The Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp

Run Ride Dive News

The Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata debelius) was discovered in 1984 by Helmut Debelius. It grows up to 5cm and is an active cleaner shrimp. It is a protandric (male first) simultaneous hermaphrodite. This means that it begins as a male but may later become a hermaphrodite and finally ends as a female. It has four moults (casting off of the shell)  as a male before changing sexes to become a euhermaphrodite. In the euhermaphrodite stage the shrimp act as a male between moults and as a female immediately following a moult. During this hermaphroditic stage the shrimp gradually lose their male organs until they become fully functional females. Not all males go through this process and will remain males all their lives.

The male shrimp are constantly searching for receptive females. Males use olfactory organs to detect female sex pheromones. These pheromones are released 2–8 hours prior to female moulting. Guided by these chemical signals, males make their way to the female and will approach her. The male will then ‘taste’ the female’s contact pheromones to make sure she is a suitable mate. If the chemicals are right,courtship may commence and, if courtship goes well, copulation will ensue. This process is very brief and occurs immediately post-moult, while the female’s cuticle is new and soft.

These shrimp are found on Bikini in Sodwana Bay typically sharing a hole with the grumpy Black Cheek Moray and Goldies.

Run Ride Dive News

Water temp is currently 25°C with visibility of about 20m. Seas have been flat.

Leave a Reply