Periclimenes Yucatanicus – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Periclimenes Yucatanicus (Spotted anemone shrimp) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding

Even though Periclimenes yucatanicus, commonly known as the Spotted anemone shrimp, is quite common in the Caribbean basin, they are still considered relatively rare finds in the aquarium trade.

It is actually a bit surprising, given their striking colors and ease of care, which could make Spotted anemone shrimp a great option even for beginner aquarium enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, the ecology of Periclimenes yucatanicus is poorly researched and much is still unknown about these shrimp. 

In this guide, I gathered everything that is currently known about the Spotted anemone shrimp including ideal tank setups and how to care for them.

Quick Notes about Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Name Spotted anemone shrimp
Other Names
Spotted cleaner shrimp and Anemone Shrimp
Scientific Name Periclimenes yucatanicus
Tank size (optimal) 10 gallons (~40 liters)
Keeping Easy
Breeding Very difficult 
Size up to 2.5 cm (~1 inch)
Optimal Temperature 75 – 79°F  (24 – 26°C)
Water type SG = 1.021 – 1.025
Optimal PH 8.1 – 8.4
Optimal KH 8 – 12
Nitrate Less than 20 ppm
Diet Omnivore / Carnivore 
Temperament Peaceful
Life span up to 1 year
Color Form Translucent with blue-purple spots

Distribution of Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Periclimenes Yucatanicus (Spotted Anemone Shrimp) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding destributionPericlimenes yucatanicus inhabits various locations within the Caribbean Basin, including Key Largo, Florida, U.S.A.; the Bahamas; Turks and Caicos Islands; Netherlands Antilles; Honduras; the Florida Keys; Puerto Rico; and Panama.

Nowadays, there are also reports of this species in southwestern Japan and the west Indies.

Habitat of Periclimenes Yucatanicus

They can be usually found in coral reef systems (at depths of 9 – 70 ft (3 – 22 m), where they also establish a cleaning symbiotic relationship with anemones and fish cleaners, removing parasites and damaged tissues. 

Description of Periclimenes Yucatanicus

  • Size. Spotted cleaner shrimp are relatively small crustaceans. They can only grow up to 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) long.
  • Body. They have features of a slender and elongated body.
  • Coloration and patterns. The body is typically translucent or semi-transparent, with numerous small, dark spots or speckles. These spots are scattered across the body and appendages, creating a speckled or mottled appearance.

The spots may vary in size and density, with some individuals exhibiting more prominent markings than others. Additionally, the antennae and appendages may display contrasting colors, such as orange or red, adding to the shrimp’s overall colorful appearance.

Overall, the combination of translucent body and white, tan, green, blue, or purple blotches spots gives Periclimenes yucatanicus a striking appearance in aquariums.

Note: Scientists noticed that these shrimp may vary in the number of rostral teeth, length/width ratio of the carpus of the major cheliped, color pattern, and cnidarian host.

Lifespan of Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Currently, there is no data available on the average or maximum lifespan of Periclimenes yucatanicus in the wild.

At the same time, laboratory experiments have shown that these shrimp typically live for about 260 days, with the maximum recorded lifespan reaching 728 days.

Typical Behavior of Periclimenes Yucatanicus

These shrimp are completely peaceful creatures and usually do not bother anybody in the tank.

They are also very social and tend to aggregate in large groups potentially reflecting the small size and limited defensive capability of these shrimps. At the same time, they lack social structure. They are not territorial and males will not fight.

Periclimenes yucatanicus is usually associated with anemones. However, in aquariums, they can also live free without any anemones.

These shrimp are also considered to be the Cleaner shrimp. In their natural environment, they can clean parasites from fish skin, and even the mouth of a large fish like grouper. That is why they sometimes are called Spotted cleaner shrimp.


  • Social: Yes
  • Activity levelLow
  • Peaceful: Yes
  • Burrowers:No

Periclimenes Yucatanicus and Anemone Partnership

This species is a symbiotic cleaner shrimp.

According to the study, these shrimp are known to associate with 4 species of anemones;

  1. Bartholomea annulata,
  2. Lebrunia danae,
  3. Cassiopea xamachana,
  4. Condylactis gigantean (preferred host).

Periclimenes yucatanicus use them as the centers of cleaning stations that attract client fishes for ectoparasite removal. In addition, these shrimp clean the anemone removing organisms caught in the anemone’s mucus.

Because of their ability to host cleaners and act as visual signals that draw in client fishes, the anemones also can receive nutrients in the form of waste products (excreted ammonia and eliminated feces) from their crustacean symbionts and visiting clients, thus contributing to efficient nutrient cycling on coral reefs. 

Unlike Pederson shrimp, this species usually exhibits fidelity to a single species of host sea anemone and does not migrate from one to another.

Periclimenes Yucatanicus as Fish Cleaners

For some time, the role of Periclimenes yucatanicus as a cleaner was uncertain. As only one cleaning interaction had been reported in its natural habitat.

As a result, this led to the assumption that this species is a cleaner mimic.

However, further research revealed that this was not true. It was found that Periclimenes yucatanicus regularly signals its availability to clean, client fishes visit regularly and the shrimp does engage in true symbiotic cleaning interactions, but these are brief and rare.

Note: Although this is still a true cleaner shrimp, compared to Pederson shrimp, P. yucatanicus is less efficient. Less than 15% of all client visits resulted in an actual cleaning interaction.

Feeding Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Feeding is easy. These shrimp are omnivorous. They will accept a wide range of fish, shrimp, or sea anemones food. No direct feeding is necessary.

Note: While Periclimenes yucatanicus may also consume parasites and dead skin from client fish even in aquariums, I would not count only on that. Relying solely on their cleaning ability is insufficient for their nutritional needs.

Therefore, you need to provide them with some food at least 2 – 3 times a week.

They will eat any pellet, flake, and gel foods that provide animal-based nutrition. Basically, the diet should be comprised of meaty seafood or marine flake food such as:

  • Formula One,
  • Formula Two Pellets,
  • Ocean Nutrition,

This will make them grow faster and be healthy.

Is Periclimenes Yucatanicus Coral Safe?

Yes, you should not have any problems with the Spotted anemone shrimp in reef tanks.

There are no reports that they eat SPS frags, destroy polyps, or something like that.   

Caring and Keeping Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Keeping the Spotted cleaner shrimp in an aquarium is not complicated because they do not have special water quality requirements.

Basically, these shrimp should be maintained under conditions that are suitable for any other typical reef-aquarium inhabitants.

Tank Size:

Because of their small size, there are no minimum requirements. Even nano reef tanks tank will be good enough for a few Periclimenes yucatanicus.

The only problems with small tanks:

  • It can be difficult to keep your water parameters stable.
  • It can be hard for the snails to find enough food and you can have feeding problems.

Therefore, ideally, it will be a tank with a capacity of at least 10 gallons (about 40 liters).

Note: These shrimp can crawl out of the aquarium. Therefore, to prevent it from happening, there are a few things you can do:

  • get a lid for the tank,
  • lower the water level,
  • do not stress

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Temperature: The ideal water temperature for keeping Periclimenes yucatanicus is between the range of 75 – 79°F (24 – 26°C).

pH: Maintain optimal pH values of 8.1 – 8.4 for the shrimp to thrive in your saltwater aquarium

SG: The salinity should be in the range of 1.021 – 1.025 as measured using its specific gravity.

Hardness: Keep water hardness values between 8 – 12 dKH

Calcium: The concentration of calcium must be maintained at acceptable levels as well. Keeping calcium concentration in the range of 400 to 450 ppm is optimal, but it can be a bit lower or higher.


Periclimenes yucatanicus is nocturnal animals. They do not really need light. Thus, lighting should be adapted to the needs of your corals and fish in the tank.


These shrimp are not diggers and do not have any preference for the substrate.

In nature, they are found free-living and on a wide array of substrates (rocky shorelines, hard-bottom reefs, tube sponges, etc.), suggesting that their transparent body is not particularly related to any habitat type.

Water flow:

In the natural ecosystem, Periclimenes yucatanicus inhabits shallow waters where the current is very slow-moving.

Therefore, any surface agitation makes them very uncomfortable and causes stress. Avoid fast-moving water flow, if it is possible.


In aquariums, decorations play an important role for the Spotted anemone shrimp – they provide hiding places (shelter and protection) and minimize stress to your shrimp. 

This is also crucial for the molting process!

If they are going to be in a community tank, there should be plenty of dark areas for them to hide in and these should be created out of rocks, PVC pipe, plastic tunnels, etc.


Keep in mind that the Spotted anemone shrimp are mostly wild-caught. So, they are often delivered to pet stores in poor conditions.

Before putting them into the tank, we need to at least temperature acclimate them.

Give them time to acclimatize before adding to the tank. Do not rush the process! Sudden changes in habitat can harm them.

Related article:

Breeding Periclimenes Yucatanicus

Breeding this species is very difficult. In scientific literature, there is not even a description of the larval development. At the moment, all that is known is:

  1. This species requires males and females to breed. They are not hermaphrodites.
  2. They reach maturity when their carapace length at egg-bearing is estimated to be at least -3.5 mm.
  3. According to the study, they can produce several hundred eggs (100 – 200) during each spawn.  Clutch size increases approximately exponentially with increasing female size from that point.
  4. This species has a direct development without free-swimming larvae in the sea.
  5. The number of stages a larva undergoes prior to settling is not known.
  6. The larval duration period is not known.

Periclimenes Yucatanicus and Suitable Tank mates

In the natural environment, these shrimp are known for their cleaning role, where they are often avoided by reef fishes due to their recognized status.

Although predatory fish may suppress their hunting instinct for the benefit of being cleaned in nature, this type of behavior is absolutely not reliable in aquariums.

Additionally, it’s crucial to recognize that if a fish is unaware of the cleaning behavior of a specific shrimp species, especially if it originated from an area where such shrimp are absent, aggression can significantly escalate.

For instance, lionfish often consume many cleaner shrimp due to their lack of familiarity with them, as these fish are not native to the area but are introduced accidentally.

Therefore, in aquariums, it is not recommended to keep them with large, predatory fish.

Spotted anemone shrimp are peaceful and small. They get along well with others of their kind, so maintaining a group is not problematic but it will require more space.

Good tank mates for Periclimenes yucatanicus:

If you have Emerald crabs and Red Fire shrimp I would just be careful and watch them closely (especially with big crabs and territorial shrimp).

Do not keep them with Arrow crabs and Coral banded shrimp. As they will likely begin to prey on them eventually.

Do not keep them with Clownfish. These fishes will not tolerate Periclimenes yucatanicus in their anemone and bully them to get anemone for themselves. 

In Conclusion

Given their unique appearance and small size, Periclimenes yucatanicus can be a great addition to small reef aquariums.

The main problems though are their rarity in the aquarium trade and the lack of scientific information about them.


  1. Titus, Benjamin M., Clayton Vondriska, and Marymegan Daly. “Comparative behavioural observations demonstrate the ‘cleaner’shrimp Periclimenes yucatanicus engages in true symbiotic cleaning interactions.” Royal Society Open Science4, no. 4 (2017): 170078.
  2. Wicksten, Mary K. “Within-species variation in Periclimenes yucatanicus (Ives), with taxonomic remarks on P. pedersoni Chace (Crustacea: Decapoda: Caridea: Palaemonidae).” PROCEEDINGS-BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON108 (1995): 458-458.
  3. Williams Jr, Ernest H., and Lucy B. Williams. “First Report of Periclimenes yucatanicus(Ives)(Decapoda, Palaemonidae) in Association with a Corallimorpharian Anemone.” Crustaceana42, no. 3 (1982): 318-319.
  4. Spotte, Stephen, and Patricia M. Bubucis. “Captive survivorship of the spotted anemone shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus.” Aquarium Sciences and Conservation1 (1997): 65-69.
  5. McKeon, C. Seabird, and James L. O’Donnell. “Variation in partner benefits in a shrimp—sea anemone symbiosis.” PeerJ3 (2015): e1409.
  6. Mihalik, Mary Beth. Investigations on symbioses between shrimp and sea anemones. Florida Atlantic University, 1989.

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