Captive Care of Mantis Shrimp as Pets

Custom Acrylic Aquariums in Atlanta for Less Than You’d Think

Comprehensive Manual: Captive Care and Feeding of Mantis Shrimp


Mantis shrimp are fascinating and colorful marine creatures that have gained popularity among aquarium enthusiasts. This comprehensive manual will provide you with essential information on mantis shrimp, including their origin, appearance, size, lifespan, proper care, feeding requirements, and aquarium preparation.

1. What are Mantis Shrimp?

Mantis shrimp, scientifically known as stomatopods, are marine crustaceans belonging to the order Stomatopoda. They are predatory creatures known for their powerful claws and remarkable visual abilities. Mantis shrimp have two main types: the “smashers” (with club-like claws) and the “spearers” (with spear-like claws).

Mantis Shrimp can generate a very dangerous “pop” with their smashing claws / pincers that will require stitches in your hand, or a new fish tank if they break the glass.

2. Origin and Natural Habitat:

Mantis shrimp are widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They can be found in the shallow waters of coral reefs, rocky crevices, and sand burrows.

3. Appearance and Size:

Mantis shrimp come in a variety of striking colors, including vibrant shades of green, red, blue, and orange. They have segmented bodies and prominent eyes on stalks, providing them with excellent vision. The size of mantis shrimp varies depending on the species, ranging from a few centimeters to up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) in length.

Because Mantis Shrimp can break the tank they’re kept in, I’d recommend finding a fish tank with extremely thick acrylic. These kinds of tanks are usually custom made. For information about Custom Made Acrylic Tanks at a very reasonable price, you should look at the super thick acrylic tanks they make at Big Fish Custom Acrylic Aquariums.

I got my 55 gallon ‘scrap glass’ acrylic tank for under $300 but I was “johnny on the spot” 

4. Lifespan:

The lifespan of mantis shrimp can vary, but most species live for an average of 3 to 5 years. However, with proper care and a suitable environment, some species can live up to 10 years or more.

5. Proper Care and Feeding:

a. Tank Setup: Mantis shrimp require a carefully prepared aquarium to thrive:

• Size: Select an aquarium size appropriate for the species you choose. Larger species require more space.

• Substrate: Provide a soft sand substrate to enable burrowing, as mantis shrimp are natural burrowers.

• Hiding Places: Incorporate plenty of hiding spots, such as rocks, caves, and PVC pipes.

• Water Quality: Maintain stable water parameters, including appropriate temperature, salinity, pH, and filtration.

• Lighting: Provide moderate to low lighting levels, mimicking their natural habitat.

b. Feeding Requirements:

• Mantis shrimp are voracious predators and require a varied diet. Offer a mix of live and frozen foods suitable for their size and species.

• Feeding Frequency: Feed adult mantis shrimp every 2-3 days, adjusting the amount based on their appetite.

• Suitable Foods: Offer a range of small crustaceans (e.g., shrimp, krill), small fish, mollusks, and other meaty items.

• Monitor Consumption: Remove any uneaten food promptly to maintain water quality.

6. Behavioral Traits:

Mantis shrimp have unique behaviors worth noting:

• Burrowing: Provide them with substrates suitable for burrowing, as this is their natural behavior.

• Hunting Techniques: Depending on the species, mantis shrimp may ambush prey or actively pursue them.

• Aggression: Mantis shrimp can be aggressive, especially towards tankmates and even their own species. Carefully research species compatibility before introducing them to a shared aquarium.

• Territoriality: Provide ample hiding spots and territories to prevent territorial conflicts.

7. Aquarium Compatibility:

Mantis shrimp are generally best kept in a species-specific aquarium due to their aggressive nature. They can injure or kill tankmates, especially smaller fish and invertebrates. Exercise caution and consult with experts before introducing them to a community aquarium.

8. Health and Maintenance:

To ensure the well-being of mantis shrimp:

• Monitor Water Parameters: Regularly test

Mantis shrimp can be dangerous to handle. They possess powerful claws that they use for hunting and defense. Some species have claws strong enough to break through glass or crack shells of prey. If mishandled or threatened, mantis shrimp can inflict painful lacerations or puncture wounds with their sharp claws. It is advisable to exercise caution and avoid direct contact when handling mantis shrimp, especially if you are unfamiliar with their behavior and have not taken proper precautions.

Some species of mantis shrimp have the ability to break through glass or acrylic aquarium walls. Mantis shrimp are known for their incredibly strong claws, which they use for smashing or piercing prey. In certain circumstances, particularly if the mantis shrimp feels threatened or stressed, it may strike the aquarium walls with enough force to cause damage. It is important to provide a secure and adequately reinforced aquarium if you plan to keep mantis shrimp, especially larger and more powerful species. Additionally, using acrylic aquariums instead of glass may be a safer option, as acrylic is generally more resistant to damage from mantis shrimp claws.

These people at Big Fish Custom Acrylic Aquariums in Atlanta can build you a nice tank with thick acrylic for these pets. For less than you’d ever expect to pay.

Zoo Quality Acrylic Tanks and Enclosures That Will Surprise You


Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.