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Harlequin Shrimp

What Do Harlequin Shrimps Eat?

The harlequin shrimp or Hymenocera picta is a species of saltwater shrimp that can be found in the coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These shrimps have bold bright colors that may indicate toxicity, but they have no known toxins. Oddly enough, the harlequin shrimp only eats one thing. Let’s find out what. 

The sole source of food for harlequin shrimp is starfish. They hunt in pairs, dragging a starfish back to their cave and eating it alive. They’ve also been seen bringing algae and other greens and feeding the starfish to keep it alive.

Are Harlequin Shrimps Always in Pairs? 

Harlequin shrimp are known for living in pairs. They can either live as mated males or females for their whole 7 years of existence, granted that they are not disturbed. Females grow about 2 inches long, while males are much smaller in size.

A pair of harlequins often go on a starfish hunt. Even when the starfish is buried, they can detect its scent and capture it. Many aquarists choose to keep crustaceans in their aquariums because of their hunting nature. When the harlequin shrimp find a starfish, they stand on top of it to keep the starfish from moving in order for them to capture it and drag it back to their cave. There, they will consume it alive. They would even feed the starfish for an extended time to keep them alive.

These crustaceans form breeding couples that stay close to each other. This isn’t simply to ensure that they have children; it also ensures that they have a hunting companion. Males will fight males, and females will fight females because this species is hostile toward other members of the same sex.

Because of their territorial character, you can’t keep groups of harlequin shrimp together, just like you can’t keep them with other shrimp species. If you want to have a harlequin shrimp, keeping just one in your aquarium is the safest option. If you want to breed them, you can save a breeding pair of one male and one female. (Source: Fish Keeping World)

How To Breed Harlequin Shrimps? 

To increase their chances of generating offspring, harlequin shrimp establish pairs. Females in a couple tend to mature more quickly. Hunting and predator deterrence is also aided by pairing.

Males, on the other hand,  do have a preferred female that they regularly return to, they will mate with every viable female they come across because their density in the wild is relatively low, increasing reproduction rates.

There should only be one male and one female in the tank when trying to breed this species to avoid fights over territory and females.

In addition, their environment must be perfect for triggering spawning behaviors and keeping the aquarium clean. Temperature is critical; keep it at the higher end of their preferred range of 82°F-89°F.

Females become sexually mature after about seven months. They will then start spawning after every molt, about once a month. Around 1000 eggs can be fertilized at once, and the fertilized eggs are transported to the female’s belly two hours later. Larvae will emerge from the eggs after 12-18 days. The eggs begin to turn transparent.

It is possible to raise the larvae, but it can get quite challenging. Before reaching the settlement stage at 5-6 weeks, they travel through 12 planktonic phases. (Source: Fish Keeping World)

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