Creature Feature: The Banded Boxer Shrimp

Andrew Hosie's blog | Created 3 years ago

And in the red corner: The Banded Boxer Shrimp Stenopus hispidus (Olivier, 1811)

Living in crevices and overhangs on coral reefs around the world are the boxer shrimp. The group gets its common name from their enlarged third pair of claws giving some species the appearance of wearing boxing gloves (if you use your imagination).These curious shrimp are different from the ‘true shrimp’ like the pistol, humpback and anemone shrimp. In boxer shrimp the first three pairs of legs are chelate (with pincers), while only the first two pairs are ever chelate in true shrimp.

The Banded Boxer Shrimp is the largest and best known of the boxer shrimp. They are often found in pairs and establish territories which they advertise as a cleaning station. Banded Boxer Shrimp will attract ‘clients’ by waving their white antennae and red and white banded claws. These shrimp will scour fish and other marine animals for any parasites attached to the animal’s body and even inside the mouth, as well as clean away dead tissue. The fish benefits through having potentially harmful parasites, like sea lice, removed and the shrimp gets a tasty meal in return. Fish and other marine animals will actually wait in queues for the cleaning services of these attentive crustaceans! Cleaner shrimp are rarely preyed upon by their clients, proving their worth in the coral reef community.

The Banded Boxer Shrimp hiding in a coral reef
Stenopus hispidus from Ningaloo reef
Photo by Andrew Hosie
Image copyright of the WA Museum
The Banded Boxer Shrimp hiding in a coral reef
Stenopus hispidus from near Komodo Island
Photo by Sue Morrison
Image copyright of Sue Morrison