FAQs about Pistol (including Goby) Shrimps,
Related FAQs: Pistol Shrimps 1, Pistol Shrimps 2, Alpheid ID, Alpheid
Compatibility, Alpheid Selection,
Alpheid Systems, Pistol Shrimp and Goby Biotopes,
Alpheid Feeding, Alpheid Disease, Alpheid Reproduction, & Shrimp Gobies, Shrimp Gobies 2, &
1, Marine Shrimps
3, Shrimp Identification,
Shrimp Selection, Shrimp Behavior, Shrimp Compatibility, Shrimp Systems, Shrimp Feeding, Shrimp Reproduction, Shrimp Disease, Cleaner
Shrimp, Banded Coral
Shrimp, Dancing Shrimp,
Harlequin Shrimp, Saron Shrimp, Mantis
Eating Shrimp, Crustacean Identification, Crustacean Selection, Crustacean Behavior, Crustacean Compatibility, Crustacean Systems, Crustacean Feeding, Crustacean Disease, Crustacean Reproduction,
Related Articles: Alpheid Shrimps, Shrimp,
A Few Common Shrimps for the Marine Aquarium by James W.
Fatherree, Shrimp Gobies,
Crawlin' the line...
Hi there Bob
My LFS occasionally sells pistol/goby
pairs. Which got me thinking: if I buy a goby will it mean
that the pistol shrimp that's been living in my system for
month will partner up with it and become more
I think the pistol shrimp arrived on
some live rock and I've never actually seen it, I just hear
Also can I ask, when the LFS sells
goby/shrimp pairs are they caught as a pair in the wild or do
they make friends in the dealer's tanks
The hopeful pairing of Alpheids
(Pistol Shrimps) and their goby species symbionts (not all are by
far) is a tricky business Steven. They don't always get
along, not by a far shot'¦ and I do mean as in a pistol
shot! I do encourage you to find and flush out (outside the tank
seltzer water, in a plastic pan, applied to the hole in the rock
you suspect the shrimp to occupy) and try to identify the Alpheid
to species, look up on the Net, in books re its natural symbiotic
goby species'¦ Sometimes even then, species of shrimp
and symbiont goby that are known to pair in the wild will totally
ignore each other'¦ at times, one or t'other will
show interest only to be shunned by its would-be partner.
Also, do know that there are independent/ solo species that
don't live w/ gobies of any sort.
Having collected these animals in the
wild, I can tell you first hand, that they are gathered at the
same time and place on occasion; as well as being
'introduced' by dealers as strangers to see if
they'll bond.Whichever route you
go, either mixing known pair or hoping for a marriage twixt your
present one and a novel goby, DO provide plenty of space and
rubble for them to choose to be together or not.
Pistol Shrimp Hitchhiker 5/13/2011
Dear WWM Crew,
Just a quick question if you don't mind; I know I have a Pistol
Shrimp hitchhiker in my tank, at least I'm willing to bet it's
not a Mantis as none of CUC has gone missing and I think a Mantis would
have started to come out to feed during regular feeding time.
<Not necessarily, they generally ambush their prey.>
Whatever I have in there makes his popping almost every night and
usually during feeding time, and there is something that likes moving
around the substrate under and around one of the larger pieces of live
<Either one will do this.>
My question is this: Do you think I'll ever actually get to see
that little guy?
<I'm sure you will sooner or later. It likely has it's
burrow set up away from your view point.>
I spend hours looking for him but have yet to catch the smallest
glimpse. I do have a yellow watchman in there, but I doubt it's a
compatible species pair.
<Can take time before they find each other if you have a Pistol
Shrimp. If it's a Mantis you have, we'll hope they don't
find each other.>
Since he's not hurting anything (yet), I'm leaving him be and
not trying to trap him (past my initial freshwater dips I mentioned a
few weeks ago).
<I'd continue to diligently observe for now.
Thanks in Advance
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Pistol Shrimp Question/Alpheidae Behavior
Greetings and salutations,
<Hello whomever you are.>
I have a 14 gallon tank with about 10-12 pounds of live rock and a
fairly deep sand bed. I bought a pistol shrimp and a Hi-Fin Red Banded
Goby. They have already paired up, and the two of them are getting
The Pistol Shrimp has excavated about three different areas under the
live rock like a bulldozer in the past 12 hours. My question is this:
Will the shrimp eventually settle on one particular spot as his
"cave", or will he continue to excavate everywhere like an
<Will settle in a chosen area, but these shrimp usually excavate
escape routes as you are witnessing. May want to read here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Pistol Shrimp AWOL/Pistol Shrimp/Behavior
Hello my name is Daniel,
and I apologize for the long email, but I wanted to be thurough
<thorough> and include all info I had. I could not find any
answer on your site or any thing Google turned up.
<Is best to include as much info as possible.>
I have a 38 Gal tank with an Aquaclear 70 filter, Koralia 1 (400Gph)
powerhead, a SeaClone 100, 50lb of live rock, and about 2 inches of
aragonite gravel. My lighting is a plastic canopy with a 20watt actinic
florescent <fluorescent> (no coral). I use 100% RO water from a
Pure-Flow 24GPD TFC machine. All water test have come back perfect
(using API test kits) in the past 14 months (since the tank
stabilized). pH 8.2-8.4, KH is 8-12 drops (140-200ppm)
<A little low, the ppm indicated averages about 3.5 dKH. Better to
keep at 6-9 dKH.>
(API test kit has you count the drops added and compare to a chart)
Ammonia 0 mg/L, Nitrite 0 mg/L, Nitrate 10 mg/L or less, and Phosphate
is under 0.25 mg/L. Haven't been doing tests regularly in the past
6 months because they always show perfect. Now I test about once every
month, plus I tested last night.
<Yes, best to check on a regular basis, problems are easier to
correct if they do not get out of hand.>
The tank has been running for over a year and all fish have been alive
for about 8-10 months along with the inverts. I feed 3 times a week;
Monday and Friday Mysis shrimp, and Wednesday some pellets or
I feed till fish seem satisfied.
Fish: 1 Six Line Wrasse about 1.5 inch long, 2 Yellowtail Damsels 1
inch long, and a Yellow Watchmen Goby about 1.75-2 inches long.
Inverts: Some form of Pencil Urchin (spines are green at base and
purple at the tips, 1 inch body), Serpent star (9 inch arm span, tan
with brown bands down each arm), a Turbo snail, 1 or 2 Blue Leg Hermits
(1/2 inch across the legs) (bought nine but they slowly get eaten or
die, can only find one now),
<May have starved.>
and a Pistol Shrimp (body is 1inch long) (looks like a Tiger, it is tan
with brown bands similar to the Serpent Star, with red antennae).
<Possibly a Alpheus bellulus.>
My question is this: I haven't found my Pistol Shrimp in about 2 or
3 days (usually comes out to feed, sharing with his buddy the
Watchman), but now I can't find him in any of the caves he has
previously dug out, and the Goby seems more shy.
<Quite possible the shrimp has molted and will remain hidden until
his exoskeleton has hardened.>
I don't have an Iodine test kit nor supplement, but I do add
Calcium (Kent) about every 2 or 3 weeks (fairly random actually, but
only about 5-10 drops).
<Do you not check calcium levels? Drug store iodine/iodide is fine
and three drops weekly
should be fine. Iodine does aid shrimp/crabs with the molting
My water changes happen every other Saturday and change 20% tank
volume. I mix in Instant Ocean Sea Salt to a SG of about 1.024, and
maintain the temperature 78-84F, which seems to have been fine. Urchin
commonly has tentacles out and carries shells or chunks of rock
(apparently indicating it's happy).
<Not necessarily. I was carrying chunks of rock around the backyard
all day and I wasn't a bit happy about it.:)) You may want to
search Pistol Shrimp and Sea Urchins on our site and learn about
Is my shrimp just molting and buried itself to hide?
<Likely, but do ensure it gets enough food.>
I don't suspect
he is dead as he seems to be able to fight off the Hermit crabs, which
are about half his size.
<Small hermits may become a meal to the shrimp.>
Plus, I normally hear him "snap" quite often at night, but
not the past few days.
<Generally do not "snap" after molting.>
Again, I am sorry for the long message.
Thank you very much for your help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Pistol Shrimp AWOL/Pistol Shrimp/Behavior 6/23/10 -
Thank you so much for your response James (Salty Dog)
I apologize for my spelling mistakes, as I was sending that email on my
ps3 which does not show me spelling mistakes.
I doubt my hermits starved because I was feeding a little more then my
fish would eat, and my phosphate levels did climb at one point causing
a green hair algae overload. I added a little phos lock to my filter
and cut back on feeding to bring the algae under control but there is
still some around.
<May want to read here and related articles/FAQ's found in the
My shrimp has been missing for about a week now, but I think I will get
some iodine. He might be taking longer then usual because of lack of
<Is possible he may have relocated to an area in your tank you
cannot view. Should have heard from him by now.>
Anyway thanks for the help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
PS love your site.
Observation on pistol shrimp and gobies
First of all, thank you for being there and taking the time to
answer so many questions.
I have a 55 gal DT with a 15 gal sump that I started in May,
2009. It is coming along well and right now I am in the stage of
mostly watching what is happening in the tank with the various
coral, invert and fish inhabitants. It's so fascinating.
One of the things I really wanted when I started this was a
shrimp/goby pair. It was frustrating at first. I acquired a
Randall's pistol shrimp and a Yasha goby to start. The Yasha
died after 3 weeks. Later I tried a 2nd Yasha and it died in 2
days. The tank was fully cycled at the time and the animals
appeared healthy at the outset; I was confused and sad. I
didn't want to be responsible for any more Yasha deaths, so I
let the shrimp be alone for a few months. I was his surrogate
goby and fed him by putting food near the burrow.
It seemed to work as he thrived.
About 2 months ago, I bought 2 more shrimp gobies, thinking
perhaps this shrimp has preferences over what species he lives
<Could well be>
So, I got one Randall's goby and one Stonogobiops nematodes.
For at least a solid month neither paired with the shrimp. They
lived on opposite sides of the tank and equidistant from a
All the burrowers were eating well and healthy, but unpaired.
Then, a couple of weeks ago (the tank is now
6.5 months old) the Randall's paired with the shrimp.
Success! It happened overnight. He lived with the shrimp for a
week or so and then, again overnight, the partners switched and
now the Hi Fin goby lives with the shrimp.
Do you have any insight you can share as to why this
<Perhaps like cats and some men/women... "they" go
live where/with whomever "feeds them better">
Do you think the fish or the shrimp has the
dominant opinion in these matters?
<I suspect both are free parties in the matter... that this,
in human view is a mutually beneficial, perhaps in the wild,
What seems strange, is that the tank seems so quiet at night
<Indeed... a prophetic statement of worth: "Things are
not often what they appear">
They seem to be asleep. And yet, these behaviors and partner
switching things go on.
Mostly just wanted to share, but any insight is appreciated!
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Symbiotic Relationships... worms, goby,
Greetings to the wonderful crew at WWM!
<Hello, Josh here.>
I would like your thoughts on the possibility of another
"symbiotic" relationship between the Yasha Hase, Pistol
Shrimp, and Bristle Worm(s). In the beginning few months of getting our
Yasha Hase and pistol shrimp pair, we noticed that the Nassarius snail
and hermit crabs would try to go into the cave built by the pistol
shrimp. The pistol shrimp would get very angry and we hear popping
noises all day long.
<That sounds about right.>
Lately we heard much fewer "pops" and noticed during our
nightly feedings that bristle worms would come out near the end of the
feeding and their presence appears to prevent any hermit crabs or the
Nassarius snail from trying to get scraps left at the cave entrance. My
husband was worried that the worms would harm the Yasha Hase or the
pistol shrimp, but I've watched on several occasions where they are
literally touching each other without any ill effects!
<Unless the worms get extremely large, bigger than a pencil in
length and girth, I wouldn't really be concerned. In fact some
people aren't concerned even when they do get large, if it is
hurting the goby, he will learn to avoid them.>
One time, I managed to "suck" onto one of the worms with my
syringe that I use to target feed, and as I was trying to pull the worm
out of the cave, the pistol shrimp came to its rescue and popped his
claws at my syringe!
<Interesting, I doubt it was defending the worm itself, and was more
likely just disturbed by the syringe more than the worms.>
I let go of course as I love my little pistol shrimp and doesn't
want to take his friend...but are bristle worms their friends?
<Friends, I don't know. Do the mind each other, apparently not,
the worms are eating due to the presence of the goby/shrimp pair, and
also keeping the snails out. That seems like a good
I've read that bristle worms are 'bad' but at the same
time, I've read that they help with cleaning up detritus and churn
up the sand bed, so'¦Next time if I get a chance to grab one
of them, should I try to get it out?
<Nope they are actually good for the tank. Just not so great
Thanks so much for your time!
<Your very welcome,
Pistol Shrimp/Behavior 4/22/08 Hi, <Hello
Melaine or is it Melanie?> I am rather humorously writing about
hosting confusion going on in my tank! First I had two clownfish for
about two years. Then I put in a Pistol Shrimp. About 8 months later I
put in a Long Tentacled Anemone. After about a month, the Pistol Shrimp
claimed the LTA. Kind of cute to watch it crawl around in it,
"whipping" it with its antennae. They have maintained this
relationship for the last 7 months. The clownfish wanted nothing to do
with the LTA. About three months ago, my daughter shut down her tank
and I was given her pink/blue Spotted Watchman Goby. After being in the
tank a few weeks, the goby "decided" it wants to host with
the shrimp but can't quite get close enough to it without the LTA
getting in the way. Now, in just the last two days, the clownfish have
starting hosting with the LTA, which sets the Pistol Shrimp to popping
and hiding under its rock, and the goby picking up shells, snails and
whatever else it can carry and stacking at the edge of the hole for the
pistol shrimp. My question is, should I let this continue as is, or
should I move the rock the LTA is attached to that the pistol shrimp
hides under, to the other side of the tank, leaving the shrimp with a
different rock, so the goby can tend to him? Which would be the least
stressful to this confused, busy little group? <Let nature take
it's course. I'm sure in due time, both the shrimp and goby
will share a home. Do read FAQ's here on this behavior.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alphbehf.htm> Thank you, <You're
welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Melaine
Re: Pistol Shrimp/Behavior 4/23/08 Hi, <Hello
Melaine> Thanks much for your answer. Melaine is correct, it is not
Melanie. Often gets changed to that though. <Unusual name, but nice.
My wife changes my name occasionally, but I can't print the other
names here, Bob would delete before posting.> Thanks again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Melaine
Traveling Pistol, Alpheid beh.
02/12/2008 Hello all, as always I hope this question finds you
well. <<Hello, Andrew here. Fine thank you>> I have had a
pistol shrimp and partner goby in my tank for a couple weeks now, seem
quite healthy and quite fascinating too watch. I just have two quick
questions. 1. I have been spot feeding them they seem to enjoy the
food, just curious if there is anything specific I should be feeding
them? (I can't seem to find much on this in the F.A.Q's)
<<There is nothing specific you need to feed these besides normal
food for goby's like Brine, Mysis, Ocean Nutrition, frozen prepared
food etc etc>> 2. I understand that the pistol will constantly
work and upgrade their home, but mine seems to close his doors at home,
and dig a new one about three times a day. Quite often returning to his
old "digs" just to change again. I guess my question is, is
this a "normal" activity? <<Yes, this is very normal
activity. Sometimes I've found that if the shrimp chooses to close
up an entrance, it can mean that its not happy with the substrate in
that particular area. This is common in tanks that only have sugar fine
reef sand as the substrate>> Thanks in advance for your response,
Steve <<Thanks for the questions Steve...Regards, A
How does one encourage a pistol shrimp/goby to move to a
new location? + other?s Hello, >>Hi, Travis. >I started my
first reef tank about six weeks ago. The tank is a thirteen
gallon with about fifteen pounds of live rock, some corals, a tube
worm, blue legged hermits, and Astrea snails. The only other
inhabitants are a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp pair.
Tank has about 60 watts of light, and a protein skimmer that came with
the tank. The tank and skimmer were made by CPR. I feed my
tube worm about a grain of rice worth of Black Powder around once
a week. Is the Black Powder a sufficient food for the
worm? Should I feed the worm more often? >>I like to
see a variety of foods offered, and if you can see your way clear a
culture of rotifers offered to all the filter feeders would be helpful,
same thing with plankton in general. Some also really
appreciate getting the "juice" that's exuded from foods
such as squid, clams, shrimp, and fish. Also, you would want
to keep an eye on both alkalinity (buffering capacity of the water) as
well as your calcium levels. If you feed but have
insufficient biomineral availability you might not see the growth you
should. >>As for frequency of feedings, I would like to see them
feed a bit more frequently--remember, in nature they're feeding
daily. >Also, much of the bottom of my tank is covered with
live rock except for a small patch of sand (approximately
6"/6"). Unfortunately, my shrimp and goby have decided
to set up home behind the live rock where I cannot see them.
Sometimes the goby peeks around the rock and the shrimp snaps, so I
know they are there. How can I encourage them to take up
residence in the open spot so that I can see them? >>This last
problem is a much more difficult issue, as the old saying goes, you can
lead a horse to water, eh? The only thing I can offer you is
to use a combination of feeding ONLY in a certain area, and possibly
recreating the structure that they're so fond of in a more easily
viewable area. Otherwise strategically placed mirrors have
been my own solution, though it's never really bothered me that I
can't see some things. I'm just happy to know that
they're there and thriving. >>I would also like to encourage
you to consider the addition in the future of a
refugium. The development of a 'fuge with a deep sand
bed would be of so much benefit you would end up being quite happy with
the time and investment. Good luck! Marina Thank
you very much for your help. Travis.
Pistol shrimp and goby 3/30/03 I started my first reef
tank about six weeks ago. The tank is a thirteen gallon with
about fifteen pounds of live rock, some corals, a tube worm, blue
legged hermits, and Astrea snails. The only other inhabitants are
a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp pair. How does one encourage a
pistol shrimp/goby to move to a new location? <you may encourage the
move by providing a tube (plastic pipe) buried in the sand under a
rock. They often find this hospitable. Best regards,
- Ever Heard of... - Hi guys, I work at the Aquatic
Warehouse in San Diego, CA. I have seen a type of pistol shrimp while
working there that I cannot seem to find the scientific name or mention
of anywhere. Have any of you ever heard of a Candy Cane
Pistol Shrimp... or Miniature Pistol Shrimp? <Not familiar with
those common names, but that doesn't mean much as often common
names are ad hoc.> I'm not sure if that is the correct common
name for it. <Me either.> It is about an inch full sized and much
thinner/petite than even the Tiger Pistol Shrimp (which to my knowledge
is the smallest of the standard sized pistols) It is bright
red and white striped and has the token pistol claw on one
side. I am very interested in getting one as a companion for
either a Stonogobiops nematodes or a White Ray Shrimp Goby (which even
my trusty Marine Fishes, by Scott W. Michael doesn't have a full
scientific name for.. pg. 356) <Hmmm... I'm using Helmut
Debelius' book, Crustacea Guide of the World, and have found two
Alpheids with candy-cane type striping, the A. leviusculus and the A.
randalli. The latter is actually pictured with a shrimp goby so that
might be a better pick.> Please let me know if you have any
information on this.. <You now have everything I have. The Alpheids
are, if nothing else, diverse... really quite a few of them. I hope the
limited amount of information I have will prove helpful.> I am
setting up what you might call a bonsai tank.. keeping all
miniatures. (So far it's inhabitants are a pair of
Miniature Blue Banded Coral Shrimps and some mushrooms.) -Laura
<Cheers, J -- >
- Shrimp/Goby Pairing - I recently got these [Yellow
Watchman Goby and Red Pistol Shrimp] and they don't seem to be
pairing up... maybe the goby just doesn't know where the pistol has
made his home at. But I have read the FAQ's and
didn't read much about the red pistol shrimp type.. but that most
watchman will pair up with these kind.... Do you have any idea what
might be taking so long... <Need to ask the Goby... no exact science
here, so no exact answers.> Also I haven't noticed the pistol
coming out of his home, does he just come out at night. <Yes, mostly
nocturnal without the help of the Goby.> Thanks: -Roger <Cheers,
J -- >
Raising a Pistol Shrimp (3/23/05) I have a few
questions regarding a pistol shrimp. <Shoot. BTW, please
capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first letter of
sentences. Also, please use punctuation like periods and question
marks. We post all queries and replies on our site permanently and want
them as readable as possible. Our volunteer crew will have a lot more
time to answer queries if they don't have to proofread them. Not
only that, some of us older presbyopics have a hard time reading
unpunctuated text. Thanks, Steve Allen.> I just got him from
my LFS and he is a baby I want to raise him and then pair him with a
watchman goby... <I have a pair in my tank. They're very
attractive and interesting to watch.> ... but I am not sure
how long it will take to raise him large enough. What he should be
eating as a baby and if the species I have is compatible with a
watchman? <What species do you have? Many genus Alpheus
burrowing shrimps will for this symbiotic relationship. As for foods,
if the shrimp is very small, then you will need something very fine
such as Cyclop-Eeze. If big enough, it will take just about any frozen
food such as Mysis. Many will take ground flake foods or tiny pellets.
The shrimp should be big enough to be with the goby when it's too
big to be eaten and is burrowing.> He is opaque with black
stripes and he looks like he's wearing a prison jumpsuit.
<I'd suggest you compare with pictures in a book that has a lot
of shrimp pictures. If you can send me a clear picture, I may be able
to help, but I cannot make an identification based on this description.
I hope this info is helpful.>
Goby and Pistol Shrimp Take Off Together WWM Crew, I
have a 65 gallon reef tank that is 24" high with a built in
overflow. No live rock or coral come within several inches of the
overflow grates. Among my tank's inhabitants include a 1 1/2"
watchman goby and 3/4" pistol shrimp who, until very recently
shared the same "burrow" together in a deep sand bed under
some live rock. <They do this> A few days ago, I found my
goby and pistol shrimp in a prefilter bag in the sump below my tank. I
understand how it's possible for the goby to have gotten down there
(as he can swim, albeit not very well) but how in the world did his
friend end up with him? <Scooted over the edge evidently>
It's almost as if the shrimp would have had to clamp onto a fin as
they made there two foot ascent towards the overflow. <Some
Alpheids do maintain close physical contact... mostly through larger
pair of "antennae"> (The overflow is also protected by
several jets that blast enough current to only allow the top 1/2 inch
of water to pass into the overflow. Any animals going near the overflow
would be forced back to the bottom of the tank.) Can the goby carry the
shrimp in his mouth. (I know the last question sounds ridiculous.) I am
really at a loss here. Thanks. Jack <Neat proposition/speculation...
Pint-sized Pistol -- 5/3/07 Hello and thank
you for your help in the past. <Hello. And you are welcome, on
behalf of the crew.> We recently heard a clicking sound coming from
our tank after reading the FAQs on your site we decided it must be a
pistol shrimp. <Very likely.> After spending a few
nights and most of our sanity we found one about 3/4 of a inch
long. Is it possible that was it or is it too small to make
that much noise? <Not too small. If it was only
'clicking' then Â¾' is plenty big. A
full grown one makes a cracking sound that makes you think the glass
has cracked 2 feet. Actually it depends on the species and
the individual. My old one used to make a huge cracking
noise. The one I have now just
'clicks'. Since you never get to see them, this
sound is their little addition to your experience. Some
people find the noise stressful. I kind of like it, a
reminder that he is still there. Now that you know what it
is maybe you will enjoy his happy hunting sounds. Maybe get
a watchman goby to go with it if that fits in your stocking
plan. They are a fascinating pair.> Thank you again. Dee