Mantis Shrimp Tank Mates – All You Need to Know

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If you like shrimps and you like mantises, the Mantis Shrimp is the perfect compromise between the 2.

This large and colorful creature will complement any aquatic setting with its presence, which is why it’s so popular among aquarists.

The problem is that the habitat can become a bit stale for some with only a shrimp present. This brings us to today’s topic – can you keep the Mantis Shrimp with other tank mates?

To get this one out of the way, no, you can’t. The Mantis Shrimp prefers to live alone, and you shouldn’t pair it with any other fish, shrimp, snail, or other aquatic creature, no matter the species. But let’s see why.

Why Mantis Shrimp are Not Good Tank Mates?

I would say there are 4 reasons why Mantis Shrimps cannot cohabitate with any other tank pet:

  1. Extreme territoriality – Mantis shrimps spend their lives near the substrate, around corals and rocky caves. Once they’ve set their territory, they will attack anyone roaming around, whether they are aggressive or friendly. If the intruder is small enough, the shrimp may attempt to consume it. If not, it will simply react aggressively, often becoming excessively violent in the process. And the problem is that it doesn’t take much for a shrimp to kill a larger fish. Several well-placed dactyl pounds will send the intruder into the world of shadows within seconds.
  2. Overall grumpiness and a foul personality – Mantis Shrimps aren’t made to be friends. You’re mistaken if you hope they will become accustomed to some peaceful tank mates. There have been cases of Mantis Shrimps attacking larger fish that happened to reach their area.
  3. The unhinged ability to kill – Mantis Shrimps won’t always kill with their blows, but they do have the ability to do so. Furthermore, they can’t or don’t care enough about controlling their strength when inflicting their lightning-fast pounding. So, they can actually cause a lot of harm even without necessarily aiming for that. Maybe they’re just trying to deliver some warning punches and end up KO-ing, an unfortunate passer-by.
  4. Their predilection for aquascaping – Mantis Shrimps display burrowing behavior, often ravishing the substrate around their cave. They also tend to flood the water with particles simply by moving around or when feeding due to their energetic personality and body conformation and locomotion. So, the tank water will almost constantly contain floating particles disrupting the water’s clarity. The shrimp won’t mind, but the fish might.

These factors rank the Mantis Shrimp as an incompatible tank mate for any fish species, especially bottom-dwelling ones that will often interact with the shrimp.

Can Two Mantis Shrimp Live Together?

Yes, they can, but the answer is more complex than that. The main problem here is that Mantis Shrimps are aggressive, territorial, and have nothing against the idea of cannibalism.

So, they won’t shy away from killing and eating each other, given the opportunity.

This shows that keeping 2 or more Mantis Shrimps in the same habitat isn’t such a good idea.

Except you can make it work if you:

  • Increase the tank’s size – A Mantis Shrimp can live quite comfortably in a 10-gallon tank by itself. If you plan on housing more than 1 shrimp, you should clearly upgrade your tank’s size. Got 25-30 gallons for 2 shrimps and probably 50 for 3. This may sound excessive, but you’ll come around once you observe the males’ aggressive behavior towards each other. Mantis Shrimp males are extremely territorial and will attack and kill each other on sight. The more they can distance themselves from one another, the better.
  • More rocks, more hiding spots – This point works in conjunction with the first one. It serves no purpose to invest in a larger tank if you don’t increase the hiding spots available as well. Redecorate your tank by adding more rocks or corals so that the shrimp can build their burrows and caves. A rich and extensive rocky substrate will cut the line of sight between the shrimp, minimizing their interactions.
  • Consider a pair – The interesting aspect about Mantis Shrimps is that they tend to be monogamous. They will form life-long pairs, and both the male and the female will care for the eggs and the resulting young. So, it would be a good start to keep a male and a female, provided they have formed a bond. That’s because not all male and female shrimps are compatible. If the female doesn’t accept the male, they might fight, often with dire consequences.

I would recommend only keeping 1 Mantis Shrimp per tank just to be sure. This way, you won’t have to worry about them getting into fights and killing each other.

Regarding the 3 strategies I’ve recommended, these are just general recommendations.

They don’t guarantee anything, so take them with a grain of salt. Mantis Shrimps are rather unpredictable creatures.

Will Mantis Shrimp Kill Fish?

Yes, they will. This, however, depends on the species of Mantis Shrimp. Some are more aggressive and predatorial than others.

That being said, the only actual difference is in the degree of violence, not the outcome. Eventually, all Mantis Shrimp, regarding their species, will kill your fish. It all boils down to the right opportunity.

Mantis Shrimp will generally attack fish in their immediate vicinity, especially bottom-dwellers that happen to move close to them.

Many Mantis Shrimp will climb their corals or rocks and even attack other fish passing nearby.

However, some people have had some success pairing Mantis Shrimps with some fish like damselfish. But that’s hardly sufficient evidence that these shrimps can cohabitate with any fish species.

Will Mantis Shrimp Eat Snails?

Yes, some Mantis Shrimp will eat snails, but not all of them. As you probably already know, you have 2 distinct categories of Mantis Shrimps.

The spearers and the smashers. The spearers have spear-like claws that they use to impale and slash through the prey.

Smashers are more specialized for killing creatures protected by hard exoskeletons. Like snails.

So, smasher Mantis Shrimps are more equipped to deal with a snail’s hard shells. That being said, not all smashers will consume snails, and many will only eat some type of snails and avoid others.

This isn’t a green light for adding snails to your shrimp tank unless you’re willing to take some serious risks.

Even if it doesn’t appear interested in the snails at first, your Mantis Shrimp could change its shrimp mind at some point.

Conclusion

I’ll put it bluntly in writing – keep Mantis Shrimp alone. They don’t mind the solitude since they aren’t built for aquatic communities.

The only community they will ever adhere to is the one they will form with their soulmate.

Other than that, you want to keep your Mantis Shrimp away from any other aquatic creature.

Unless that creature is under a death sentence, that needs to be carried out in a brutal fashion.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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