Fast Facts: Banded Coral Shrimp

  • Physical description: Reddish-brown banded body and claws; slender claws about as long as body; very long, branched, white, filamentous antennae. To 90 mm.
  • Common in crevices and under ledges on coral and rocky reefs.
  • Since the fish that it cleans to gather its food are most abundant in the shallow reefs, it is commonly found just below the low tide line. It has been found at much greater depths.
  • Whereas the carapace (body) can grow up to 6 centimetres, the length of the antennae can be triple that size.
  • It is with these exceptionally long antennae that it signals to passing fish to let them know that they can get themselves cleaned. It whips its antennae, while it performs a little ‘dance’ swaying its body from side to side. This attracts fish that, in turn, start flashing their colours to signal to the shrimp that they need cleaning. The fish moves in close enough for the shrimp to reach or, when the fish is big enough, it simply just ‘jumps’ on using their swimmerets, after which it starts removing parasites, fungi and damaged tissue using its three pairs of claws.
  • A trait mostly associated with mammals and some birds, this little crustacean also choses its mate to pair for a lifetime.
  • They’re very territorial and being as small as they are, this means that their territories can’t be that big. So, when you come back to the same place you found it two years in a row, you will have a big chance of finding the exact same Banded Coral Shrimp (or its mate) within a metre from where you saw it last year.

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Published by Karina Teuma Karina Teuma is a Passionate Marine Biology Enthusiast, Environmentalist, Snorkeller, Freediver, Scuba Diver and more.

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