Breeding Shrimps in our Fish Lab

We have been expanding our shrimp breeding program, and now have potential breeding protocols for five distinct families, each with different life histories (Thoridae, Stenopodidae, Rhynchocinetidae, Hippolytidae, Lysmatidae). These represent four of the six most coveted families in ornamental shrimp aquaria.

Of the three families we have studied so far, we have observed clear morphological differences in body shape, size, eye formation, and overall development, that will be studied further in the coming weeks.

Our Shrimp Fact Cards

Dancing Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

Dancing Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

The smallest of our shrimp species in the Fish Lab, growing to only 20mm maximum, they are also the most sociable, preferring to live in large groups. They are the only species in the Lab to have a symbiotic relationship with anemones and corals.
Despite their small size, Dancing Shrimp can be easy to spot as they are a bright red/orange in colour, with large white markings along the body and tail. Males have an unbroken stripe across the tail, whereas in females it is broken into three large spots. Females are also much larger than the males as they are protandrous hermaphrodites, transitioning from male to female based on size.
Dancing Shrimp have a very short abdomen and an unusual raised tail, which they hold above their head and wiggle back and forth (this is where the species gets its common name). It is not clear why they ‘dance’ like this, perhaps for communication. Eggs are held under the tail, and upon hatching the 2mm larvae are light brown and the same thickness along the body.
Boxer Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

Boxer Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

The largest of our Fish Lab shrimp species, growing to 75mm in length. Preferring to be in pairs, the Boxer Shrimp is highly territorial, and can become aggressive to other shrimps (except their mated partner). They have very distinctive colouring, like a candy cane, with red and white stripes all over the body including on the pincer claws. They also have long antennae which extend well past the body. The females are larger than the males, and typically wider in the abdomen to allow for eggs to be stored underneath.

Eggs are a bright blue/green when immature, fading to white as they develop. Shortly before hatching, black spots become visible within the eggs. The larvae are large (3-4mm) and begin to show red and white banding at an early age, as well as the spines used for protection in the adults.

Marbled Shrimp (Saron marmoratus)

Marbled Shrimp (Saron marmoratus)

Growing to 50-75mm, they are one of the more unusual looking species. The body is covered in a mix of spots, blotches and stripes of various colours (grey, yellow, red, brown and even green). The legs are striped in either blue/white or red/white, and the eyes are large and dominant on the head.

The body of the Marbled Shrimp is covered in tufts of cilia on both the back and underside. Females have large tufts of these cilia on the front legs (looking almost like a toothbrush!) while in males this is absent or reduced. They also have the ability to camouflage, and have been recorded changing colour dramatically between day and night.

The larvae are large at 3mm, with a wide carapace, almost 2x wider than the other species.

Camel Shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis)

Camel Shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis)

This species is commonly mixed up with the Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) as they have similar colouring and size (50 mm). The shrimp is red, with a cream/white striping and spots in a geometric pattern, with a long white stripe around the mid-section which has a hump like a camel’s back. They have a long rostrum beak, which is mobile and swings up and down. This is why they are also sometimes called Hinge-beak Shrimp as well as Camel Shrimp. Males and females are similar sizes, but the females tend to be smaller with smaller pincers.

Eggs are dark grey and easily visible under the abdomen and through the side of the body. The larvae are a similar shape to the larvae of the S. marmoratus but smaller (only 1.5-2mm), with a much narrower carapace, though still wider than both T.amboinensis and S. hispidus.

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)

This species is usually associated with cleaning stations and is easily seen with on the reef due to their long white antennae that extend past the body.

They have a yellow underbelly, and bright red back with a long white stripe that runs from the head to the tail, and are relatively large for a cleaner species at 2 inches .

This species is hermaphroditic, producing both eggs and sperm at the same time, making pairing easy; they can store reproductive materials until required. The eggs are green when first produced, and fade to clear as they develop (similar to S. hispidus.)

Shrimp Updates

  • Dancing shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – The seven largest shrimp juveniles are growing well in the display tank and are now visibly active. We are growing out 755 larvae, currently in early developmental stages.
  • Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) – We are currently growing 102 mid-stage larvae.
  • Camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis) – Four newly introduced specimens – 2 males, plus 2 ovigerous females carrying large egg clutches. One female has already produced 105 larvae, which were transferred to our Lab for rearing.
  • Marbled shrimp (Saron marmoratus) – currently carrying eggs.
  • Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) – We have a single new specimen, and we hope to find a breeding partner.
Fish Lab Shrimp breeding cycle

October 2022

  • Mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) – Now fully settled into the tank, this individual is hunting live food like Artemia and small crabs (caught on the beach), using her impressive club-like appendages to break them apart.
  • Donald Duck shrimp (Leander plumosus) – Two new specimens this month. Named after their large rostrum, that looks like a duck’s bill.
  • Zebra mantis shrimp (Lysiosquillina maculate) – New this month. We collected mixed samples of larvae from the water column, for lab-rearing. We think this includes four Zebra mantis shrimp juveniles, which we will continue to grow out.

Gallery: Shimp larvae at 1-day old


Our focus is to produce replicable and consistent data for our research paper on Thor amboinensis, and to continue tracking and describing the reproductive cycle of Lysmata amboinensis.

  • Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – 21 larvae are now in the final stages of development, with five larvae settled into the juvenile shrimp stage. Our new protocols are promoting faster and more successful settlement.
  • Camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis) – All four larvae from September are in late-stage near-settlement (based on features observed in our other species). There is currently no standardised full larval description for this species; currently, all four larvae have fully developed uropod structures and swimmerets in the form of biramous buds [PHOTO].
  • Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) – Last month’s clutch continues to develop, with two larvae remaining. This species is a simultaneous hermaphroditic shrimp, and there is limited understanding of its timings and process of reproduction. This month, we have observed three reproductive events, with a clear track of intermolt periods and development of the ovary.
Fish Lab - sexy shrimp larvae in egg Marine Savers Maldives

Development of larvae in Sexy shrimp eggs (T. amboinensis)

Fish Lab shrimp development R.durbanensis swimmerets

Development of swimmerets in Camel shrimp (R. durbanensis )