The Harlequin Shrimp is a reef compatible, peaceful shrimp that was first scientifically described in 1852. The Harlequin Shrimp has a white body with large light blue spots. Males are slightly smaller than the female. It has large claws or chelipeds which are for show only as it does not use them for hunting.
The Harlequin Shrimp, Hymenocera elegans is also called the Clown Shrimp for their fancy clown suit. Harlequin Shrimp truly is one of the most stunning and beautiful shrimps to be found. As a matter of fact when discovered it was named for it's elegant beauty, "Hymenocera elegans". With good water quality, a peaceful environment and the proper food, you should have no trouble in maintaining the Harlequin species for a good many years. The body is of a pinkish-white or white color, splashed with large purple-edged pink spots, and sometimes reddish or light orange toned looking spots. This shrimp remains small, only reaching an average length of 1-1/2 inches. Like with all invertebrates, Harlequin Shrimp are sensitive to copper and high nitrate levels.
As with any marine species, water quality plays an important role in ensuring they remain healthy. Being an invertebrate, Harlequin shrimp do not tolerate poor water quality. If you can provide consistent water quality, you should have no trouble at all in being able to keep your Harlequin shrimp healthy and free of problems. When using a salt mix, prepare the water at least two days in advance to allow it to age and become properly mixed and aerated. Prior to use, ensure the saltwater aquarium pH, salinity and temperature match the water the shrimp are in. They are easily affected by sudden changes so water changes need to be kept on the smaller side to not shock your shrimp. We recommend never doing any more than a twenty percent water change at a time, allowing a day or more rest between changes. For breeding purposes, a tank dedicated to a single mated pair is a must. As pets, taking the simple precautions of having pump inlets protected and any possible predators removed will make keeping this species a simple matter. The Harlequin Shrimp can not tolerate copper or high nitrates and iodine levels must be correct & maintained to ensure proper molting.
Diet and Feeding
Harlequin shrimp are very particular about their diet, eating only on echinoderms, primarily starfish, and a few urchins. Pieces of Starfish are the food necessary to keep Harlequin shrimp. We recommend the Chocolate Chip Starfish, since you can cut off the arms without killing the starfish. The Chocolate chip starfish is easy to maintain and feed upon readily obtained seafood meats such as clams and oysters. Such a steady, meaty diet will ensure that the starfish can regrow its lost limb(s) much faster than other starfish groups.
Level of Care Easy
Reef Compatibility Excellent