|Distribution||Eastern Central Pacific & Western Atlantic.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||In a mated pair, the female is larger and wider. Mature females can often be seen carrying greenish eggs.|
|Maximum Size||10cm (3.9”)|
|Water Parameters||SG: 1.020-1.025, pH: 8.1-8.4|
|Temperature||Tropical: 23-28 deg C (73-82 deg F)|
|Compatibility||Reef with caution|
|Lighting||No special requirements but appreciates a shady cave or overhang|
|Reef Aquarium Compatibility||Likely to attack other shrimps, crustaceans, and molluscs.|
Named for their oversized claws, these are the largest of the cleaner shrimps and probably the most territorial – wild Boxing shrimp have been observed to travel less than a metre from their chosen home in a year. Given their distribution it’s thought that this is an ancient species, as they occur unchanged in oceans that were separated 2.8 million years ago. As cleaners, they advertise by waving their long antennae to attract passing fish. This protects them from many species that would otherwise prey on shrimps but it’s best not to trust this trait in an aquarium housing known predators such as large pufferfish and wrasses. For their part, they tend to be intolerant of other shrimps excluding their mate and should only be kept together once paired. This extends to other species of shrimp and their impressive reach combined with long antennae means a very large aquarium is needed to enable species such as Cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to avoid them. As they exhibit a lot of character for a decapod, it’s no real hardship to have them as the only shrimps in a system. Although they’re usually well behaved with fish tankmates, it’s best to avoid combining them with small species in restricted spaces especially if they’re not well fed. Less outgoing than the smaller cleaners, Stenopus like to have a cave to call home and are likely to be uncomfortable in brightly-lit reef tanks with minimal rockwork. Take care when introducing them to a new aquarium as they can be sensitive to rapid fluctuations in salinity. Gradual acclimation is key to ensuring a long and healthy life. They also pull the same trick as other shrimps in moulting to leave a deceptively convincing skin that can be worrying to new keepers who either wonder where their new shrimp has come from, or fear that a shy pet has died. Typically the previous occupant will be in hiding until their new armour hardens.
May also be seen on sale as Banded Coral Shrimp or Boxer shrimp.
These shrimp will feed on most standard dried aquarium fare. Offer a variety of small meaty foods such as Mysis shrimp, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, plankton, finely chopped krill/prawn/mussel/cockle/clam etc.
Boxing Shrimp do breed in the home aquarium, but raising the young is very challenging. It is reported that soon after the female shrimp moults, the male will perform an elaborate ‘dancing’ ritual and if the female is ready, they mate. The eggs will first appear as a bright greenish mass in the ovaries and after fertillisation, the female will stick them to her abdominal legs. At 28c the eggs will take approximately 16 days to hatch into larvae (the length of time may vary, depending on water temperature). The larvae will stay attached to the female for around 6 weeks, after which time, she will rake across her underside with her legs and release them into the open water. Unfortunately, in the confines of most aquaria, the larvae will be consumed by the community of fish or drawn into the filtration system.