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Bullseye Pistol Shrimp

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Species group:

Other common names: Blue Spot Snapping Shrimp

Scientific name: Alpheus soror

The basics:
The hardy, attractive Bullseye Pistol Shrimp is one of the best choices for novice aquarists, yet also valued by experienced pros as a scavenger and substrate-sifter.

The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp ranges throughout the Caribbean, where it inhabits coral reefs, oyster flats, and sea grass beds. A similar and related species native to the Indo-Pacific Region is sometimes sold under the same name.

Appearance / health:
The body is a beautiful yellow-orange in color, contrasting sharply with the purple claws and blue “bullseye” on the sides of the carapace. The “snapping claw”, larger than the “pincher claw”, bears a unique organ that forcibly ejects water, emitting an audible popping sound (used to stun prey or repel predators). The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp reaches 5 cm (2 in) in length.

The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp is quite hardy when provided proper care, but like other crustaceans is sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, copper-based medications and changes in pH. Inadequate iodine levels, which inhibit molting, and predation by fishes are among the most common causes of death in the aquarium.

Behavior / temperament:
The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp sifts through and burrows into the sand bed, assisting in oxygenating it. A useful scavenger, it will consume certain algae species, leftovers, and detritus. It is generally harmless to other marine animals, but will prey upon smaller shrimp. Long term pair bonds are formed, with males and females alternating guard duties at their burrow’s entrance.

Housing:
Bullseye Pistol Shrimps do best in established, well-filtered aquariums provisioned with a bed of live sand in which they can create a burrow. Coral and rock caves may also be utilized.

The following water quality parameters should be maintained in order to assure long-term health: Temperature: 22.7-25.5 C (73-78 F); Specific Gravity (salinity):1.023-1.025; pH: 8.0-8.4; Alkalinity 8-12 dKH; Calcium: 420-440 ppm. Iodine, essential to the molting process, and other trace elements should be added as suggested by the product manufacturer.

Diet:
In addition to organic detritus, Bullseye Pistol Shrimps will consume nearly all marine aquarium flakes, pellets, and frozen foods.

Breeding:
Bullseye Pistol Shrimps establish long-term pair bonds and guard their burrow and, in the case of females, their eggs. Upon hatching, the larvae are planktonic and, therefore, difficult to rear in typical home aquariums.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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