Shell disease?


New member
I wanted to learn more about mantis shrimp getting shell disease. What causes it? How would you cure it? Is it contagious? And what species of mantis get shell disease?
shell disease

shell disease

There's only one guy who can probably answer those questions...

From the little I O. scyllarus came with the sheel disease, and it seems the disease did not go away after his molt. My water conditions are pretty good, but it seems the disease just gets worse and does not appear to affect the mantis in his eating habits or his mobility (at least not yet).

It has not transferred to my other mantis who shares the tank, but this is a smaller one of a different species. From the message Dr. Caldwell sent me once, it seems any crustaceans can get it but some are obviously more prone than others...

Shell disease is a generic name for a variety of diseases that erode crustacean cuticle. To my knowledge, no one has isolated the cause of this in stomatopods. Also, once the shell starts to erode, a host of secondary infections set in - everything from protozoans and fungus to bacteria. The secondary infections can be treated with various dips, but stomatopods are so sensitive to a variety of organic and heavey metal treatments, that I don't recommend it. Cover (a good burrow), UV sterilization, and excellent water quality seem to be the answer. If the cuticle is not perforated, animals can recover, but if there are holes in the carapace or dorsal tergites, animals usually don't successfully molt.

By far the animals most likely to suffer from this syndrome are large male Odontodactylus sycllarus. I have seen it both in the field and in newly arrived animals, so it is not simply a function of captivity. Females can also get it, but it is less common. I think the vector is contagious in O.s., but only if conditions support its growth.

I have also seen similar diseases in Gonodactylus chiragra and Gonodactylaceous ternatensis, but it is less common. Typically, you find it in large animals that molt less frequently.