Shrimp can be some of the most entertaining animals you keep in a marine aquarium, but not all of them are safe to put in your reef tank.

This article explores the top 5 shrimp, that are generally considered reef safe, or reef safe with caution.

As always, please do adequate research before purchasing any livestock to ensure your aquarium is suitable for the animal.

5. Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin Shrimp
Harlequin Shrimp

One of the most colourful & decorative shrimp available to the hobby is the Harlequin Shrimp. With beautiful marking & a striking look, they really do catch your eye in any aquarium.

Aside from being beautiful to look at, they are considered to be reef safe. They won’t bother your fish or corals.

The downside with them is that their diet consists of starfish, and when desperate, sea urchins. If you have an Asterina Starfish infestation, these guys are your answer. If you keep decorative starfish, or sea urchins, best to steer clear of these guys!

Their diet cannot be substituted. It’s starfish or starve.

4. Red Banded Pistol Shrimp

Red Banded Pistol Shrimp
Red Banded Pistol Shrimp

Pistol shrimp get their name from the loud “shooting” or “popping” noise they produce with their one over-sized claw.

Pistol shrimp are one of the fascinating species, within the marine world, that can for symbiotic relationships with another species. They have been known to pair up with sand-dwelling fish & share their home with them. The sand dwelling fish provides the borrow, the pistol shrimp provides the protection.

These guys are a “reef safe with caution” option. If you don’t keep other shrimp or fish that are too small, you should be fine.

3. Boxer Shrimp

Banded Coral Shrimp
Banded Coral Shrimp

These striking shrimp are sure to catch the eye in any aquarium.

They are one of the more active species within the aquarium & will spend their days scampering around the tank, looking for bits of left-over food to eat.

They are generally considered reef safe, but will not tolerate other shrimp, even of it’s own kind. They may look aggressive, but they tend to leave fish and corals alone.

2. Sexy Shrimp (Anemone Shrimp)

Sexy Shrimp
Sexy Shrimp

The winner of the cutest shrimp award goes to the Sexy Shrimp.

These little shrimp spend their wiggling their little bums around in the air, cleaning their chosen anemone.

If an anemone isn’t available, they have been know to take up residence other corals, such as large leathers.

The word of caution that comes with these shrimp is that if they live in an anemone that your clownfish likes the look of, your clown will likely kill the shrimp. They don’t play nicely together. Due to their size, they are likely to become a snack for larger, more predatory fish & some species of wrasses.

Other than that, Sexy Shrimp are considered to be reef safe.

1. The Cleaner Shrimp

Cleaner Shrimp Cleaning Station
Cleaner Shrimp Cleaning Station

Colourful, active, happy to live in groups, these shrimp rightfully earn the number one spot on this list.

They also provide a valuable service to their tank mates by cleaning parasites & dead scales from their bodies, gills and mouths. Cleaner shrimp will often set up a cleaning station for your fish to frequent, and it is fascinating to watch.

To top it off, they are 100% reef safe. No bothering corals or fish. Just make sure you don’t put them in a tank with predators. They will fast become a snack!

Cleaner Shrimp
Cleaner Shrimp


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