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Pistol Shrimp - Alpheus species

Pistol Shrimp - Alpheus species
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Maximum size:
2 inches
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Taxonomy: Pistol Shrimp belongs to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Class Crustacea, Order Decapoda, Family Alpheidae and Genus Alpheus.

Scientific names: The scientific name of Pistol Shrimp is Alpheus species.

Other common names: Pistol Shrimp is also commonly known as Symbiosis Shrimp and Snapping Shrimp.

Origin or natural range: The Alpheus species originates in the tropical region including Caribbean and Baja California.

Size: Pistol Shrimp grows up to a maximum size of around three inches.

Color: The Alpheus species occurs in varied colors.

Compatibility: Pistol Shrimp is non-aggressive towards the marine aquarium members.

Habit & Habitat:

  • When pincher of the Alpheus species opens or closes, it expels water. During this process, an appendage makes a sound like a pistol and therefore the name Pistol Shrimp.
  • The Alpheus species shares a symbiotic relationship with gobies. Gobies have good eyesight and warn the shrimp of any nearby predators in the exchange of the food that Pistol Shrimp provides to their host, gobies.
  • The Alpheus species may also get symbiotically associated with sponges, corals and anemones.
  • Pistol Shrimp is the sole eusocial marine invertebrate.
  • The Alpheus species also practice a division of labor in its group. There is a caste of queens that is protected by a caste called soldiers. These soldiers are larger in size than the rest of their colony members and protect their territory from any intruders including Pistol Shrimps of other colony.
  • The Alpheus species molts as it outgrows its exoskeleton. In molting, Pistol Shrimp sheds its existing, tight shell to replace it with a new, larger one. The Alpheus species leaves its previous shell at a visible site to detract its predators while it hides away to allow its new exoskeleton to form completely and harden.
  • Pistol Shrimp has two pairs of long and thin antennae, three segments of body and five pairs of legs.
  • The antennae are a visionary tool for the Alpheus species.
  • The head of Pistol Shrimp is connected to thorax.
  • The thorax of the Alpheus species is covered with an exoskeleton, called Carapace.
  • The abdomen of Pistol Shrimp is well designed to facilitate the animal's quick movement.
  • The Alpheus species has two claws, one is pincher and the other one is snapper.
  • The pinchers of male Pistol Shrimp are larger than that of its female counterpart.
Breeding: The Alpheus species is monogamous in nature and lives and breeds in sponges.

Growth enabling environment in your marine aquarium:
  • Temperature of water: Seventy-two to seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Specific gravity of water: 1.023 to 1.025.
  • pH of water: 8.10 to 8.40.
  • Illumination: Pistol Shrimp requires low illumination in the tank it inhabits.
  • Habit & habitat:
  • To host Pistol Shrimp, you should have a reef type marine aquarium with a minimum water capacity of thirty gallons. Your aquarium should also contain sand, coral, rocks and rock caves.
  • The Alpheus species may take over an hour to acclimate to your reef tank's environment.
  • Feeding & Nutrition: Pistol Shrimp is Omnivorous in feeding habit and eats detritus, phytoplankton, frozen meaty bits, brine shrimp, pellets and vegetable flakes.
  • Benefits: The Alpheus species is a Scavenger and feeds upon detritus present in the sand, thereby keeping your marine aquarium free of any decaying organic matter.
  • The Alpheus species is easy to maintain owing to its non-poisonous nature.
  • Maintain ample Iodine quantity in the tank water to smoothen up Pistol Shrimp's molting process.
  • Copper and Nitrates in tank water may prove lethal for the Alpheus species therein.
  • Do not keep large predator fish and Pistol Shrimp in the same marine aquarium as the fish may kill the shrimp therein.
  • To compensate for any missing nourishment, better feed the Alpheus species twice to thrice per week.
Caution: Pistol Shrimp may attack shrimps smaller in size than itself. Therefore, do not keep very small sized shrimps and the Alpheus species in the same marine aquarium.

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