Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata boggessi) are a common ornamental salt water aquarium invertebrate species beloved by many hobbyists for their bright candy cane stripes and lively behaviors. What most people don’t know is that these shrimp are considered protandric simultaneous hermaphrodites. When they first reach adulthood they have male reproductive organs, but as they get bigger they get both male and female reproductive organs. Unlike many other hermaphroditic species, they are unable to self-fertilize and must find another shrimp in order to mate. Even more unique is that they engage in parental behaviors when carrying fertilized eggs. Behaviors include grooming of their brood and fanning to make sure oxygen reaches all of the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the “mother” can mate again to either carry more eggs or become a “father” by mating with another shrimp!
Sketch and fact contributed by Hanna Butler-Struben
Source: Baeza, J.A., Liu, X., Kostecka, L. et al. Active parental care in the peppermint shrimp Lysmata boggessi: the effect of embryo age and circadian cycle. Mar Biol 166, 132 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-019-3579-0