The peacock mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, lives in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific and has become well known for its striking colors and patterns that are used to communicate with other members of its species as well as potential predators.
The peacock mantis shrimp is a type of crustacean and a large member of the stomatopod family, they are active predator and feeds primarily on fish, crabs, and lobsters – although some individuals have been observed preying on water snakes, sea cucumbers, and even other crustaceans in their native habitat.
This mantis shrimp gets its name from the striking colors that adorn its body and its large claws, which can measure anywhere from 2-15 inches in length. Unlike other crustaceans, the peacock mantis shrimp isn’t technically an arthropod because it doesn’t have an exoskeleton or an external skeleton at all, its skeleton is instead located inside of its body, allowing it to easily change color with just a simple muscle contraction.
Named after its distinctive, colorful appearance and its mantis-like arm movements, the peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) is one of the most beautiful and bizarre creatures in the ocean. Despite its exotic appearance, it’s actually one of the easiest species to care for in the aquarium!
What are peacock mantis shrimp?
Commonly referred to as peacock mantis shrimp is a small and colorful marine crustacean. Considered one of nature’s true marvels, these unique animals have powerful bodies and an array of amazing characteristics that set them apart from other crustaceans. They are found in tropical waters around parts of Australia and South America.
Despite their size (less than 20 centimeters), peacock mantis shrimp can use their claws with enough force to break glass aquarium walls!
Origin and descriptions
The Odontodactylus scyllarus is a mantis shrimp found off of Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia. It is one of many species of mantis shrimp to show beautiful, ornate color patterns (in their case between blue and green). Many believe that their striking appearance led to their names, peacock mantis shrimp.
However, it was not until 2008 that it was discovered how these creatures manage to display such vibrant colors. They have three layers of iridescent cells with different refractive indices in each layer; when light hits these cells at certain angles they reflect different colors depending on which layer they are reflected from. This allows them to create an array of bright colors without any pigmentation!
The peacock mantis shrimp belong to the family Odontodactylidae, which contains only one other species, Odontodactylus scyllarus. These animals are also known as smashers because of their unique ability to crush and destroy hard-shelled prey such as clams, oysters, and snails. They use a specialized appendage called a dactyl club that is lined with spikes and ridges.
When smashing its prey, it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just .0025 seconds—the fastest acceleration of any creature on Earth! It can also strike at a speed of 25 miles per hour, the fastest movement ever recorded for an animal without a backbone. When they aren’t hunting or reproducing, they live in burrows along sandy beaches and feed primarily on barnacles and mussels.
Peacock mantis shrimp scientific name
The scientific name of the peacock mantis shrimp is Odontodactylus scyllarus
Peacock mantis shrimp habitat
The mantis shrimp is found in coral reefs throughout Australia, Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu. In addition to these locations it has been identified as far south as New Zealand and on coastal reefs along Japan and Korea.
The species has also been identified in southern California up to Oregon, although there is some debate about whether or not these sightings are separate subspecies or simply variants of Odontodactylus scyllarus from a different location (i.e., Odontodactylus scyllarus kurodai). Regardless, its native range covers most of Australia’s coast and much of southeast Asia.
Peacock mantis shrimp size
The colorful peacock mantis shrimp ranges in size from 2 to 7 inches (5-18 cm) in length.
Peacock mantis shrimp tank size
Due to their small size, peacock mantis shrimp will do very well in a 10 gallon (38 liters) or larger tanks.
Odontodactylus scyllarus is easy to care for and can be kept in a freshwater or saltwater aquarium that has plenty of rocks, wood, and aquatic plants. In order to keep your shrimp happy, maintain very specific water conditions, keep water at about 74 degrees Fahrenheit with pH at 7.2–7.8, salinity at 1–5%, and hardness around 5–19 dGH.
Keep an eye on ammonia levels; if they get too high, you may need to do more frequent water changes. You’ll also want to make sure you have some live rocks in your tank so your mantis shrimp can graze on algae. Like other invertebrates, Odontodactylus scyllarus needs calcium to build its exoskeleton.
As such, it’s important to provide it with foods containing calcium like coral or brine shrimp. If your shrimp develops a white tip on its claw (which will eventually fall off), it likely means it isn’t getting enough calcium in its diet, try feeding it some krill or another food rich in calcium.
Because of their aggressive nature, it is best to keep them in a species only tank. But if you decide you want some friends for your peacock mantis shrimp, starfish, fire shrimp, cleaner shrimp, urchins, or brittle stars may do well.
Avoid keeping them with sand-dwelling fish like gobies, corals may do well too if taken care of properly. Other fish may become snack food if they pass through territory that belongs to a peacock mantis shrimp.
This species is an egg layer, but unlike many other mantis shrimp, it will not eat its own eggs. The female carries her eggs on her pleopods until they hatch. When they hatch, she will continue to carry them on her body and protect them while they grow. The babies often hitch a ride on their mother’s tail when she swims away from danger; if their mother is grabbed by a predator, they may also latch onto its limbs as a defense against being eaten themselves.
If one of these young shrimplets falls off of its mother or is otherwise lost, it can survive for up to two weeks before needing another host. If a baby does not find another host within that time period, it will die.
Are they aggressive or peaceful?
The peacock mantis shrimp is an aggressive and voracious predator that preys on small fish and lobsters. When fighting with another shrimp, it uses its claw to stab at and impale its opponent.
Peacock mantis shrimp care
When you first get your mantis shrimp, it is important to recognize that they are very fragile and sensitive. They need excellent water quality (preferably de-chlorinated), pristine food sources and a relatively high amount of salt content in their water source.
Many hobbyists will argue about how little or much salt should be added to create a suitable environment for these little crustaceans, but for beginners, I would recommend adding approximately 1/4 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water for a freshwater setup.
That said, they do best with a specific gravity of around 1.020 -1.025, which is roughly equivalent to 2 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water. In addition to providing them with an ideal salinity level, you will also want to make sure that there are no traces of copper or ammonia present in your tank because both can kill them if levels become too high.
Mantis shrimp food
They are carnivorous, eating a variety of things including Crustaceans such as crab and shrimp, and mollusks such as squid, clams, mussels and snails. Interestingly enough, they will also eat small fish and even other types of shrimp. What a creature! It is no wonder that these things are one of nature’s super-predators; not only are they strong enough to crack open snail shells with their claws, but they can also punch holes through glass aquarium walls.
Despite their obvious advantages in hunting ability, they tend to live short lives compared to many other shrimp species.
Peacock mantis shrimp lifespan
On average, the peacock mantis shrimp can live for 3-6 years. There has been a report of a mantis shrimp living for more than 12 years in captivity, with proper care and diet.
Parasites and diseases
The most common disease is a virus called viscerotropic papillomavirus, which affects shrimp twice as much as they age. This disease causes tumors to grow on their bodies and eventually leads to death. Another parasite that can infect peacock mantis shrimp is sea lice.
These parasites are usually introduced into tanks by new additions of fish or invertebrates that have been infected with sea lice before entering a tank. Once in a tank, sea lice attach themselves to mantis shrimp and feed off their blood for about 2–3 weeks until they become mature enough to reproduce.
Do they make good pets?
With their bright colors and ability to break aquarium glass, peacock mantis shrimp are a popular choice for home aquarists. When we keep an eye on them (and we do!) they’re fairly low-maintenance and make great pets. They are, however, a natural part of coral reef ecosystems, and it is important to remember that they live in harmony with all sorts of other creatures that share their space in nature, reef fish and corals just to name a few.