Brief Summary

Lysmata amboinensis is easily recognized by its yellow-orange color contrasting with red and white stripes along the top of the head and body. The antennae are white and very long. The native habitats of this species are caves and ledges of coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific and the Red Sea, in depths from about 5-40 m (Allen 2000, Wong & Michiels 2011). L. amboinensis is considered a cleaner shrimp because it gets much of its food by removing external parasites and old skin from moray eels, groupers, and other fishes.

This species has a very unusual sexual system. The shrimp initially develop and reproduce as males then develop female reproductive organs to become hermaphrodites and function as both males and females throughout the reproductive cycle (Fiedler 1998). This system called protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism is so far known only from caridean shrimp in the closely related genera Lysmata and Exhippolysmata (Baeza 2009, Baeza 2010, Baeza et al. 2009).

Lysmata amboinensis is a commonly traded ornamental shrimp for marine aquaria (Lucas & Southgate 2012). Most of the commercially sold shrimp are wild-caught, raising concerns about negative ecological impacts on their reef habitats (Calado et al. 2003). Efforts to develop captive breeding programs are underway in order to alleviate the pressures of harvesting in the wild (Calado 2008).

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Lysmata amboinensis

Lysmata amboinensis, the northern cleaner shrimp, scarlet cleaner shrimp, skunk cleaner shrimp or Pacific cleaner shrimp, is an omnivorous shrimp species, which will generally scavenge and eat parasites and dead tissue. L. amboinensis is naturally part of the reef ecosystem, and is widespread in the Red Sea and tropical Indo-Pacific.[1]

Lysmata amboinesis hatches from eggs and goes through an incomplete metamorphosis at 5–6 months of age.[2] After their metamorphosis they will moult every 3–8 weeks. Each shrimp starts out as a male, but after a few moults will become a hermaphrodite and will function as both male and female.[3] They will lay from 200–500 eggs in one spawning. Eggs appear on the hermaphroditic shrimps' pleopods and are greenish in colour; they swell and lighten in colour before hatching and a few will turn silver on the day of hatching. The eggs tend to hatch around dusk.[4]

It has been observed that fish with parasites may come to "cleaning stations" in the reef. Certain species of fish and several types of cleaner shrimp may assist the fish in large numbers and even go inside the mouth (and then to the gill cavity) without being eaten.

Many species of Lysmata, including L. amboinesis, are safe and beneficial in salt water tanks since they will (as indicated by their common name) clean both the tank and occasionally other fish within the tank.[5]


  1. ^ "Cleaner Shrimps, Family Hippolytidae". Wetwebmedia. Retrieved August 15, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Pacific Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)". World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  3. ^ Lysmata amboinensis at the Encyclopedia of Life
  4. ^ Joyce D. Wilkerson. "Scarlet cleaner shrimp". The Breeder's Registry. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lysmata amboinensis". Age of Aquariums. Retrieved 2002-08-15. 
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