Banded Coral Shrimp – Stenopus hispidus
Banded Coral Shrimp are decapod crustaceans belonging to the Stenopodidae family. They are also known as barber pole shrimp and coral banded shrimp because of their coloration as well as banded cleaner shrimp as they are one of the three families linked with cleaning fishes. They can be seen in the shallow tropical waters of the Indo- Pacific region from the Red Sea and South Africa to the Hawaiian and Tuamotu Islands and western Atlantic from Canada to Brazil though they may not be found in the eastern Atlantic. Banded Coral Shrimps can also be found in the tropical waters in the western Atlantic from Bermuda and off the coast of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and Southern Florida. There are also some seen in Sydney, Australia as well as New Zealand
The Banded Coral Shrimps are the largest known cleaner shrimps. They may reach a maximum of 75 mm (2.95 in) in length though their female kind may grow to be larger than the males. They have bodies found to have red bands supported by bluish legs and slender red and white claws while their antennae are of white colors. Their abdomens along with two other parts of their bodies are covered in spines. These cleaner shrimps utilize their white antennae to gain attention from passing fishes which may be in need of cleaning. They have three pairs of claws which they use to remove and eat parasites, fungi, undesirable food particles and injured tissue from the various water species they clean. At night, these shrimps utilize their antennae as sensors for navigation.
They are most often found past low tide line. Banded Coral Shrimps construct their homes in rock crevices, in undercut mats of rhizomes of the turtle grass Thalassia, in disregarded man-made objects such as buckets and tires. Our divers always enjoy watching them at the Car Wrecks in Dauin. These shrimps, like other kinds of cleaner shrimps are recorded to be very territorial. Banded Coral Shrimps are found in pairs which are noted to mate for a lifetime.
There are no known natural predators for the Banded Coral Shrimp. These shrimps have developed a good relationship with other reef creatures to the extent that they can go in and out of the fishes’ mouth without being eaten or digested. That said they are still not immuned to predation as they can be the last resort of the really hungry predators.