The list of cute little coral-shrimp seems like it is endless. Another very discrete crustacean that we came across during our Fluval sea Flores Expedition earlier this year is Vir euphyllius that is exclusively associated with LPS corals of the Euphyllidae family. The camouflage uniform of this shrimp is a perfect match to the Euphyllia host.
Its yellowish transparent body speckled with very small red/brown dots is a perfect match of the tentacle tissue and its dots of zooxanthellae symbionts. The white line that crosses the head in between the eye is a perfect blend in between tentacles and the long septae of Euphyllidae when the tissues are retracted and the shrimp is the most vulnerable. The red lined eyes add a bit of color to this very camouflaged pattern.
Although described as associated with Euphyllia divisa, E. parancora and E. glabrescens, we found Vir euphyllius also on Euphyllia ancora as you can see on the photos below. We will find it most probably in other species of Euphyllidae as well
We’ve never seen this shrimp in aquarium store. They probably fall off their coral host during collection, but if they would become popular, and collector could get few extra bucks, they would probably separate them from the corals and get them to the exporters safely. With the now constant supply of cultured Euphyllia being shipped out of Indonesia, it’s very probable that their culture racks host many of them. Careful collection would be much easier on these farms.
Although we saw quite a small colony of Euphyllia ancora hosting one of these shrimp, in order to not stress up the coral host too much, it would be wise to introduce the shrimp separately only to very healthy and quite large Euphyllia colony that has been thriving in an aquarium for a while. An occasional feeding of the coral would probably provide sufficient food for the hosted shrimp too.
The union of Vir euphyllius and Euphyllia corals would make a fascinating microhabitat to be held in a nano tank without any larger fish that could feed on the shrimp. A diverse colored collection of Euphyllia ancora would make a great display. The Orangutan crab could be another associated crustacean together with some pipefish, blennies, or micro gobies.