How do Cleaner Shrimps reproduce? Does it mate for life? How does it raise its young?
When breeding a Cleaner Shrimp couple comes together and one moults its shell. The eggs of the moulted shrimp are fertilized by the other shrimp. A week later the same shrimp couple come together again and the other shrimp moults. Once again they come together and the newly moulted shrimp’s eggs are fertilized. This occurs because Cleaner Shrimps are hermaphroditic and can change sex.
When a Cleaner Shrimp lays its eggs they attach to the underside of its abdomen. The eggs are incubated there for 14-20 days and change from bright green to light orange. Approximate maximum size of the eggs is 1.2 millimetres long and 0.6 millimetres wide. The first larval stage (called nauplius) of the Cleaner Shrimp occurs inside the egg. In total there are about 5 different larval stages of the Cleaner Shrimp. When the larvae hatch hundreds of them hatch in one or two nights. They are very hard to spot because of their tiny size. Once born the larvae are left to survive in the ocean. After they have passed the final larval stage they moult and change into tiny adult shrimps. They then find homes and remain in solitary for about a year, until they grow into fully grown adult shrimps. Cleaner Shrimps reach sexual maturity at around 1 year old and are able to breed all year round.