Banded Coral Shrimp
Stenopus hispidus @ Koh Bida
The Banded Coral Shrimp, Stenopus Hispidus are 'Cleaner Shrimp' and are commonly known as Banded Boxer Shrimp due to their large red and white banded pincers. These are often held erect and give the appearance of a boxer ready to fight.
Banded Coral Shrimp are very recognisable with their bright colouration and flamboyant shape and can be found on all the dive sites off Koh Lanta hiding in holes, cracks or crevices on the reef and rocky outcrops.
They are the largest of the cleaner shrimps family reaching lengths of more than 7cm. Females tend to be a little larger than males and they pair up for long periods, possibly for life. They set up cleaning stations on the reef to pick parasites and damaged tissues off of fish and other marine creatures.
In order to obtain food the Shrimp have to make it obvious to the inhabitants of the reef that they are willing to clean. They are known for performing a dance, where they sway their long antennae from side to side to attract the passing creatures. The Shrimp remove parasites from the host's body mouth and gills using their large banded pincers and their smaller claws called Maxillipeds. For locomotion they are equipped with 4 walking legs and Swimmerets for swimming which are located under the body. Due to their symbiotic relationship with reef, Banded Coral Shrimp rarely encounter predators, although Groupers have been known to dine on them.
The Banded Coral Shrimp has a hard exoskeleton which limits the growth of the shrimp. To increase their size they must replace the confining exoskeleton with a larger one and subsequently grow to fill it. It is during this period that mating will occur as females are soft and receptive to mating within the first 24 hours after shedding their shell.
The Shrimps will rub their abdomens together fertilising the eggs inside the female. The eggs appear as a greenish mass and are placed on the swimmerets underneath the female’s abdomen and hatch after about 2 weeks. After hatching the larvae remain attached to the female for some weeks and then become planktonic, undergoing several metamorphosis in order to become an adult.