Overview

Brief Summary

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Harlequin shrimp are crustaceans, like crabs and lobsters. Like other crustaceans, they have hard shells, called exoskeletons, but the shell of the harlequin shrimp is much thinner than that of other crustaceans.

The harlequin shrimp usually spends its life with a partner, and together they hunt and defend their homes. They live on and around coral reefs.

  • Bauer, R. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans By Raymond T. Bauer Edition: illustrated Published by University of Oklahoma Press, 2004 ISBN 0806135557, 9780806135557
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Comprehensive Description

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The harlequin shrimp is a small shrimp, popular in aquariums because of its beautiful colorful patterns. It is only about 2 inches (5 cm) big, but don’t let its size fool you— it is a predator. Harlequin shrimp hunt in pairs for sea stars, flipping them on their back so they can’t crawl away. The shrimp then drag the sea stars alive to their dwelling-place on the reef, so they can eat them in the comfort of their own home.
  • Bauer, R. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans By Raymond T. Bauer Edition: illustrated Published by University of Oklahoma Press, 2004 ISBN 0806135557, 9780806135557
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 2 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 2.5 - 5.5

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 2.5 - 5.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Associations

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Harlequin shrimp eat sea stars, even the Crown-of-thorns Sea Star! They will also eat sea urchins. Because it only eats animals, the harlequin shrimp is a carnivore.
  • Bauer, R. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans By Raymond T. Bauer Edition: illustrated Published by University of Oklahoma Press, 2004 ISBN 0806135557, 9780806135557
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Hymenocera picta

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hymenocera picta

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Threats

WhyReef - Threats

Reefs are in danger, and that means so is the home of the harlequin shrimp!
  • Bauer, R. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004. Remarkable Shrimps: Adaptations and Natural History of the Carideans By Raymond T. Bauer Edition: illustrated Published by University of Oklahoma Press, 2004 ISBN 0806135557, 9780806135557
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Wikipedia

Hymenocera

Hymenocera picta, commonly known as the harlequin shrimp, is a species of saltwater shrimp found at coral reefs in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans. It is usually considered the only species in the genus Hymenocera,[1][2] but some split it into two species: H. picta from the central and east Pacific where the spots are deep pinkish-purple with a yellow edge, and H. elegans from the Indian Ocean and west Pacific where the spots are more brownish and have a blue edge.[3] They reach about 5 centimetres (2.0 in) in length, live in pairs and feed exclusively on starfish,[3] including crown-of-thorns starfish. It does seem to prefer smaller, more sedentary starfish, but as these generally are not sufficiently numerous for its needs, it commonly will attack Acanthaster, both reducing its consumption of coral while under attack, and killing it within a few days.[4]

Description[edit]

The Hymenocera, or Harlequin shrimp, is usually cream colored or white with occasional spots. Around the Pacific Ocean, many of these shrimp will have red spots while the Indian Ocean shrimp typically have purple spots while its close cousin, the HawaiianH. picta, has purple and red spots Off of their body, the shrimp have two walking legs on each side and large claws, or cheliped. The claws and eyes appear to look flattened and thin. On its head the shrimp have "petal-like sensory antennules" to smell out their prey. Their body usually reaches up to 5 cm or 2 inches, and the male is just a little bit smaller than the female.[5]

Habitat[edit]

These shrimp are typically found in Hawaii through the Indo-Pacific below the intertidal zone on coral reefs.[6] They prefer temperatures of 72-82 degrees fahrenheit, but are very rare because of the changing coral reefs. Many people are now using these shrimp as pets because of their colorful bodies, so future pet owners need to be aware that these shrimp are very sensitive and any changes in temperature, water chemistry and salinity can be detrimental. Even high nitrate or copper levels can negatively harm the shrimp. They also are typically found with a mate in their natural habitat, but owners can keep them alone.[7]

Diet[edit]

Harlequin shrimp's only source of nutrition comes from starfish. They are very skilled at flipping over the slow starfish on its back, and eating the tube feet and soft tissues until it reaches the central disk. They, usually one female and one male, use their claws to pierce the tough skin and feeding legs to help them maneuver the starfish. Sometimes the starfish will shed the arm that the shrimp attacked and regrow (the shrimp can then re eat it), but it is usually too wounded to regrow. They may also feed on sea urchins but that is rare and only if they're very hungry because they have tube feet as well.[8]

Behavior/Reproduction[edit]

The Harlequin moves at a very slow pace and in waves. It also may have toxins from its prey (the starfish) which could make it distasteful and potentially dangerous for predators. The shrimp also moves its claws almost constantly. When it comes to males and females, the females are larger and have colored abdominal plates unlike the males. "The female produces between 100 to 5,000 eggs per season depending on environmental factors." The male and female are often seen together in the wild and work together to not only reproduce but also eat food.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sammy De Grave (2010). "Hymenocera Latreille, 1819". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ Sammy De Grave, N. Dean Pentcheff, Shane T. Ahyong et al. (2009). "A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans". Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Suppl. 21: 1–109. 
  3. ^ a b Debelius, H. (2001). Crustacea: Guide to the World. Pp. 198-199. ISBN 978-3-931702-74-8
  4. ^ Glynn, P.W., Interactions between Acanthaster and Hymenocera in the field and laboratory. In: D.L. Taylor (ed.) Proceedings of Third International Coral Reef Symposium Vol. 1: Biology. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, Florida. pp. 209-216. 1977
  5. ^ [University of Hawaii Mãnoa Education Department. "Marine Life Profile: Harlequin Shrimp." Waikiki Aquarium, n.d. Web<http://www.waquarium.org/_library/images/education/marinelifeprofiles/harlequinshrimp0909.pdf]
  6. ^ [University of Hawaii Mãnoa Education Department. "Marine Life Profile: Harlequin Shrimp." Waikiki Aquarium, n.d. Web<http://www.waquarium.org/_library/images/education/marinelifeprofiles/harlequinshrimp0909.pdf]
  7. ^ "Harlequin Shrimp - Hymenocera Picta - Small." Thatpetplace.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://www.thatpetplace.com/Hymenocera-picta-harlequin-shrimp-213707>.
  8. ^ "Harlequin Shrimp - Hymenocera Picta." FreshMarine.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://www.freshmarine.com/harlequin-shrimp.html>..
  9. ^ "Harlequin Shrimp." Harlequin Shrimp. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/shrimp/harlequin.php
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