Phyllognathia ceratopthalma are tiny, cryptic shrimp that are true gems of the ocean. They are small and typically only grow up to one inch as adults. They are very slow moving and usually crawl sideways like a crab. However, if they feel threatened or cornered, they will dart away in the blink of an eye by thrusting their tail. Their diet consists of one thing- starfish. They are known to occur in Indonesia, Australia, New Caledonia, The Maldives, and Japan typically at a depth of about 60ft. They are colored mostly white, with black spots and streaks of deep blue within the orange.
Most of the day, these little guys spend their time hiding out under rocks, in caves, or amongst macro algae. They like to stay mostly hidden and out of the light. They will, however, come out in search of food, or maybe just to crawl over to a new hiding place. And sometimes they will spend time out in the light on the sand or a rock, just eating and looking around. At night, usually all the Bongo Shrimp will be out in the open. Either on a rock, on the sand, or clinging to their favorite plant. Night is usually the best time to do roll call and make sure everyone is still alive.
Bongo Shrimp seem relatively peaceful except to their own kind. I have a total of five right now and it is quite easy to tell which ones are a pair and which are not. The three in my main "Lagoon Tank" are not pairs and each has its own territory to live in and protect. (My true pair is being held in a breeder net until their new, one gallon, private refugium is set up) They all stay well away from each other unless forced to do otherwise.
Now, a Bongo Shrimp fight is quite interesting. Since I have three living together in one tank, I have witnessed my fair share of "civil disputes". Typically, the two opponents will approach one another, and they will lock claws, pushing and shoving. The interesting part about it is, the whole thing is in S L O W M O T I O N. The main targets include legs and claws so during a fight, those are usually the appendages that are being targeted. Since it is in such slow motion, however, no one ever ends up getting injured. The two opponents will push and shove for a few minutes and then go their separate ways.
It is very normal for me to look into the tank at any given time, day or night, and see all five of the Bongo Shrimp holding a starfish and eating it. When I first got the Bongo Shrimp, they only only ONLY accepted and ate brittle starfish. Although now, I have been able to pretty much ween them into eating asterina stars for the most part. When I do find a large brittle star in my reef, I can actually hand feed the Bongo Shrimp. As soon as I bring a brittle star over to one of the shrimp, they will typically drop whatever else they were holding and will readily take the brittle star right from my finger tips.
An interesting behavior I have noticed with the Bongo Shrimp is the way they move their bodies and tails, when standing still. Almost like a sexy shrimp, their two white antennas on their heads are always moving back and fourth. Also, at the same time as they are exhibiting the antenna movement, their abdomens and tails rock back and fourth. I have noticed that when excited, like when being fed a brittle star; when in fear; and when startled; they will do the two movements even faster. I think it could possibly be a means of expressing emotion, much like a dog's ears and tail. It is certainly a unique trait to these little shrimp.
The Bongo Shrimp live in my 29 gallon Biocube Lagoon setup with numerous types of plants, algae, and sponges. I keep my tank at about 74F to 76F with a salinity of about 1.025 and a pH of about 8.0 to 8.1. The Bongo Shrimp share the tank with an orange Reidi Seahorse, a Yashia Goby paired with a Randall's Pistol Shrimp, a Peppermint Shrimp, and a Banded Pipefish. Each week I (try to) collect upwards of 50+ asterina stars and as many brittle stars as possible for the Bongo Shrimp to feed on.
Be sure to watch the video in HD:
What do you think about the Bongo Shrimp? Comments, ideas, questions, suggestions???