• The Mantis Shrimp!

    | Jul 13, 2021

    Mantis Shrimp!

     The Mantis Shrimp, or stomatopods, are carnivorous marine crustaceans that branch from the class of Malacostraca from about 340 million years ago! They come in various shades from brown to vividly bright colors - with over 450 species of mantis shrimps being known. They are well-recognized for their powerful punch (often likened to the velocity of a .22 caliber bullet) using their raptorials that are utilized to attack and kill prey. Some have dactyl "clubs" specifically for maximum force in their strikes, or sharp forelimbs for capturing their food. Thus, the common name of "mantis" shrimp! 

     While fairly aggressive and typically solitary, these sea creatures will spend much of their time hiding or burrowing. However, the mantis shrimp is built for hunting, and is highly adapted for close-range combat, making them fascinating to observe! The appendage differences divide mantis shrimp into two main types: those that hunt by impaling their prey with spear-like structures and those that smash prey with a powerful blow from a heavily, hammer/club-like appendage. Both types strike by rapidly unfolding and swinging their raptorial claws at the prey, and can inflict serious damage on victims significantly greater in size than themselves! In "smashers" these two weapons are employed with blinding quickness, with an acceleration of 335,000 ft/s2 and speeds of around 51 mph from a standing start. 

     Because they strike so rapidly, they generate vapor-filled bubbles in the water between the appendage and the striking surface — known as cavitation bubbles. The collapse of these cavitation bubbles produces an intense shock wave and measurable forces on their prey in addition to the instantaneous forces of 1,500 newtons that are caused by the impact of the appendage against the striking surface. That’s 2.5k times the force of the shrimps own weight, creating temperatures in the water near the strike nearly as hot as the sun; if a human could do that they’d be able to punch through steel!  This means that the prey is hit twice by a single strike; first by the claw and then by the collapsing cavitation bubbles that immediately follow. Even if the initial strike misses the prey, the resulting shock wave can be enough to stun or kill. At the very least their blunt clubs enable them to crack the shells of their prey into pieces. "Spearers" however, prefer the meat of softer animals, such as fish, which their barbed claws can more easily slice and snag. These magnificent creatures' appendages are even being studied as a micro-scale analogue for new macro-scale material structures! 

     The mantis shrimp's eyes can move independently of each other - much like chameleons - but also have up to 4-5x the types of photo-receptor cells that humans possess. They are able to use "spectral tuning" too, tuning their sensitivity to wavelengths of color to adapt to their environment. They can see a special spiraling type of light called circularly polarized light that’s not been documented in any other animal, as well! This specific kind of eyesight means that they can see many more types of light, color, and wavelengths than we can, including UV light! 

    In mantis shrimps, the movement of the stalked eye is unusually free, and can be driven up to 70° in all possible axes of movement by eight eye-cup muscles divided into six functional groups. By using these muscles to scan the surroundings with the mid-band, they can add information about forms, shapes, and landscape, which cannot be detected by the upper and lower hemispheres of the eyes. They can also track moving objects using large, rapid eye movements where the two eyes move independently. With their complex compound eyes, they can see objects with 3 parts of the same eyeBy combining different techniques, including movements in the same direction, the mid-band can cover a very wide range of the visual field, making them formidable predators. 

    Mantis shrimps can exhibit rather complex behavior and are able to learn and remember things quite well, including individuals with which they frequently interact! Just be sure to keep them and interact with them with caution, as they've also been given the nickname "thumb splitter" due to their dangerous strikes if handled improperly or even cracking aquarium glass if they wish - but they are extremely eye-catching and fascinating creatures! You might be able to find one at our Fishers location or by special ordering (depending on availability) through an Uncle Bill's near you.


  • The Silver Arowana!

    | Jun 15, 2021

    The Silver Arowana!

    Silver ArowanaThe Silver Arowana is a bony fish native to the South American freshwaters of the Amazon. The generic name Osteoglossum means "bone-tongued" and the specific name bicirrhosum means "two barbels." They can be found naturally in both black and whitewater environments, such as flooded forests. 

    The drawbridge-like mouth of these incredible fish can open into 3 pieces at the head of the body, most of which have teeth.  They are covered in silver, pearl-like scales that can shift in color shades as the fish ages.  Arowana's can live up to 10-20 years in captivity and reach lengths of up to or over 30-40 inches!

    silver arowanaThe placement of the mouth allows the Arowana to eat prey from below while swimming near the surface. In the wild, they have fantastic eyesight and a unique hunting method where they may hide parallel to a fallen tree in the water, waiting to jump out and attack their prey. In fact, Silver Arowanas can jump up to 5 feet out of the water and swim with a snake-like grace, often giving it the nicknames of "dragon fish" or "monkey fish"!

    The Silver Arowana is arguably one of the most popular ornamental South American fish species, although it can be quite territorial and predatory as a tankmate.  They tend to be a bit hardy to water conditions, but grow rather large so a big tank will be necessary.  However, while they prefer a solitary lifestyle, they can learn to recognize their pet parents and even be trained to eat from your hand!

    Right now we have a 3-foot Silver Arowana at our Greenwood location that is pretty spectacular - visit him (or take him home) while you can!




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