Published on April 26th, 2012 | by John Clipperton


Dancing Shrimp – Rhynchocinetes uritai

COMMON NAMES: Dancing/Camel/Hingebeak/Candy Shrimp
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rhynchocinetes uritai, R. durbanensis
PHYLUM: Arthropoda
CLASS: Malacostraca
ORDER: Decapoda
FAMILY: Rhynchocinetidae
GENUS: Rhynchocinetes
RANGE: Southeast Africa to central Indo-Pacific

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Nocturnal in nature, Dancing Shrimps inhabit shallow, rocky inshore areas in tropical waters and can often be found in caves, under overhangs, or in crevices and holes in coastal reefs. They frequently occur in large numbers in such locations, and may even form aggregations numbering into the thousands of individuals which swarm on the reef. Exact identification to species level can prove to be quite a challenge, but it is suggested that R. uritai is generally duller in colouration and only has seven to eight serrations on its rostrum. R. durbanensis typically has bold white markings and has nine to ten serrations on its rostrum.

CAPTIVE CARE: Although attractive and seemingly benign, the Dancing Shrimp can cause problems in a tank stocked with corals. Indeed, it has earned a reputation for preying on Zoanthid colonial anemones and mushroom anemones particularly. Although this species has been reported to consume nuisance Aiptasia anemones, the shrimps are perhaps best suited to a tank devoid of corals. They also require plenty of hiding places to replicate their natural environment. To this end, if possible stock in a small group (five-plus individuals). In terms of other tank mates, this species is perhaps best kept with reasonably active species, but remember that predators like lionfishes and triggers may well make a meal out of a small shrimp (particularly if added after the fish). Unlike certain other shrimp species, the Dancing Shrimp is not thought to offer cleaning services, instead it is more of a scavenger by habit. Target feeding may be necessary, but this may not be required if they are able to obtain foods during normal fish feeds. Take note that like other shrimps, this species will shed its exoskeleton periodically in order to grow. During this moulting phase, the shrimp needs a safe place to hide while its new skeleton hardens. It is particularly vulnerable to attack at this time, so make sure the reef structure has plenty of narrow cracks and crevices. Iodine at natural seawater levels is also recommended in this process. Occasionally mistaken for Lysmata wurdemanni, Rhynchocinetes species can be identified by thicker white lines on the carapace, and a long and toothed rostrum (beak).

Written By John Clipperton.

This article was printed in Marine Habitat magazine, Issue 9 (May/Jun 2012)


About the Author

An award-winning photographer and lifelong aquarist, John has worked for numerous marine retailers, publishers and manufacturers on a freelance basis. He has also collaborated on a range of projects with senior aquarium experts, and supported organisations such as zoos, public aquaria, conservation initiatives and educational establishments.

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