In my opinion a Cleaner shrimp or two is a necessity for every reef aquarium. These shrimp are not only pretty to look at, but are a valuable tool for fighting pests in the aquarium.
Common Names: Cleaner shrimp or Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Skill Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
The Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp will set up “shop” on an overhang of your life rock. The fish
in your aquarium will instinctively know that the shrimp will clean their bodies and mouths of
any parasites or dead skin without harming them. The cleaner shrimp gets a meal and the fish
get clean. Owning a reef aquarium at home lets you peek into a few of the oceans symbiotic
relationships such as the anemone and clownfish and in this case the cleaner shrimp to other
peaceful reef fish. It is an incredible sight and it doesn’t take long at all for a cleaner shrimp
newly introduced to the aquarium to get to work.
Many people pick up their first cleaner shrimp when they notice an outbreak of Ich in their
aquarium. The cleaner fish does help and will eat the Ich and can save the fishes life but I would
recommend adding a cleaner shrimp to your tank as one of the first inhabitants. It will notice the
Ich long before you will and has a much greater chance at saving your fish from parasites.
Cleaner shrimp will also serve your aquarium in hunting down food which the fish missed or are
unable to reach. The most active I have seen my cleaner shrimp is during feeding time. They will
scurry all over the rocks catching food which the fish missed. This benefits the aquarium because
this food could possibly sit there and rot raising your nitrates.
An important fact to keep in mind is that not all fish available in the marine trade view the
cleaner shrimp as a valuable helper. Lionfish, Groupers, some large triggers, and a few other
predatory fish will see a twenty dollar dinner. I have never had an issue with other shrimp or
crabs with my cleaners, but I have read that some large crabs and banded shrimp can also attack
and eat cleaner shrimp. It’s never happened to me personally but I thought I would mention it
since I have read it in a few other places.
If you’re new to owning a cleaner shrimp at some point you will look into your tank and
see what at first is going to look like a very dead cleaner shrimp. This would be the Cleaner
Shrimp’s skeleton which has molted (unless you do have a very dead cleaner shrimp in your
tank). As the shrimp grows his outside skeleton does not, so in order to keep growing he molts
his skeleton. When this happens he is more vulnerable to attack while his shell hardens so you
can expect your shrimp to lay low and hide for a few days.
If your tank has acceptable parameters and you do not own a Cleaner shrimp I would definitely