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Peppermint Shrimp: Lysmata wurdemanni

Phylum: Subphylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species:
Arthropoda Crustacea Malacostraca Decopoda Hippolytidae Lysmata L. wurdemanni

Common Names:  Peppermint Shrimp, Veined Shrimp, Caribbean Cleaner Shrimp, Candy Cane Shrimp

Scientific Name:  Lysmata wurdemanni

Description:
The Peppermint Shrimp is semi-translucent with a pink hue with red thin horizontal stripes that extend longitudinally along the length of the body.

There appears to be at least 6 different species of Lysmata which may enter the hobby as ‘Peppermint shrimp’, so exact identification is difficult to impossible and may explain the differences in behavior that have been noted with this species especially as it relates to their appetite for eating Aiptasia anemones.

L. wurdemanni
L. rathbunae
L. ankeri (newly described)
L. boggessi  (newly described)
L. pederseni  (newly described)
L. Bahia  (newly described)

There are other shrimp that may also be sold as Peppermint shrimp such as the Camelback shrimp.  These other shrimp generally have white rather than translucent areas of coloration.  These other shrimp are generally not as reef safe as L. wurdemanni and do not eat Aiptasia anemones.

Natural Environment:
Common in mostly shallow waters with rocky hard bottom on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. extending from New York to Texas.

Reef Tank Suitability:
Peppermint Shrimp are reef safe.  They are mostly nocturnal and reclusive in nature tending to stay back in the rockwork during the day, though they may learn to come out during feeding time.

Peppermint shrimp, being modestly colored shrimp that hide most of the time, are most often added to a reef tank to help provide biological control of the pest Aiptasia anemone.   Success in this endeavor varies widely between different shrimp.  Some seem to be avid eaters of Aiptasia and others seem to pay no attention to them.  Those that do eat Aiptasia are generally more effective on the smaller specimens and may not tackle the large anemones.  Part of this inconsistent behavior may be due to that fact that there are various species of Lysmata in the hobby of which only some may be actual Aiptasia eaters.  I have also observed that the larger shrimp tend to be more likely to eat Aiptasia than the smaller specimens.

Open Aiptasia Anemone Database Entry

Peppermint shrimp frequently breed in the reef tank.  The female mates shortly after molting and carries the green colored eggs under her abdomen for about a week.  The resulting larva enter the food chain at night and generally do not survive in a reef tank, but it is possible to intentionally breed Peppermint Shrimp as noted below.

Being relatively defenseless shrimp, they can’t be kept in aquaria that house shrimp eating fish such as some types of large wrasses.

Disposition:
Generally benign in nature, the do not generally bother other tank inhabitants, though they may occasionally steal food from coral.  They use their antennae to ward off curious tank mates.

Feeding:
Peppermint shrimp will scavenge and also feed on any meaty foods that are fed to the tank such as Mysis shrimp or may take pellets.  If you are lucky, they will also feed on any Aiptasia that may be in the tank as well.

Hardiness:
Very hardy.

Temperature:
Does well within normal reef tank temperature ranges of approximately 74-84°F.

Size:
Body length of up to 2″ with antennae if similar length.

Breeding:
Peppermint Shrimp have an unusual reproductive process.  The shrimp are born as males and then enter a hermaphrodite phase where they act as a female shortly after molting when mating can take place, but otherwise remain a male the rest of the time.

It is possible to breed Peppermint Shrimp if they are either kept in or moved to a separate breeding/rearing tank while carrying eggs where no predators exist to eat the larva which are called zoeae.  The young larva will feed on newly hatched brine shrimp.

An article from Advanced Aquarist is linked to below that provides some details for anyone thinking about getting into the shrimp breeding business.

Acknowledgments:
All photos by ReefCorner © All Rights Reserved

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