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Phylum Arthropoda > Subphylum Crustacea > Class Malacostraca > Order Decapoda > Lobsters
Coral ghost shrimp
Corallianassa sp.
Family Callianassidae
updated Oct 2019
Where seen? The smooth burrow of this large, brightly coloured animal is sometimes seen among rubble near living reefs on our Southern shores. But animal itself is seldom seen out in the open. Often, all you might glimpse is just the tip of a bright orange claw in the distinctive burrow. At night, however, you may spot one near the burrow entrance as it does some housekeeping, or even wandering about outside.

Features: 4-6cm long. Long abdomen with broad tail, a pair of larger pincers, usually one much larger than the other. Pincers usually bright orange, smaller appendages and antennae banded orange. Body translucent, white or yellowish.

It digs long, smooth sided burrows in solid coral rubble. The burrows are said to be complex. The burrow looks like a PVC pipe! Thanks to Dominik Kneer who shared that they achieve this by gluing sand grains together, their legs give off a sticky mucus. He also shared that a similar looking animal, Axiopsis (see photo below), cannot do that, instead they build something like a brick wall by picking up larger pieces and vibrating them in place to keep the burrow walls together.

Coral ghost shrimp food:
Most ghost shrimps species eat detritus and bacteria or on decaying seagrass and seaweeds.

Human uses: In Australia, some species are caught by fishermen and used as bait.

Sentosa, May 04

Digging out the burrow?
Sentosa, May 04

Pulau Hantu, Jun 08

Burrow is smooth and looks like a PVC pipe by gluing sand grains.
Pulau Hantu, Aug 03

This is Axiopsis serratifrons
Builds burrows like a brick wall.
Sister Island, Jul 04

Coral ghost shrimps on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Labrador, Nov 20
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Sisters Island, Aug 08
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on his blog.

Small Sisters Island, May 18
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook..

Cyrene Reef, Jul 14
Photo shared by Heng Pei Yan on facebook.

Pulau Sudong, Dec 09

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Pulau Salu, Aug 10

Grateful thanks to Dominik Kneer for correcting the identification of these animals. Those with orange claws are not Glypturus as originally stated, but a species of Corallianassa. One of the animals is identified as Axiopsis serratifrons in another Family Axiidea. Family Callianassidae and Family Axiidae belong in infraorder Axiidae.


  • Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
  • Jones Diana S. and Gary J. Morgan, 2002. A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed New Holland. 224 pp.
  • Debelius, Helmut, 2001. Crustacea Guide of the World: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp.
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