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Phylum Arthropoda > Subphylum Crustacea > Class Malacostraca > Order Decapoda > prawns and shrimps
Glass and commensal shrimps
Family Palaemonidae

updated Oct 2016

if you learn only 3 things about them ...
They live on other animals such as sea anemones and hard corals.
They are often found in pairs.
They are an excellent example of commensalism.

Where seen? These transparent shrimps are often seen living on other animals such as sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and hard and soft corals. Some are also seen in small groups on the ground and among seaweeds. These shrimps are hard to spot as they are small and transparent; and usually only active at night and when their host is submerged.

Features: 1-3cm long. These little shrimps are usually transparent. They are thus sometimes also called glass shrimps. Sometimes, all that can be seen of them are their beady little eyes! At night, the shine from their eyes make them easy to spot. Some have white markings or a fine stripe along the body.

Human uses: Unfortunately, these amazing shrimps are popular in the live aquarium trade and thus harvested from wild reefs to supply the trade.

Status and threats: Some of our commensal shrimps are listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. Llike other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Trampling by careless visitors and over-collection by hobbyists also have an impact on local populations.
Some commensal shrips
(awaiting identification)

About 1cm, several seen on
a Thorny sea cucumber.
Beting Bronok, Aug 05

About 1cm, a pair seen on
a Flowery sea pen.
Changi, May 05

Glass and commensal shrimps on Singapore shores

Family Palaeomonidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
in red are those listed among the threatened animals of Singapore from Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore
^from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Record, etc)

  Glass and commensal shrimps commonly seen awaiting identification
Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.
  Carpet anemone shrimp
Red nose shrimps

  Family Palaemonidae

Anchistus custos
Anchistus miersi

^Ancylomenes aesopius=Periclimenes aesopius
+Ancylomenes holthuisi
('Gelek' anemone shrimp)=Periclimenes holthuisi

Conchodytes monodactylus

Coralliocaris gaminea
(Machine gun shrimp)

^Cuapetes amymone=Periclimenes amymone
^Cuapetes calmani=Periclimenes calmani
^Cuapetes elegans=Periclimenes elegans
^Cuapetes grandis=Periclimenes grandis
^Cuapetes johnsoni (Seagrass shrimp)=*Periclimenes johnsoni (VU: Vulnerable)

Harpiliopsis beaupresii
^Harpilius lutescens=Periclimenes lutescens

Leander tenuicornis

Macrobrachium geron=^Macrobrachium malayanum
Macrobrachium idae
(NE: Presumed nationally extinct)
Macrobrachium latidactylus
(NE: Presumed nationally extinct)
Macrobrachium neglectum
Macrobrachium pilimanus
Macrobrachium platycheles
(CR: Critically endangered)
Macrobrachium rosenbergii
(Udang galah) (NE: Presumed nationally extinct)
Macrobrachium scabriculum
Macrobrachium trompii

Palaemon sp. (Glass shrimp)

Palaemonella pottsi
Palaemonella vetigialis=^Palaemonella rotumana

Periclimenaeus tridentatus

^Periclimenella spinifera=Periclimenes spiniferus

Periclimenes brevicarpalis
(Peacock-tail anemone shrimp)
Periclimenes brooki
*Periclimenes cristimanus
(Black urchin shrimp) (VU: Vulnerable)
Periclimenes parvus
Periclimenes sechellensis
Periclimenes suvaensis

^Urocaridella urocaridella=Leander urocaridella



  • Toh Chay Hoon. 20 December 2013. Shrimps and saddleback anemonefish on carpet anemone off Pulau Hantu: Holthuis’s anemone shrimp, Periclimenes holthuisi and Saddleback anemonefish, Amphiprion polymnus. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2013: 126-127.
  • Chou, L. M., 1998. A Guide to the Coral Reef Life of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 128 pages.
  • 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.
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
  • Debelius, Helmut, 2001. Crustacea Guide of the World: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp.
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