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13 Types of Mantis Shrimp: Species, Facts and Photos

Mantis shrimp, a marine crustacean, boasts flamboyant hues and incredible predatory power. Around 500 types of Mantis Shrimp live in multiple habitats, from warm tropical seas to the colder waters of the deep sea. Read on to learn more.

General Information about Mantis Shrimp

mantis shrimp close up
Photo by prilfish on Flickr CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Mantis Shrimp, scientifically known as stomatopods, belong to the Class Malacostraca and Order Stomatopoda, which comprises around 500 species. Most species live in the warm waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

They use their sharp claws–as big as a praying mantis–to capture them by striking at bullet-like speeds. Their massive punching power has earned them various nicknames, like “sea locusts,” “prawn killers,” and “thumb splitters.”

During their lives, they can experience 20 to 30 breeding periods. Depending on the species, females might store their eggs in a burrow or carry them under their tails until the eggs hatch. The relationship between males and females can be brief mating encounters or monogamous, long-term partnerships.

Moreover, unlike other members of the animal kingdom, a Mantis Shrimp sees more than color. Their compound eyes can also process polarized and ultraviolet light. Researchers are building a camera sensor to mimic this ability. Cancer detection is one of its possible applications since polarized light reflects differently from cancerous and healthy tissue.

Interestingly, they are not related to praying mantises or shrimps. Let’s discover the top 13 notable species below.

Related Read: Mantis Shrimp Facts.

13 Types of Mantis Shrimp Species

1. Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus)

peacock mantis shrimp
Photo by Cédric Péneau on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp, also known as Clown Mantis Shrimp, inhabits the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It exhibits blue and green striped patterns on its body, accentuated by speckled spots on its carapace. It can grow up to 7 inches in size. 

This type of mantis shrimp also uses its claws to dig U-shaped tunnels in the seabed, where it spends most of its time. 

The shrimp's claws are high-speed weapons, capable of striking at a speed of 51 miles per house with a force of 1,500 Newtons. This punch helps them defend themselves and kill prey like fish, crabs, and other invertebrates. 

Despite this, the shrimp's unique behavior and striking beauty make it a popular, if challenging, addition to home aquariums. Use an extra-strong tank to keep the Peacock Mantis Shrimp as a pet.

2. Purple Spot Mantis Shrimp (Gonodactylaceus smithii)

purple spot mantis shrimp
Photo by Jenny on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Purple Spot Mantis Shrimp displays a deep green to maroon body, red forelimbs, and yellow antennal scales. Signature maroon-to-purple spots, encircled by white, stand out prominently.

Its primary hunting tools as a predator are its powerful claws, which can strike with exceptional speed and force, comparable to a .22 caliber bullet. 

While the shrimp's vibrant colors are impressive, they rarely stay in aquariums due to their nocturnal nature and aggressive behavior. Moreover, its strong claws can break glass tanks. 

3. Zebra Mantis Shrimp (Lysiosquillina maculata)

zebra mantis shrimp
Photo by Daiju Azuma on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The Zebra Mantis Shrimp lives in the Indo-Pacific region's tropical waters. It has zebra-like stripes and can grow almost 16 inches in size, making it the largest mantis shrimp species in the world.

During the day, this species prefers to hide in sandy or muddy seafloors. However, at night, it transforms into a fierce predator. It uses its powerful claws that can strike small fish, crabs, and other invertebrates.

4. Common Mantis Shrimp (Pseudosquilla ciliata)

common mantis shrimp
Photo by Roy L. Caldwell on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Common Mantis Shrimp, also known as Rainbow Mantis Shrimp or False Mantis Shrimp, is a crustacean found in the warm, shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific. 

It exhibits color adaptations, turning green or red based on its habitat. Its color can range from yellow to near black, potentially plain, marbled, or striped.

It burrows into sandy or muddy bottoms to create a network of tunnels, where it hides from predators and ambushes its prey. The shrimp uses its claws to spear soft-bodied prey like fish, worms, and shrimps. 

5. Caribbean Striped Mantis Shrimp (Lysiosquillina glabriuscula)

The Caribbean Striped Mantis Shrimp inhabits the Caribbean waters from South Carolina to Brazil. These ambush predators have striped pale cream to brown bodies with yellow patches on their carapace.

Categorized as spearers, they use their appendages with lightning-fast movements and precision to capture their prey. These types of mantis shrimp are territorial creatures that live a mostly solitary life, fiercely defending their territory against intruders and protecting their eggs. 

6. Orange Spot Mantis Shrimp (Gonodactylaceus ternatensis)

The Orange Spot Mantis Shrimp inhabits the tropical and subtropical waters of Central Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Both sexes have dark green bodies with red stripes. Males have blue antennal scales, while females have orange ones.

This type of shrimp is categorized as a "smasher" and uses its long, slender appendages to catch its prey. It waits patiently in its sandy burrows or among the coral reefs, perfectly camouflaged and ready to strike, killing prey with a speed that rivals a bullet.

7. Rock Mantis Shrimp (Neogonodactylus oerstedii)

rock mantis shrimp
Photo by Qohelet12 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 4.0 (Cropped from original).

From Florida to Panama, the Rock Mantis Shrimp inhabits the Caribbean's warm, tropical, and subtropical waters. They come in various colors, from green to brown, and patterns from solid to mottled.

Like other species of Mantis Shrimp, this one can strike with its claws at a speed comparable to a .22 caliber bullet. Moreover, it can shatter its prey's shells, mainly other crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish.

8. Pink-eared Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus latirostris)

pink-eared mantis shrimp
Photo by Dan Schofield on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Pink-eared Mantis Shrimp is a colorful and dominant creature found in the tropical oceans of the Indo-Pacific region. Moreover, it is an aggressive and territorial creature, using its powerful claws to strike its prey. Its body is mottled brown with white and red appendages. Its diet mainly consists of hard-shelled invertebrates. 

9. Giant Mantis Shrimp (Lysiosquillina lisa)

The Giant Mantis Shrimp, also known as the Spearer Mantis Shrimp, inhabits the dark volcanic sands from the Andaman Sea to Papua New Guinea. It is known for building its burrows on sandy or muddy ocean floors. 

They are among the largest mantis shrimp species and can grow at least 13 inches long. You can easily distinguish them with their reddish brown and cream-striped bodies.

Giant Mantis Shrimps can hunt anytime, not leaving their burrows. They are not selective eaters and consume various small invertebrates, fish, and crabs. Their powerful appendages, designed for spearing, enable them to strike with deadly accuracy.

10. Shortnose Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus brevirostris)

The Indo-Pacific, eastern Pacific, western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Brazilian waters are home to the Shortnose Mantis Shrimp. It sports a mottled brown body, pink uropods, and red and white banded raptorial appendages.

These mantis shrimps are diurnal, territorial burrowers, defending their zones using rapid, powerful strikes delivered by calcified appendages. They feed on readily accessible small crustaceans and gastropods in their benthic environment. 

11. Hemisquilla californiensis

This Mantis Shrimp lives in the Pacific coast's subtidal and intertidal zones, from Santa Barbara, California, to the Bay of Panama. It is primarily brown with blue legs, a red carapace, and yellow raptorial appendages.

This type of mantis shrimp produces low-frequency sounds, similar to African and Asian elephants, by contracting a specific muscle. In the 20-60 Hz range, this rumble emanates from red spots on the carapace that vibrate, possibly serving as a defense or territorial signal.

12. Alima pacifica

You'll find this unique mantis shrimp in the waters of northeastern Australia and Indonesia. This shrimp is milky and transparent, sprinkled with white spots and lines. It has unique claw features and swells along its backside, typical in mature males. Mostly seen at night, it likely enjoys a diet of small shrimps and other tiny sea creatures.

13. Haptosquilla glyptocercus

The smasher-type mantis shrimp lives in the hard substrate cavities from the Andaman Sea to Australia, including Guam and the Marshall Islands. Its diet primarily includes tiny crustaceans, gastropods, and macro-plankton. The shrimp's color varies from black, green, and tan to cream mottle, with females usually darker. The species is active during the day.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Tony Shih (ctgintl140) on Flickr licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 (Cropped from original).
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