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Cleaner Shrimp – A Big Bundle of Fun in a Small Body

Nearly every one of our customers who have added a cleaner shrimp into the aquarium tells us the it is one of their favorite animals in the tank.

They love the way the shrimp moves, the little flurry of activity in all of its legs, and the fact that it will sometimes gently land on their hand while they are feeding the aquarium.

Cleaner shrimp in an aquarium will find a place which they will generally call “home.” It usually has a cave-live structure, or at least a sheltered overhang for the shrimp to rest or hide in. It is also visible to the fish and easily accessible to them.

Cleaner shrimp form a symbiotic bond with the fish in an aquarium. They pick off and eat dead scales and parasites off of the fish. Their “home” is more of a “cleaning station,” where the fish go to get cleaned. They approach the cleaning station with a flattened swim pattern, showing the shrimp that they are not there to eat them, and to present an area for cleaning (even inside their mouths!).

The cleaner shrimp should not be housed with predators such as lion fish, puffer fish, or hawk fish, as the shrimp is typically on their menus.

Adding a cleaner shrimp should always be done with patience. They are delicate and don’t tolerate change very well, so a long gradual acclimation should be performed. In my experience, acclimating them for at least an hour with a slow drip is the minimum.

Sometimes, the owner will get caught by surprise when they find an empty shell that looks just like the shrimp. What has happened is that the shrimp has “molted,” or shed its exoskeleton so that its new one can grow into place. Just another surprise that a cleaner shrimp will give you.

The cleaner shrimp is one of those additions that your family and visitors will be sure to notice. Its behaviors are fun and mesmerizing to watch, and a wonderful addition for most aquariums.

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