Peacock mantis shrimp are one of the most beautiful and intelligent mantis shrimp. Also known as the harlequin mantis shrimp or painted mantis shrimp, and Odontodactylus scyllarus, they are native to Indo-Pacific region from Guam to East Africa and even Hawaii. Here, we will look at some facts related to their care in a home aquarium.
Things you Should Know about the Peacock Mantis Shrimp
They are an ornamental aquarium shrimp and are capable of hunting fish and crustaceans. The distinguishing feature of these creatures are the blue eyes. They have beautiful, colorful patterns on the body and tail. They are about 3-18 cm in size and are primarily green in color. They have orange legs and leopard-like spots on their anterior carapace.
These shrimp are burrowers and tend to construct U-shaped holes in loose substrate. They make these holes near the base of coral reefs and are about can be anywhere between 3 to 40 meters deep. They are lethal predators. They can not only kill small snails and fish, but can inflict injuries on humans as well.
Their strike is the fastest in the world and the naked human eye cannot capture the entire motion of attack. The eyes are one of the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. They not only perceive polarized light, but they can also see light in ultraviolet to infrared range.
As predators, the shrimp have a lethal weapon to make the kill. They use smashers to finish their prey. The smashers are designed to crack open the hard armor on the crustaceans' body. They use their club shaped raptorial appendages to smash open the armor of the crustacean and gain access to the soft tissue inside.
You will be surprised to know, one blow of their smashers is equal to the force exerted by a .22 caliber bullet. They love feeding on gastropods, crustaceans and bivalves. Crabs are a favorite meal of these shrimp.
Care and Maintenance
Many aquarium enthusiasts think about keeping them as pets. There bright colors and active behavior makes them popular tank pets. However, due to their predatory nature, they hunt down most of the other tank mates. Hence, they are often kept as solitary inhabitants of the home aquarium.
These shrimp tend to be quite hardy pets and can thrive in captivity, if provided with live prey. They are not interested in eating pellets, frozen cubes, etc. Remember, they are strict carnivores.
The best way to feed these shrimp is providing them with live crabs. You can buy cheap crabs and feed them to the shrimp. What matters is their size, you need to buy the right sized crabs that are not too large for them to prey upon. Few people have also been successful in feeding frozen crabs.
These shrimp require large aquariums as small spaces make them feel cramped. These are burrowing species, and will remain in their burrows till they do not detect the presence of prey. These mantis shrimp usually hunt at night. Their burrows are lined with pieces of coral, rock and shells.
The male shrimp actively searches for female partners to mate. They mate in front of their burrows. The male guards the female till the larvae can swim out and only then will he leave. These are active and intelligent animals who are curious and are seen interacting with their keepers.
They are not meant for marine aquarium setups. They cannot be mixed with fish or crustaceans of any kind. They need the tank to themselves and are very undemanding pets. All you need to do is ensure a good diet and proper care to keep these beautiful marvels happy and healthy.
These shrimp are recommended to be kept in acrylic glass, rather than glass aquariums. They tend to dig the seafloor in the wild and will try to break any obstacle they encounter. While burrowing in the fish tank, if they reach the glass in the corner, they tend to strike at it.
This leads to chipping of the glass causing it to leak. Over the years, it has been seen that few mantis shrimp have managed to shatter their aquarium glass. Also, keep your fingers away from the water while feeding them. Their appendages are extremely dangerous to human fingers. You can avoid serious injury by exerting caution.