It’s really (REALLY) important for aquarium owners to take the predatory nature of mantis shrimp seriously.
A lot of folks hear about the reputation these underwater creatures have come a reputation for clubbing their prey to death with almost unbelievable speed and ferocity. But then they get a look at these shrimp, discount what they’ve been told, and find out – usually after a pretty gruesome incident underwater – that everything they’ve heard was bang on.
You need to respect just how aggressive the shrimp can be, especially if you want to have different “roommates” in the aquarium.
Can you keep mantis shrimp with other underwater creatures?
Can you keep multiple mantis shrimp in the same enclosure together?
Is this something you want to skip out on altogether?
Let’s dig into all of that (and more) below!
What Fish Can Live with a Mantis Shrimp?
The Golden Rule of keeping mantis shrimp in an aquarium – any kind of aquarium – goes like this:
“Be prepared to lose everything but the mantis shrimp the moment that they get added to the tank”
Take this Golden Rule seriously.
Sure, there are plenty of different fish that can be added to a tank with mantis shrimp in the mix as well. It’s not at all impossible to move these “roommates in” and have almost no problems whatsoever.
At the same, mantis shrimp are highly opportunistic hunters and always aggressive.
Things might be going swimmingly (pun fully intended) for days, weeks, or even months on end and then all of a sudden – BAM – your aquarium is empty aside from your mantis shrimp.
If you are going to add fish into the equation you have to assume at some point that those fish are going to become food for your shrimp.
That being said, a lot of aquarium owners have had success with “damsel” type fish. Urchins also do well with these kinds of shrimp, just the same as starfish. Most corals are going to do okay with mantis shrimp as well.
Steer clear of any kind of fish that burrows into the sand, though.
Globies (and the like) will become lunch all lot faster than you would have expected.
Can You Have Two Mantis Shrimp in the Same Tank?
Now that we have square that away, a lot of new mantis shrimp owners want to know if they’re going to be able to keep two (or even more) mantis shrimp in the same enclosure.
To those folks we say this – absolutely not!
We might start to sound a little bit like a broken record here, but the point bears repeating (again and again):
Mantis shrimp are highly predatory, incredibly aggressive, and are going to waste absolutely no time finding each other and doing battle to the death – sometimes even killing each other in the same fight.
A lot of people are under the impression that mantis shrimp are also highly territorial, and though that might be the case to some degree the truth is that they are just downright vicious and natural hunters.
It’s not so much that they are fighting over territory they claim as their own. It’s that they would fight over ANY territory underwater at all!
No, it’s not a good idea to add multiple mantis shrimp into the same enclosure.
This is true if you have a small tank or a 40 gallon breeder – or something even bigger than that.
These things will travel just to get a chance to hunt, to fight, and to eat.
On top of that, even if your mantis shrimp were somehow able to reach a truce the odds are pretty good that two of them would absolutely wreak havoc on the population of the fish in the rest of the underwater creatures in your aquarium.
One mantis shrimp might not be enough to kill an entire school of fish (at least not fast enough for you not to notice something was going sideways). Two or more mantis shrimp, though, won’t take very long at all to clean a tank out from top to bottom – and then begin waging war on one another.
Keep mantis shrimp separate.
Only keep one at a time.
You’ll be a lot happier that you did!
Can You Keep Clownfish with Mantis Shrimp?
There are some people in the aquarium community that believe you can keep climb for with mantis shrimp pretty reliably, if only because the size of the clown fish frighten mantis shrimp and generally keep them from attacking.
On the one hand, there certainly is some validity to this. Mantis shrimp do seem to respond negatively to much larger fish. Sometimes to the point where they burrow, hide, and simply won’t show themselves any time the shadow of that larger fish flashes over them.
On the other hand, though, sometimes these mantis shrimp become so frightened that you never get the chance to enjoy them in the first place.
They stay tucked away, burrowed out of sight, and you never get an opportunity to see one of the underwater creatures you intentionally added to your aquarium in hopes of enjoying.
On top of all of that, it isn’t at all uncommon for mantis shrimp to attack clown fish when they least expect it.
There are tons and tons of videos on YouTube showing mantis shrimp attacking, killing, and eating significantly larger fish that most people – including some mantis “experts” would have told you were impossible for a mantis to get a hold of.
As we highlighted earlier in this guide (and have continuously reinforced time and time again, because it is so important to remember), the mantis shrimp will do pretty much what the mantis shrimp pleases.
Everything you add to the tank – absolutely everything – has the potential to become a victim to predatory, aggressive, and killer mantis shrimp.
Be sure that you are well aware of this reality. Understand that everything you add to the tank has the potential to be lost for good the moment that it enters into the arena of the mantis shrimp.