Peppermint shrimp.

Photo is from the World Wide Corals website. ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

Note from the Editor:

The following breeding information was kindly furnished to us by @Sallstrom, who is a professional marine biologist in Gothenburg, Sweden. In my discussions with him, he felt that breeding peppermint shrimp was well within the realm of possibilities for a home aquarist.

In taxonomy, the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni, was split into four species about 10-15 years ago. In the marine aquarium trade, however, we usually just refer to one type of "peppermint shrimp."

For breeding this particular shrimp, there are two major challenges: 1) to keep the larvae suspended in the water column for the first few weeks (without getting washed over an overflow or injured by any equipment, for example) and 2) providing food--and enough of it--that is small enough for the larvae to eat.

The information below is brief. However, it is to the point, and I'm sure that @Sallstrom will be happy to answer any questions in the thread below the article. Not included is detailed information about culturing the microscopic organisms needed to feed the larvae, which we will address in a later article. My own questions or comments are in italics.

Breeding the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni.

We tried breeding peppermint shrimps, Lysmata wurdemanni, for the first time a couple of months ago. I picked up some new ideas from a Dutch breeder I wanted to test, and it worked out well. We now have eight (8) small shrimps from the first batch. One of them is carrying eggs, so we might get more generations. It's a pretty simple setup, so I'm sure many can do it at home.

This is the short version of our peppermint shrimp breeding setup:

First you get two peppermint shrimps. They can change sex back and forth, so no need to get a pair. [Peppermint shrimps are protandric simultaneous hermaphrodites.]

Then feed them and keep them happy and sooner or later you will see one of them carrying eggs. Move the ones with the eggs to a larvae bucket.

Wait 10-12 days, and check every morning to see if the eggs are hatched [and released]. When hatched remove the adult.

How to make a larvae bucket.

Take a 5-liter bucket and drill 20 holes in the bottom. Cover the bottom with a filter mat*, which is about 2 cm thick.

Cover the mat with fine sand.

Drill a hole for a pipe through the side of the bucket, just below where the waterline will be. That will be an airlift, pumping new water into the bucket.

Turn the end of the pipe inside the bucket so it pushes the water around the edge. The water should move around in a circle, that's what is keeping the larvae afloat.

Here's a drawing:

r2rLarvae bucket 1.jpg

Drawing is courtesy of @Sallstrom, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.
So the bucket is standing inside another tank. And in that [outer] tank you can have all the filtration you want, or connect to a sump, etc. That way we managed to keep larvae alive and afloat over two months, until they settled, without the need of water changes inside the inner tank or moving the larvae.

Feeding the larvae.

The larvae are pretty big (for a larvae) and can eat live newly hatched artemia right away. We’ve also tried powdered flakes, and they’ll grab on to that too. It’s good to have live phytoplankton for the artemia to eat; that way the artemia are more nutritious when eaten by the larvae. There are probably lots of ways to get them to eat and grow. Copepods are probably better than artemia, but we didn't have any at the time. [This means you have to also culture A) phytoplankton and B) artemia to feed the larvae.]

Okay, let me ask a couple of questions about the shrimp setup. If water comes out the bottom of the inner tank, and is filtered through the sand, then isn't the artemia and phytoplankton *staying* in the inner tank and getting more and more concentrated (dirty)? Because you're adding new live artemia and phytoplankton every day, right? Then wouldn't you have a lot of dead artemia in the tank too?

The artemia stay in the bucket. The phytoplankton go out through the bottom, I think. In our setup the artemia got eaten, even if we kept on feeding. The artemia not getting eaten should stay alive as long as there are some phyto in the bucket, too. But sure, the bucket might get a bit dirty. We kept the light low so we didn't have any algae problems. We had to stir the sand a couple of times because it got clogged.

*What do you mean by filter mat?

This is what I call a filter mat. Probably called something else in English:).

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 8.32.49 PM.png

Screenshot courtesy of @Seawitch.

I found several similar products available in North America for aquarium or pond filtration.

I wanted to include a video of Martin A. Moe giving a presentation at a MACNA conference showing how he solved the problem of keeping Diadema sea urchin larvae afloat.


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Author Profile: @Sallstrom

David is a professional marine biologist at Sjöfartsmuseet Akvariet, or The Maritime Museum & Aquarium, in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has a super-interesting build thread covering his work at the museum, where he is the resident coral nerd. He has been keeping saltwater aquariums either at home or at work since 2001.