Feature Creature - Harlequin Shrimp Making a Home on the House Reef

The Harlequin Shrimp
Photo by Lizz Fitt
A cozy couple of harlequin shrimp perch on the edges of a leafy yellow coral. Comfortably they peer out of the coral’s autumnal folds into the surrounding reef. With an exoskeleton marbled in patterns of purple, pink, white and blue, little claws and protruding antennae eyes formed into flat plates, these 4 centimeter creatures have the appearance of knights dressed in a clowns armor.
Harlequin shrimp form monogamous pairs and tend to settle in one coral as a permanent home. This domestic behavior paired with their bright and beautiful pattern and big round aname eyes, give the shrimp an aura of domesticity. Yet, this homely pair are also grotesque and fearsome predators. They feed almost exclusively on starfish, and prefer the delicacy of the starfishes many tube feet. The harlequins will feed on the same starfish for many days, and have been know to keep one alive through feeding it so they can prolong their feast on its tender little feet. The starfish in return have been known to detach a limb in an escape effort worthy of Houdini.

These harlequin shrimp seem to have settled on the inside of the bottle ribbon reef TRACC has built. And once again TRACC has been rewarded for its effort by the presence of a magical pair of creatures.


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail info@tracc-borneo.org 

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Reef conservation would not be possible without generous financial support from
GEF /SGP for Malaysia who are helping our community activities and coralreefcare.com who generously provided materials to build the new reefs.

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