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The Cutest Sea Creature You Didn’t Know About: The Idiomysis Shrimp

Despite their adorable looks, the tiny idiomysis shrimp gets little attention, and there’s surprisingly little information out there about them. Today, we’re going to change that and share everything you should know about idiomysis shrimp.

Photo Credit: Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge

Appearance: Cutest Shrimp in the Sea

The most attention-grabbing thing about idiomysis shrimp is their appearance. They have tiny, rounded bodies and big, bulbous eyes that make them look more like a Pixar character than something swimming around the oceans. While they do have a tail like other shrimp, they hold it under their bodies so they look like little bees. 

Idiomysis shrimp are yellow, orange, tan, red, purple, and black, with white spots, and with a mixture of colors. They are no larger than 6mm as adults, and that length is a maximum for the “Robusta” species – most get no larger than 3.5mm. 

Behavior: Social Shrimp

Like many other species of mysid shrimp, idiomysis shrimp are social creatures, choosing to stick with their friends in at least groups of 5. While most marine scientists have seen them in relatively small groups of 5-40, photographers have captured them in groups of hundreds. 

Their desire to stay in a group is to help them avoid predators. They are rarely seen resting, instead swimming around in a way that resembles a swarm of bees. Their desire for safety is the reason why they are often found around stinging anemones. Among their friends are the upsidedown jelly, Hell’s Fire anemone, Hemprich’s anemone, carpet anemone, bubble coral, and tube anemone. 

When idiomysis shrimp do rest on the ocean floor, they finally use their legs, which makes them look a lot more like a shrimp than the little bee shape they have when they swim.

Habitat: Shallow Waters

Idiomysis shrimp are found in warm, shallow waters typically no deeper than 20 meters (around 65 feet). They live on the coasts of the Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea. They also live in the Pacific Ocean around countries such as Australia, Indonesia, East Africa, Egypt, and Japan. 

Idiomysis shrimp live in sandy areas. Divers have most reliably found them in the Lambeh Strait near Manado, Indonesia.

Photo Credit: Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge

Eating Habits

Like other species of mysida shrimp, they eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths that they come across. This usually includes algae, plankton, and detritus on the sea floor.

Recently Discovered

There are just 7 known species of idiomysis shrimp, the most recent of which was found just last year. Idiomysis bumbumiensis was discovered in 2021, and the first species (Idiomysis inermis) was discovered in 1922. 

Despite their international presence, there’s very little known about these shrimp because they’re difficult to find and so marine scientists have had little opportunity to learn about them. 

We expect that with their cute little faces and bright colors the more people who find out about (and fall in love with!) them the more likely marine scientists will be to dedicate more time to research them. 

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