News / Species Spotlight / Red Banded Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli) (04/27/17)

Red Banded Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

Species Spotlight Red Banded Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)
Pistol Shrimp are incredible little shrimp that exhibit unique behavior, digging tunnels in the sand and sometimes forming a symbiotic relationship with certain species of gobies. Pistol shrimp are found throughout the worlds oceans, but the Red Banded Pistol Shrimp is found in South and Eastern Asia. The Red Banded Pistol Shrimp is a small species of pistol shrimp, typically growing to about three centimeters in length. They have red and white stripes along their bodies with yellow legs and yellow abdomens. Females have wider abdomens for carrying eggs. As with all pistol shrimp, they have one large, snapping claw and one small claw. The large snapping claw has a pincer at the tip, which can be cocked like a pistol and then quickly snapped shut, stunning any nearby prey with its loud, audible snapping sound. When a pistol shrimp snaps its claw, the powerful action causes microscopic, cavitating bubbles to form, releasing an extremely energetic shockwave, which can stun small fish and invertebrates.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of keeping the Red Banded Pistol Shrimp is to pair them with a shrimp goby such as a Yasha Goby (Stonogobiops yasha), a Banded High-Fin Goby (Stonogobiops nematodes), or a Yellow Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus). Once paired, the shrimp will dig a burrow and share it with the goby. Pistol shrimp have poor eyesight and rely on their antenna to feel their surroundings. They have a special pair of antenna used to feel the goby and to sense if the goby darts into the burrow, suggesting that a predator may be nearby. The gobies will also sometimes bring food into the burrow to give to their shrimp partners. This relationship is a mutualistic relationship meaning that both the shrimp and the goby benefit from each other.

While some larger species of pistol shrimp may be able to kill certain other aquarium invertebrates, the Red Banded Pistol Shrimp is too small to do any damage making it a perfect choice for smaller reef aquarium environments. It will eat a wide variety of meaty foods making it a great choice for any level of hobbyist. Adding a Red Banded Shrimp to a reef tank will yield endless hours of entertaining behavior as it constantly works to perfect its burrow and interact with its goby partner. The Red Banded Pistol Shrimp will also occasionally remind you of its presence with a little audible snap, indicating they are busy hunting in your aquarium.