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 Chameleon Shrimp Factoids

Origin

Southeast Asia

Maximum Size

Little over 2 inches

Life Span

Couple of years?

Uses

Decorative.  Good scavengers.  Intriguing to watch.

Temperature

Very flexible

Threats

Large fish

Foods

Any fish food
Color Varies with surroundings and diet

Containers

Good in small community tanks 
Reproduction
Female carries eggs till they hatch

Introduction.  I started out keeping these nearly invisible shrimps many, many moons ago.  Then I finally spotted a female carrying eggs and decided to breed them.  Actually, they did all the work.  I just wanted to harvest the offspring.  So I put the pair in a 10-gallon tank forested with broadleaf ludwigia and tried to keep an eye on them.  I never did see any offspring.

LA
Nearly impossible to see in a heavily planted aquarium.

More Recently.  About half a year later, I spotted the female -- still carrying eggs.  Perhaps she'd had several litters and I just didn't see them.  Anyway, I moved them into one of the three-gallon tanks I built for killifish last millennium.  It was mostly bare, so I could check out her egg situation more easily.

LA
Chameleon shrimp do their darndest to blend into the woodwork.

Origin.  I've seen chameleon shrimp referred to as freshwater prawns, long-legged shrimp, Borneo red-claw shrimp, marsh shrimp, and chameleon shrimp.  Thailand raises several Macrobrachium species.  They show up in Indonesia and Malaysia.  So, we can say they come from Southeast Asia.

LA
Newly arrived.  Fresh out of the bag.  Shippers include the window screen because they are thigmotactic.

LA
1.5-inch female chameleon shrimp.

LA
Same gal.  (She didn't like her first photo.)

Size.  Chameleon shrimp hit the market at about two inches -- plus antennae and their long arms that end in pincers.  Their long arms enable them to snatch smaller critters and other bits of food.  They make excellent scavengers.  The male's pincers work very well.  He can pinch surprisingly hard for such a long-armed critter.  By the way, the Macrobrachium in their name means "long armed."  Do not expect small fish to survive with them.  And do not expect large fish to ignore them.

LA
Chameleon shrimp change colors in different environments.

LA
This female over green takes on a greenish tint.

Pregnant Female.  You can see the eggs she carries in her abdominal region -- somewhat similar to the way crayfish females carry their young.  These eggs are fairly small, so you know the babies will be hard to see.

LA
Pink does not appear in her palette of colors.  Not much pink to blend into in the wild.

LA
Pregnant females can be identified by the eggs they carry.

LA
You can see the eggs better here.

LA

Crustaceans.  Like any self-respecting members of the card-carrying crustacean club, chameleon shrimp sport an exoskeleton.  As they grow, they shuck out of this old suit and grow a new one.  At this time they are squishy, vulnerable, and probably even tastier to any other larger organism looking for a quick lunch.  They are even harder to find at this stage because they hide.

LA
Female chameleon shrimp munching on a piece of French-cut green bean.

Foods.  You can feed your chameleon shrimp any foods you might have on hand -- flakes, pellets (sinking, of course), frozen foods (thawed, of course), food sticks, or even live foods.  They probably gnaw on the vegetation also.  They may snack on algae, I just don't know.  They grudgingly eat French-cut green beans.

LA
Some chameleon shrimp will attempt a purple shade.

Color.  Mostly translucent like the Predator in Schwartzenegger's movie of the same name, chameleon shrimp have a tendency to change colors to blend into their surroundings.  The foods they eat also influence their colors.

LA
Male chameleon shrimp have thicker arms.

LA
Another male.

LA
Male chameleon shrimp on the left.  Female on the right.

LA
Chameleon shrimp do like their own individual homes.

LA
The two sexes do not willingly stay in this close proximity.

LA
Newly hatched chameleon shrimp -- about the size of a vewborn guppy.

LA
A week later -- not much change.

LA
Still 0.25-iches -- not much bigger than a water spot on the glass.

Reproduction.  No clues from me.  No idea how long she carries her eggs.  In fact I thoroughly vacuumed the pairs' gravel two days before I spotted these little guys.  Cleaned it down to the one-inch water level, then refilled their tank from a nearby tank of tetras.  I'm feeding the babies crushed flake food and microworms.  I can see the flake food in their craws.  Unfortunately, their numbers seem to decrease daily.  Addendum:  Turns out I was just having trouble seeing them because of their dininuitive size.

LA
Here they are three weeks later.  Still small but larger than before.

LA
Exactly two months aftr hatching.

LA
About 20 of the little rascals survived on a diet  of flake foods, microworms, and newly hatched brine shrimp.

LA
1-inch chameleon shrimp.

LA
LA

LA

Last Words.  If you can find them, Chameleon shrimps make interesting tank mates.  They will get along with most community fish.  However, you are not likely to see them reproduce if you keep them with any fish that would eat a baby guppy (which is most fish).  LA

Neda Ariania, Iran, October 15, 2010
Hello Dear Mr. Arnold, This is my new news for your great Website: The first breeding of freshwater shrimps in a home aquarium in Iran / http://raazebaghaa.ir/showthread.php?t=3825
You can find these shrimps in the ponds in thr North of Iran but recently (about 3 - 4 months ago) they came to pet shops and sold as pets!
Actually it is very seldom that we see shrimps in Iran pet shops.
Thank you

A:  Thanks for the report.  I'll add it to my ghost shrimp page.  If they are another species, I'll change the page.  LA
PS  Thanks for keeping me informed and thanks for calling me dear.

Neda Ariania, Iran, October 16, 2010
Hello dear Mr. Arnold. Thank you so much.
These shrimps are macrobrachium sp. but because of their transparent body, in North of Iran, peple called them glass shrimp.
Their species are same as chameleon shrimps / http://aqualandpetsplus.com/Bug,%20Chameleon%20%20Shrimp.htm
Thank you again

A:  Alright I moved your report to my Chameleon shrimp page.  Thanks for the info.  LA

LA
Happy chameleon shrimp with a tiger nerite snail.

LA
The pregnancies continue.

LA


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