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Pistol Shrimp Breaks Glass Bottom

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Pete Giwojna 7 months ago.

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    To all you Pony lovers out there, I have a 60 Gal. Cube with 2 mated pairs that I have had 2+ years. For a year I kept a Yellow Goby and a Pistol Shrimp in a 40 Gallon tank with my Seahorses with no problem. The Pistol grew to about 2.5 inches (Claws to tail) and resided with the Goby under the live rock. We regularly heard the Pistol’s tapping on the tank at nighttime. It was quite loud. In January I upgraded my 40 to a 60 Gallon because the 40 did not give my mating pairs the height they needed to complete the egg transfer. The 60 Gallon was a Marineland glass tank 24″x24″x25″ with much thinner glass. I have a 1.5″ sand bottom and about 30 lbs of live rock. Two weeks after the tank transfer, we awoke to a near empty 60 Gallon tank, the water having drained from the bottom into our finished basement. My Seahorses were laying on their sides in little tidal pools, and the other tank mates were either beached on the coral or laying on the bottom likewise.

    For all you doubters out there, Pistol Shrimp CAN break a tank with their claws. Mine punched a hole in the bottom center pane which quickly cracked from back to front. In heavier glass aquariums, you MIGHT be OK. I had heard of this happening, but I’ve kept Pistol’s in my 120 Gallon Reef and in every Seahorse tank I’ve ever had, without incident. Please be advised, that Pistols pose a great threat to your tank. If you have one that taps loudly and frequently, you might want to consider bringing him back to your LPS and add a Fire Shrimp instead. Even the Yellow Goby was a problem toward the end as he had taken to coming out at night and eating the legs off my Sand Sifting Starfish, eventually killing him.

    If I could figure out how to upload a photo of the broken tank, I would.


    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Tiskahan:

    Very interesting! Thank you for pointing out that pistol shrimp may indeed be capable of cracking glass aquaria, which is something that home hobbyists often regard has merely an “urban aquarium legend,” so to speak.

    On occasion, the pistol shrimp can present a danger to their tankmates as well as to the tanks they are kept in.
    The concussion from the shock wave they produce with their pistol shots can indeed stun and kill small fish and invertebrates. Pistol shrimp are quite territorial towards other shrimp, in particular, and are very protective of their burrows. They are quite capable of killing cleaner shrimp and peppermint shrimp such as Lysmata wurdemanni and Lysmata amboinensis that are much larger than themselves from a short distance by the concussions their powerful pistol shots generate, which cause internal injuries, as I have personally witnessed on more than one occasion.

    The concussion from the shock wave they produce with their pistol shots can easily kill small fish and invertebrates. Pistol shrimp are quite territorial towards other shrimp, and it is therefore small live shrimp that are at the greatest risk of running afoul of a pistol shrimp in the aquarium. For example, they are quite capable of killing cleaner shrimp and peppermint shrimp such as Lysmata wurdemanni and Lysmata amboinensis.

    In general, however, pistol shrimp often do well with large seahorses in my experience, especially when they have a watchman goby living in the same burrow with them. I would never trust them with dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) but the larger breeds such as Mustangs and Sunbursts (H. erectus) usually coexist with pistol shrimp very well. They are too large to be considered potential prey by the pistol shrimp so the little sharpshooters are generally quite content simply to clean up their leftover Mysis.

    I would hesitate to introduce decorative shrimp to an aquarium with the pistol shrimp, but in my experience, seahorses and pistol shrimp most often merely ignore one another. But a pistol shrimp has the potential to kill or injure even large seahorses, and pistol shrimp almost invariably find their way into a seahorse setup as an unwanted hitchhiker on a piece of live rock.

    The moral is that seahorse keepers are well advised to avoid pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp at all costs.

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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