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Are Peppermint Shrimp Reef Safe?

Historically, the peppermint shrimp has not been a very popular option for many fish keepers and then around ten years ago, a number of people started to keep them in their tanks and their popularity has continued to climb from there with the peppermint shrimp being one of the most common non-fish options for tanks right now. Due to its huge popularity, we do often see a number of people reaching out and asking various questions about keeping a peppermint shrimp in their tanks with these questions being spread over a range of topics.

One of the most commonly asked questions that we see people asking each month is based on if the peppermint shrimp is reef safe or not and this topic can sometimes be heavily debated on social media. Due to the debate on social media about if a peppermint shrimp is reef safe or not as well as seeing so many people reaching out to ask about it every month, we have decided to publish our own article going over the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to clear some of the issues up for our readers relating to keeping your peppermint shrimp in your reef tank as well as why there is often such a heated discussion about having peppermint shrimp in reef tanks. In addition to that, the prices of peppermint shrimp are the lowest they have ever been too due to the number of people actively breeding them increasing so you can pick them up for cheap right now and we only expect their popularity to increase over the coming years.

Are Peppermint Shrimp Reef Safe?

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The vast majority of peppermint shrimp are considered to be reef safe but due to peppermint shrimp being omnivores, there is always a small chance that one of your shrimp may develop a taste for your coral. That said, people often mistake their shrimp standing on their coral or eating the decaying parts of the coral as the shrimp eating the healthy coral.

This is the reason that many people often argue on social media so much about keeping peppermint shrimp in a reef tank as many people do mistake the peppermint shrimp either walking over their coral or eating the decaying detritus of the coral as the shrimp eating the healthy coral growth. When your peppermint shrimp eats the detritus decaying parts of the coral, this can actually help the coral live longer as it removes the potentially infected parts of the coral to prevent it spreading.

Still, in some cases a very small number of peppermint shrimp do take to eating coral but this is rare and is seemingly random. There have been reports of people with many peppermint shrimp in their reef tank where all but one of their shrimp is fine and leaves their coral alone so in these situations, you usually can just remove the offending shrimp without issue to save your coral.

Will Peppermint Shrimp Eat Corals?

The majority of peppermint shrimp will not eat your corals and they will simply ignore them and eat other food sources. A small number of peppermint shrimp may take a liking to your corals though but it is so rare that it is often not worth worrying about and if you do run into this problem it is usually only a single shrimp rather than all of the peppermint shrimp you keep.

As we touched on above, it can be common for peppermint shrimp to eat any decaying parts of the corals in your tank and it is very common for people to accidentally see this as the shrimp eating the healthy coral growth. Try to have a closer inspection of your corals if you do notice this behaviour in your shrimp as it may actually be helping your coral by eating the decaying parts of it rather than eating the healthy sections.

It is common for shrimp to walk over various corals and this can then end up causing a number of problems with more sensitive coral species as they will often detract as they feel they are under attack when the peppermint shrimp simply walks over them. This can be hard to deal with in some tanks though and all species of shrimp and even snails crawling over the more sensitive species of coral can cause this problem.

Do Peppermint Shrimp Eat Anemone?

It is common for peppermint shrimp to eat anemone so you do have to factor this is when looking to add one to your reef tank as many people also keep anemone in their reef tanks along with their corals. The prices of some anemone are surprisingly high too so the last thing that you want to do is add a bunch of peppermint shrimp to your reef tank only to have them eat your expensive anemone.

It is very popular for people to have a clownfish hosting an anemone in there reef tanks these days and it is unlikely that your clownfish will take kindly to a bunch of shrimp coming along and starting to eat its beloved anemone. Most clownfish will rapidly eat the shrimp and prevent them from being able to eat the anemone but then you have to consider the costs of your peppermint shrimp as they essentially just ended up being expensive clownfish food.

Although some peppermint shrimp may not eat the anemone in your tank, especially if they have strong stings, it is the exception rather than the rule and most people who put peppermint shrimp into a tank with anemones will end up having problems. Due to the shell of peppermint shrimp, the stings of some anemones do little to nothing to removing their only real defence against anything from trying to eat them.

Will Peppermint Shrimp Eat Aiptasia?

Aiptasia is usually considered to be a pest or unwanted guest in most reef tanks and thankfully, peppermint shrimp will usually eat large amounts of it without issue. Depending on the overall tank setup, peppermint shrimp can end up being one of the best ways to control the spread of aiptasia in your reef tank too with many people using them as a counter to aiptasia breakouts.

You have to factor in that a peppermint shrimp is a forager though and it may go from eating the aiptasia breakout in your tank to eating some of the anemone you actually want in there to potentially eating some of your coral. You always have to factor in the advantages and disadvantages but only you know your reef tank setup and exactly what you have growing in there.

One thing that we would say is that out of all the commonly used aiptasia eaters out there, peppermint shrimp do tend to be one of the better options due to the sheer amount of aiptasia that they are able to eat relative to their size. As we mentioned earlier in the article, it is rare that they will eat corals and most reef tank keepers will only keep corals and no anemones so peppermint shrimp could be a good workaround for aiptasia.

Conclusion

That brings our article going over if peppermint shrimp are reef safe or not to an end. For the most part, peppermint shrimp can be kept in a reef tank without major issues unless you are intentionally keeping some anemone in there as it can be common for peppermint shrimp to eat a wide range of anemones but it is rare that they will eat your corals.