The genus Lysmata contains a lot more species of cleaner shrimps than you might imagine

By on Apr 16, 2012

No, not Lysmata amboinensis. A fine specimen of Lysmata grabhami. Picture by Flickr user Vildo1.

The Lysmata shrimps are well known for their cleaning properties there exists more than just three species outside of L. amboinensis, L. debelius, and L. wurdermanni; more commonly known as the scarlet cleaner shrimp, the blood or fire shrimp, and of course, the peppermint shrimp. There are about forty species of Lysmata shrimps found in most of the world’s oceans. Many are poorly known and a great deal of them look identical to closely related species such as the clade of virtually identical peppermint shrimp imposters such as L. californica, L. bahia, L. ankeri and L. boggessi.

You didn’t think we’d feature the regular scarlet cleaner shrimp above would you? The shrimp pictured above is Lysmata grabhami from the Caribbean, which is differentiated from it’s ubiquitous cousin by having its white stripe run unbroken down all the way through to the tail. The white margins on both sides are also unbroken and clean.

Lysmata acicula (?). Photo credits - John P. Hoover, Dennis McCrea and Debra Newbery.

Although many of the Lysmata shrimps bear almost identical resemblance to each other, a small handful of them are unique and startlingly beautiful. Many of the species are virtually unknown and poorly understood, but we’d imagine that some are really cool looking judging by their scientific name. Species such as Lysmata gracilirostris and Lysmata splendida were probably not named “graceful rostrum” and “splendid” for nothing. Still, almost every single species except the three staple cleaner shrimps elude the aquarium trade for many years. Once in awhile a stray species pops up in a store, but without any regularity.

A selection of some unusually seen Lysmata shrimps. From top left going clockwise, Lysmata seticaudata, L. prima, L. morelandi, L. multiscissa, L. udoi and L. kuekenthali. Picture credits following picture sequence - Scott Furlan, Brian Mayes, Alison Perkins, July Liloan, Flickr user Artour_a and Micha? Ciechorski.

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