Mantis Shrimp Care Guide [2023]

Fact Checked by
Sheldon Myers, MS / Aquarist

The mantis shrimp is a fascinating creature that has become increasingly popular as a pet in recent years. Known for their striking colors and powerful claws, these creatures can be a joy to watch in a well-maintained aquarium. However, before deciding to care for a mantis shrimp, it is important to understand their unique needs and characteristics.

Scientific name:Mantis Shrimp
Also known as:Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Thumb splitters, Prawn killers, Sea locusts
Origin:Tropical Waters/ Sub-Antarctic
Size:1- 15 inches
Life expectancy:3-6 years
Color:Green, Blue, Red, and Orange
Temperament:Extremely aggressive
Minimum tank size:10 gallons
Temperature:72–80°F (22–26°C)
pH:8.0 – 8.5
Hardness: 8.0 – 16 dGH
Care level:Expert

Species and Characteristics

Mantis shrimp are found in warm, tropical waters around the world, and there are over 400 known species. They range in size from just a few centimeters to over 30 centimeters in length. Mantis shrimp are known for their powerful claws, which they use to catch prey and defend themselves. Their eyes are also incredibly unique, as they have up to 16 color-receptive cones, compared to the three cones found in human eyes. This allows them to see colors that we cannot even imagine.

  • They have a hard exoskeleton that protects their body, but they are still able to move quickly and with agility.
  • Their claws, or “raptorial appendages,” are among the most powerful in the animal kingdom. They can strike prey with incredible speed and force, and some species are even capable of breaking through aquarium glass.
  • Mantis shrimp have an unusual hunting strategy. They use their claws to punch and stun their prey, which they then break into small pieces using their sharp mouthparts.
  • Some species of mantis shrimp are brightly colored, while others are more drab. Some even have patterns on their bodies that allow them to blend in with their surroundings.
  • Mantis shrimp are social creatures and are known to live in pairs or small groups.
  • In addition to their amazing eyesight, mantis shrimp also have a highly developed sense of smell that they use to locate prey.
  • Mantis shrimp have a complex mating ritual, which can involve bright displays and physical combat between males. Females can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, which they carry with them until they hatch.
  • Despite their fearsome appearance, mantis shrimp are not generally considered to be a threat to humans. However, their claws can cause serious injury if handled improperly.

Tank Setup

Mantis shrimp require a very specific tank setup in order to thrive. They need a tank with a lot of hiding places and plenty of sand or crushed coral for them to burrow in. A well-established tank with live rock can also provide additional hiding places and a source of food for the mantis shrimp. The tank should be at least 30 gallons in size, as these creatures can be quite active and need plenty of room to move around.

It is important to note that mantis shrimp are very adept at escaping from their tanks, so a tight-fitting lid is essential. The lid should be made of a strong material such as acrylic or glass, as mantis shrimp can easily crack plastic lids.

Water Parameters

Mantis shrimp require clean, well-oxygenated water in order to survive. The water should have a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025 and a pH of 8.0-8.4. The temperature should be maintained between 75-80°F. It is also important to maintain low levels of nitrates and phosphates, as high levels of these can be harmful to mantis shrimp.

Regular water changes are necessary to maintain good water quality, and a protein skimmer can be used to remove organic waste from the water. A powerhead or wavemaker can also be used to provide additional water movement in the tank, which is important for mantis shrimp as they need a constant flow of water to help them breathe.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the water is free of copper, as this can be toxic to many invertebrates including mantis shrimp. It is also recommended to avoid using medications or chemicals in the tank, as these can also be harmful to mantis shrimp. Testing the water regularly using a quality test kit is important to ensure that the water parameters are within the appropriate range for mantis shrimp.

Diet and Feeding

Mantis shrimp are carnivorous and will eat a variety of live and frozen foods, including shrimp, crab, and small fish. They are also known to be opportunistic feeders, and will sometimes scavenge for food in the tank. It is important to feed them a varied diet to ensure that they are getting all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

In addition to live and frozen foods, some aquarists also provide their mantis shrimp with small pieces of fresh seafood such as shrimp, scallops, and mussels. It’s important to avoid feeding them any food that is too large or difficult for them to eat, as this can cause health issues. It’s also a good idea to gut-load any live food before feeding it to the mantis shrimp, which involves feeding the live food a nutritious diet before feeding it to the mantis shrimp. This ensures that the mantis shrimp is getting the most out of their food.

It is recommended to feed mantis shrimp every other day, and to only provide as much food as they can eat in a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and can cause health problems for the mantis shrimp.


Mantis shrimp are very active creatures and can be quite aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. They are known for their powerful claws, which they can use to catch prey or defend themselves. It is important to keep them in a species-specific tank, as they can be quite territorial and may attack other mantis shrimp.

Mantis shrimp are also known for their complex courtship behaviors, which can be fascinating to watch. During courtship, the male will perform a series of dances and displays in an effort to attract a mate.

Mantis shrimp are also known for their ability to break through aquarium glass and other materials, making them infamous escape artists. This is due to their powerful claws, which they can use to break apart snail shells and even crack open crabs. In the aquarium, they may attempt to break through the glass if they feel threatened or if they are not getting the space they need. Therefore, it is important to provide them with a tank that has plenty of hiding places and enough room for them to move around freely.

Health and Diseases

Mantis shrimp are generally hardy creatures and are not prone to many diseases. However, poor water quality and improper care can lead to health issues in these creatures. Here are some of the common health problems that mantis shrimp can face:

  1. Poor Water Quality: Mantis shrimp require clean and well-oxygenated water to thrive. Poor water quality can lead to stress, infections, and other health problems. Ensure that you are maintaining appropriate water parameters such as temperature, pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels.
  2. Parasites and Infections: Mantis shrimp can develop bacterial and fungal infections, especially if they are living in dirty water conditions. In addition, external parasites like copepods, nematodes, and flukes can also infect mantis shrimp.
  3. Injury: Mantis shrimp are known for their powerful strikes, and they can injure themselves or each other if they are housed in a tank that is too small or without appropriate hiding places. Common injuries include chipped claws, damaged eyes, and damaged appendages. Injuries can also occur if the mantis shrimp is not handled carefully, as they can deliver a painful punch that may result in cuts or bruises. It is important to avoid handling them unless necessary, and if handling is necessary, it should be done with care and with the use of protective gloves.
  4. Nutritional Deficiencies: Mantis shrimp require a balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. A diet that lacks essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition and weakened immune system, making them susceptible to various diseases. It is important to feed them a variety of live and frozen foods, including shrimp, crab, and small fish.
  5. Stress: Mantis shrimp can become stressed due to various factors such as poor water quality, inadequate hiding spaces, and overcrowding. Chronic stress can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to diseases and infections. Chronic stress can also lead to behavioral problems, such as increased aggression, and can even cause a decrease in appetite or stop eating altogether. It’s important to provide mantis shrimp with an environment that meets their needs and to minimize potential stressors to keep them healthy and happy.

Preventing and Treating Health Issues

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial for preventing health issues in mantis shrimp. Regularly perform water changes, monitor and adjust water parameters, and provide a balanced diet to ensure that your mantis shrimp remain healthy. In the event of an infection, promptly isolate the affected shrimp from other tankmates and administer the appropriate medication.

To treat injuries, it is important to provide a stress-free environment with sufficient hiding spaces to prevent further damage. While most injuries will heal on their own, any signs of infection should be treated with medication. By taking these preventative measures and promptly addressing any health concerns, you can help your mantis shrimp thrive in their aquarium environment.

Mantis Shrimp Tankmates

When it comes to selecting tankmates for mantis shrimp, it is important to keep in mind their aggressive nature and territorial behavior. It is recommended to keep them in a species-specific tank, as they can be quite aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. However, some aquarists have had success keeping certain fish and invertebrates with mantis shrimp. Some fish species that can potentially coexist with mantis shrimp include small, peaceful species such as gobies, certain blennies, and some species of wrasses. Invertebrates such as snails and hermit crabs are generally safe to keep with mantis shrimp, but it is important to keep them well-fed and provide them with hiding places. It is crucial to avoid keeping other species of crustaceans in the same tank as mantis shrimp, as they will likely attack and eat them. When selecting tankmates for mantis shrimp, it is important to research the temperament of the species and provide enough hiding places to reduce aggression and territorial behavior.


Mantis shrimp are fascinating creatures that require specialized care to thrive. With the right tank setup, diet, and water quality, you can provide a healthy and stimulating environment for your mantis shrimp. Keep in mind that these creatures are not suitable for novice aquarists and require a significant amount of research and effort. However, the rewards of keeping these beautiful creatures are well worth the effort.

Elliot Galindo
Elliot Galindo
Elliot Galindo is a highly educated expert on freshwater shrimp and their care as pets. He received his Bachelor's degree in marine biology from the University of Oregon and has used that knowledge to become an authority on shrimp care.



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