Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site

Hymenocera elegans
Blue Harlequin Shrimp

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish

Photos & Comments

helegans1.jpg (16kb)
Photo Credit: Cecilia Chen

Name: Hymenocera elegans
Origin: Indo-Pacific Oceans

Size Behavior Reef
5 cm Peaceful Safe


I've nicknamed my 2 harlequin shrimp Boris and Natasha, because they are always plotting and borderline evil. In the photo one of them is eating alive a blue Linckia starfish...this is the only type of food this species will ever accept, so these shrimp are not for the faint-of-heart or for starfish lovers...or for those who don't like spending big bucks on fish food! I actually have 2 pet Linckias (an orange & a blue one) in my other reef tank, but they go nowhere near the nano-reef that the harlequins are in. They get one feeder Linckia every 2 months. But it takes them sometimes 2 months to finish off a starfish. They keep them pinned upside down so they can't escape, and then the shrimp feed the starfish by dropping bits of food in their mouths to keep them alive. Then they eat off their sucker feet until the entire starfish is devoured. I just got them 2 weeks ago, so I have not had the shrimp for long, this is the first feeding I've given them. this an ethical problem for me to be keeping these guys, lol? It is kind of torturous and horrible when you think about it, but at the same time, this is just the natural way for harlequins, and they will not take other kinds of foods. And I do also love starfish, and I keep my other stars in the best accommodations. Cruel fate, that some should come to such a miserable end, while just by chance, the others are spoiled rotten.

Contributed by Cecilia Chen

I got one of these guys to eat all the little star fish that kept appearing on my glass. I have Harley with a number of brittle stars and so far he's left them alone. My tank is fairly old though and those little white star fish just keep on reproducing although the number has gone down significantly since I got him. I hope they will be able to produce fast enough to keep him away from the brittle stars.

Contributed by Julia Edwards

These little critters are great for a well established species tank. I have 4 chocolate chip starfish in the sump of my main tank, and every week cut one leg off of one (the starfish). I then chop a different leg of a different starfish everyweek, so I don't have to buy a totally new starfish- and the shrimp have a constant food supply. These shrimp do well in most tanks without starfish, but you can appreciate them a lot better in a nano-sized species tank. Mine are in a 95 liter Nano-Cube.

Contributed by a visitor

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