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Related FAQs: Pistol Shrimps 1Pistol Shrimps 2, Alpheid ID, Alpheid Behavior, Alpheid Compatibility, Alpheid Selection, Alpheid Systems, Pistol Shrimp and Goby Biotopes, Alpheid Feeding, Alpheid Disease, Alpheid Reproduction, & Cleaner Shrimps 1, Cleaner Shrimps 2, Coral Banded Shrimp, Dancing Shrimp, Harlequin Shrimp, Saron Shrimp, Shrimp Identification, Shrimp Selection, Shrimp Behavior, Shrimp Compatibility, Shrimp Systems, Shrimp Feeding, Shrimp Reproduction, Shrimp Disease Crustacean Identification, Crustacean Selection, Crustacean Behavior, Crustacean Compatibility, Crustacean Systems, Crustacean Feeding, Crustacean Disease, Crustacean Reproduction,

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/A Diversity of Aquatic Life

Pistol Shrimp, Family Alpheidae

Bob Fenner

Oh, pinchy boy!

Family Alpheidae, Pistol Shrimp

Seldom seen, often heard... and the results of their "shooting" known far and wide... the Alpheids can be easily identified (if you can find them) by their very short eye stalks and one much larger "pistol" claw.  This specialized appendage is capable of punching holes in all crustacean exoskeletons, even many shellfish! Alpheus and Synalpheus species are the notable symbionts with Shrimp Gobies.

Pistol Shrimp are the predominant crustaceans on the world's reefs... and so you are likely to run into them... they eat most all types of foods... and if kept fed will often leave other crustaceans and mollusks alone. See happily fed specimen above in title bar.

Snapping Shrimps, family Alpheidae. Noted for their noise making capacity, myths re the power of their large claw (a .22 caliber, tank-cracking...) and commensal to mutualistic relationships with fishes (mainly Gobies) and invertebrates. 
An unidentified all-red pistol shrimp at Interzoo 2010.

Genus Alpheus:

Alpheus armatus Distinctive red/white banded antennae. Body can be red, orange to brown. Two different size claws. Live with corkscrew anemones. A pair here in Cozumel 2019.

Alpheus randalli Here in Bali 2014

Alpheus soror
Here at House of Fins, CT

Genus Synalpheus:

Synalpheus demani Deman's Pistol Shrimp. Live in Crinoids. Indo-W. Pacific.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Synalpheus stimpsonii (Man 1888). White body with varying dark markings. A crinoid (Comanthina, Oxycomanthus) commensal that often displays contrasting color to its host. East Indo-West Pacific; Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Australia. N. Sulawesi pix. 

Other Alpheid PIX:
Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
Seen this in the wild? An apparent tunnel through a stony coral, in this case a Montipora? There is/are Alpheid/s living in the formed (by them) tunnel complex.  

Unidentified Alpheid in a crinoid. N. Sulawesi pic. Yes, it really is THIS red!

Possible Help in Identification, Alpheid  -- 4/11/10
Hi all,
<Hi Deana, Lynn here today.>
Hope you are having a good day.
<I'm having a great day, thanks, and same to you!>
I had an idea about the identification of one of the pistol shrimps marked as unidentified.
The caption reads "Unidentified Alpheid in a crinoid. N. Sulawesi pic. Yes, it really is THIS red!".
<Ah yes, I know this photo.>
I believe I have the answer (but of course could be wrong). I think it is actually a Feather Star Squat Lobster, Allogalathea elegans, (or very close relative). It seems to be nestled in a Feather starfish. These particular lobsters reach about 1 1/4 in and form a symbiotic relationship with this particular starfish even changing their colors to blend with it.
<Yes, while most individuals in this species show marked light and dark bands running the length of the back/carapace, there is an exception. That is, an all-red version that lives on red hosts. Pretty cool, huh?>
They hide within their arms. I remembered seeing a pic almost exactly like this and went back to my books. *Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pondfish* by David Alderton, ISBN 978-0-1566-3678-4, published 2008, lobster, pg291, starfish pg297. Don't know if I'm right, but, your site is all about gathering knowledge and this is just too cool a species (if that's what it is), for hobbyists not to know about.
<It is indeed an extremely cool species and we very much appreciate your interest and help. I particularly appreciate it because I know the time and effort it takes to research these neat little creatures! In this case, though, the shrimp in question really does appear to be some sort of Alpheid. You can tell by the large Popeye-worthy claw arm and distinctively shaped/rounded claw. Allogalathea elegans has long slender arms with slender claws. Beyond that though, the two do indeed look very similar, given what you can see in the photo. Here's a good example of an Alpheid arm and claw. http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/palmer.hp/People/Pics/Anker-Alpheus.jpg That thing looks like it would make a good can-opener, doesn't it! >
This is the link with the "unidentified" shrimp. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pistolshrimps.htm Hope you guys are enjoying yourselves.
<I am indeed. It's always a pleasure to share information with another hobbyist, particularly one interested in ID work! With that in mind, I'll pass along something that I think you'll appreciate. I looked at that same shrimp photo years ago and tried to ID it. I'm still looking!>
Thanks for all your hard work!
<You're most welcome and thank you!>
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

To-Be-Identified Shrimp 12/16/12
Hi Bob,
Just saw the gorgeous shrimp from IZOO, listed as “to-be-identified”, on today’s dailies.  It appears to be Alpheus soror, aka the “Bullseye Pistol Shrimp”.
<Ah yes; thank you>
  I’ve seen them available on the ‘net listed as such, but found a listing in Debelius’ Crustacean Guide of The World (2001), page 147.  It lists length up to 3.5cm, distribution as “Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, probably widespread to IWP”.  It also goes on to state that the two photos listed “show an undescribed species, possibly of the Alpheus diadema-group. It has purple walking legs, and a conspicuous large ocellus on the second abdominal segment.”.  Hope that helps! 
 <Indeed it does... And I do have this work... in fact, Helmut is an olde (we're no longer middle age) friend... He and friends met up w/ us some Interzoo's ago in Dipelsdorf! >
Take care,
-Lynn Z
<Will do. Now down in Cozumel; sans JoshS unfortunately. His cold/flu is too bad. BobF>
<I'm sorry to hear about Josh, but am glad that you're no doubt having some good times/diving in Cozumel.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays! -Lynn
<<Ah yes. And to you and your husband. BobF>>

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