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Ultimate Guide to Crustaceans of North Sulawesi – Part 4

This is the final part of our Crustaceans of North Sulawesi Ultimate Guide. Here we have another 6 species of crustaceans that can be found on our reefs. It is truly incredible that we have so many species which display a variety of physical characteristics and behavioural patterns. We hope you have enjoyed this Ultimate Guide series and if we have missed out any of your favorite crustaceans please let us know in the comments section below. Now it’s time to get your claws into these final 6!

Crustaceans of North Sulawesi

Whip Coral Shrimps (Dasycaris zanzibarica)

Whip coral shrimps live in corals of the order Antipatharia, namely black corals and whip corals. This species of shrimp is often found in pairs with female being twice as big as the male, but still only growing to up to 1.5cm. The whip coral shrimp has color variations from white through to red and green depending on the color of the whip coral host (to which it will match almost identically). This shrimp is a relatively common find and we see it all year round at depths from 3 – 40 meters.

Whip Coral Shrimp (Dasycaris zanzibarica)

The Whip Coral Shrimp (Dasycaris zanzibarica) can be found on Whip and Black Corals

Dive Sites: Whip coral shrimps can be found at all three House Reefs (Manado, Bangka and Lembeh) as well as other sites which feature whip and black corals.

Bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum amricanum)

The Bumblebee shrimp is a very rare species of shrimp and one that our Dive Guides love to find. This is a solitary species of shrimp which is rarely found in pairs. We mainly find the bumblebee shrimp on echinoderms such as sea cucumbers, sea stars and sea urchins. This species has a short rostrum and its body is banded in a series of white and black or tan lines. It has orange markings on the tail and orange markings with blue highlights on its chelipeds (the first leg / claw arm). This shrimp grows up to 2.5cm. Due to the rarity of the bumblebee shrimp it is a sought after species by underwater photographers.


The Bumblebee shrimp is a very rare species of shrimp and one that our Dive Guides love to find.

Dive Sites: Hairball sites in Lembeh, Sabora in Bangka and Bulo in Manado?

Skeleton shrimp (Caprellid sp.)

Skeleton shrimp are very small crustaceans that are frequently mistaken for algae. They are often found in large numbers on gorgonian sea fans, soft corals, hydroids and algae. Skeleton shrimp can be very difficult to spot as they have such fine bodies which are mostly transparent although can be colored orange, purple or spotted; this species of shrimp grows to 1.5cm. Female skeleton shrimp carry their young on their shoulders to protect them from male skeleton shrimp which are known to feed on juveniles! We have sightings of skeleton shrimp on a regular basis all year round, mainly at depths of up to 20 meters.

Skeleton shrimp (Caprellid sp.)

Skeleton shrimp are very small crustaceans that are frequently mistaken for algae.

Dive sites: The best dive sites for spotting skeleton shrimp are Batu Merah and Air Prang in Lembeh, the House Reef in Manado and Sampiri in Bangka

Goby Shrimps (Alpheid Sp.)

We have numerous different species of Alpheus shrimps in North Sulawesi – they are commonly referred to as “goby shrimps” due to their mutual relationship with goby fish. This is among one of the most interesting species to observe. The goby shrimp digs and maintains a burrow in the sand which it shares with its partner fish. These shrimps are real workers and if you approach slowly and carefully you will see them hauling sand out of the burrow while the goby sits “on guard”. These shrimps have very poor eyesight and they rely on the goby to warn them of danger and predators which the goby does by making characteristic tail movements. The pair then retreats into the burrow. Goby shrimps can grow up to 2 inches and have various colorations according to the individual species and their environment.

goby shrimp alpheid sp. in Manado Bay

A Blind Goby with a Goby Shrimp cleaning its hole in Manado Bay

Dive sites: Goby shrimps are seen across most of our dive sites that have sandy / silty patches including all three of our House Reefs.

Popcorn shrimp (Periclimenes kororensis)

This species lives in pairs on mushroom corals (Heliofungia actiniformis) and on several species of anemones where they can hide among the feeding tentacles which also offer them protection. The upper part of this species’ body is brown, the abdomen, legs and claws are transparent and it takes its name from having a white spiky head which resembles popcorn. This shrimp grows up to 4cm and although it is a common find it can be difficult to spot if it is down among the roots of the tentacles. We have sightings all year round at depths of up to 25 meters. If you find one remember to look for its partner!

Popcorn Shrimp

A Popcorn Shrimp (Periclimenes kororensis)

Dive sites: All sites which host mushroom corals and anemones are hotspots for popcorn shrimp including all three House Reefs.

Box crab (Calappa sp.)

Box crabs reside at dive sites which have sandy and silty bottoms where they can easily dig and burrow. The box crab has several color variations and its shiny carapace (shell) can range from creamy white through to orange, reds and browns, and in some individuals features dark spots. Box crabs grow up to 15cm and have very strong claws which they use to open the shells of molluscs on which they feed. Sightings are occasional but not common and most sightings tend to be on night dives. We have several different species of box crab here in North Sulawesi.

Box Crab - Calappa sp.

A Box Crab hiding in plain sight on a Bangka dive site.

Dive Sites: The best sites for box crab are (night dives) at Bulo or City Extra in Manado, all of the Hairball sites in Lembeh and Peter Sponge in Bangka.

Even though this is the final part to this series there are literally hundreds of crustacean species here in North Sulawesi. Our reefs are full of life and crustaceans play a vital role in our marine eco-system.

If you would like to know more about what else you can see when diving with us contact us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you and hopefully dive with you.

To make the most of your trip why not check out our Passport to Paradise and dive in all 3 of our dive areas – you’ll experience a plethora of marine life across some of the best and most famous dive sites in Indonesia!

Did you miss parts I, II or III of this Ultimate Guide? You can view them on the links below:
Crustaceans of North Sulawesi – Part 1
Crustaceans of North Sulawesi – Part 2
Crustaceans of North Sulawesi – Part 3


Dive, Snorkel and Explore More with us in beautiful North Sulawesi.

+62 811 4390 0091
[email protected]
Murex Dive Resorts, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
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