Stomatopods as Pests
The following methods of control were compiled from various
sources around the web, and so the author of this site does not
give any guarantees on the efficacy of any of the techniques.
Methods for Capturing Within the Tank:
- Use live bait to lure it out, then use
nets to capture it. This is the simplest technique, and
yet may be the least reliable, especially given the keen
eyesight and quickness of many of the smaller mantis
shrimps. Also, I find them to be extremely cautious
creatures, and if there are hiding places around, it will
be very difficult to catch them unawares and vulnerable
to simple nets.
- Use home-made traps to capture the
mantis shrimp. One enterprising soul made a
funnel-type apparatus by cutting out the top
half of a small clear plastic bottle close to where the
gradual slope turns to a straight line. He then inserted
the top part into the lower half in an inverted position,
and secured the whole apparatus by tying a fishing line
around the neck of the top half and through a hole in the
bottom. A piece of shrimp was secured inside the trap to
serve as bait.
Here's a page with a similar home-made trap:
- A menagerie
of home-made traps (external link!).
- Use commercial traps.
- The Prairie Dog
- This is surely one of the more novel methods of
capturing mantis shrimps, and involves the use of
a suction to trap the critter. The exact location
of the mantis shrimp's home cavity must first be
determined, and the hose of a strong filter is
then secured tightly over the hole. The system is
left to run overnight, and the stomatopod is
invariably found trapped inside the filter when
morning comes. The contributor has been
successful all three times he used this method,
and has the stomatopod "trophies" on
his wall to prove it. In order to work, the
mantis shrimp must be of a manageable size, the
location of its hole must be precisely
determined, and there must not be any other
escape routes within the rock.
- The Scissor Method
- If you've got the reflexes and "guts"
to go mano a mano against the mantis shrimps,
then this is for you. On the serious side, I
would caution that mantis shrimps display a
relatively high degree of behavioral plasticity,
and the very aggressive behavior of the mantis in
the story may not be applicable to other mantis
individuals. For example, the large mantises I
maintain do not charge out when I start poking
into the insides of their cavities. Instead, they
just keep hammering at the intruding object.
- Use competing animals to control or
remove the mantis shrimp. This is much more troublesome
and less reliable than using traps, and may involve the
temporary removal of other inhabitants out of the
container. Unless the competing creature is significantly
larger than the mantis shrimp, there's every chance that
you're going to lose it instead. These are not
recommended methods for mantis shrimp removal.
- Trigger fishes- you will need to make sure all
the other remaining inhabitants are compatible
with the trigger you use (much larger or with a
very dissimilar shape), or else remove all other
potential snacks before introducing undulate
triggers or the like. Although this is a
relatively common method of getting rid of the
smaller mantis shrimps (LFS regularly drop their
"dazed" caught stomatopods --
frequently the very small Gonodactylus
spp, into Triggerfish tanks), larger critters are
another matter entirely. Large Odontodactylus
scyllarus, for example, will be able to
handle these fishes with ease......according to
Dr. Roy Caldwell, a wholesaler once offered him a
couple of Odontodactylus scyllarus
after they had killed 6 Clown Triggers in a
- Octopuses- remove potential prey, then introduce
borrowed, rented, or bought octopus into tank.
Make sure there are no relatively large openings
or the thing will easily escape and wander around
your kitchen at night in search of food. The size
thing goes here as well. Large mantis shrimps
will gladly eat smaller octopi.
- Pistol shrimps- these clicking shrimps supposedly
compete for cavities with the mantis shrimps. The
good thing about using these animals is that they
are relatively harmless to other inhabitants of
the tank, unlike the two above. The bad thing is
that I very much doubt this will work. I've seen
pistols jostling against other pistols in TV, and
their claws do seem to be effective weapons. But
I've also seen mantis shrimps easily handle large
crayfishes, who sport equally massive pincers,
and these contests weren't even close.
- Sally Lightfoot Crabs- someone mentioned this in
a newsgroup, someone disagreed. I would bet on
the mantis if they were around the same size
(heck, i would bet on the mantis if the crab were
twice its size).
- Hawk Fishes- maybe, maybe not. An aquarist in a
ng reported that a 3 inch fish ate a 1.5 inch
mantis shrimp, although he did not actually see
the thing happening.
- A reader mentioned that Moray Eels with molar like teath such as the Snowflake or
Zebra moray will eliminate stray mantis shrimp within a week. He keeps a pair of snowflakes in the
curing tank and notes that he has never gotten any mantis shrimp on the rock
Methods to Capture Mantis Shrimp Outside Tank:
If you can quickly remove the rock where the offending mantis
shrimp is hiding, then you can isolate the animal using the
- Replace rock in its own, isolated tank with saltwater. Do
not provide sources of food for several days, then trap
mantis using bait.
- Dunk rock quickly in carbonated water. You may use club
soda or make your own liquid by mixing dry ice and
saltwater. The mantis shrimp will quickly scoot out of
the rock when exposed to this.
- Squirt boiling or hot water into the cavities where
mantis shrimps may be hiding. This has been suggested to
me by retailers of local fishing stores as well.
- Dunk rock in freshwater. Some people say they have used
this to good effect, but others note that it could
severely damage the other inhabitants of the live rock.
Web Site Author: A. San Juan
Site Created February 3, 1998
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