Environment: Tropical 22.2-25.6°C (72 -78 °F)
pH: 8.1 – 8.4
KH: 8 – 12
Breeding: Egg Layer
Cleaner shrimp are the perfect addition to a saltwater aquarium to help keep it clean and to maintain the health of fish in the tank. Also called skunk cleaner and scarlet cleaner shrimp because of their white “skunk” stripe and bright red backs, these shrimp add beauty to any tank. They are easy to keep without requiring any special care, however you will need to maintain proper iodine levels.
Originally from the tropical Western Pacific Ocean, cleaner shrimp belong to the Custacea class. They exhibit two pair of antennae, five pairs of legs, three body parts and a tail with a white spot that looks like a fan. The long stiff antennae are used for feeding and catching and tearing food apart with its pincers. The adult is about two inches long.
The shrimp are called cleaner shrimp because they actually help to clean parasites living on the body and gills of fish. They even remove dead tissue from the body of the fish. Being scavengers, these shrimp will keep the entire tank clean by eating left over food and other debris in the tank.
Watching the antics of cleaner shrimp is interesting. They sway their tentacles in the water in search of food, and also to advertise their cleaning services to resident fish. If you are lucky, you will see fish coming to these “cleaning stations” to tidy themselves.
Specific feeding of cleaner shrimp is not needed unless there is not enough left-over food in the tank. If necessary, they can be fed pellets and flakes food, frozen foods, or smaller meaty seafood such as roe or pieces of fish.
Breeding Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
The scarlet cleaner shrimp are hermaphrodites, changing sex frequently, and making it easy to find a breeding pair. With two shrimp in a tank, one will lose its exoskeleton and become the female. Between 200 and 500 eggs are laid in one spawning. After the eggs hatch they should be protected until they are larger than the mouths of other fish in the tank.
Diseases of Cleaner Shrimp
Health problems can result from too much food in the tank or changes in the quality of water from the introduction of a new plant or from fish medications, copper is deadly to invertebrate. Generally, however, cleaner shrimp remain healthy and active with little care.