Scientists with the Aquatic & Terrestrial Research Team are showing here their studies with Alpheus spp. shrimp. These shrimp have boomed in popularity over the last few years, due in part to the rise of nano tanks (for which they are well-adapted). Along with the shrimp, the hobby has seen a great surge in interest with their commensal fish friends (namely a few genera of gobies- Amblyeleotris,Cryptocentrus, Ctenogobiops, Istigobius, Stonogobiops, etc).
Not much is known about these shrimp and the homes they make. By now everyone is familiar with their partnering with a fish and the communication they make with each other (shrimp antennae against the fish's body and fins) as the fish alerts the shrimp of danger protecting the shrimp, while the shrimp makes a home to protect the fish. But how big is that home? How far in the sand does it go? How intricate are those tunnels?
This type of field study is incredibly difficult, and this is where aquarium studies can be of great use. To get an idea of the size and shape of these tunnels in the wild is very difficult. Cast molds can be attempted where a researcher pours a liquid paste sealer into the hole, allows it to dry and then pulls out a mold of the tunnel. This works very well on land for gopher holes, ant hills, and other animals, but not so well under water.
Aquatic & Terrestrial Research Team has found an ingenious way of studying these shrimp. They use aquariums set up like ant farms where the tunnels can be seen from outside the aquarium. First by using a string taped along the glass they can track the intricate tunnels. After that they can lay out the string to measure the total length of the tunnels. Documented here these tunnels can be over 20 inches long!