The Hairy Shrimp: Phycocaris Simulans

In addition to the hairy frogfish, Lembeh boasts the hairy shrimp as part of its assortment of hairy residents. Hairy shrimp (also known as algae shrimp) count as one of the tiniest critters in the Lembeh Strait – growing up to just 5mm. In this article, we take a closer look at this cryptic crustacean…

Physical Characteristics and Camouflage of Hairy Shrimps

The hairy shrimp (Phycocaris simulans) is also called the algae shrimp due to its appearance – it literally resembles a tiny piece of algae. Their hairy appearance comes from the hair-like filaments that cover their bodies. Hairy shrimp can be red, brown, yellow, or even green. Their coloration comes from their ability to camouflage themselves according to their surroundings.

One of the most distinctive physical characteristics of hairy shrimp is their tail, which they carry in an almost upright position.


In the Lembeh Strait, we most commonly find hairy shrimps among drifting algae, on rocks and coral rubble. Hairy shrimp tend to stay in the same area unless unattached by current or surge – in which case they will drift until they find another place to anchor themselves.


Hairy shrimp can swim but they more commonly rely on currents to get around. Rather than exerting themselves by swimming, they will often be seen simply moving their bodies from left to right with the surge.


hairy shrimp


Due to the very small stature of hairy shrimp they are unable to eat large food particles. Their diet mainly consists of the algae on which they reside as well as other dead or living plants and other detritus matter that is suspended in the water column.


Unfortunately for hairy shrimp, because they are so small they make ideal snacks for other marine life. They are not predatory themselves but they are prey for multiple other species including other larger crustaceans, cephalopods, and almost any fish that outsizes them!


Female hairy shrimp produce large amounts of eggs. If you have good eyes (or capture a crisp macro image) you can sometimes see eggs attached to the female’s belly – try looking beneath the tail. Hairy shrimp eggs are a white translucent color and once hatched, the hairy shrimp larvae will drift with the current. Once the larvae have developed into juveniles they will settle onto the ocean floor and seek out algae to take residence in.

Best Dive Sites in Lembeh for Spotting Hairy Shrimp

Like most of our critters here in Lembeh, hairy shrimp tend to move around. Our dive guides are in the water every single day and they know the best dive sites for spotting hairy shrimp at any given time. If you would like to see a hairy shrimp during your stay, let us know on arrival and we will let your dive guides know!

Our Dive Sites

Did you know that here in Lembeh we have more than 40 different dive sites in the Lembeh Strait alone? For those who want to explore further afield, we also offer diving to the north end of the Strait and we can even circumnavigate the entire island!

If you would like to combine your muck diving and macro photography with coral reef diving and wide-angle photography, we can arrange for three dive boat trips to Bangka Island.

Bangka offers phenomenal reefs, schooling fish, larger pelagics, and the opportunity to see even more of North Sulawesi. During our day trips to Bangka, we serve refreshments on the boat between the first two dives and we take lunch between the second and third dive – served on the boat or a sandy beach. We return in the mid-afternoon so there is plenty of time to relax and refresh before dinner in the restaurant.


Hairy shrimp

Underwater Photography and Hairy Shrimps

If you are hoping to capture images of hairy shrimp then macro settings or a macro lens is essential. If you are using a compact camera then a diopter is also beneficial. For the best chances of a crisp focus, be patient, approach in increments, stay low, stay steady, and go slow! 

If you are new to underwater photography or would like advice and guidance during your stay, visit our photo center – our photo center assistants will be more than happy to help you. If you are interested in taking a more in depth course our resident photo pro is also available for private, one-on-one sessions (surcharge applies for courses).


Lembeh Resort

Stay at Lembeh Resort

If you are ready to book your stay with us atLembeh Resortor would like more information aboutour rates and availability contact us 


Further Reading

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