroditic allowing them to function as both a male and a female in interactions with other shrimp.  they go through a free-swimming stage where they filter feed on plankton and molt numerous times over a period of 5 to 6 months. This free-swimming stage makes them difficult to breed in aquaria.  They then go through a metamorphosis and settle to the bottom into the mature form that we are all familiar with.

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp live about 3 or longer years in captivity. You may also wake up to find what appears to be a dead shrimp in your tank, do not be alarmed, this is more than likely just a molt. As the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp grows the exoskeleton does not grow with it, so it must shed the outside layer as it grows.

The diet of the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is vast, and they will readily accept most forms of food presented to them. Along with other invertebrates the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp will not tolerate copper-based medications or high levers of nitrate and phosphate. The shrimp should be drip acclimated when introducing to a new environment.

The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp is a great addition to almost any saltwater or reef aquarium, with its bright colors and symbiotic relationships on full display this is sure to be a family favorite.