Hemimysis anomala G.O. Sars, 1907

Common Name: Bloody red shrimp

Synonyms and Other Names:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationCopyright Info

S. Pothoven, NOAA.Copyright Info

NOAA GLERLCopyright Info

Identification: This freshwater shrimp can be ivory-yellow in color or translucent, but exhibits pigmented red chromatophores in the carapax and telson (Janas and Wysocki 2005; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993). The intensity of coloration varies with contraction or expansion of the chromatophores in response to light and temperature conditions; in shaded areas, individuals tend to have a deeper red color (Ketelaars et al. 1999; Pothoven et al. 2007; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993). Juveniles are more translucent than adults (Ketelaars et al. 1999). Preserved individuals may lose their color. Hemimysis anomala is distinguishable from other mysid species including the Great Lakes' native opossum shrimp, Mysis relicta (identified in some recent scientific literature as Mysis diluviana), by its truncated telson (tail) with a long spine at both corners; in contrast, M. diluviana has a forked telson (Holdich et al. 2006; Ketelaars et al. 1999; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993).

Size: Mature individuals range from 6 to 13 mm in length (Borcherding et al. 2006; Janas and Wysocki 2005; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993). Females are slightly larger than males.

Native Range: Hemimysis anomala is native to freshwater margins of the Black Sea, the Azov Sea and the eastern Ponto-Caspian Sea. It has historically occurred in the lower reaches of the Don, Danube, Dnieper and Dniester rivers.

Great Lakes Nonindigenous Occurrences: Hemimysis anomala was reported for the first time in 2006 from two disjunct regions in the Great Lakes: southeastern Lake Ontario at Nine Mile Point near Oswego, New York, in May 2006 (J. Wyda 2007, personal communication); and from a channel connecting Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan in November 2006 (Pothoven et al. 2007). Specimens resembling H. anomala have also been found in the stomach contents of a white perch collected near Port Dover, Lake Erie in August 2006 (T. MacDougall, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, pers, comm.). The species is probably present at other locations in the Great Lakes basin, but has escaped detection.

Table 1. Great Lakes region nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state/province, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Hemimysis anomala are found here.

Full list of USGS occurrences

State/ProvinceYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Illinois200620163Lake Michigan; Little Calumet-Galien; Pike-Root
Indiana201620161Lake Michigan
Michigan200620166Boardman-Charlevoix; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Muskegon; Pere Marquette-White
New York200620164Lake Erie; Lake Ontario; Oneida; Seneca
Ohio200920111Lake Erie
Wisconsin200720186Beartrap-Nemadji; Door-Kewaunee; Lake Michigan; Lake Superior; Lower Fox; Milwaukee

Table last updated 10/10/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for areas where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Most mysid species are found in marine environments, but 3% (25 species) inhabit fresh to brackish water. Hemimysis anomala is a brackish-water mysid able to adapt to freshwater environments (Pienimäki and Leppäkoski 2004; Jazdzewski et al. 2005). It tolerates salinity concentrations of 0–19 ppt (Bij de Vaate et al. 2002; Borcherding et al. 2006) and prefers water temperatures of 9–20°C. Populations may survive temperatures of 0°C over winter, but not without substantial mortality (Borcherding et al. 2006).

This species is normally found in lentic waters, although it has successfully established in European rivers (Bij de Vaate et al. 2002; Holdich et al. 2006). Individuals remain near profundal sediments during the day, migrate in swarms to the upper water column at twilight, then return to the profundal zone at dawn (Borcherding et al. 2006; Janas and Wysocki 2005). Only males tend to undergo these migrations. Juvenile H. anomala often inhabit different positions (usually higher) in the water column than adults, possibly to avoid cannibalism (Ketelaars et al. 1999). Being more transparent, juveniles may be less at risk of fish predation than adults. The adults are fast swimmers, moving at several centimeters per second when alarmed (Borcherding et al. 2006). The bloody-red mysid has been collected at depths ranging from 0.5 m to 50 m, although it generally inhabits 6 m to 10 m depths (Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993). It favors rocky substrate (Janas and Wysocki 2005), is less abundant on soft sediments, and is usually scarce in areas of dense vegetation or high siltation (Pothoven et al. 2007). It generally avoids areas where other mysid species are found (Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993).

Its tendency to aggregate creates locally dense swarms up to several square meters in area (Dumont 2006). Hemimysis anomala breeds from April to September/October. Sexual maturity occurs in <45 days. Females become ovigerous at 8–9°C and produce 2 to 4 broods per year. Brood size is correlated with female length and ranges from 6 to 70 embryos per individual (Ketelaars et al. 1999; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993; Borcherding et al. 2006). Extremely high densities of H. anomala (up to >6 ind/L) have been recorded in some invaded European reservoirs (Ketelaars et al. 1999).

Hemimysis anomala is an opportunistic omnivore that feeds primarily on zooplankton, particularly cladocerans, but also consumes detritus (plant and animal remains), phytoplankton (particularly green algae and diatoms), and insect larvae, and is occasionally cannibalistic (Ketelaars et al. 1999; Borcherding et al. 2006; Dumont 2006). Younger individuals (‹ 4mm total length) feed mainly on phytoplankton. The proportion of zooplankton consumed in the mysid's diet increases with its body size (Borcherding et al. 2006). A bloody-red mysid feeds using its thoracic limbs, either by capturing prey with its endopods or by removing food particles from its body that are filtered from incoming currents by its exopods (Borcherding et al. 2006; Ketelaars et al. 1999).

Means of Introduction: Hemimysis anomala was very likely introduced to the Great Lakes via ballast water release from transoceanic ships.

Status: The presence of juveniles and reproductive females within a dense population suggests that H. anomala is well established near Muskegon Lake in southern Lake Michigan (Pothoven et al. 2007) and at Nine Mile Point in Lake Ontario (J. Wyda, pers. comm.). A population density of 0.5 ± 0.1 individuals/L recorded at the Lake Michigan site (Pothoven et al. 2007) is already within the range found in some European reservoirs invaded by H. anomala, and is higher than maximum densities recorded for several other mysids (Ketelaars et al. 1999).

Great Lakes Impacts: Current research on the environmental impact of Hemimysis anomala in the Great Lakes is inadequate to support proper assessment.

Ponto-Caspian mysids differ from the North American mysid, Mysis relicta, in their adaptation to warmer temperatures (Bondarenko and Yablonskaya 1979). Therefore, H. anomala could become abundant in many areas of the Great Lakes, including littoral zones that are currently devoid of mysids. However, increased water clarity in shallow waters may instead inhibit such migration (Ricciardi et al. in press).

Based on its impacts in some European reservoirs (Ketelaars et al. 1999), H. anomala may reduce zooplankton biomass and diversity in invaded areas, with cladocerans, rotifers, and ostracods being most affected. Hemimysis anomala may compete with, or prey upon, other invertebrate predators, such as Bythotrephes longimanus and Leptodora kindti. Its omnivory may also reduce local phytoplankton if small-sized juvenile mysids are abundant (Ketelaars et al. 1999); however, phytoplankton biomass typically increases (sometimes doubling) in lakes following mysid invasions (Borcherding et al. 2006). It is not known whether plankton consumption by H. anomala affects other planktivorous organisms. Dumont and Muller (2010) remarked that there was no decrease in zooplanktonic hydra (Pelmatohydra oligactis) or juvenile roach (Rutilus rutilus) in areas with large H. anomala densities, although this evidence was largely anecdotal. In general, lake productivity seems to influence the degree of mysid impact, with less productive, nutrient-poor lakes being more affected by the competition and predation following mysid invasions (Ricciardi et al. in press).

Hemimysis anomala feeds rapidly, even at low prey densities, and its fecal pellets may alter the local physico-chemical environment (Ketelaars et al. 1999, Olenin and Leppäkoski 1999, Pienimäki and Leppäkoski 2004). A mysid introduction can also increase the biomagnification of contaminants in piscivores through a lengthening of the food chain; for example, concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury in fishes have been shown to be higher in lakes containing mysids than in mysid-free lakes (Cabana et al. 1994, cf. Rasmussen et al. 1990). Furthermore, through direct transmission and indirect effects on the food web, introduced mysids may cause increased parasitism by nematodes, cestodes, and acanthocephalans in fishes (Lasenby et al. 1986, Northcote 1991).

In the Great Lakes specifically, the overall effects of H. anomala on the food web are still unclear. It has been hypothesized that dense, unchecked H. anomala populations could inhabit the littoral zone, reducing production levels in this zone and stifling its connection to the pelagic zone (Ricciardi et al. in press).  Environmental impacts in the Great Lakes are also expected to vary spatially and temporally depending on the local environment and H. anomala abundance and population dynamics (Ricciardi et al. in press).

There is little or no evidence to support that Hemimysis anomala has significant socio-economic impacts in the Great Lakes.

There is little evidence to support that Hemimysis anomala has significant beneficial effects in the Great Lakes.

Hemimysis anomala is considered a high-energy food source due to its lipid content, which can increase growth rates for planktivores (Borcherding et al. 2006). However, the nutritional value of H. anomala can vary depending on the food source and trophic position of the individual (Marty et al. 2010). A recent caloric density analysis in Lake Ontario indicates that H. anomala appears to be a lower quality food source than native mysid M. diluviana but higher than most zooplankton (Walsh et al. 2010).

In many regions, including the Great Lakes basin, perch (Perca spp. and Morone americana) is known to feed on H. anomala, as is rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) (Brooking et al. 2010, Lantry et al. 2010). In Lake Ontario, recent surveys indicated that H. anomala was a predominant food item of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), an important forage fish, in the sampled area (Lantry et al. 2010). Moreover, stable isotope analysis suggests that H. anomala may be replacing zooplankton in the diet of young yellow perch (Yuille et al. in press). It appears that as H. anomala density increases, this species plays a more substantial role in supporting higher trophic levels (Yuille et al. in press).

However, the net effect of this new prey item on its predators’ populations in the Great Lakes is currently unknown. In some lakes, mysid (Mysis spp.) introductions have preceded the increased growth of salmonids; in contrast, in other lakes they are associated with rapid declines in abundance and productivity of pelagic fishes (Lasenby et al. 1986, Langeland et al. 1991, Spencer et al. 1991). Through its predation on benthic invertebrates and detritus, H. anomala could become a significant part of the local benthic food web in areas containing appropriate habitat and shelter for H. anomala (Kestrup and Ricciardi 2008). Furthermore, analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes indicate that H. anomala may obtain carbon from both littoral and pelagic sources, potentially linking these two zones in the food web (Marty et al. 2010).


In Wisconsin, Hemimysis anomala is a prohibited invasive species (Wis. Admin. Code § NR 40.04), meaning that it is unlawful to transport, possess, transfer, or introduce the species within or into the state without a permit as defined under Wis. Admin. Code § NR 40.06.

Note: Check federal, state/provincial, and local regulations for the most up-to-date information.

In Lake Ontario, H. anomala has been documented in the stomachs of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and white perch (Morone americana) (Lantry et al. 2010, Brooking et al. 2010). Alewives were the only predators exhibiting significant consumption of H. anomala, likely due to their nocturnal feeding habits (H. anomala exhibits diel vertical migration, remaining near the lakebed during the day and emerging at night), and their prior experience consuming the Great Lakes native mysid Mysis relicta, which exhibits similar swimming behavior to H. anomala (Lantry et al. 2010). Lantry et al. (2010) suggest that as the density and spatial distribution of H. anomala expands, more Great Lakes fish will become successful predators. Round goby (Apollonia melanostoma) are accomplished molluscivores, but have also demonstrated specific predatory behavior enabling them to consume M. relicta, and may become significant predators of H. anomala in the absence of dreissenids (Lantry et al. 2010). H. anomala has also been documented in yellow perch and white perch diets in Lake Oneida, New York (Brooking et al. 2010).  The significance of fish predation on control of H. anomala is currently unknown, but there is potential for adaptation towards consumption among Great Lakes zooplanktivores, especially because it is considered a high-energy food source (Borcherding et al. 2006).

H. anomala exhibits mortality at temperatures below 0° C (Borcherding et al. 2006). Because H. anomala is a new, quickly spreading invasive species, preventative measures are encouraged for boaters traveling between water bodies, including visually inspecting boats, trailers, and equipment for plants, animals, and mud after each use, draining water from the motor, live well, bilge, and transom wells while on land, and rinsing all equipment with high pressure (>250 psi) or hot (>50°) water (Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program).

Electron beam irradiation can be used to control microorganisms in aquatic pathways, including Hemimysis anomala (GLMRIS 2012). Electron beam irradiation is a non-selective control method which exposes water to low doses of radiation using gamma-sterilizers or electron accelerators, breaking down DNA in living organisms while leaving behind no by-products (GLMRIS 2012). Ultraviolet (UV) light can also effectively control microorganisms including H. anomala in water treatment facilities and narrow channels, where UV filters can be used to emit UV light into passing water, penetrating cell walls and rearranging DNA of microorganisms (GLMRIS 2012).

H. anomala tolerates salinity of 0-19 ppt (parts per thousand) (Bij de Vaate et al. 2002). Ellis and MacIsaac (2008) tested the salinity tolerance of Great Lakes Invaders in ballast water exchange (BWE) simulations. They documented 100% mortality for H. anomala after 5 hours in a simultaneous BWE treatment, in which salinity was gradually increased from 4-30 ppt, and 100% mortality after 3 hours in a sequential BWE treatment, in which species are immediately exposed to 30 ppt salinity.

The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS 2012) suggests that alteration of water quality using carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen, and/or sodium thiosulfate could be effective in preventing upstream and downstream movement of crustaceans.

Note: Check state/provincial and local regulations for the most up-to-date information regarding permits for control methods. Follow all label instructions.

Remarks: In southern Lake Michigan basin, females average 7 mm in length (Pothoven et al. 2007).

This Ponto-Caspian species was predicted to invade the Great Lakes because of its likelihood of surviving transport in ship ballast water and because it has an extensive recent invasion history in Europe, including establishment in the Baltic Sea basin. (Ricciardi and Rasmussen 1998). It was intentionally stocked in reservoirs of the Dnieper and Volga Rivers during the 1950s and '60s (Mordukhai-Boltovskoi 1979; Bubinas 1980; Pligin and Yemel'yanova 1989; Komarova 1991). It was discovered in the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Finland in 1992 and subsequently spread 200 km along the coast (Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993; Lundberg and Svensson 2004). It was recorded in the Rhine River in 1997 (Borcherding et al. 2006), the Netherlands by 1998, Belgium by 1999, and the United Kingdom by 2004 (Holdich et al. 2006). Some of these introductions likely occurred via ballast water release, whereas most dispersal occurred through canals (Bij de Vaate et al. 2002; Salemaa and Hietalahti 1993). Hemimysis anomala is considered to be more invasive than several other Ponto-Caspian mysids currently expanding their ranges in Europe (Wittman 2006).

The port at Muskegon is not a high-traffic area for shipping; therefore, the population in Lake Michigan probably reflects an introduction from another invaded site in the Great Lakes. Hemimysis anomala's relatively low fecundity (Ketelaars et al. 1999) suggests that it may have been present in the Great Lakes a few years before being discovered. Monitoring of this species is made difficult by its nocturnal behavior and because of its rapid swimming and response to stimuli. Specialized benthic traps are useful for sampling cryptic populations (Borcherding et al. 2006). It may be detected at night by shining a bright light on calm water, which will cause individuals to rapidly disperse. During daylight hours, swarms may hide in the shade provided by rock crevices, boulders, piers and jetties.

Voucher Specimens: Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa CMNC 2007-0001

References: (click for full references)

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Bondarenko, M.V., and E.A. Yablonskaya. 1979. The rate of oxygen consumption by the mysid Paramysis lacustris (Czern.) from the northern Caspian Sea. In Effect of water management on the biological productivity of the Azov and Caspian seas. VNIRO, Moscow. pp. 65.69. (In Russian with English summary.)

Borcherding, J., S. Murawski, and H. Arndt. 2006. Population ecology, vertical migration and feeding of the Ponto-Caspian invader Hemimysis anomala in a gravel-pit lake connected to the River Rhine. Freshwater Biology 51: 2376-2387.

Brooking, T.E., L.G. Rudstam, S.D. Krueger, J.R. Jackson, A.B. Welsh, and W.W. Fetzer. 2010. First occurrence of the mysid Hemimysis anomala in an inland lake in North America, Oneida Lake. Journal of Great Lakes Research 36(3): 577-581.

Bubinas, A.D. 1980. Formation of benthic fauna as a food base for fish in the reservoir of the Kaunas hydro electric power plant, Lithuanian-SSR USSR. Lietuvos TSR Mokslu Akademijos Darbai Serija C Biologijos Mokslai 4: 91-96.

Cabana, G., A. Tremblay, J. Kalff, and J.B. Rasmussen. 1994. Pelagic food chain structure in Ontario lakes: a determinant of mercury levels in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 51: 381-389.

Dumont, S. 2006. Notes and News. A new invasive species in the north-east of France, Hemimysis anomala G. O. Sars, 1907 (Mysidacea). Crustaceana 79: 1269-1274.

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Holdich, D., S. Gallagher, L. Rippon, P. Harding, and R. Stubbington. 2006. The invasive Ponto-Caspian mysid, Hemimysis anomala, reaches the UK. Aquatic Invasions 1(1): 4-6.

Janas, U., and P. Wysocki. 2005. Hemimysis anomala G.O. Sars, 1907 (Crustacea, Mysidacea) – first record in the Gulf of Gdansk. Oceanologia 47: 405-408.

Jazdzewski, K., A. Konopacka, and M. Grabowski. 2005. Native and alien malacostracan crustacean along the Polish Baltic Sea coast in the twentieth century. Oceanological and Hydrobiological Studies XXXIV(suppl. 1): 175-193.

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MacDougall, T. - Ontario Minsitry of Natural Resources.

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Wyda, J. - The Ecosystem Center, the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA.

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Author: Kipp, R.M., A. Ricciardi, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, and T. Makled

Contributing Agencies:

Revision Date: 4/30/2018

Citation for this information:
Kipp, R.M., A. Ricciardi, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, and T. Makled, 2019, Hemimysis anomala G.O. Sars, 1907: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/greatLakes/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2627&Potential=N&Type=0&HUCNumber=DGreatLakes, Revision Date: 4/30/2018, Access Date: 1/21/2019

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.