This week, Quality Marine welcomed a new aquacultured species, Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans).
Aquatic Technology of Ohio and the Columbus Zoo started the journey of culturing Hymenocera elegans back in May 2015. The Columbus Zoo had early success on a small scale and succeeded in raising more than 50 individuals from two batches to settlement. As with many aquaculture ventures, they had to overcome obstacles like larval feed types, cannibalism and pests. By December 2016, Aquatic Technology succeeded in getting a substantial number of larvae to settlement. At one point, prior to settlement, larvae were consuming nearly 50,000 parvocalanus copepods daily. After they settled, the juveniles were switched to Asterinas and then to Chocolate Chip Stars. Aquatic Technology is currently working on getting them on an alternative proprietary food. This has been a triumphant success not only for the Columbus Zoo and Aquatic Technology of Ohio, but for culturing popular ornamental shrimp overall.
The Harlequin Shrimp can be found on reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific. They are popular in the aquarium trade because of their cartoonish, elaborate carapace and oversized, paddle-like claws.
For those of you who consider Asterina stars a pest (as many do) the Harlequin Shrimp will make quick work to reduce them to substantial populations. However, as obligate sea star eaters, they won’t stop at Asterina stars, likely consuming any other sea star they can find. With large, very durable sea stars, the star will likely survive this behavior, however, sensitive stars like those kept in most aquariums will eventually succumb to the constant picking.
Hymenocera elegans remain relatively small (3” or less), are peaceful and easy to care for as long as a steady diet of sea stars (and the occasional urchin) are supplied. Pairs can be kept in the same aquarium as long as there is adequate space, as these shrimp can be territorial. Provide tank mates that are peaceful and not known invert eaters.
According to Quality Marine, it has always gone to great lengths to ensure that if there are sustainable, aquacultured fish or invertebrate available in the industry, that they can be sourced through the company, just like what has happened with the Harlequin Shrimp. Quality Marine says it is “extremely excited to have the aquacultured Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans) available, and we thank the Columbus Zoo and Aquatic Technology for all their hard work.”