Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harlequin Shrimp

Hymenocera picta
There are two species of Harlequin Shrimp we are going to talk about today. One, Hymenocera elegans, can be found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The other, H. picta, resides exclusively around Hawaii. The former has a light colored body with bluish spots, while the latter sports red and purple.

Both species are quite stunning, and don't look very much like the traditional shrimp that you may picture. They look almost leaf-like in their appearance, with flattened front claws and petal-like antennae. Harlequin Shrimp also differ from other shrimp based on their diet- it is almost completely made up of starfish!

These beautiful crustaceans can be kept in captivity, but be sure to keep them out of tanks with any prized starfish in them! The shrimp will slowly eat the starfish alive, starting at the arms and moving inward. Their specialized diet can obviously pose a challenge for captive owners.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Pacific and Indian Oceans
Size : Length up to 1.5in (4cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Subphylum : Crustacea -- Class : Malacostraca
Order : Decapoda -- Family : Gnathophyllidae -- Genus : Hymenocera

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