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FAQs about Cleaner Shrimp Behavior

Related Articles: Cleaner Shrimp A Few Common Shrimps for the Marine Aquarium by James W. Fatherree,

Related FAQs: Cleaner Shrimp 1, Cleaner Shrimp 2, Cleaner Shrimp Identification, Cleaner Shrimp Selection, Cleaner Shrimp Compatibility, Cleaner Shrimp Systems, Cleaner Shrimp Feeding, Cleaner Shrimp Disease, Cleaner Shrimp Reproduction, Coral Banded Shrimp, Dancing Shrimp, Harlequin Shrimp, Pistol Shrimp, Saron Shrimp, Shrimp Identification, Shrimp Selection, Shrimp Behavior, Shrimp Compatibility, Shrimp Systems, Shrimp Feeding, Shrimp Reproduction, Shrimp DiseaseCrustacean Identification, Crustacean Selection, Crustacean Behavior, Crustacean Compatibility, Crustacean Systems, Crustacean Feeding, Crustacean Disease, Crustacean Reproduction,

What's that on your head? A shreeemp!

Hi Bob,

Just a really quick question: How often are shrimps supposed to shed? My cleaner sheds about once every three weeks. Do I take it that once the shrimp reaches its full size it will slow down?  


Ian Turner,

East Dereham

Complete, frequent shedding, moulting, ecdysis is common in younger shrimp species kept in good condition with decent nutrition, fair water quality, with as you speculate molt intervals increasing with size and age. I do want to note that folks should keep track of such behavior, and be on their guard if their shrimp no longer are molting period; as this may be indicative of a nutrient deficiency (including iodide-ate), and/or a misproportionality of biomineral and/or alkalinity make-up in their water. Further, Id state that one should leave such molts in the tank/system for reincorporation by the shrimp. Their shed exoskeletons will not pollute your water, and indeed are a useful source of material for making the new one. At the last, do remember that shortly after molting, your crustaceans are most susceptible to predation; make sure and provide them adequate cover, décor to hide in.

Cleaner shrimp molted but part of exoskeleton still attached 8/28/12
Hi WWM Crew,
I have another question for you.  This one about my Cleaner Shrimp.  I will have had him for a year on Sept. 9.  He has done fine during that time, molting regularly.  I add Iodide daily (as per the instructions on the bottle).
<Mmm, I'd add every few days, not daily. Too likely a chance for overdosing, and not necessary>

 The night before last he molted.  Nothing unusual about that.  This morning I saw him out on top of a rock swaying back and forth (advertising for cleaning) like normal.  I also noticed right behind his head is a small piece of his old exoskeleton that is still attached to him on one end and kind of floating up on the other. It looks like part of what used to cover his back. It’s no bigger than 1/4 inch square.  He didn’t eat yesterday, but that’s not unusual for him right after a molt.  He seems fine otherwise.  Is this a concern? 
<Could be... time to check for measures of alkalinity, alkaline earth concentration... and/or do a large water change>
Thanks for in advance for this answer and all of your wonderful help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cleaner shrimp molted but part of exoskeleton still attached - 8/28/12

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the rapid answer.  I just did a 25% water change on Saturday evening.  On Sunday evening water tests were AM 0, NI 0, NA 30, CA 400,
<[Mg]? Needs to be in ratio>
SG 1.022
<I'd raise, keep at near seawater strength (1.025, 1.026). See WWM for rationale>

, pH 8.1, dKH 13 (I know this is a little high, but my tap water has a high dKH (10 to 12).  Before the WC it was 11 dKH).  I am at work now, so I
can't do any more current testing until later.  I don't have tests for the other alkaline earth concentrations, but I used Instant Ocean Reef Crystals (which is supposed to add trace elements, right?).  
<Correct; but over time the amounts of various components can/does drift>
On Saturday I also added the first layer of sand in order to build a DSB.
<Ah good>
 I added a half an inch to the back third of the aquarium.  Could this have something to do with it?
 Should I do another big water change, so soon, or just wait and see?
<When, where in doubt, change water. BobF>
Re: Cleaner shrimp molted but part of exoskeleton still attached - 8/28/12

I'm sorry, I forgot to put my name at the end of the email I just sent, and say thank you again.  I'm so grateful for your efforts.
<Am glad to assist your efforts, add to your useful knowledge. B>

How does a cleaner shrimp eat? 9/24/10
Dear Mr. Fenner,
Something has been driving us crazy, and I can't find the answer on WWM (probably not looking in the right places).
We have a very nice skunk cleaner, molting and growing larger, friendly and active. But we can't figure out how he gets the food into his mouth--and where is his mouth?
<Mmm, a bit below the two sets of antennae you'll see two opposing structures... all are embryologically modified "legs">
He doesn't seem to take the food to his "face"--are those white feet actually tubes?
<Mmm, not really. That is, they're not open at the ends>
Sounds crazy, but I can't figure it out. I've watched crabs eat, and they very definitely pick up food and put it in their mouths, but the shrimp doesn't seem to be doing the same thing. (He eats bits of frozen fish food and cleans our flame angel and sometimes, the chromis, but never the orange spot goby or fire fish or tomato clown, which doesn't matter--just thought I'd throw that in.)
Thanks again for helping with our 90g FOWLR plus one shrimp and one "grass anemone" (that's what the LFS called it).
<Do take a look with your search tool and the string "shrimp anatomy". Bob Fenner>

Algae growing on cleaner shrimp   6/13/10
Hi Bob!
I've seen this a couple times before and am now experiencing it my own tank. Brown algae begins to grow on the antennae of skunk cleaner shrimp (or maybe it's most visible there). I'm experiencing it now in my own tank, but it has begun to cover the majority of it's body. Is this related to molting?
<More to a lack of molting>
A lack of iodine maybe?
<Possibly this, or alkalinity, a shortage, imbalance of Ca, Mg... And/or conditions that favour pest algal growth>
Do they actively clean themselves or is there something else at work there?
<Do clean what parts they can reach...>
Funny...as I was about to send this email, I am watching my regal tang eat the shrimp's antennae. I think if I stop interrupting him he may eat the whole shrimp. There are plenty of smaller, tasty, and less useful shrimp in the tank!
<Yummy! BobF>
Blue World Aquariums
Victoria, BC

BTA hitchhiker ID / Cleaner shrimp beh. questions   4/25/10
Hello again crew!
Just wanted to thank you again for all your help and pick your brains a bit more. I purchased a piece of live rock a the other night and noticed today that there was a tiny Anemone floating around.
The Anemone is only about the size of a nickle, so I caught it and placed it in a net breeder so that my fish / hermit crabs don't decide to eat it for lunch.
It is flopped over right now but from what I can see it looks like a rose bubble tip anemone.
<I can't really make this out>
Unfortunately I cannot tell if the foot is damaged or not. I've attached a few pictures but I'm not sure
if you'll be able to make anything out of them. Will it be able to restore its foot if I can manage to
"bring it back"?
<Only time can/will tell>
I know it is still alive because it moves its tentacles in and out every so often.
Hopefully it will soon right it self, sit up straight and open up
In regards to feeding it, I've made a 50/50 blend of raw shrimp and squid.
I cleaned the shells off the shrimp and took all the die / bony structures out of the squid and passed it through a food processor.
It now looks like sea food mush. Do you think that this is too small?
<No, likely is fine. You should be able to see/discern if this animal is reacting to, grabbing such food>
My second question is about my cleaner shrimp. It doesn't seem to want to clean anymore... My emperor and
cream angel practically beg it to clean them but the shrimp won't go anywhere near the angels anymore.
Is this normal?
<Does happen... In most cases due to their being so much, otherwise available food/s>
I feed the fish just about every day, I skip a day or two every so often.
Is the shrimp maybe eating so much fish food that it doesn't need to clean in order to survive?
<This is probable>
Tank Setup / Parameters:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate somewhere between 0 and 5 ppm (test kit doesn't show between 0 and 5)
about 80 lbs live rock
2 inches crushed coral substrate
Water temp 82
Salt reading on meter is 1.024 - 1.025
Lighting T5 HO and blue actinic (T5s are on between noon and 21:00 and the blue are on for 2 hours before and
1 Emperor angel
1 Cream angel
1 Red Sea wrasse
1 Lawn mower Blenny
2 Ocellaris clowns
1 long spine urchin
1 cleaner shrimp
3 large hermit crabs
1 tiny anemone
Sorry about such a long email, and again for all your help!
<Welcome. BobF>

Missing Cleaner Shrimp 07/24/07 G'day <G'day to you mate! Even better now that you found your shrimp!> I've had a skunk cleaner shrimp in my 46 gallon tank for a couple of days now, he settled in quite nicely and had set up a cleaning station already being used by my flame angel and yellow tang. This morning he is nowhere to be seen, I've moved every piece of rock and coral looking for him but he's nowhere to be found, I'm assuming he has sadly met his demise. I'm hoping you might be able to advise what you think may of happened to him. In my tank are: Yellow Tang <46-gallon tank is too small for this fish, please reconsider.> Flame angel Paired Gold Striped Maroon Clowns Blue Chromis Various Soft Corals and SPS Approx 10 Turbo Snails 1 Bubble Tipped Anemone (not large) <I am not a fan, unless you are truly dedicated to keeping these creatures. Can create a lot of problems with their potential for relocation.> My tank has a hood, but if he wanted to crawl out, I guess he could. All the tankmates are peaceful, the clowns surprisingly the most peaceful, just stick to there anemone mainly, I don't know if they'd even noticed the cleaner shrimp in there. I didn't think any of these fish would predate on him, the clowns and the anemone were down the other end of the tank. How could I tell if the anemone did eat him? Could he be hiding in a rock to the point where I wouldn't even see his antennae? I've removed the hood and searched all around the tank but can't see him anywhere. Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated. <Guess there's no need for hypothesis! Happy for you and the shrimp that you found him!> Thanks Ben <Welcome! Mich

Re: Lost Cleaner Shrimp...Found!!!!!!  07/24/07 <Hi Ben, Mich here> In relation to the "Lost Cleaner Shrimp" email sent earlier, he had got stuck in my surface skimmer, luckily didn't make it through to the powerhead. <Whew!> All is well and surface skimmer, however a great job it was doing is getting ditched. <OK.> Thanks again <Welcome! I am glad you found your shrimp! Mich>

Shedding Cleaner Shrimp 6/25/07 Hi <Hello> I am a new keeper of a marine tank it is 36 gallon and I have 2 cleaner shrimp in one of them has shed its shell last night and is very quiet and hasn't fed this morning he was quiet last night to. <Normal> How often do they shed and do they go off their food after do I leave the shell in the tank? <Molting is dependent on conditions and growth rate, you may see it monthly in ideal conditions, but likely less so. They are often quite reclusive after shedding until their new shell hardens and may not come out to feed. You can leave the old shell in the tank, often they or some other animal will consume it.> I put in the tank 2 damsel fish and 3 turbo snails and 2 scooter blennies this weekend has this upset them the tank is only 3weeks old had the water tested weekly by the shop and they say it is like a mature tank and doesn't need a water change. <You should change the water regularly, weekly or bi-weekly ideally. Also you need to slow down, you have too many fish to quickly and are heading for trouble.> Could you please advise? Kaz <Chris>

I have a saltwater aquarium with a fire shrimp that seems to be getting lighter red by the week.     3/7/07 HI, <As in Hawaii? (Hello, Kim. ;) GrahamT with you tonight.> I have a saltwater aquarium with a fire shrimp that seems to be getting lighter red by the week.   Any suggestions to this problem.  It is the only shrimp I have had and he has been with me for a year.  I am afraid I am killing him.  Any help would be appreciated. <Some people get frustrated when I reply in this fashion, so please understand what we do and what we need to help. I can always throw suggestions out to you, but since these suggestions will eventually be catalogued here on WWM, and available to other hobbyists for reference, I need to try to make sure they are accurate and useful. This being the case, I need to ask that you give me accurate information. I fully understand the anxiety associated with an apparently sick/ailing animal, and how you may forget to do your part in terms of pertinent additions to your questions. Please don't take this as a brush-off. I would just ask that you send tank specs, including temp, SG, chemical readings available to you, inhabitants other than mentioned, and any other info you have available that you think is useful. Zip that back to me and I'll do what I can to help. (And don't bother apologizing. I understand, and it's okay. Okay?) -GrahamT> Kim

Re: Fire shrimp color loss 3/7/07 Graham, <Kim...> I have a 30 gallon tank.  The temp is 75-78.  There is a hermit crab, PJ cardinal, clownfish and a fire fish.  All the tests I do (PH, salinity, calcium) are normal.  The alkalinity is a bit high but not off the scale.  I have been using salt water in a box that I purchased from a pet store. <Not familiar with this. I would ask how steadily you monitor salinity when performing water changes? Shrimps and other inverts require stable water conditions, especially SG. I'm not sure I can put a finger on your shrimp's color change, but it may not even be stress-related. They sometimes pale before a molt. (Will pass through other crewers for more insight) > Crushed coral on the bottom and 5lbs of live rock. <Not much rock!> I hope this will be enough info to help with a response. <Does this mean you don't own a nitrate test kit? Inverts are also far more sensitive to pollutants, like NO3... -GrahamT> Thanks again, Kim

Re: Fire shrimp color loss 3/10/07 Graham, <Hi Kim.> I do have a nitrate kit and it is normal as well.   <Good.> The salt water in a box keeps salinity levels constant while changing.   <What is this "Salt water in a box"? I've never heard of it.> I hope this is not getting too frustrating :).   <Naw.> Appreciate your help! <Well, I can only think of two things. First, your Lysmata debelius may be old, under-nourished, or lacking proper nutrient supplementation. Iodine is often a cause for malformation & poor health for our captive-kept shrimp. I wouldn't go so far as to say that a low iodine level would be your smoking gun, but it *IS* a common ailment/causal factor. You may be well-served to purchase a quality Iodine test kit and aim for .03 ppm (But that number is open to argument, hence: do your own research on that one). Secondly, your shrimp may be preparing for a molt. If it has been this color for weeks or longer, and other than the coloration, behaves normally, then I wouldn't worry. I think sometimes our animals act differently than they would in the gazillion-gallon environs they evolved in, and we can't really blame them. -GrahamT> Kim

Twitchy Cleaner Shrimp   12/14/06 Hi, <Hello Matt> The site is great- very helpful thanks! <Welcome> My cleaner shrimp is behaving a bit strangely lately, and I'm beginning to get worried.  The shrimp has been in my tank (29 gallons, 6 months old) for nearly three months and until recently seemed to be doing very well (eating, cleaning my hand, setting up a cleaning station I think, cleaning fish, etc.). <Good signs> Not much has really changed in my tank recently (though the lights were off for a few days causing some algae to die off).  Water parameters all seem to be within their normal ranges (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate = 0ppm; 79 degrees F; alkalinity = 9).  The other inhabitants of the tank (two clownfish, one diamond goby, a few crabs and a conch) are all doing well. For the past week or so, the shrimp has been "twitching" pretty often. Folks at the local fish store suggested vibrations (subway...?) as a reason for the jumpiness, <Mmm, maybe> but the twitches don't seem to have to do with events in the outside world, and are very large- sometimes it appears his whole body is "thrown" by a twitch.  His legs are sometimes crunched up underneath him or contorted and thus rendered useless.  When this happens, he hangs on to rocks with whatever legs do still function.  Sometimes it looks as if he's hanging from one leg while the others rigidly assume some curled position beneath him.  He has very recently stopped eating and won't get on my hand. <Bad changes> On occasion I've recently seen him scratching a bit at the back of his "head."  I've changed the water recently, but no change in the shrimp's behavior is apparent. There are no visible markings- just this weird behavior. I haven't been able to find any information about this at all.  Everyone I've talked to seems to be pretty mystified about the whole thing.  Have you ever heard anything like this?  Is there anything I can do?  Thanks so much! Matt <My best guess here with the provided information is that there is either a deficiency (likely alkalinity and/or biomineral) or an over-abundance of something (organics, a trace metal...) present that is mal-affecting your crustacean... You need tests for the former, possibly adjustment... and some means... dilution, chemical filtration, bio-accumulation... for the latter. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clrshrpdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Tang/Cleaner Shrimp Question  11/15/06 Hi! <Hello there> First off, I love reading your site, there is such a wealth of good information to be found! <Ah, good> I have a 90 gallon reef, lightly stocked with fish <fishes> ... there is a purple firefish, a scooter blenny (on frozen, and I have a fuge, he is fat and growing), <Me too> a Yellow Eyed Kole Tang (4") and a Yellow Tang (4").  Everyone gets along great, the two tangs are big buddies, and swim around together, and eat together. My question is this:  I have a large scarlet cleaner shrimp, as well, and I've never seen him clean anything. <Might not have a job here... plenty to eat otherwise> The tangs, in fact, seem downright afraid of him, and every time he tries to jump on them to clean them (presumably), the dart away as if it's an aggression by the shrimp. <Might be>   Two of my roommates have said they've seen the cleaner shrimp cleaning the Yellow's mouth out, but I haven't seen it.  Is it normal for Tangs to be skittish towards a cleaner shrimp? <Mmm, one that they're unfamiliar with, yes> I can't tell if the shrimp has set up a "cleaning station" per se, he does hang out in one spot all the time, though. <This is about it> I'm not too worried about it, but I do try to address anything that might be causing distress to any of my tankmates, and in my searches online, I haven't come up with anything. Thank you very much!  Keep up the excellent work! Charlie <Thanks Charlie, will endeavour to do so. Only time, patience can/will tell whether your fishes will accept this cleaners services. Bob Fenner> Shrimp/Behavior   8/16/06 WOW!! This is the sort of thing that a very few privileged people get to witness first hand. When I got up this morning I had a quick look into my tank (60 gallons, 70lbs live rock, 2 black Perc's, 1 Cleaner Shrimp). I noticed that the Shrimp looked a little weird. On closer inspection I noticed that he/she was molting and just about to burst through the top of his thorax. What a wonderful sight to see the long fragile filamentous antenna and busy little legs pull through intact... isn't it amazing!! Pretty funny to see him\her scamper away out of sight like a naked housewife caught outside a locked front door collecting the milk!! DON'T LOOK AT ME... I'M NAKED!! <I love your comparison.> 10 minutes late for work... but hey, who cares, there are more wonderful things in this world than the old 9 to 5! Just thought I'd share... <I thank you for sharing.  James (Salty Dog)> Johnny (Offaly, Ireland) P.S What does one do with a used Cleaner Shrimp exoskeleton... EBay? One previous owner... excellent condition... hehehe. <Ahh, you'd be surprised at what sells on EBay.>

Cleaner Shrimp Missing/Behavior   5/23/06 I have bought a cleaner shrimp a while back, when I first introduced him into the tank, he ran around all day and even cleaned some of my larger tangs. Now he just sits in a cave and only comes out at night, I haven't added any new fish, and never see any aggression towards him, just curious on why he went into hiding and if I could do anything to have him come out like he used to. <Quite possible he went or will go into a molt.  They will generally seclude themselves at this time until their exoskelton hardens.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Leroy

Re: Peppermint Shrimp Babies...Yummy, Yummy, Yummy  - 05/19/2006 Dear Salty Dog, <Ron> OK, lets assume good water quality and proper feeding, how long can a peppermint shrimp live? Just a big ballpark number would be helpful. I will keep you informed as to the kids progress. I am setting up a 75 gallon tank to move some of the coral and also to allow me to get a few fish. The shrimp will stay in the 30 gallon tank.  <Ron, cannot answer as to how long they live.  Suggest you do a Google search for this info.  I can tell you that at maturity, they do reach a length of 1.8.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, <You're welcome> Ron

Life expectancy of a skunk cleaner shrimp.  Fish Stocking   4/21/06 Hello crew, I was wondering what the life expectancy of a skunk cleaner shrimp is? <A few years...> I just noticed mine dead when I went to feed it today.  I've had it about 9 months.  He's been healthy and happy.  Ate well and molted often.  Water quality is good... nitrates, nitrites, pH, salinity all fine.  I last did a 25% water change a week and a half ago.  He last molted four or five days ago.  The only other tank mate is a strawberry Basslet (purple Dottyback, whatever you call it) that I've had nearly as long.  The only visible problem is some algae that needs scrubbing, but that's nothing new. -Chad Soucie <... okay. Bob Fenner>

Irregular Cleaner Shrimp Behavior...Hmm, Nope - 03/09/2006 Hello, <Hi Margaret.> I have had a cleaner shrimp in my tank for about a week now. The tank has 2 clown fish and a damsel and live rock. A couple of days ago he molted. I am concerned about his behavior. He seems to be swaying back and forth and occasionally jerks to one side. <Hmm...means "Open". One of these days, when perverted by greed, they may just start using neon signs (or worse, polls...hide those dollars quick!).> I was wondering if you knew what could be causing this. He never did this before.   <Does this naturally. Should have done this all along. May just be settling in or hungry.> Thanks. Margaret <You're welcome. - Josh> Shrimp Not Molting/Regenerating Correctly - 11/21/05 I am very upset, as my beautiful cleaner shrimp 'Shrimpy' is not feeling so good. <<Uh-oh>> About 2 weeks ago he molted and it seems he lost all of his antennae, I thought based on my reading that they would grow back. <<Yes, usually with the next molt.>> But it seems that he molted again a couple of days ago and 2 of them grew a little longer but looked all kinked and only got a little longer. <<Hmm...>> Is he sick and dying? <<Possibly>> Why did his parts not regenerate? <<Likely something missing in the water composition (earth elements) and/or in the shrimp's diet.>> I know that he is unhappy as he has not been coming out and will not clean me or the fish anymore. I have a 24 gallon nano-tank - if you think that it's my water quality I can give you the details, but is it just something else? <<The best thing you can do with this size system is step up the water changes (15% weekly). This will help to ensure the water chemistry/composition is correct for a healthy molt...you might also consider an iodine supplement. And...be sure the shrimp is getting enough to eat (not brine shrimp). Thanks for the help. <<Regards, EricR>> Cleaner Shrimp Molting Frequency - 10/21/2005 We bought a cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) on Oct 7th and it molted that night. Today (October 22nd) it molted again. Is this frequency normal? <Not uncommon, at least. Especially when they're young, they will molt frequently. Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

Seaclone, algae and Flying Peppermint Shrimp Good day.  Know you are awful busy and will be as concise as possible. <Appreciate this> 1:    Seaclone 100.  Not bad, not good. <Bad enough... just suitable for small systems that are otherwise well-maintained> Have not been able to produce foam yet.  Not all of us are handy with tools and I should not be trusted with sharp objects.  Most of us can't afford an Aqua C.  There are lots of posts with mods and partial success stories but let's face it, you all are the ones we are asking, not the posters.  So, I would appreciate seeing you and the WWMedia crew really dive it here, buy or beg a dozen and come up with an authoritative advisory on how to make it at least function for 30-40 gallon tanks. <Good idea> Then you won't have to answer so many questions. <I wish... but not for the foreseeable future> Personally, I do find it hard to believe that a company with a good rep like Marineland or AqSystems would produce a product that simply doesn't work right.  That is why I am trying one (and partly because I have no other means or options) <The re-do of this gimmicky product is no better than its predecessors... Agree with your opinion/speculation re the maker/s> 2:    One day, small amounts of algae and growth.  18 hours later, a veritable carpet of brown green algae on the substrate. <Happens... likely a good deal of BGA involvement> Vacuumed fully.  6 hours later, splotches on about 2/3s covering the substrate (with the lights OFF).  Light spectrum is ok and it is not slime algae (at least to me).  I have lots of nutrients in the medium and that's why I bought the SeaClone I could afford (and return if a problem).  What the heck is this algae and is it a mutant to grow that fast and pervasively? <A mix of organisms, and though not slimy, as you state, very likely a good deal of Cyano> 3:    While watching a movie with the lights off, turned on the lights after the show and found a tiny, curled cocktail shrimp on the carpet.  It was Peppy the shrimp, who evidently committed suicide and leapt out of the tank.  I just need to know if this is something you have seen - everyone else appears fine for the past week or so, aside from his buddy the Domino <Not his buddy if this is a Dascyllus trimaculatus> who still looks around for him.  Only thing I can think of is that he liked to cruise around the top of the tank and another fish might have bumped or startled him into jet propulsion tail action mode and he went out of the tank, since he cruised the rim a lot searching and exploring. <Maybe. Rare they launch themselves out, but does happen>   He never allowed himself to breach the water before even during maint. when exploring my hand while I was doing something, he was very friendly.  I also don't think he was trying to get my popcorn although I am sure he was inquisitive enough to have given it a shot. Thanks and take good care. Bill   <Bob Fenner> Can't find my CBS 7/31/05 A week ago I purchased a CBS.  I acclimated it over about a 2 hour period. When I finally released it into the tank, it appeared to be fine.  It moved around just a little and then situated itself under piece of coral.  Later that night, I noticed that it's body parts appeared to be falling off (I later learned that it was molting).   <Mmm, molts come off in one piece...> The next day it was still sitting in the same place.  Since then, I have not seen it at all (has now been 9 days since I purchased it).  I am trying to figure out if it is even alive.  I have not seen a body floating around. <Might still be in the "hardening" phase of ecdysis/molting> I know that they can apparently get into very small holes (I do have about 34 lbs of live rock in the tank w/lots of hiding places).  Do you think it is still alive? <Can't tell from here... You do have sufficient calcium, alkalinity I hope/trust... and matching spg, pH during the extended acclimation...> Today I am almost positive I saw "something" moving into a hole, but when I shined a flashlight in the hole, I couldn't see anything.  I also have a chocolate chip starfish, a coral beauty angel and a bicolor blenny in the tank.  When feeding, I usually alternate between frozen brine shrimp, Prime Reef flake and seaweed.  If the CBS is still alive, can you recommend something that will bring it out (so I can at least know if it's alive or not).  Thanks so much for your help! LaVonda Black <Only time, patience can tell whether your Boxer is still with you. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stenopodidae.htm and the linked files above, where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner> Cleaner Shrimp and Queen Angel Bob, I have a dumb question. I need to combine two tanks for several weeks to do some work on the one. I have several cleaner shrimp in the one tank , and a 5 inch Queen angel, 3 green Chromis and a mated pair of Tomatoe clowns in the other. I could find no information on if the queen (boss of the show tank) will make a meal of the cleaner or not.  I have seen the angel eat a 2 inch brown colored worm off the live rock in a flash. <Mmm, hopefully not... there is some chance of this, of course... but there are Cleaner Shrimps (e.g. Stenopus hispidus) in the Caribbean... where this Angel species is found... and they are known to develop symbiotic relations with non-indigenous cleaners... You could always do the wholesaler technique of floating a colander, or placing the shrimp in a container with perforations... to keep water coming through, but keeping predators away. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help.

Cleaner shrimp and Queen Angel Bob, This is not a question, but a follow-up to what I asked you last week. I put the cleaner shrimp in my show tank, and watched the reaction of the Queen Angel. Well to make a long story short, the angel went right up to the shrimp, head up and fins flapping. The shrimp jumped on him and proceeded to clean the inside of his mouth and gills. I was amazed at the symbiotic relationship. It is not uncommon for the shrimp to be on the angel six or seven times a day. There has been no parasite outbreak in my tank, so I wonder what the shrimp is finding if anything on the angel. <Necrotic tissue, bits of this and that...that are not discernible to you and I> I have also noticed a change in the Queen. Before the shrimp was added he would bully the other fish if they even got close to his favorite spot in the tank.. He has calmed down a lot and seems to tolerate them in his spot in the tank, unlike before. Thought you would be interested in the outcome. <Yes> Thanks again for all your help. <You are welcome my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Cleaner shrimp, polyps, Heniochus Hello again, I recently added a cleaner shrimp (Lysmata grabhami, I think) to my 75 gal. setup which includes some yellow polyps and green button polyps. I've seen the shrimp "sampling" the polyps several times, causing them to close up. Do you think this causing harm to the polyps? <The shrimp is probably bugging them more than anything else, I doubt they are in any danger.> On a similar note, I'm interested in Heniochus Bannerfish. I've read that H. diphreutes is reef safe, but H. acuminatus is not. Do you agree? <yes> Would a pair of H. diphreutes be suitable for a 75 gal. that is otherwise lightly-loaded? Thank very much, and thanks for maintaining such a valuable site. John H. <Thank you for the kind words, and I promise, the site is only going to get better. A pair of the H. diphreutes would be much better suited than the H. acuminatus. You can find more information on butterflyfishes at the link below. Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm>

Why's he doing that? Response to Cleaner Shrimp Good morning WWM crew! Hope all is well!  <and to you as well> One quick question for ya this morning... My yellow tang has finally started using the cleaner shrimp (boy are they happy!) and they have gotten virtually all of the remaining black spot off of him (I am pleased, but still watching carefully in case of an "outbreak" that they can't handle).  <very well> He sometimes seems to buck while they're cleaning him though. Earlier today I watched him buck quite a bit, actually. Is this just because they get a little rough?  <perhaps... still a vulnerable position for the tang to be sitting still. Naturally nervous> (I know from experience that sometimes they do pick a little hard) He won't (intentionally) hurt them if he's going over to their "station" to be cleaned will he?  <doubtful... no worries here> Thanks! TJ the Novice :) <Kindly, Anthony... the apprentice>

Why's he doing that? Good morning WWM crew! Hope all is well! One quick question for ya this morning... My yellow tang has finally started using the cleaner shrimp (boy are they happy!) and they have gotten virtually all of the remaining black spot off of him (I am pleased, but still watching carefully in case of an "outbreak" that they can't handle). He sometimes seems to buck while they're cleaning him though. Earlier today I watched him buck quite a bit, actually. Is this just because they get a little rough? (I know from experience that sometimes they do pick a little hard) He won't (intentionally) hurt them if he's going over to their "station" to be cleaned will he? Thanks! TJ the Novice :) <<Hi TJ, Craig answering your question. I wouldn't worry about this at all. If the Tang doesn't like it he won't go to the station or stay long. This is fairly common behavior for fish and cleaners. Kinda like a really good scratch. My Sailfin Blenny took one of my cleaners for a ride in response to something like this. Just imagine if they were like dogs and had rear leg scratching spasms....Enjoy the show! Craig>>

Cleaner Shrimp Question - 2/12/03 Hello, <cheers> I just found your site and I love it. <thanks kindly... do keep reading, sharing and growing! Tell a friend too please> I have one cleaner shrimp right now...I plan to get at least one more but I was wondering how often the shed their shells? <varies by feeding and nutrient levels (iodine)... but not by gender like some other shrimps. Cleaner shrimps are hermaphrodites... any 2 can breed together> I've had this one 2 weeks and he has shed 2 times. <awesome! Once or twice monthly is common> He seems very happy and healthy. He eats, cleans himself and cleans my damsel. (My Regal Tang won't go to him...yet) Is this normal for them to shed so much? <a very good sign> Thanks for your help. Kit "In the end, we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." <best regards, Anthony>

Get a Claw!  5/5/03 Hi, I got scared today as I noticed an empty skeleton left after my Banded Coral Shrimp...<Oh no...> But the shrimp was still there! The skeleton looked like the real shrimp: body, legs etc etc! Is this normal for the cleaner shrimps?<Yes> How often do they do that?<Somewhat depends.  I've had one of my shrimp molt once every 4-6 weeks.  Then he didn't molt for another 6-8 weeks.  Read more on cleaner shrimp on WWM for more info.> Thank you,<No problem> Luke<Phil>

REFUGIUM FLOW & OTHER QUESTIONS Crew, <Hi John> Definitely appreciate the support you guys do for the hobby every day! <As the newest member on here, I'm continually amazed at the people I am honored to work with>  I read your site pretty continuously to keep up to date & learn as much as I can. <Very nice.> I have a few, somewhat unrelated questions that I've spooled up that I couldn't find direct answers to on your site (or are specific to my setup). My setup is a 120 gal (4'x2'x2') FOWLR with 180# LR.  The tank's been established 6 years with improvements made over time (upgrade to 520W of PC lights, LR addition, added refugium, upgraded skimmer, etc.).  Water params are 1.024 salinity, 8.4 PH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates, 4.0 alk, 450 calcium. Stocked w/ Emperor Angel (5yrs in tank), Regal Blue tang, Foxface, flame angel, lawnmower blenny, cleaner shrimp & numerous snails/hermits. Here's my questions: - Refugium GPH?  I've got a 15gal refugium with Miracle Mud, a couple different types of Caulerpa, hermits, snails & some small frags of LR in-line via 2" pvc with my wet/dry sump.  Skimmer & UV pull from the sump & empty in the front chamber of the fuge.  Due to room constraints, my Iwaki pump (a little over 2000gph) is at the end of the refugium returning to the display tank.  Yes, the water is seriously flowing through the fuge, but everything looks great in there & water params have improved over the months since it's introduction. <Nice to hear.> We are moving to a new house & I'll have a room dedicated to my sump/filters, so I have the opportunity to optimally adjust plumbing. <Wonderful, I am jealous.> I'm thinking of changing the setup to have my Iwaki return pull from the sump, skimmer pull & dump back into the sump, and have my UV pump (250 gph) pull from the last chamber of my fuge & return to the sump. This would lower my fuge gph more in line with what I think most would recommend? <It would definitely take the flow amount down.> I'm struggling having my UV pull from the sump due to killing off some of the "beneficials" exiting the fuge vs. a separate/dedicated pump. <I have to say honestly I think you would loose a lot of the benefit that you are gaining from the refugium. Personally I would consider going with a dedicated pump.> The dedicated pump drawback is that in the summer, my temps are 81-82 & adding another pump would probably increase the heat. <I see what your concern is but I think it might be worth the addition of a small fan or two to take care of the additional heat problem.>  Your thoughts?  FYI - the 15gal has made such a difference that in the new setup, I'm going to eventually add another 30 gal refugium to increase the overall health of the system (either extended off the 15gal or on the other side of the sump). <I'm a major proponent of refugiums. I have seen them make a huge difference on many peoples tanks.> -Reducing Caulerpa in refugium?  My Caulerpa is going gang busters & I need to cut it down. <Ah a common problem. Let me just caution you, if your Caulerpa is going gangbusters there's more to the story than that. There's LOTS feeding the Caulerpa, usually phosphates and that can be a problem.>  What's the best way? <I can tell you my method. Every couple of weeks I climb up on a step ladder and just pull out Caulerpa. I don't take scissors, I just pull it out. Usually it comes out in specific bunches at a time, and I'm lucky I have a distributor who I sell it to and he sells it to stores.>  Actually remove several of the plants or prune the excess? <When I pull sometimes it does take out whole plants but usually it takes bits and pieces of the plants and it seems to be natural places it is ready to split. Let me warn you if you see anything in the Caulerpa turning white pull the entire plant.>  I think pruning would be easier, but I think I remember hearing that cutting Caulerpa can sometimes cause degradation of the whole plant?  Also, when removing it, should I place some in the display for food or flush it to eliminate the extra nutrients/nitrates in the whole system? <I always put some in my tank for the tangs to eat and they devour it. But it does release some of the nutrients and yes nitrates back into the tank. Lots of people just toss the entire plant.  One thing I always try to do is make sure I have at least some of each type of grass or Caulerpa I have in my refugium still there.> -Refugium lighting?  What's better ... alternate lighting with display or 24/7? <Lots of people use the 24/7 because it keeps the ph higher and prevents the Caulerpa from going sexual.> I've heard arguments for both. 24/7 is what I'm doing, but it is probably not the best for the snails/hermits. With alternate lighting I run the risk of the Caulerpa going sexual, right? <If you do proper culling you won't have problems with it going sexual but both methods work.> Any preference?  Probably don't use Caulerpa & go alternate, right? <I know lots of people who use grasses instead of Caulerpa. Personally my refugium has a mix of both the grasses and the Caulerpas.> -Clown for BTA?  Probably my last fish to this tank will be a clown.  I know the maroon is the natural fit for BTA's, but I really prefer true Perc's (looks & less aggressive).  I've always known true Percs to inhabit a lot of anemones outside of the natural selections.  However, I just personally have never seen true Percs in a tank with BTA's.  What's your thoughts on the pairing/selection? <I have not seen true Percs take to a  BTA but others have. I know my black perculas from Australia totally ignore it.> BTW - I've only had the BTA 6 months and it's almost doubled in size from the LFS, only wandered the first night & I believe has increased it's color intensity.  The only set back was a 6 hour power outage last week that resulted in a 25 gal water loss (painful lesson - unclean check valve<OUCH>) that I had to replace with hastily made up salt mix (RO water already made, but not salt). Better of 2 evils I thought - quick mix water vs. airstones/powerheads dropped in display. The BTA did shrink after the outage & only recently has made it to close to pre-outage size. <Lately the skunk clowns appeal to me and I know they will go to a BTA. Just a different idea.> Not a question, but interesting comment.  I just introduced my Flame angel & cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to my display after a month in quarantine.  The cleaner never touched the flame in QT - probably due to the fact that they're almost the same size.  However, I was really worried about my Emperor having a $40 cleaner snack. The Emperor knocks around any new snails/hermits that are introduced & hasn't seen a cleaner shrimp for at least 5 years (had her that long). <Wonderful> I killed the lights upon introduction & got the shrimp to go into a nice crevice.  The Emperor showed immediate interest, despite the lights not being on. Tapping on the tank didn't push her away. I decided to intervene with my hand (algae scrapper didn't work) to make sure the cleaner was deep enough in the crevice that if the Emperor bite it would only get the antennae.  Well, the Emperor moved up close (mouth first), the shrimp stepped right out (I thought it was it's last move) and it climbed right on the Emperor's head with no altercation.  The Emperor was cleaned for an entire hour right there only 5 minutes after the shrimp was introduced! Today she has spent more time being cleaned (no lie - 6+ hours) than her usual free swimming.  She's actually hounding the shrimp & keeping the tang & Foxface away - which both keep swimming in sideways into the area.  The introduction of a 1.5" shrimp has completely changed the entire behavior of my whole tank.  Really amazing hobby & animals! <Such a wonderful experience, thank you for sharing.> Sorry for the long mail. <Wonderful email and thank you so much for sharing all of this. Good luck, Mac> Thanks, John

Lonely Shrimp? (9/7/04) Greetings all. <Greetings to you. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a Skunk cleaner and two Camel shrimps in a 75 gallon system, with about 70 lbs. of live rock.  The Cleaner has been in there for about 2 1/2 weeks and is finally starting to show himself more often.  When I reached in the tank today to move some things around, he got all excited and started trying to clean my arms and hands.  Is this normal?  <Yes. Tickles, doesn't it?> I am not too worried, as he only tried to bite the scars once or twice, but is he that desperate to clean something? <Simply engaging in natural instinctive behavior. Mine do it all the time too. I doubt such neurologically-simple creatures experience or act on "desperation."> I am guessing that he or she would probably benefit from having another companion Cleaner, but should I get a fish or two for them to clean? <Again, there is no reason to believe that shrimp would experience loneliness. Although they are usually peaceful, there is some risk of territorial aggression if you introduce another. As for needing fish to clean, these shrimps eat just about anything, including flake and pellet foods.> The only fish in there are two small (3") surf smelt I brought home from work to start cycling the tank a month ago, and they will not let the Cleaner clean them.  If it matters, Ammonia levels were 0, Nitrites almost 0 (like .1 ppm), and Nitrates were 10 ppm.  (The elevated Nitrites were probably due to the addition of some small rubble-sized pieces of live rock added 4 days ago.)  I am not particularly worried, everything seems healthy, just wondering if having a companion and/or cleanable fish would make his "stay" that much more comfortable. <Neither of these are needed. However, since cleaners are hermaphroditic, they will likely mate on an ongoing basis in your tank, thereby supplying live food.> Thanks for your time. <You're welcome. Hope this helps.> Jeremy

How does a cleaner shrimp eat those parasites? Dear Bob & All <Peter> Happy New Year and thanks for the helpful reply on the sea-squirt.  I will now sit back and enjoy the little fellow. Could you answer a daft question?  How on earth can a cleaner shrimp eat e.g. Ick parasites??  My tang loves to drift near the shrimp.  Would you expect to see a shrimp eat parasites with its jaws (sic??).  Or do they retain parasites on their antennae and pass them to the mouth? Best wishes Peter Hosier The whole thing is a mystery to me. <Mmm, me too... I do think these shrimp species can actually see the resultant raised spots on the fish, and pick away at these general areas... and maybe they get clues from the host fish... like twitching when the area is cleaned up... Bob Fenner>

Cleaner Shrimp - 05/05/2005 Hi again - one last question - I was watching my cleaner shrimp tonight, and it did an odd thing.  It's in my 45 gal tank, with 5 green Chromis, a flower pot coral, two frogspawn and a green star polyp coral (also many little star polyps that are growing on the rock), and a large feather duster.  Every thing seems fine and happy.  Tonight, the cleaner shrimp was cleaning one of the Chromis fish, then actually got onto the fish's face and put it's little white leg things into the fish's mouth! The fish endured it for a minute, then swam away.  It returned later and the shrimp attempted to do this again.  Is this normal cleaning behavior?   <Yes very much so.  A cleaner shrimp will completely clean a fish.  they will get in the gills, mouth, scales, etc.. This is a great way to help control parasites on your fish. As long as they will let the shrimp pick at them.  They even like to clean the cuticles on your fingers if you let them :).  Thanks EricS> It was pretty funny! Shrimp molting I've had a Pacific Cleaner shrimp for about a month and a half. In that time it had molted twice. Is it normal for them to molt with such frequency? <<Not too unusual... given plenty of food, growth, and good "water quality"...  Bob Fenner>>

Cleaner shrimp Hey Bob, Been reading your site and FAQ's a long time, and I have learned a lot. <Ah, good> My question is about the Atlantic White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp. I put him in the tank a few days ago (55 gallon) and he's doing fine, moving about probing with his antennae, even jumping up at times to grab food. My only question is there any way to make the shrimp set up a cleaning station? <To "make it"... Not really... but given a bit of time, some prominent rock, with space to get out of the light, "customers"... it likely will establish a cleaning station on its own> The only problem the shrimp has had is a small scuffle with a lightfoot crab which he lost an antennae too. (It was the shrimps fault though, he kept poking the lightfoot till the thing got mad. The shrimp knows now to stay away from him. ) <No worries. It will regenerate the antenna next molt> Could it be that my live stock is too small? I have 4 false percula clowns, a striped damsel, all under 2 -2.5 inches. And two small fire gobies. Any suggestions would be helpful...oh there is 70+ pounds of live rock in the system with plenty of hiding space...Miguel <Not too small per se, but perhaps too young/unfamiliar. Give all a few weeks and you should observe them "learning" to use each other. Bob Fenner>

Cleaner Shrimp Question Bob, A little over a week ago, I purchased a Common Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis). He seems to be quite healthy and eating well, but in the past day or two he seems to be hiding more than he was originally (although he's still not very reclusive). At the same time the parts of his body which were previously fairly white have turned a yellowish tint. Is he getting ready to molt or do you think he had molted shortly before I bought him or might something else be wrong?? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Again for your help, Phil in San Diego <Very likely just pre-molt behavior and coloration. Please do read through the Cleaner Shrimp FAQs for others experiences: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnshrpf.htm Bob Fenner>

Update : Shrimp Mix Hi Bob, I appreciate your encouragement on my fish mix. Here's a report on a past question: I asked what shrimp could be mixed in a 300 gallon reef tank to avoid the Shrimp Wars. You indicated that I should be able to add some Lysmata debelius to the five large L. amboinensis that are already there. I added two L. debelius to the tank. They hide most of the time, <Very typical... the Debelius' Shrimp will become more evident with time... but not as much as the Ambon's> whereas the L. amboinensis are always putting on a song and dance for the tangs. Too bad; those white legs are something! Both types of shrimp even seem to like the same area of live rock; no problems that I have seen. The only time I really see the L. debelius is at feeding time. Once the food hits the water, they are out with their boxing gloves on ready to take on any fish that get in their way! Do you suppose they may come out more as they become more used to the environment? Or are these guys just the hiding types? <Oh! Yes and yes> Next step is to add three more L. debelius and see if the congeniality continues. If I am successful, I am inclined to add a mated pair of Stenopus hispidus. Do you think they would fit in OK with the others? <Yes... likely on trouble might come with molting, possible hunger... Provide plenty of hiding spaces, regular feedings, and leave molts (the exoskeletons) in place for speedier regeneration/hardening of new external structures... by ingestion of old> As always, thanks for the input. It is reassuring. <As the universe is, so should we be, as we are. Bob Fenner> Dale.

Re: My Aquarium Good morning to whoever is listening today. <Hello, Steven Pro online now.> Over the past week or so Bob Fenner has been helping me to recover from many problems in my aquarium (I've attached some of our correspondence below for you reference). I know Bob is away for a week, but he asked me to still send through if I have any input during this week. <Sure, Anthony and I have things under control as far as Q&A's go.> Out of all Bob's recommendations I have managed to get most done over the past couple of days - I replaced the substrate with fine coral sand (phew), added a bag of activated carbon to the sump, installed a light above my sump and introduced some Caulerpa (which seems to have grown a little), removed the lobster/hermit crabs. I also added one cleaner shrimp (Lysmata grabhami) and did a 20% water change. I traded the Carpet anemone and the triggerfish. So the only practical challenge I have left for the moment is to modify my sump into a refugium. The only question I have for you is about the Lysmata - I introduced him to my aquarium 2 days ago. Immediately my Tang and the 2 Angels started begging him for a cleaning, but he just ignored them and found a hiding place under a rock. All day yesterday he kept hiding there and continued to ignore the fish who are still constantly begging to be cleaned. This morning I noticed that the Lysmata has molted during the night, but it is still hiding. <Probably just settling in.> From what I've read in your cleaner shrimp articles and FAQ's, it seems normal for the Lysmata to hide just before and after it molts and also to take a couple of days before it feels comfortable enough to start cleaning new tankmates etc. <Yes> I was just wondering if you have any comments regarding this? <Nothing extra to add, in time your shrimp will relax and come out more and more.> It doesn't come out of hiding when I feed either and I'm not sure if I should specifically feed him or just leave him be for the next couple of days. I can see the shrimp in its little cave and its very much alive, just not coming out. <No worries yet, my friend.> Thanks for all the help over the past couple of weeks. Chris Cronje <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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