Coral Banded Shrimp: A Beginner's Guide

Coral Banded Shrimp: A Beginner's Guide

Are you looking to add a pop of color and personality to your saltwater aquarium? Look no further than the Coral Banded Shrimp! These vibrant crustaceans are not only eye-catching but also relatively easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for both experienced and beginner aquarists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Coral Banded Shrimp are known for their striking red and white stripes and entertaining behavior.
  • They are generally hardy and easy to care for, making them suitable for beginners.
  • Proper tank setup, diet, and compatibility considerations are essential for their well-being.
  • Breeding Coral Banded Shrimp can be challenging but not impossible with the right approach.

What are Coral Banded Shrimp?

image by thesprucepets

Scientifically known as Stenopus hispidus, these shrimp-like decapods are not actually true shrimp but are closely related. They go by many common names, including Banded Cleaner Shrimp, Boxer Shrimp, Barber Pole Shrimp, and Clown Shrimp, thanks to their distinctive appearance and behavior.

With their bright red and white bands covering their bodies and pincer claws, Coral Banded Shrimp are hard to miss in an aquarium. These eye-catching creatures typically grow to around 2-4 inches in length, with males being slightly smaller than females.

Natural Habitat and Behavior

In the wild, Coral Banded Shrimp are found in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region and the Caribbean. They inhabit rocky or coral reef areas, often hiding in crevices or overhangs during the day and emerging at night to feed.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Coral Banded Shrimp is their role as "cleaner shrimp." In their natural environment, they perform a special "dance" to attract fish and then remove parasites, dead tissue, and excess food particles from their bodies – a symbiotic relationship that benefits both the shrimp and the fish.

While this cleaning behavior is not always observed in home aquariums, Coral Banded Shrimp are known for their entertaining antics, such as raising their pincers in a "boxing" stance when threatened or territorial displays.

Setting Up a Suitable Aquarium

image by saltywatersmn

Coral Banded Shrimp are generally hardy and adaptable, but they do have specific requirements for a successful home aquarium setup.

Tank Size and Setup

A minimum tank size of 20-30 gallons is recommended for keeping Coral Banded Shrimp. They appreciate a well-established aquarium with plenty of live rock formations, caves, and overhangs where they can hide and establish their territory.

Water Parameters

Like most marine invertebrates, Coral Banded Shrimp thrive in stable water conditions. The ideal parameters are:

  • Temperature: 72-80°F (22-27°C)
  • Salinity: 1.023-1.025 (specific gravity)
  • pH: 8.0-8.4
  • Carbonate Hardness (dKH): 8-12

Maintaining these water parameters through regular testing and water changes is crucial for the shrimp's health and well-being.

Feeding Coral Banded Shrimp

In the wild, Coral Banded Shrimp are opportunistic omnivores, feeding on algae, detritus, carrion, and even parasites they pick off fish. In captivity, they will accept a wide variety of meaty foods, such as frozen or live brine shrimp, fish, or shrimp, as well as flakes and pellets.

It's essential to provide a varied diet and ensure the shrimp get their fair share of food, as they can become aggressive if underfed. Using a feeding stick or tube to target them directly can be helpful, especially if you have faster-moving tankmates that tend to outcompete the shrimp during feeding time.

Tank Mates and Compatibility

Coral Banded Shrimp are generally peaceful towards fish and other non-shrimp invertebrates, but they can be territorial and aggressive towards their own kind or other shrimp species. It's best to keep only one pair or individual Coral Banded Shrimp per aquarium to avoid potential conflicts.

When it comes to fish tankmates, it's wise to avoid larger predatory species that may view the shrimp as a tasty snack, such as triggerfish, larger wrasses, groupers, lionfish, and eels. However, many aquarists have reported success in keeping Coral Banded Shrimp with peaceful, community fish that won't outcompete them for food.

Breeding Coral Banded Shrimp

Breeding Coral Banded Shrimp in a home aquarium can be challenging, but not impossible with the right approach and patience.

In the wild, these shrimp form mated pairs and often stay together for multiple reproductive cycles. The male will perform a courtship dance before transferring a sperm sac to the freshly molted female, who will then carry and release hundreds or even thousands of eggs.

The larvae go through several planktonic stages before settling on the reef, making it difficult to raise them in captivity without specialized equipment and knowledge. However, some dedicated aquarists have had success by carefully replicating the environmental conditions and providing appropriate live foods for the larvae.

If you're interested in trying your hand at breeding Coral Banded Shrimp, be prepared for a long and challenging process, but the rewards of witnessing their fascinating life cycle can be incredibly rewarding.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Coral Banded Shrimp reef-safe?

In general, Coral Banded Shrimp are considered reef-safe, but there have been reports of them nipping at soft corals or anemones when hungry. It's essential to monitor their behavior and ensure they are well-fed to prevent any potential damage to your reef inhabitants.

2. Can Coral Banded Shrimp live with other shrimp species?

It's generally not recommended to keep Coral Banded Shrimp with other shrimp species, as they can be territorial and aggressive towards them. Keeping only one pair or individual Coral Banded Shrimp per aquarium is the safest approach.

3. How often should I feed my Coral Banded Shrimp?

Aim to feed your Coral Banded Shrimp at least three times a week, but they may appreciate more frequent feedings if they are particularly active or if you have a larger aquarium with more competition for food.

4. Can Coral Banded Shrimp regenerate lost limbs?

Yes, Coral Banded Shrimp have the ability to regenerate lost limbs or claws during their next molt, making them quite resilient creatures.


Coral Banded Shrimp are captivating additions to any saltwater aquarium, offering not only vibrant colors but also entertaining behaviors and a unique role in the aquarium ecosystem. While they may require some specific care considerations, their hardiness and relative ease of keeping make them an excellent choice for beginner aquarists.

With proper tank setup, a varied diet, and compatible tankmates, these fascinating crustaceans can thrive and bring endless joy and fascination to their aquarium owners. Whether you're a seasoned fish keeper or just starting your aquarium journey, Coral Banded Shrimp are sure to capture your heart and make your tank come alive with their vibrant presence.