Damage to Aquariums

Snail Guy

New member
Hi all,

Okay, a friend and I were discussing Mantis Shrimp after a dive...we see them quite a bit. And I mentioned perhaps setting up a small tank to keep one. In our conversation, the question arose as to whether or not, considering their powerful claws, they ever done damage to their tank? Perhaps even crack the glass? :eek1:

Now I realize this would be highly unusual but inquiring minds wish to know.

In all my years of keeping stomatopods, I have only had two tanks smashed and a few other cracked. The most impressive was one of the old "Instant Ocean" refrigerated wooden tanks fitted with a front viewing plate made from insulating double pane glass. A very large O. scyllarus (18 cm) took it out with one well-placed blow. The other was a photographic tank that a large G. chiragra cracked. The most common damage is to corners and bottom edges when animals try to dig into the substrate, run into the glass, and try to chip away the barrier. This can cause leaks. It is far more common to lose glass heaters than it is tanks.

In the case of Guamanian stomatopods, it depends on the size and species that you have and the type of aquarium. The typical 2-3 inch gonodactylids comon in Guam such as G. smithii and G. platysoma can break small aquaria made of window glass, but not the glass in a commercial 10 gal + tank. In Guam, you occasionally see Odontodactylus scyllarus. A large, 6 inch animal is certainly capable of breaking the glass in a standard 10-20 gal glass aquarium. I don't believe they could crack the thicker glass in an 80 gal + tank. They might, however, chip the glass in a corner and cause a leak. Plexiglass thicker than a 1/4" is safe for all stomatopods although we just had a large male O.s. break through a 3/16" plexiglass partition to get to a female. He beat on it for several days, always in the same spot, until he finally broke a 2" hole and got through. (The female now has eggs.)

We are just finishing up force measurements on the strike of O.s. as well as high-speed video (20,000 f/s) and by winter we should have the definitive answer on just how fast and powerful the strike is. There will be a BBC program featuring this work.

Dear Roy,

Thanks for the prompt and very informative reply!
I will keep these precautions in mind.

When the BBC program comes out, please be sure to make an announcement. I'm sure many of us will want to record it.