The colorful pattern of the Harlequin or Clown shrimp makes this beautiful crustacean quite popular. Its white or cream colored body is covered with distinctive red and purple spots. It has ten legs; the first pair are modified large, flattened claws (chelipeds). The eyes are located on stalks. The first pair of antennae on the head resemble a flattened leaf that sense the smell of nearby prey.
It may not be immediately apparent that this delicate-looking creature, with its four-inch leg-span, is a fairly close relative of the Japanese giant spider crab, with its 12-foot leg span, or the Snow crab, whose legs are popular at seafood buffets. Inhabiting coral reefs from Bermuda and North Carolina through the Caribbean to Brazil, this nocturnal animal preys on marine worms and other invertebrates. Quite aside from its unique appearance, it is prized by aquarists for controlling Bristle worms, which can be pests in aquariums.
The Japanese spider crab is the largest living arthropod, reaching 13 feet in arm span. It is an omnivorous scavenger feeding on decaying animal and plant matter. Found in the cold, deep waters off the coast of Japan, the Japanese spider crab is known to breed between the months of January and April each year. Females of this species can carry up to 1.5 million eggs each season. The exact life span of these giant crustaceans is unknown, but it is believed that they can live more than 50 years, with some reports suggesting that they can survive for more than 100 years.