Bad Guys
Bad Guys

First thing to note: These guys are bad guys… If you have one, you need to try and get it out of your tank.

To start with, let me say, some people choose to have these critters as pets & that’s great, but if a mantis shrimp has hitchhiked it’s way into your tank and you are planning to keep fish or corals, it needs to be removed.

Mantis shrimp are extremely efficient carnivores. Their chosen prey is normally fish, snails, invertebrates & anything else that you put into your tank.

Not only do they have the potential to eat your livestock, but they like to burrow in rock & sand, which can displace your rock work, leading to it becoming unstable.

Mantis Shrimp get their name from their front appendages, which resemble the praying mantis, and although they are not related to shrimp, the way they use their front appendages is very similar.

There are endless types of Mantis Shrimp, but generally they are considered as “smashers” or “spearers”.

Mantis Appendages
On the left, a “club” from the smasher mantis, on the right, a “spear” from the spearing/stabbing mantis.

Smashing Mantis Shrimp

Peacock Mantis Shrimp
Peacock Mantis Shrimp

Smashing Mantis Shrimp use their “clubs” to beat their prey to death. Their chosen prey is normally crustaceans, molluscs, and invertebrates. They will also use the clubs to smash rocks to make themselves a burrow.

These critters can pack a real punch, registering at about 50mph. There are also reports of these critters smashing aquarium glass, so they may not be the best choice for a pet that requires a glass box to live in.

Spearing Mantis Shrimp

Spearing Mantis Hunting
Spearing Mantis Hunting

The spearing shrimps are far more common that the smashing shrimps. They have a totally different approach to hunting. rather than sneak up on their prey, these shrimp like to burrow a little hole then wait for an unsuspecting victim to swim by. As their victim passes the spears launch at around 15mph, where the intent is to either grab or spear their victim.

Clicking/Popping Noises in you Reef Tank?

Spearing Mantis Shrimp Stalking
Spearing Mantis Shrimp Stalking

Some people will claim that if you hear a clicking or popping noise coming from your reef tank, then there is a good chance that this is a mantis shrimp. Others will claim that the mantis shrimp can’t make those noises so the noise must be a pistol shrimp.

It is such a highly debated subject, that I don’t think there is a definitive yes or no to it being a Mantis Shrimp. When the mantis shrimp is burrowing in the rocks and smashing/snapping bits of the rock off, that will make a noise, but can that noise be described as a popping or click?

Do they have any predators?

There are predators. They include;

Clown Triggerfish
Clown Triggerfish
  • Triggerfish, these are not generally considered reef safe though.

Care should be taken when adding livestock to take care of a pest problem. Once they have eaten all of the pests, they will need supplementing with other foods, or they will need to be re-homed. It is for this reason that using a predator to take care of a pest problem, should be your last resort.