Zebra mantis shrimp.

Zebra Mantis Shrimp

Zebra mantis shrimps are one of the many mantis shrimp species.

Zebra mantis shrimp.

Zebra mantis shrimp (Lysiosquillina sp.) being sold in a pet store.

Mantis shrimps are neither mantis nor shrimps, they are crustaceans though and belong to the order of Stomatopoda.

Mantis shrimps have mantis-like raptorial claws that they can use to destroy things, even break aquarium glass. Of course the primary purpose of those nasty looking claws is predation — killing of any animal that comes close for the purpose of eating it.

Mantis shrimps can smash clam shells with those claws, or aquarium glass, and they can do some damage to the hands of anyone careless enough to try to handle them or just reach anywhere near a mantis shrimp in its element. It is no accident that mantis shrimps have a reputation of being thumb splitters, they can be a menace to diver and aquarist alike.

I have never owned a zebra mantis shrimp, but I used to keep a more colorful peacock mantis shrimp in an acrylic tank, but I could only keep it for a couple of years.

Mantis shrimps are predators and need to be fed with prey that they can kill and eat. Clams, other shrimp, feeder guppies and feeder goldfish.

You should never try to keep a mantis shrimp in your reef aquarium, they will destroy everything. In fact in a reef tank people consider any incidental mantis shrimp that manages to hitchhike its way in inside a piece of live rock a pest that needs to be removed.

On the other hand if you create a species tank for it, a mantis shrimp can become an interesting pet, some species have delightful coloration. As they should as a species that has excellent color vision that makes us humans look color blind — although some researchers challenge this notion. Mantis shrimps can even perceive differently polarized light as different — we can’t even imagine how that looks like. Most of the image processing is in those huge eyes. The mantis shrimp can use its excellent sight to locate prey and to avoid animals that prey on it.

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Last updated: November 21, 2014

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