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Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera picta) are attractive little shrimp whose unique body shape resembles full orchid blossoms. They have frilly white bodies with pink and purple spots. The claws and eyes appear thin and flattened. Hymenocera elegans is very similar to Hymenocera picta and is sometimes considered a regional variation rather than a separate species since the two species are found in separate locations.
This shrimp is highly specialized in its care and diet. They are reef safe and invert safe, except around starfish. Their diet consist exclusively of sea stars. They will feed on any sea stars in their aquarium and should be fed a healthy sea star at least once a month. They will eat the small Asterina stars that reproduce in some home aquariums, but otherwise stars like Chocolate Chip Stars, Bahama Stars or other species should be purchased for them to feed on. Harlequin Shrimp will usually star at the ends of the star's legs and work towards the center so the starfish remains alive as long as possible.
While these animals are very cryptic and can hide well, they should not be kept with larger potential predators. They are sensitive to changes in water chemistry, temperature and to low oxygen environments (including stagnant systems). Acclimate to the new system carefully to avoid shocking the shrimp. They can live alone but are almost always found in pairs in the wild. Some Hymenocera sp. shrimp are also known to occasionally feed on urchins as well as shrimp.