Stomatopod Logs: The "Shelled" Stomatopod (March 10,1998)

Contributor: ASJ

I currently have 4 different mantis shrimps. The most interesting among the four is one of the Gonodactylus individuals.

I picked up this mantis shrimp from Pet Warehouse in Long Island, NY, which sold the critter for $5 as a packaged deal along with its shell and the anemones (which may be the pest Aptasia sp). Even from the beginning, this particular individual proved relatively feisty, peering "curiously" from within the safety of the shell even as the whole thing was transferred to a plastic bag for transport.

I placed the shell and its occupants in a 10 g tank, which is filtered by a Top Fins device and lit approximately 12 hours every day. For a detailed account of maintenance conditions, skip over to Stomatopod Care.

I found out pretty soon that the shell houses two additional anemones, both of which reside along the sloping inner walls of the shell, right next to the entrance. They are pretty small (<5 mm) and white in color, getting their nutrients from scraps floating from the bits of shrimp or mussels that I feed the mantis shrimp. The two anemones are frequently buried underneath pebbles that the mantis uses to close off the entrance to the shell, but so far have shown no ill effects from this.

The other occupant of the tank is a 2 cm long damselfish (3 spotted), which contents itself by hovering along the sides of the tank and coming up to eat the flakes that I offer it every day. The damsel "sleeps" close to the ground, and would probably be susceptible to predation by the mantis if I did not regularly feed the latter animal.

This mantis is very alert and can easily see and respond to me on the outside. It normally covers the entrance to the shell every dark period after carefully selecting appropriately sized pebbles from the surrounding area. When I switch on the tank lights (to simulate daylight) and start moving in front of the tank, it soon opens up the entrance. It then waits patiently for its daily feeding of frozen shrimp and/or mussels, its tiny face with the large compound eyes seeming to stare at me plaintively. I feed it by handing the bits of food directly to its waiting appendages. It sometimes rolls around with the food, looking like a tiny "puppy" playing with some ball.


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Site Created February 3, 1998
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