Stomatopod Care and Rearing

Mantis shrimp sensitivity to various household solvents (Dr. R. Caldwell)

Stomatopods are relatively susceptible to succumbing to volatile organic solvents. I've had my entire lab stock wiped out by a variety of solvents. The one that surprised me the most was when the custodial staff waxed my floor. We lost over 400 animals, some that had been in the lab for years. However, you should realize that many of our animals are kept in non-circulating cups of water. It takes a lot more exposure in a circulating tank to be lethal. Still, stay away from strong solvents like paint and paint thinner, insecticides, disinfectant sprays like Lysol, formalin, acetone, etc. I don't think that deodorant would cause a problem in a circulating tank, but it would in a cup.

I never, never use soap on a system. We disinfect with bleach and rinse, rinse, rinse. Be particular careful with plastic. A variety of compounds adhere to it and you just can't get rid of them.

As for the mechanism, it involves an arginine phosphate energy system found in the raptorial appendage muscle. If you have kept stomatopods for a while, you will have encountered animals with "sprung" raptorial appendages. The propodae are permanently extended. This happens when they are too cold, too hot, low oxygen, solvents, just about any physiological assault. It is the first sign of severe stress and while not always fatal, usually signifies that the end is near. If the animal recovers, it will lose the raptorial appendages (tear them off), but can regenerate them. Back to the energy system. It generates lots of energy quickly, but is very sensitive to metabolic poisons. We think this is why the animals are unusually sensitive.

- Dr. Roy Caldwell

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