Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site

Lysmata amboinensis
Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish

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Lysmata_amboinensis_2.jpg (26kb)
Photo Credit: Matt Lewis

Name: Lysmata amboinensis
Size BehaviorReef
Origin: ?
5 cm Social Safe


The skunk cleaner shrimp is an extraordinarily versatile little shrimp that is perfect for most reef tanks, and also for many fish-only tanks without fish that pose a predatory risk to crustaceans. They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything, but are most-well known for their symbiotic relationship with many fish. When a fish comes down with Ich or another type of skin infection, it will sidle up next to the shrimp and patiently tread water while waiting for the shrimp to clean its body of parasites. For the shrimp's part, it is usually quite diligent and will pick dead skin and necrotic material off the fish, keeping it disease free. This is a fascinating behavior to watch, not to mention practical in a reef tank where Ich outbreaks can threaten fish, but most Ich medications will kill off corals. The cleaner shrimps will be less shy if kept in 2-3 member groups; they will establish their own "cleaner station" on live rock and fish will know where to seek them when they require their services. Mine will even climb on my hands when I reach in to move corals around, cleaning off dead skin as though I were a fish! They are very sensitive to quickly changing water conditions, so keep water quality high. Healthy shrimp will molt on a regular basis, another fascinating thing to watch.

Contributed by Cecilia Chen

I found out something strange about this shrimp, I have had it for the past six months. I had him in a 75 liter tank with live rock, which I was setting up, then I decided to go with a larger tank and I had to add a lot more rocks. I didn't have any other place to put him so I left him in there. My ammonia went up to 8 ppm and then nitrite as you know the tank was cycling, the shrimp was fine, little stress but fine, every day he eats from my hands and now he is in my fish tank doing fine. They do tolerate copper sulphate, if you have it according to the manufacturer's directions. Mine molts once a month. I add copper safe every month when I change water.

Contributed by Ayan Ansari

As already stated, a brilliant scavenger for clearing up left over food. The only problem I have is that they will come and steal food from my LPS corals while I target feed them. I have a pair in a 120 cm tank, but would only get one if I was starting over in a tank this size.

Contributed by Tim Mortlock

Cleaner Shrimps are pretty easy to keep and a delight to have in an aquarium. My Yellow Tang loves to get cleaned by him but he hasn't cleaned anybody in a while. Lately what he does is just go after whatever food I put in there for the fish to eat. He sheds his skin probably once every month. Also when I put my hand in, he used to climb up it and start to pick parasites off me. Felt wierd but pretty cool. These guys are recommended for beginners.

Contributed by Mike

Often cleans my hand when I put it in there and prefers to clean my naso tang. He disturbs the coral sometimes, though. Whenever I put food in the tank, he swims to the top and grabs a piece.

Contributed by a visitor

I bought a cleaner this morning and within an hour he became lunch for my Picasso Trigger. It was a very expensive lesson for a new owner.

Contributed by Larry

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