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The Orange Meral Mantis Shrimp is identified by the bright orange meral spot (a round dot on the front "weapon" legs). Two species have this spot, Gonodactylaceus glabrous and Gonodactylaceus graphurus. The only difference between these two species is a small slit on the telson (back tail flap) that is absent on G. glabrous but present on G. graphurus. This is often very difficult to see on most live individuals.
With the exception of the orange meral spot, the coloration on both species is highly variable. The color of the body and the legs and fins can be red, green, mottled, striped, tan, etc., especially in G. graphurus individuals.
Mantis Shrimp have highly specialized care and requirements and can harm tankmates or the aquarist. For in-depth information on mantis shrimp care and research, please visit That Fish Blog for PART 1 and PART 2 of Frank Indiviglio's entry, Mantis Shrimp (Order:Stomatopoda) - Breaking Research and Care in Captivity.
Mantis Shrimp are not traditional "shrimp" but are actually members of their own group known as Stomatopods. They are some of the most notorious "hitchhikers" that occasionally show up in a tank after hiding in live rock or corals. They have very powerful claws that can crush shells, split flesh or even crack aquarium glass (an acrylic tank is recommended). Mantis shrimp need meaty foods and will prey on tankmates.
Mantis shrimp earn a bad reputation but they are fascinating creatures for a species-only aquarium. Individuals like this brightly colored specimen are attractive and make the perfect "pet" for an aquarist looking for a change from the norm!