The camel shrimp, also known as the camelback shrimp or dancing shrimp, is a small saltwater shrimp known for its friendly demeanor towards other creatures and its unique coloring. The shrimp is a detritus-eating bottom feeder that is most active at night. It carries the taxonomic classification of Rhynchocinetes Uritai, which places it outside the family of cleaning shrimp and other, more predatory varieties. While the shrimp is a carnivore, it sustains itself off of tiny parasites and plankton that it finds nestled among tropical seafloors, a food source for which it is specially adapted.
Rhynchocinetes Uritai has a unique form to its abdominal carapace that earns it an unusual nickname. While the shrimp is very small in size, it has a sizable hump not unlike that of a camel that is situated right after the binding joint to the rest of its body where its pereiopods are. Its transparent body is banded with a unique asymmetrical red coloration that helps it blend into bright corals in the tropical waters where it lives. It has a large, upturned beak that helps it sift through the sea floor sands to find food.
The camelback shrimp is a bottom-feeder that sifts through the sands of the sea floor to find tiny parasites, plankton and other organic detritus. This makes it a very apt specimen to include in an ecosystem because it aerates the soil of the sea floor when it digs through the sands to find food. For this reason, many aquarium owners include these shrimp in their collections in order to benefit from the added aeration that helps the rest of the aquarium stay healthy.
This shrimp is a preferred food source for salmon, herring, flatfishes and sculpin. Flatfishes represent the most common danger for this shrimp in the natural ecosystem because of its habit of combing the seafloor looking for food. When the flatfish senses the shrimp nearby, it lies in wait, half-burrowed in the sand and then snaps out in time to grab the shrimp and eat it. The distinctive coloring of the camel shrimp helps it when it is resting on a brightly colored coral, but makes it an easy target when contrasted with the dull sands on which it feeds.