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10g N. wennerae Mantis Tank


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Hey all! I’m here with a new little tank! I designed the scape and stocking list to be centered around a small Floridian mantis shrimp species called Neogonodactylus wennerae. They’re a small smasher that top out at around 3.5 inches, so they’re significantly smaller than the peacock mantises. From what I’ve read, they’re still supposed to be fairly active once they’re comfortable in their environment. 

So here’s what I have!



Tank: Aqueon standard 10g with glass top and spray-on black background on two sides of the tank. 
Filter: Seachem Tidal 55

Heater: Cobalt NeoTherm 50w

Light: Hipargero Aquaknight v2

ATO: gravity bottle



Rock: ~8lbs of natural coral rock

Sand: 20lbs of CaribSea special grade reef sand

Rubble: 1 lb of assorted rock and shell bits, variety of sizes



I know that mantises have a tendency to rearrange and break up stony corals, so I’ve stuck with a variety of cheap softies that were available to me. Most of these were frags from another tank of mine, freebies from local reefers, or in the $10 section at my LFS. 
-Grube’s gorgonian

-Eunicea gorgonian

-magician palythoas

-green star polyps

-green cabbage leather

-regular cabbage leather

-blue polyped toadstool

-green toadstool

-orange Rhodactis mushroom

-blue Discosoma mushroom

-clove polyps

-Sinularia leather



- 4 cerith snails

- 1 Astrea snail

- 1 yellowtail blue damsel


Current FTS


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Here’s the timeline as it’s been so far.

I got all my equipment and aquascape materials  together around July 12. I made sure that I had a polycarbonate sheet cut to fit the bottom of the tank for some extra peace of mind.

My rocks were shaped really nicely, but they were old, dried out pieces of live rock. Had some dead organisms dried on them. I scrubbed them thoroughly and rinsed off in FW, then transferred them to a bucket of clean saltwater with a heater and power head. Started adding Microbacter7 daily. Scrubbed them every few days and changed to a fresh bucket. 

After the cycle took place in the bucket, I epoxied and glued my pieces together and transferred the structure to the tank. That was on August 4, so took a few weeks for my ammonia and nitrite to get to 0 and see regular readings of nitrate. 

As you can see, the main structure has a ton of cavities and holes. I also filled the underside of the structure with rubble and sand so that the shrimp can excavate his own sized burrow. 

After doing a WC and testing parameters, nitrate around 10ppm, I bought the first and only fish occupant on August 5. A small yellowtail damsel whom shall remain nameless. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to find a mantis, so it seemed like a solid option to keep the bio filter running, as well as something to add some interest to the tank. My friend accidentally order too many pods from Algae Barn, so I added a container of their copepod mix to the tank as well.

I was able to accumulate the coral list quite quickly, since I just had to transfer most of them from my other tank. The last batch of coral just went in on August 27, when I was working at my LFS and snagged some good deals on the magician palys, GSP, and cloves. Corals have seemed to be doing well, showing good extension and attaching firmly to the rock work. Fed a few times with reef roids, and have been doing daily phytoplankton.


I’ve been out of town this week, but I look forward to getting back and seeing how things have progressed. 

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I got back from out of town today. My wife did a good job of feeding and dosing phytoplankton and amino acids. Corals look quite happy, and a few noticeably grew in just 5 days. I haven’t tested water yet, but will do that in the morning. 
I just cleaned the glass, otherwise the tank looks how it was when I came back to it. 


Also, exciting news! I ordered a N. wennerae mantis from Salty Bottom Reef Company, out of Florida. It’s being shipped out on Tuesday, right after Labor Day. The weather here should be optimal for that, around 74F. I hope to get it on Wednesday.

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I did a full bank of water tests yesterday, wanted to make sure things were well prepared for the mantis when it arrives. Things looked quite good!

Ammonia: 0ppm

Nitrite: 0ppm

Nitrate: 10ppm

Phosphate: ~0ppm (API test only tests in 0.25 denominations, so not positive beyond that.)

kH: 8.5

Calcium: 420ppm

pH: 8.2

SG: 1.025


I’ll just do a small water change to replenish trace elements. 

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30 minutes ago, banasophia said:

What are you going to feed your new little guy?

That depends on how big it is when I get it. As of right now, there are a few cerith snails around. I expect he’ll pick those off as he’s able. If he’s small, I think he can just eat chunks out of my frozen LRS Reef Frenzy food. If he’s a bit bigger I’ll get some frozen krill or something. Possibly supplement with the occasional live snail or crab.

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Well, disappointing news. I ordered my wennerae, and got him today. Straight up DOA.

I did everything according to the company website, took photos of him dead in the bag, and then proceeded with acclimation just in case. 
I tested the bag water before I started acclimation though, and the specific gravity was precipitously low for invertebrates, 1.017. 
Ammonia was also at 3.0ppm. From those, I would guess the low salinity killed him pretty quickly after bagging. 

Quite a pity, because he seemed really neat. 

I have reached out to the company, and the ball is now in their court. 

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Well, the company is not being very helpful. They’ll refund me the $20 for the dead mantis, but that’s it. It seems wrong, considering that it died from being bagged in hyposaline water. So at that point, I can have a replacement sent out from them, or I can just cut off ties with that company and search for another vendor and start over. 

The sunk cost fallacy is proving very real here. So far, cost has been about $100 for a dead mantis and 4 hermit crabs. If I have a replacement sent from them, it will be around $170 dollars to get a mantis from them, provided it actually arrives alive. 


KP Aquatics has some interesting and suitable mantis species listed, so I may just start over with them. Salty Bottom Reef Co. has left a very sour taste in my mouth.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Time for a little tank update!

I’m seeing signs that the rock is maturing more. It has a decent dusting of algae, but today I found the first patches of coralline on the rocks! 

The corals are also showing decent signs of growth. Gorgonians are encrusting over their epoxy bases, leathers are getting bigger, GSP sending out roots. 


I grabbed some different hitchhikers from some different tanks, so now I have stomatellas, limpets, and micro brittle stars running around. 


Here is a FTS. 


Due for a WC soon. 

KP Aquatics hasn’t had any mantises in stock, though I did get in touch with the guy and he said he currently has some different ones, he just hasn’t had time to identify which species they were yet. I’d be happy if one turned out to be an N. wennerae or an N. oerstedii. That would also be a suitable species for my setup. Fingers crossed I find one before the cold weather sets in!

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1 hour ago, Firefish15 said:

You have my attention. :lol:
Have you had good experiences with them?

Yeah, for my second reef I went with gulf rock, and bought from them.  They're pretty well-known.

I believe they pre-existed KP.  TBS, KP, and one other (gulfliverock.com I think) are the only companies in the US that are allowed to sell rock from the Atlantic (Caribbean or Gulf). They have leases of open sea bottom where they dump dry aragonite, let it culture, and then harvest it. They're grand-fathered in...


Like KP they started selling things that came up with the rock, including soft corals and inverts (Atlantic hard corals are still illegal to intentionally sell, but they do sell LR that has it as hitchhikers).


People used to warn that you might get a mantis if you bought live rock. Then people started to hope they got one. TBS and KP figured that out...


IDK why you made me work for it. Just go buy one. Geez.

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I had a good email correspondence with Wen from Tampa Bay Saltwater, so I pulled the trigger on a mantis. Arrival date is 9/27!

I also got some more cuc and a pound of live ocean sand to try and inoculate my sand bed with some critters.

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21 hours ago, Firefish15 said:

I had a good email correspondence with Wen from Tampa Bay Saltwater, so I pulled the trigger on a mantis. Arrival date is 9/27!

I also got some more cuc and a pound of live ocean sand to try and inoculate my sand bed with some critters.

Yes! You're gonna love it.


I had a wennerae in a tank where all my 'inconveniences" used to go. It was a 30 cube with some nice coral and a BTA on a large, tall central rock column. There was a maroon clown and a large male Banggai cardinal in there.


You would expect a mantis, a mean clown, and a cardinal to have issues, but they were all buds.


The mantis did his stuff towards the bottom of the tank in the rubble and sand, but never undermined the large rock, so everything worked out. At feeding time I had to feed him first or he'd try to steal from the BTA.


I kept some large turban snails in there which he ignored. He did eat ceriths and dwarf ceriths. But mostly he wanted to be hand-fed chunks of shrimp and lobster. 


Anyway, that was a fun tank. I hope you enjoy yours as much. 🙂


Sorry for the hijack!

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On 9/22/2022 at 11:33 AM, Looselyhuman said:

Sorry for the hijack!

No, no worries! I’ve been trying to find people with actual firsthand experience with wennerae shrimps, so it’s cool to hear stories like that. 
Most of the stories I’ve found are really old forum posts or YouTube videos.

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With Hurricane Ian on the way to Florida, it may be a bit of a toss-up if TBS gets the shipment on its way before things hit the fan.  Time will tell, but they did send an email that they were monitoring the situation and would act accordingly. 

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The mantis is here! I’m glad I was here at home watching for it, because UPS was about to drive off with it again. The box wouldn’t have fit in the Amazon locker, and the apartment office was closed. But, he is here, alive and well!


I acclimated him with the lights off and waited until he had found the main rock structure before I turned them on. He’s not super shy, I’ve seen him around the perimeter of the rockwork, poking his head out of different holes and dashing from rock to rock. He’s hard to get photos of though, so here’s a little video.




The pound of live sand I got is great too! I spread it out between the 14 and this tank. Lots of different grades and rubble, and I’ve seen a decent number of critters out of just a pound of it. Different worms, micro brittle stars, pods. Was a good buy I think!


The damsel has been very wary of the newcomer, and whenever the damsel sees the mantis, he hovers about 3” away, looking straight at it while all flared up. The mantis hasn’t yet made any predatory moves towards fish or snails. Snails might not stay so lucky though. 

The rest of the order, a bunch of blue leg hermits and a few Astrea snails, have been acclimated to the 14 and are settled in as well. All alive and well. Overall, really happy with this order from Tampa Bay Saltwater! 

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The mantis, after all his exploration yesterday, seems to have settled on a suitable hole, almost directly under the left side of the large rock. If I look down there at an angle, I can just see a silhouette of his eyes and antennae. 

He ate a piece of flake food yesterday, I’ll see if I can tempt him out with some frozen tomorrow. 


Oh yeah! Here’s a close up of some of the live sand rubble. I like it a lot.

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