Common names for the Cleaner shrimp include Scarlet Skunk, Scarlet Skunk Cleaner, White Banded Cleaner Shrimp, White Striped Cleaner Shrimp and Common Cleaner Shrimp.

Cleaner Shrimp Inside Fish Mouth
Cleaner Shrimp Inside Fish Mouth

Though the name suggests these shrimp should be part of your clean up crew, these invertebrates do provide a valuable service, but it is not cleaning your tank. They set up a cleaning station and wait for fish to swim by, the fish will then pause and allow the cleaner shrimp to get to work cleaning off any parasites and dead skin from the fish. Some fish will even allow the shrimp to clean the insides of their mouths, without harming the shrimp.

In an aquarium, these natural habits will sometimes show, but boisterous tank mates should be avoided in the confines of an aquarium. Predatory fish like Lion Fish, Hawkfish and some crabs will likely see Cleaner Shrimp as prey and make light work of clearing your tank of them.

Tank Requirements

Cleaner Shrimp
  • These shrimp are reef safe
  • Clean and stable water
  • Stable magnesium & calcium levels
  • They will not tolerate a high nitrate level
  • Absolutely no copper treatments within the tank
  • Iodine supplements are recommended to encourage healthy molts and growth
  • Recommended stocking level is 1 – 2 Shrimp per 20 gallons (90L) of water.
  • These shrimp are fine to be kept in large groups

Feeding

  • These are omnivores.
  • They have been known to take food from corals and slower moving fish, so extra care should be taken when feeding your tank to ensure all tank mates are receiving their fair share of the goods.
  • They will eat most things you put into a tank.
  • Live foods, frozen foods, pellets and flaked food are readily accepted.

Acclimatisation

Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

These shrimp take quite a long time to acclimate. They should be drip acclimatised slowly, for roughly double the amount of time you would do for a fish, about an hour and a half.

As you are acclimating take out some of the water the shrimp is sitting in every 15 minutes. This will slowly increase the amount of tank water in the acclimation bucket and reduce the amount of original water.

When placing it in the tank, try to avoid netting it and exposing it to air. If you have been removing the water as you have been acclimating then the amount of original water left in your bucket should be minimal. Scoop the shrimp out in a container and place the container into the tank.

Shrimp do not acclimate particularly well, please take your time with this process. Like most inverts, shrimp are sensitive to changes in water parameters, temperature and salinity.

Will Cleaner Shrimp Reproduce In An Aquarium

Much like freshwater shrimp, these shrimp can often be seen carrying eggs in an aquarium. If you have at least one male and one female in your tank, they will likely mate and the female will then be seen carrying the eggs.

Before you get excited, there are very few success stories from hobbyists who have managed to raise the shrimplets into adult shrimp. Unfortunately, in a display tank that is not species only you really don’t stand any chance or raising them. Most will be predated on by their tank mates, some will be lost to filters and powerheads, other to corals, and the ones who do make it to a safe spot will likely starve to death.

Cleaner Shrimp Eggs
Cleaner Shrimp Eggs

Dedicated hobbyists have reported managing to raise one single shrimp with specialist care and foods after 150 days, so it is not a task to be taken lightly.

On the bright side, if your shrimps do start to produce eggs and shrimplets, then every time they release the eggs or baby shrimp, your tank will get a bit of free food!