A Lysmata amboinensis shrimp crawling over a colony of the coral genus Zoanthus.

Lysmata amboinensis on Zoanthus coral colony.
Chris Moody – Wikimedia Commons

Lysmata amboinensis, the ornamental Pacific cleaner shrimp, is best known as the French-accented shrimp Jacques, the algae obsessed cleaner shrimp from Finding Nemo. What they don’t mention in the movie is that Jacques, while voiced by a suave french man, was in all likelihood a sexual hermaphrodite who would gladly clean parasites off of their fellow tankmates but wouldn’t be caught dead eating green algae off the tank walls.

Lysmata amboinensis are a truly interesting species, living in pairs in a mutually beneficial relationship with sponges or anemones in tropical waters, and one of the few species on earth that actually pull a Jurassic Park and adapt their sex at the individual level to ensure an ability to breed.  Most species that have this capability can switch from one sex to another but Lysmata amboinensis is one of the few that switch to true hermaphroditism.

To find out more about the species start out with our Classification page to find out how this species fits into Earth’s tree of life.