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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

April 19, 2013

Mantis Shrimp: A Destructive Aquarium Pest?

By Patrick Donston


Do you believe mantis shrimp are devastating and extremely destructive pests to reef aquariums?

Mantis shrimp
We often have clients ask us for mantis shrimp traps. When they tell us they have a mantis shrimp, we’ll ask: ”How do you know?” They commonly respond with, "Well, because all of my fish are disappearing.” Even though they have not seen it, they assume the culprit is a mantis shrimp.

While it is true that mantis shrimp eat small fish, ornamental shrimp and gastropods, a 1- to 2-inch mantis usually cannot take down a 4- to 6-inch yellow tang. As with most predatory crustaceans, they are opportunistic feeders that will prey on the easiest thing available. A healthy fish is far from being easy to catch in a reef tank, which are typically full of live rock teeming with copepods, isopods and plankton.

We keep more than 2,000 gallons of reef aquariums, and I know that we have mantis shrimp crawling about at night. We also have beautiful fish living in these reef tanks, some for many years. The point is that a healthy fish will not be bothered by mantis shrimp. When fish disappear or die, it is most likely pathogenesis through stress, not predation from a mantis shrimp. I find that Oodinium and Cryptocaryon are usually the problem.

In my next blog, I will discuss bristle worms and their place within the reef aquarium habitat.

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