Mantis shrimp have been steadily increasing in popularity within the fish keeping hobby for a few years now and some people who keep pet mantis shrimp have been sharing videos and photographs of their pets online.
One thing that is very popular right now is to share videos of mantis shrimp cracking or breaking the glass of their aquarium.
More and more of these videos are going viral resulting in an increase in the number of people reaching out and asking if mantis shrimp can break glass or not.
Although some types of mantis shrimp can break glass, there are over 450 different types of mantis shrimp and most of them are too small to break glass.
The most common type of mantis shrimp that we see in these videos is the smasher mantis shrimp that has the highest strike force of all types of mantis shrimp allowing it to even break bulletproof glass.
As we see so much confusion around mantis shrimp being able to break glass, we have decided to publish this dedicated article on the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible better understand the capabilities of mantis shrimp when it comes to breaking glass.
Can Mantis Shrimp Break Glass?
Some types of mantis shrimp can break aquarium glass but this is not the norm for the species and it is thought that less than 20% of all types of mantis shrimp are able to break normal quarter inch aquarium glass.
Many of the posts that you see on social media make it seem like all mantis shrimp can easily break their aquarium glass and this is not the case at all.
There are some huge differences between the various types of mantis shrimp and the smaller ones are usually only one or two inches long where as the larger ones are between seven and eight inches long.
The power output for a strike for the different types of mantis shrimp changes rapidly too with the stronger shrimp being able to strike with a force of 15,000 newtons but the weaker shrimp can only strike at a small fraction of that.
The smaller and weaker types of mantis shrimp are not even close to being able to output a force that is near what is required to scratch glass never mind crack it or break it.
How Can Mantis Shrimp Break Glass?
When people talk about mantis shrimp being able to crack aquarium glass, they are usually talking about standard quarter inch aquarium glass and the larger types of mantis shrimp.
These shrimp have evolved to have two major advantages that allow them to smash glass with ease with the evolutionary purpose of their explosive strike force being to crack the shells of clams and crabs to get food.
The first advantage that the larger types of mantis shrimp have is their strike force that allows them to build up the power required to strike at around 15,000 newtons.
This is due to the design of the striking arm of a mantis shrimp that has perfectly evolved to not only build up such a large amount of power but also deploy it at a targeted area with precision and minimal loss of power.
You can think of the arm of something like the smasher mantis shrimp as being able to unleash a similar level of force as a 22 caliber bullet but this is an overly simplistic way to look at it.
At the end of the day though, relative to their small size, some of the larger types of mantis shrimp are able to build up and release insane amounts of power with minimal effort that is rarely seen in other animals.
Ultra Strong Carapace
The next advantage that some of the larger types of mantis shrimp have is that their striking arm and other appendages are made from a unique shell structure that is not seen in any other animal on earth.
This is essential for the mantis shrimp to be able to successfully strike with 15,000 newtons as there is no point in being able to build up that power if their striking arm will break when releasing the power at a target.
Many types of mantis shrimp have evolved to have a unique structure of interlocking chitin causing their appendages to be able to withstand huge amounts of force without taking damage.
This ensures that no matter what force level the mantis shrimp strikes at, its striking arm will be fine and remain intact while delivering huge amounts of damage to the target.
The calcium phosphate in their shell also makes them resistant to scratches too with the evolutionary purpose of not scratching if they strike over a rock and graze the rocks surface but this can allow some types of mantis shrimp to break glass without the glass harming them.
How Thick of Glass Can Mantis Shrimp Break?
Most standard glass aquariums are made from quarter inch glass and it is thought that around twenty percent of all types of mantis shrimp can break this glass.
This means that out of the 450 different types of mantis shrimp in our oceans, around 90 of them can break the standard quarter inch aquarium glass in a single strike if they choose to strike at it.
In addition to this, there are also a number of other types of mantis shrimp that may be able to break quarter inch aquarium glass if they strike at it multiple times in a similar area.
Half Inch Thick Aquarium Glass
Although reinforced aquariums are far more expensive and can be difficult to find, they are becoming increasingly popular within the fish keeping hobby.
The majority of these come with a half inch glass as standard and it is estimated that around three percent of all types of mantis shrimp can muster up the power to break half inch thick aquarium glass in a single strike.
This means that out of the 450 types of mantis shrimp, around 14 of them can break half inch thick aquarium glass if they strike at it.
Just like the standard quarter inch thick glass, there are a number of other types of mantis shrimp that can crack or break half inch thick aquarium glass if they strike at it multiple times in a row, especially in a similar location.
Can Mantis Shrimp Break Bullet Proof Glass?
The smasher mantis shrimp is the only type of mantis shrimp that is able to release enough power in a single strike to be able to crack or small bulletproof glass.
Although you see this fact shared on social media on a regular basis, you have to look deeper into it to better understand what this actually means.
Bulletproof glass is not created equal and there are actually eight different levels of bulletproof glass.
Level 1 Bulletproof Glass
Level 1 bulletproof glass is the weakest and then the strength of the glass steadily increases all the way up to level 8 bulletproof glass.
Although you will commonly see people state that mantis shrimp can break bulletproof glass in fish keeping social media groups, they fail to say that it is only really level 1 bulletproof glass that they can break.
When put into actual bullet terms, this means that the smasher mantis shrimp is able to release a similar force to three 9mm FMJs traveling at a velocity of 1,175 feet per second into the glass.
Level 2 Bulletproof Glass
To our knowledge, there has not been any testing done to let a smasher mantis shrimp try to break level 2 bulletproof glass, in theory, the numbers of the shrimp’s force output can allow it to break level 2 bulletproof glass if it strikes multiple times.
This would require multiple strikes rather than a single strike like the level 1 bulletproof glass but level 2 bulletproof glass is rated to take three shots of .357 magnum soft points at a velocity of 1,250f/s giving you an idea of the power of the shrimp.
Level 3 Bulletproof Glass And Higher
It is very unlikely that a smasher mantis shrimp will be able to break or crack any bulletproof glass that is of level 3 or higher.
Technically, with a smasher mantis shrimp constantly striking at one single spot on the glass over an extended period of time, it is possible but the likelihood of this happening is so small its not worth crunching the numbers for.
We have our cheatsheet below going over the types of glass that mantis shrimp are able to break to help you re-cap and remember if needed.
How Many Hits Does a Mantis Shrimp Need to Break Glass?
The number of hits required for a mantis shrimp to break glass will depend on a number of different factors but it can range anywhere from one single strike to multiple strikes to crack or break glass.
The things that have to be factored in include but are not limited to:-
- The type of mantis shrimp
- The age of the mantis shrimp
- The type of glass
- The glass thickness
- If the glass is straight or curved
- If the glass is damaged in anyway
All of these play a role on how many strikes a mantis shrimp will require to successfully be able to break through glass and have to be factored in.
Can I Keep a Mantis Shrimp in A Glass Tank?
The smaller types of mantis shrimp may be able to be kept in a small aquarium tank without being able to break the glass but the large types of mantis shrimp will usually have a higher chance of breaking the glass.
Large Mantis Shrimp
As we covered earlier in the article, a surprisingly large number of mantis shrimp can break the standard quarter inch aquarium glass that most tanks are made of.
If the shrimp can see a reflection in the glass that it doesn’t like or see something outside that it wants to strike at, the shrimp may strike multiple times at the glass too increasing the number of mantis shrimp types that can actually break aquarium glass.
Due to this, we would never recommend that you keep a larger species of mantis shrimp in a glass aquarium if possible as most of them will stand a good chance of being able to break the glass on the tank given time.
Small Mantis Shrimp
You then have the smaller types of mantis shrimp that are sometimes kept in the fish keeping hobby.
These are not able to break glass even with an unlimited number of strikes on the exact same spot so these can usually be kept within a glass aquarium with minimal issues.
Juvenile Mantis Shrimp
Now, just because the juveniles of the larger mantis shrimp are small, does not mean that they are weak and a small number of the juveniles for some of the larger species of mantis shrimp can be surprisingly strong at a young age.
This means that there is a good chance even though these mantis shrimp may be small, they still may be able to strike at aquarium glass and break it in some situations so keep this in mind.
Can Mantis Shrimp Break Acrylic Tank?
It is far less likely that a mantis shrimp will be able to break an acrylic tank when compared to a glass tank due to acrylic being able to absorb shock much better.
This is why most people who do keep pet mantis shrimp keep them in an acrylic tank or a specialist tank as they are relatively safe with acrylic and even multiple strikes in quick succession from a smasher mantis shrimp can be absorbed.
Now, the build quality and materials uses will come into play as just like glass, not all acrylic is created equally so there is a high chance of a smasher mantis shrimp being able to break a cheap acrylic tank than an expensive acrylic tank.
That brings our article going over if mantis shrimp can break glass or not to an end.
As we explained, there are multiple variables at play and although some mantis shrimp can break glass, some of them extremely easily, not all mantis shrimp are able to do this though and this is commonly overlooked.
In addition to that, as we covered, there are a number of different types of glass available too and although some may require custom tank builds, higher grades of glass are able to take far more force and prevent even a smasher mantis shrimp from breaking the glass.