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The peppermint shrimp, or Lysmasta wurdemanni, is a small, reasonably hardy marine crustacean. These small, shy invertebrates are popular with marine aquarium enthusiasts mainly because they eat invading glass anemones, which can quickly overrun a tank. They are fairly hardy but caregivers must simulate their natural habitat to ensure their continued good health. Care should also be taken when introducing medication to the environment and with the aquarium's water quality.
Commonly known as the Caribbean cleaner shrimp, the peppermint shrimp is primarily a bottom-feeding scavenger and are prized by marine aquarists because of their love of glass anemones. These crustaceans will also eat flakes, as well as fresh, frozen, and live meaty food products including chunks of fresh, raw fish. The peppermint shrimp should be fed regularly, the same as any other tank inhabitant, particularly if there is a shortage of glass anemones.
Peppermint shrimp are not aggressive and do not attack healthy tank mates. However, because they are scavengers, they will attempt to eat very sick tank mates. Therefore, if any other tank inhabitants are unwell, it is advisable to place them in a quarantine cage or behind a partition.
This marine crustacean has a native range consisting primarily of temperate and tropical areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. They are nocturnal and very shy, although, in captivity, they will venture out briefly during daylight hours to feed providing other tank mates are not too aggressive or boisterous. Well-established reef aquariums provide an ideal environment for the peppermint shrimp, providing the temperature remains between 75° Fahrenheit and 85° Fahrenheit.
Well-established reef aquariums provide an ideal environment for these hardy little invertebrates providing that the tank conditions are stable and simulate the natural environment as closely as possible. Tank lights should not be left on all day and all night, but instead should be turned on and off on a regular basis to simulate day and night. Ideally, the diet of the peppermint shrimp, and any other marine tank dweller should be varied to ensure that a properly balanced, fully nutritious diet is provided.
Their shy disposition and nocturnal nature means that peppermint shrimp require plenty of hiding places in which to spend the daylight hours. Again, this simulates the natural environment and also helps to prevent unnecessary stress, which can be fatal. Providing tank conditions remain stable and they are not overly stressed by adverse conditions, they will breed readily.
Raising the larval shrimp to maturity is not an easy task. The larvae need to be placed in a separate tank with specialized diet and care. If left in the main tank, the youngsters will most likely be devoured or will die off because they are unable to tolerate the food and conditions.
As an invertebrate, peppermint shrimp cannot cope with high copper or nitrate levels and will quickly die in these conditions. It is, therefore, very important to remember not to add any copper-based medications to any tank with with this type of shrimp or any other invertebrate present. These creatures can be placed in a separate tank if copper-based treatment is necessary, but must not be returned until all traces of copper have been removed and the nitrates have returned to safe levels.
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