Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata Amboinensis)

cleaner shrimp cleaning inside the mouth of a moray eel

Scarlet skunk cleaner shrimps (Lysmata Amboinensis) are not only colorful invertebrates, but they also provide a very useful service on the reef - they clean the parasites off of reef fish.

The service of cleaner shrimps is greatly appreciated by both aquarium and reef fish and they usually allow cleaner shrimp to clean all parts of their body. The photo above shows a cleaner shrimp cleaning inside the mouth of a moray eel.

Reef fish sometimes line up at "cleaning stations" so that cleaner shrimp can rid them of parasites.

Reef fish come to depend on the services of cleaner shrimp and other cleaner fish (cleaning gobies and wrasses) because they have no other way of removing external parasites from themselves.

cleaner shrimp

Not only are these cleaner shrimp colorful and useful for cleaning the parasites off of aquarium fish, but they are also useful for cleaning up debris in the aquarium. They also often "clean" aquarists' hands when placed in the tank.

In the aquarium it is best to keep them in groups. Solitary specimans often hide and aren't happy.

They reach a maximum size of about 2.5-3 inches (6-8 cm) in length.

Only keep cleaner shrimp with peaceful fish. For example, lionfish often eat these shrimps. You should also provide plenty of hiding places and live rock in their tank, otherwise they won't feel safe.

In the aquarium, feed your cleaner shrimps meaty foods (e.g., frozen mysis shrimp and other meaty aquarium fare for marine fish). They will also usually eat freeze-dried or other dried foods.

As with all invertebrates, they are intolerant of a lot of fish medications. They are pretty hardy, but take care when acclimating them to your aquarium as they don't tolerate changes well.

Want to see a scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp in action? Then see the You Tube video below of a scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp in an aquarium cleaning a flame angelfish

Scarlet skunk cleaner fish belong to the family Hippolytidae. They can usually be purchased for approximately $18-25 each depending on their size. Smaller shrimps are usually less expensive than full-grown shrimps.

These cleaner shrimp will breed in the aquarium. Like a lot of other reef aquatic life, they have the ability to change their sex. If you have more than one scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp then you should always have at least one male-female pair.