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Nature is often more diverse than expected with multiple species appearing to occupy the same niche. This observation is especially perplexing when the co-occurring species are cryptic (i.e. only distinguishable via molecular markers), because phenotypic similarity is expected to correspond with strong niche overlap. One way that phenotypically similar species can coexist is if fine-scale phenotypic differences affect how species interact with other members of the community that ultimately results in performance tradeoffs. An alternative explanation for co-occurrence is that phenotypic similarity leads to ecological equivalence allowing species to co-occur for long periods. We tested whether three phenotypically similar amphipod species that co-occur exhibit performance tradeoffs that may allow them to stably coexist in lakes. We found that despite their similarity the three species differed in how well they performed in competition with each other and their ability to avoid predation by fish and invertebrate predators. In some species comparisons, performance tradeoffs were apparent with species that perform well against heterospecifics performing poorly against predators and vice versa. We also found evidence for direct antagonistic interactions among amphipod species, in the form of wounding, which may play a role in structuring amphipod assemblages. Finally, the two species with the most similar phenotypes showed comparable responses to competitors and predators, which suggests that long-term co-occurrence via ecological equivalence may also be important in this system. Collectively, our results suggest that a mix of performance tradeoffs and ecological equivalence may allow for higher diversity than expected in amphipod assemblages.