Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis): Ultimate Care Guide


Common Name(s)Sexy Shrimp
Scientific NameThor amboinensis
Natural HabitatCoral reefs in tropical oceans with a depth range of 2-25m
Temperature75°F – 79°F (24 – 27°C)
SizeUp to 1.25 in
Minimum Tank Size5 gallons
Food & DietOmnivore
Lifespan3 years
Water pH8.1 – 8.4
Tank MatesPorcelain anemone crab, Boxer crabs, Emerald crabs, most snails, most species of cleaner shrimp

Thor amboinensis, also known as Sexy Shrimp, are microspecies famous for their upturned abdomens and tails that curl back towards their heads, which allows them to ‘dance.’

Their abnormal behavior, distinct orange, white and blue colors, and small size make sexy shrimp a very attractive choice for tank owners interested in a unique addition to their habitat.

In addition, they are very social and friendly creatures, meaning they’ll get along with a large assortment of tank partners.

We explore the best tank partners as well as some choices to avoid later on in the article, so keep reading!

Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)
Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

Where Do Sexy Shrimp Originate from?

Sexy shrimp make their homes in sea anemones in tropical waters across the globe, including:

  • The Red Sea
  • The Indo-Pacific
  • The Caribbean
  • The Atlantic
  • The Canary Islands

Thor amboinensis has also occasionally been seen living in dead corals, small crevasses between rocks, as well as biogenic gravels.

Where Does The Name “Sexy Shrimp” Come From?

Thor amboinensis, aka the ‘sexy shrimp’, received this nickname for its very abnormal body movements.

When they walk, they sway their abdomens back and forth in a mesmerizing manner.

Aside from the way they walk, the unique color combination of a reddish brown body dotted with brilliant white spots makes this species a fascinating addition to any compatible aquarium.

Are Sexy Shrimp Reef-Safe?

Sexy shrimp are always reef-safe as long as they are properly fed.

While they prefer sea anemones, sexy shrimp can adapt to live in the polyps of Duncan’s coral, green stars, clove, or mushroom corals.

The coral colonies seem to be unbothered by the presence of sexy shrimp as long as they aren’t nibbling on any polyps, which can be avoided by ensuring a proper feeding routine.

If your sexy shrimp are left hungry for too long, they’ll begin to chew on your corals, causing them to retract their polyps as a defense mechanism.

The retraction of your coral’s polyps, while meant to prevent further damage, also reduces the photosynthesis that its zooxanthellae can conduct, which can kill your corals if left untreated.

Sexy Shrimp Care (Temperature, pH, & More)

Sexy shrimp prefer water temperatures similar to that of tropical environments, with temperatures ranging from 72-82°F (22-27°C), and thrive in tanks with pH levels ranging from 8.1-8.4.

They thrive in salinity levels around 1.023 – 1.025, and a calcium concentration of between 400-450 ppm.

Water alkalinity should be kept in the 7-12 dKH range.

Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)
Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

Sexy Shrimp Size

Most sexy shrimp raised in captivity will not grow larger than 1¼ inches (3.2cm).

However, Thor amboinensis is a protandric hermaphrodite, meaning it starts off its life cycle as a male, but changes to a female later in its maturity.

Once they grow to be about 0.6–0.7 inches (15-18 mm), they usually become female.

Larvae usually hatch between 14-20 days after being fertilized.

The larval duration period usually lasts 26-28 days, while a complete transformation can take an additional 10-12 days.

Food & Diet

Sexy shrimp require supplemental foods, such as commercial sinking pellets, algae or nori, and some protein.

Sexy shrimp feed on the mucus of sea anemones in their natural habitat, as well as organisms that get trapped in the anemone.

Doing your best to supplement this diet will ensure your sexy shrimp are happy and healthy.

If there are no anemones in your tank, corals are the next potential target, which is why it is important to ensure your sexy shrimp have their nutritional needs met.

If your sexy shrimp share a tank with other species, we recommend target-feeding them shredded clam or Mysis shrimp with a pipette, just to be sure their dinner isn’t stolen by a hungry tankmate.

Once you’re ready to stimulate breeding, switch your shrimp to a diet with higher fat content.

Sexy Shrimp Lifespan

Sexy shrimp have an average lifespan of three years in captivity, however, they often perish due to management issues rather than natural age.

Under proper care, sexy shrimp have been reported to live up to five years, however, this is extremely uncommon.

Sexy Shrimp Tank Size

The minimum tank size for keeping sexy shrimp is a 5-gallon tank.

In addition, sexy shrimp also do well in pico and nano tanks.

It is best to avoid placing them in larger tanks, like 10, 15, or 20-gallon tanks, as they are likely to get eaten by other fish, and will be more difficult to see.

Since many owners purchase sexy shrimp specifically for their unique dancing ability, it only makes sense to provide a habitat that allows you to view them in the act.

What Is The Best Sexy Shrimp Tank Setup?

Sexy shrimp prefer habitats with access to an anemone or reef tanks, as the coral structures are perfect for sexy shrimp to explore.

These shrimp form symbiotic relationships with anemones such as Entacmaea quadricolor, Macrodactyla doreensis, Stichodactyla tapetum, and Zoanthus sp., living on and around their oral discs, tentacles, or substrate very near to anemone bases.

Sexy shrimp remain active and visible during the day, which is one of the main reasons behind their popularity, but they need an area to rest in during the nighttime.

If you don’t want the hassle of managing sea anemones, go for interesting contours of rock your series can explore.

Sexy Shrimp Breeding

Breeding sexy shrimp is extremely difficult, requiring a separate tank, large amounts of time, and intensive care.

However, if you want more for your aquarium, this is much more effective than purchasing more from an aquatic retailer.

As mentioned previously, sexy shrimp are protandric hermaphrodites, meaning all shrimp are born male and switch to female after reaching maturity.

As a result, females appear much larger than male shrimp, as they need that extra width to carry their eggs.

Before you can get started with breeding your sexy shrimp, you’ll need a separate tank to raise the larvae.

Even if you have a single-species tank, mature sexy shrimp will eat the microscopic offspring.

We recommend using a cylindrical recirculating tank for the best results since the cylindrical shape causes the current to drive the larvae away from your aquarium’s glass walls.

The larvae are not strong enough to remove themself from the walls on their own, which would otherwise result in smushed sexy shrimp, which aren’t that sexy.

The larvae’s tank should have similar water conditions to your original tank.

Sexy shrimp will lay between 100-300 eggs at a time.

If you want to boost your chances of breeding success, feeding your shrimp high-fat foods will do just the trick.

Shrimp eggs normally hatch within 2-3 weeks after fertilization.

The clearest indicator of their maturity is the color of the eggs, which will turn brown when they are ready to hatch soon.

Collecting the larvae is simple, all you have to do is shine a light into one side of the tank and they’ll move toward it.

Next, gently siphon the microscopic larvae and transfer them to your rearing habitat.

Try to maintain a limit of  40 larvae for every 2.5 gallons.

 For maintenance, be sure to perform 30-50% water changes at least two times per day.

Keeping smaller tanks clean requires more time and attention, but is crucial to ensure your sexy shrimp live in a healthy environment.

We recommend giving the larvae 14-16 hours of light per day and feeding them freshly-hatched brine shrimp until maturity.

Sexy shrimp have eight different larval stages before they reach full maturity, each of which requires extensive attention and care.

Initial development takes 26-28 days, and it takes an additional 10-12 more before they emerge as their final adult form.

Since it is often easier to simply collect more sexy shrimp from the wild, there are very few mass-breeding operations for this species.

Sexy Shrimp Male and Female

Although all Sexy Shrimp start their lives as males, they are protandric hermaphrodites and can change their gender to female as needed, such as during reproduction.

However, they don’t have this ability until they reach a certain size, which is why female sexy shrimp are often larger than males.

You’ll also notice that the white stripe on the back of the female is usually broken.

The third and final way you can tell if your sexy shrimp is male or female is by examining its abdomen.

Since they need to accommodate the large number of eggs they will have during the breeding season, female sexy shrimp have much broader abdomens.

It shouldn’t be difficult to examine their abdomen, since they’re dancing around all the time, but if they’re hiding out, it is best to wait until they begin dancing again.

Sexy Shrimp Diseases

Fortunately, sexy shrimp are not prone to any species-specific diseases.

However, they are still susceptible to common saltwater aquarium issues.

While a fish’s immune system can withstand quite a lot, improper care, stress from poor water quality, territory conflicts, or improper nutrition can all contribute to dangerously decreased immunity.

Exposure to this stress can cause your sexy shrimp to develop a secondary bacterial infection, which is why maintaining a proper care regimen is crucial.

Common signs of bacterial disease in your aquarium’s inhabitants include lethargy, diminished appetite, or sudden death.

If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, test your water quality and reevaluate your shrimp’s diet, as an urgent change may be necessary.

Sexy Shrimp Tank Mates

Sexy shrimp thrive in an environment of three or more, otherwise, they will attempt to hide.

Unlike a lot of other crustaceans, who prefer a much more solitary lifestyle, sexy shrimp find a solo existence stressful.

Their preference for a group dynamic also makes them perfect tank mates for a lot of different species (as long as you set them up in the display first) such as:

Be sure to avoid aggressive eaters such as clownfish, since they are not very willing to share their anemones, and will easily devour your sexy shrimp.

You should also avoid tank mates such as angelfish, basslets, coral-banded shrimp, dottybacks, groupers, hawkfish, triggerfish, and wrasses.

Where Can I Find Sexy Shrimp For Sale?

Sexy shrimp can be found for sale at a variety of online retailers charging varying amounts, ranging from $20-60, with rarer species retailing for a slightly higher price.

Be sure to research the full range of available online retailers, as you may be able to find a discount or better deal on purchasing your sexy shrimp.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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