There’s an incredible diversity of tropical shrimps that live on coral reefs and a whole suite of them perform cleaning services for reef fish. We’re all very familiar with the common red line cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis but there’s a group of smaller cleaner shrimp in the genus Urocaridella.
We’ve introduced the Arrow Cleaner Shrimp in a previous article but today the genus just got a little bit bigger with the description of a new species, Urocaridella degravei. Previously known as Urocaridella sp.C this widespread shrimp is quite widespread in its distribution throughout Indonesia including Bali and Papua New Guinea.
The freshly minted Degrave’s cleaner shrimp is easy to distinguish from similar shrimp based on coloration and pattern. Nearly all other Urocaridella are clear with red and white spots but U. degravei has red and yellow spots on its body. Furthermore a yellow line runs along the abdomen of Degrave’s cleaner shrimp and it splits into a Y shape on the tail.
While they are cleaner shrimp, the species of Urocaridella tend to hover away from the reef much like some species of Periclemenes shrimp. The Arrow Cleaner Shrimp are not rare by any means but they are hard challenging to handle and transport, which is why they are rarely seen in aquariums. This is a pity because a small group of them can make for a beautiful addition to nano reef tanks as you can see in the video below. [Crustacean Biology]