Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Honor an invert

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda


Order: Decopoda

Family: Hymenoceridae

This Crazy looking creature is a harlequin shrimp. These shrimps are found in the Indo and Eastern Pacific waters. They grow to about 2 inches and tend to live in pairs. They can be territorial to other pairs, and patrol their territory looking for their favorite food, starfish.

Because they are so colorful and easy to breed in captivity, they are something of a favorite in the marine pet trade. There are also tons of stories about how they feed, some of which may be due to the shrimp's personal style. The most common strategy is to flip the starfish over and keep it on its back. This may be accomplished by using their large, flattened claws.
Afterward, the shrimps may keep the starfish immobile by eating the tube feet first. There have even been some antidotes of the shrimp feeding the starfish to keep it alive longer.

Despite its popularity as a pet, there seems to be a lack of information about its natural behaviors. One source postulates that these shrimp may sequester toxins from its prey into its body, and this may be why they have such bright coloration [1], but no-one really knows for sure.

1 comment:

Jan S said...

I have seen plenty of these colorful shrimp in pet stores. Not one of them mentioning you have to have a supply of starfish to fed to them. Fascinating.