Pseudosquilla ciliata, the common mantis, known by many other names such as the false or rainbow mantis, the ciliated mantis, and the checkered eye mantis, is a mantis shrimp in family Pseudosquillidae (Stomatopoda). Found commonly in tropical and sub-tropical marine waters world-wide except in the far eastern Pacific (American coast), the false mantis usually digs u-shaped burrows in sandy substrates in intertidal and shallow water (up to about 50 m, or 150 feet deep) near reefs or in eel-grass beds (Caldwell 2005).
The common mantis stays in its burrow at night, but ventures out by day and is an opportunistic feeder and active hunter, catching small crustaceans, worms and fish. It is has lightening-fast, spearer-style raptorial appendages, which it uses to strike at it’s prey in a manner similar to a preying mantis (Caldwell 2005).
Pseudosquilla ciliata grows to 9.5 cm (3.7 inches) long, with a variable coloration pattern often coordinating with its habitat: green, brown, yellow, or black, sometimes mottled or with a dorsal stripe, and checkered eyes (Caldwell 2005).
The common mantis is regularly found in the aquarium industry. It is a hardy species that does well in captivity (Caldwell 2005).
Prior to 1953 P. ciliata was recorded as the most common shallow water mantis shrimp in Hawaii, found both in dead coral heads homes, and burrows in sandy flats. Sometime after this, the more aggressive west Pacific stomatopod species Gonodactylus falcatus and G. hendersoni were simultaneously introduced to Hawaii, possibly from US barges used in World War II. Subsequent to the arrival of the Gonodactylus species, P. ciliata was rarely found in coral heads, but inhabited sand flats (Kinzie 1968).