Peppermint Shrimp are common yet unique in their ways. Only recently, they have come to the limelight of biologists with their less well-known phenomenon of sex change upon maturity.
Many corals, marine, and reef keepers will find a reference to Peppermint Shrimp because of their capability as a bio-control organism. Though their effectiveness in controlling marine pests is questionable, they are still being pursued.
Since Peppermint Shrimp are kept in marine tanks-which is an expensive hobby, they are usually introduced as an addition to an established tank.
Through this article, we will take a sneak peek at how to effectively acclimatize them in such settings or even as acenterpiece inhabitant.
General Description of Peppermint Shrimp
|Common Names||Veined Shrimp, Caridean Shrimp, Candy Cane Shrimp|
|Origin||Florida and South Carolina|
|Size (Length)||2-3 inches|
Morphology and Identification
Like regular decapod crustaceans, Peppermint Shrimp have a morphology similar to other commonly known shrimps/prawns.
Identifying them correctly will require some expertise as there are numerous closely related species in the same genus.
Peppermint Shrimp have a pointy snout with regularly placed longitudinal red stripes/veins distributed all over their body, including their appendages/limbs. Due to their appearance, they are commonly called Candy Cane Shrimp.
The identification of male and female Peppermint Shrimp to breed them is not useful, as males turn into females at some point in their lives.
This phenomenon is technically referred to as protandric-simultaneous-hermaphrodite.
The most remarkable dimorphism can exist when females are pregnant. The eggs carried by the female can be seen through their semi-transparent body. The eggs are greenish and easily spotted without any visual aid.
Habitat and Environment
Naturally, they are found in shallow water at a depth of 0-37m in the western Atlantic Ocean tropical region. They are adaptable to fluctuating water parameters, i.e. hardy organisms.
Peppermint Shrimp are nocturnal in their hunting habits and one will find them hiding behind rocks and crevices during the day.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not evaluated their distribution so far. No one knows for sure about their numbers.
Positively, they are more likely to be present in abundance and available in almost every part of the world through trade.
Peppermint Shrimp for sale are widely available in aquarium stores, with prices starting at less than $10 in the US and Canada. One can also conveniently obtain them from an online store.
Peppermint Shrimp Care Guide
|FeedingFrequency||2 times per day|
|Temperament||Peaceful & Social|
|Sexual Maturity/Metamorphosis||38-67 days Approx.|
|Hatching Period||10-12 days|
|Maintenance Level||Minimal in already established marine tank|
Peppermint Shrimp are tertiary consumers (carnivores) and sometimes scavengers (opportunist feeders). They will look out for foods with higher protein content.
In one way, we can assume they are conservative feeders as they can be seen eating their own molted carapace to replenish the calcium level in their bodies.
Likewise, they can also consume feeds meant for other tank mates and small fauna (larvae, eggs, and organisms) present in tanks.
What Do Peppermint Shrimp Eat?
They can eat almost any organic substance that is proteinaceous in composition. For instance, they relish frozen shrimps, pellets, flakes, etc.
Most marine hobbyists like the fact that they can eat away the Aiptasia (a different genus of sea anemones considered a pest) present in tanks.
How Much Should You Feed Them?
Feeding them twice a day in small amounts can meet their nutritional needs. Another important thing to consider while feeding them is that the feed particles should be able to sink at the bottom of the tanks.
Otherwise, it may become inaccessible to them as they are benthic/bottom feeders.
Specifically, if they are kept to reduce the Aiptasia population, one could opt not to feed them for the first couple of days of introduction so that they forage on the organism.
Can Peppermint Shrimp Solve Aiptasia Infestation in Tanks?
The efficiency of controlling Aiptasia with Peppermint Shrimp would depend on the feed availability and how they are primed to fend food for themselves.
Many keepers have given positive testimonials about their efficiency, that is practically true.
However, Peppermint Shrimp can do more damage than good to your reef tanks or themselves become a prey to other larger coral organisms.
They can serve their purpose well in a normal marine tank where one need not worry about other smaller coral species.
Are Cleaner Shrimp and Peppermint Shrimp the Same?
“All Peppermint Shrimps are Cleaner Shrimp, but not all Cleaner Shrimp are Peppermint Shrimp”. Confusing?
Let’s get this straight, Cleaner Shrimp are the common names given to decapod crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, and lobster) because of their unique ability to remove parasites from fishes and corals.
This relationship can be understood on the basis of a symbiosis; shrimps are nutritionally benefited, while fishes and corals are made free from parasites.
Peppermint Shrimp Reproduction Guide
The male-female inter-relationship in Peppermint Shrimp is a recently confirmed discovery as each individual organism has the capacity to change their sexes.
Initially, the larva grows as a male till the age of 38-65 days. After this phase (male phase), they undergo metamorphosis and become female (female phase), with the ability to mate with males and produce fertile eggs.
It is not always necessary that every males be bound to become a female. Other environmental and social factors seem to play a role for the process taking place.
How to Breed Them Successfully in Captivity
Breeding them in tanks can be an easy task. Every single shrimp that one chooses for breeding has the potential to represent both the sexes.
Additionally, a single female can produce 300 eggs in one breeding cycle and start the next breeding cycle within 12 hours after hatching. Males display territorial behavior and courtship pattern (mating ritual).
Interestingly, olfactory organs (sensory organs for smell) are present on the antenna of males to detect pheromones emitted by females. This process is important for them to find the right mates.
- Sex Ratio: There is a lack of experimental data in this regard, but a pair is sufficient to get offspring. To overcome the odds, keeping 3 shrimps together should do the job of getting fertilized eggs.
- Tank Size: Peppermint Shrimp can breed in any size tank as long as they have enough space to move freely.
- Temperature: A special requirement of temperature is not a requisite. Their regular temperature requirement of 18°C to 22°C should suffice.
- Brooder Cage: It might be necessaryto protect the spawns (hatched larvae) from other predators if one is really serious about multiplying their numbers. Providing excellent hiding spots can also help.
Do Peppermint Shrimp Suffer from Diseases?
Specific known diseases are uncommon in them. This presumptuous consideration due to lack of research in that field shouldn’t be taken as absolute.
Like most aquatic organisms, they are particularly sensitive to ammonia, copper ions, nitrate, and nitrite toxicity.
Microsporidia: Although this infection is parasitic in nature, it is more related to a fungal species that affects the muscle fibers.
Shrimp that are infected can have mortality within a week of molting. It occurs in both captive and wild environments.
A study has shown that Peppermint Shrimp can be infected bythe White Spot Syndrome Virus with 40% susceptibility.
Nutritional Deficiency Disease
Calcium Deficiency: The outer skin/carapace/shell is made of calcium and bicarbonate ions. During the molting period, they are replaced by new developments in shells.
The entire phase would require an optimal level of calcium supply in the body. A lack of these minerals can predispose them to deficiency.
Iodine Deficiency: Another essential mineral for Peppermint Shrimp metamorphosis and molting. Its scarcity in water can significantly delay maturity.
Signs of Unhealthy Peppermint Shrimp
Generally, the discoloration of their bodies can be taken as an indication of an underlying imbalance or disease.
General Treatment and Preventive Measure
Regular supplementation of calcium and iodine minerals can keep them healthy in a larger perspective as they are mainly involved with their shell/carapace.
The outer covering of crustaceans act as the first line of defense against foreign organisms (virus, bacteria, or fungi).
Tank Setup Guide
|Min. Tank Size||10-15 gallons|
|Water Temperature||18°C to 22°C|
|Water pH level||8.1-8.4|
How to Introduce Peppermint Shrimp in Tanks
Every organism needs a certain period of time and space to acclimatize to a new habitat, otherwise they can be stressed. You might tend to ignore the basics if it is too simple.
There are certain steps to be taken before their introduction into the tanks, let’s find out…
- Wash the package containing the shrimp with distilled/filtered water.
- Determine the salinity and pH of the water.
- The usual plastic packaging (petco plastic) in which they are bought can be subjected to float acclimatization by dipping one edge containing the shrimp into the water for a few minutes. This process allows them to adjust to the water temperature of the tanks while also giving them a visual stimulus of the surroundings.
- Use a small safety net to transfer them to the tanks. The basic logic behind straining them out instead of pouring them along with the package water is a precautionary step against possible contamination.
- Plants:One can include saltwater plants such as Dragon’s Tongue Algae, Green Finger Plant, Spaghetti Algae, Red Mangrove Propagule, and Red Gracilaria Algae. The choice of plants can be endless.
Other factors such as availability, price and suitability for other tank mates (if any) should be taken into account. The plants can provide them with plenty of hiding spaces besides supplying oxygen.
- Lighting:Because Peppermint Shrimp are bottom dwellers and night hunters, it is not strictly necessary. Medium to low intensity lights are preferred by many for this purpose. If there are enough shades present in the tank, it is safe to use lights meant for better illumination.
- Tank Equipment’s: The built-in system of a ready-made marine tank are often pre-equipped with an air pump and a water filtration system. Comparatively, marine tanks requires higher capacity cleaning devices to keep the mini ecosystem in balance.
- Decor: It is a good way of increasing the aesthetic impression of your tanks. Commercially available decor includes; Toadstools and plastic plants.
- Substrate: Studies have indicated the benefit of using a reddish substrate to enhance the red coloration of Peppermint Shrimp. These methods are simple to perform at a personal level. Aqua soil and Lava stone are both commercially available for your tanks.
Many times, Peppermint Shrimp are kept as secondary inhabitants because they are peaceful and relatively shy creatures. They can coexist peacefully with most aquarium fishes and crustaceans.
A studyhas given indications that the intermingling of other related shrimps (from same genus, viz… Red Rock Shrimp, Scarlett Cleaner Shrimp, etc.) They can increase their development due to social interactions.
Water Quality Monitoring
Devices and testing kits such as refractometers, pH meters, and ammonia, nitrate and nitrite Testing Kits are readily available for home use.
Monitoring the water daily, especially if your tanks have a high bio load (more number of organisms living in them) can save lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Peppermint Shrimp Reef Safe?
No, they are not 100% safe. They are capable of attacking the live corals that can fit into their mouths. If you are maintaining an expensive reef tank, avoiding them is a better alternatives.
Can Peppermint Shrimp Live with Cleaner Shrimp?
Yes, they can live peacefully with other cleaner shrimps.
Do Peppermint Shrimp Eat Coral?
Yes, they can eat them if opportunity arises.
Will Peppermint Shrimp Eat Anemones?
Yes, they are known to eat a lot of anemones (Aiptasia). Size is a major factor in determining whether or not they can prey.
How Long Do Peppermint Shrimp Live?
They can live up to 2-3 years in a tank. This age is not fixed, as it will depend on the care factors and environment.
Do Peppermint Shrimp Eat Algae?
Yes, they can eat algae ifit’s accessible at the bottom. The juveniles are more likely to prey on them.
How Big Do Peppermint Shrimp Get?
Peppermint Shrimp are medium sized crustaceans that can growto about 2-3 inches in length. They are comparable to the length of your thumb!
Do Cleaner Shrimp Shed Their Skin?
Yes, it is a normal physiological process for them to shed their skin/carapace to grow bigger. This process is also called molting.
Finally, Should You Get Them Home?
Peppermint Shrimp does really well in community aquariums. They are like “go for it” kind of guys to handle pest menaces in a conventional saline tank. Besides, there can always be a room for one more in an already established tank.
Commercially, they are very popular due to their bright colored appearance. Their aesthetic value is not going to be reduced any time soon as we continue to learn more about their peculiarities. They are beginners’ friendly introduction to marine/saltwater aquariums.