Can I keep a Harlequin shrimp?

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They're lovely to look at, but Harlequin shrimp have one rather large downside, as Will Messenger explains.

Harlequin shrimp make beautiful and fascinating aquarium subjects but have a special dietary requirement – sea stars.

Often used to control nuisance Asterina stars in a reef, these incredibly marked shrimp will starve and die once these small stars run out. 

The only way of keeping Harlequins long term is to provide other sea stars such as Fromia or Linkia species for them to eat instead. This can be costly and if you like your sea stars to live, it might be a heart wrenching experience as the shrimp are likely to need at least one star per week.

This item was first published in the November 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. It may not be reproduced without written permission.