Pistol Shrimp Vs Mantis Shrimp


The shrimp family has over 2,000 different species, and two of the most fascinating types are the pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp. These crustaceans may have the same name, but they come from different genera and have some distinct differences in their anatomy, behavior, and hunting techniques. In this article, we will delve deeper into the unique traits of pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp and explore the comparison between the two.

Pistol Shrimp:

Pistol shrimp, also known as snapping shrimp, are small marine animals that have an impressive ability to create a loud explosive sound under the water. They can be found in warm coastal waters worldwide and often live in symbiotic relationships with other marine creatures. Pistol shrimp are usually between 1 to 2 inches in size and have a distinguishing feature, which is their large claw or chela, which is larger than their other claw. The chela snaps shut at a tremendous speed, creating sonic booms that stun or kill prey, scare off predators, or signal to other pistol shrimp.

Mantis Shrimp:

Mantis shrimp, also known as stomatopods, are another unique species of marine crustaceans. They are found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters and have the most complex eyes of any known animal. Mantis shrimps have a powerful punch that can break through aquarium glass and even human skin. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and have two types of appendages, one for smashing and one for spearing their prey.


Now that we have briefly looked at pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp, let’s dive into a comparison of these two remarkable creatures.

Size and Physical Appearance:

Pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp look different from one another but have some fascinating similarities. Pistol shrimp have a smooth, slender body that ranges from 1 to 2 inches in size, while mantis shrimp have a more robust body that ranges from 3 to 12 inches in length. Pistol shrimp have two asymmetrical claws, with one being much larger than the other, while mantis shrimp have two noticeably different types of claws, one for smashing and one for spearing prey.

Hunting Techniques:

Pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp both have unique and fascinating hunting techniques. Pistol shrimp use their snapper claw to produce an incredibly loud sound that can stun or kill their prey. The sound created by the snapper claw is immense and has been recorded to produce up to 218 decibels (louder than a jet engine). The sonic boom is not only used to hunt prey but also as a defense mechanism against predators.

Mantis shrimp, on the other hand, use their powerful punch to slow down and kill their prey. They have incredibly strong muscles in their body that allow them to accelerate the speed of their punches up to 50 miles per hour, which can deliver a force of over 160 pounds. Mantis shrimp also have an incredibly sharp spear that allows them to impale and kill their prey.


Both pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp have unique and evolved senses that help them in hunting their prey. Pistol shrimp have a great sense of hearing that allows them to locate and stun their prey using their snapper claw. Additionally, pistol shrimp have a keen sense of smell and can detect the surrounding water’s chemical changes to locate prey.

Mantis shrimp have the most complex eyesight of any known animal, with 16 different color-receptive cones, compared to humans’ three. Mantis shrimp use their advanced eyesight to track and locate prey and predators alike. They can also detect light polarization, which is a useful tool for navigating and avoiding danger in the ocean.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Are pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp related to each other?

A. No, pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp come from different genera and are not closely related to each other.

Q. Can pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp live together in the same aquarium?

A. It’s not recommended to keep pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp together in the same aquarium since mantis shrimp are aggressive predators and will likely attack and kill the pistol shrimp.

Q. Are pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp dangerous to humans?

A. While pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp are not dangerous to humans by nature, they can cause injuries. Mantis shrimps have an incredibly powerful punch that can break through glass and even cause injuries to humans, while pistol shrimp have a loud snapping claw that can cause damage to human hearing.


In conclusion, pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp are two fascinating species that have unique and evolved hunting techniques, senses, and physical attributes. While they share some similarities, they also have some distinct differences that make them stand out. Whether you are a marine enthusiast or someone interested in the world’s natural wonders, pistol shrimp and mantis shrimp are indeed a sight to behold.