9 Best Freshwater Aquarium Shrimps (with Pictures)

If you are looking for critters for your freshwater tank, you should consider invertebrates like freshwater shrimps.

Until recently, aquariums were all about fishkeeping. But not anymore. Nowadays, these little inverts are also gaining considerable popularity!

They come in various colors, which adds to your aquarium aesthetics. But if you’re wondering which shrimps will go well with your tank, c’mon, let’s keep reading!

How many types of Aquarium Shrimps are there?

There are over 760 types of freshwater shrimps, hailing mainly from the genera Caridina, Neocaridina, Palaemonetes, Atyopsis, Atya, and Macrobrachium.

Most of them are omnivores and valuable scavengers. Some of them also act as cleaner crew for other fish. They are mostly active at night, but some are active at all times.

These tiny crustaceans molt, i.e., shed their shells as they grow. Vulnerable after molting, they hide until their new shells harden.

Despite being primarily walkers, shrimps are skilled swimmers. They are popular for moving backward quickly by flexing their abdomen and tail muscles. They can move forward as well, but that happens much more slowly. Female shrimp carry eggs underneath their bodies.

Now, with the endless options, it can be pretty hard to choose the best shrimp for your tank. So, we’ve handpicked the most prominent ones for hobbyists of different expertise.

1. Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus)

Ghost shrimp
  • Common Names: Glass shrimp, Eastern grass shrimp
  • Average Size: Up to 5 cm (2 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Approximately 1-1.5 year
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

Originating from North American freshwater or slightly brackish water habitats, ghost shrimp belong to the Palaemonidae family. They can tolerate some level of salinity.

Known for their unique see-through bodies and efficient tank cleanings, they feed on algae and leftover food from other tank mates. They’re among the hardiest and, thus, one of the most beginner-friendly shrimp species.

The non-aggressive nocturnal invertebrates thrive in a natural tank environment with plants, rocks, and driftwood. They can survive in a variety of temperatures and coexist with other shrimp species.

2. Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. red)

Cherry shrimp
  • Common Names: Fire shrimp, Sakura shrimp, Rili shrimp, Red cherry shrimp
  • Average Size: 4 cm (1.6 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Popular Varieties: Standard/wild, blue, yellow, green, violet, chocolate, black, white, fire red, painted fire red

Found in eastern China and Northern Taiwan and introduced to many other regions, cherry shrimp are omnivores. The non-aggressive Atyidae family members are popular as tank cleaners.

These beginner shrimp’s semi-transparent appearance reveals colors influenced by their blood and skin.

Various color varieties exist due to selective breeding. Each color is associated with specific pigment cells. In the wild, their natural colors vary slightly.

3. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

Female amano shrimp
  • Common Names: Yamato shrimp, Japanese shrimp, Algae shrimp
  • Average Size: 5-7.5 cm (2-3 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5-10 gallons

The powerful algae-eating Amano shrimp are ideal for planted tanks. These members of the Atyidae family have a translucent body with reddish-brown points and a distinctive white stripe.

These omnivores are relatively easy to care for but hard to breed in captivity due to specific larval requirements.

The nocturnal, peaceful, social creatures flourish best when kept in groups of at least six.

4. Tiger Shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis var. tiger)

Tiger shrimp
  • Common Names: Super tiger shrimp
  • Average Size: 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Care Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Popular Varieties: Crystal black, crystal red, golden bee, black tiger, blue tiger, and tangerine tiger

The peaceful tiger shrimp from China, belonging to the Atyidae family, have a whitish or golden body color with black stripes, an orange head, and a tail. Males are generally smaller and slimmer, while females exhibit a curved and round underbelly upon reaching adulthood.

The non-fussy omnivores are great community tank species. But they can’t coexist with larger aggressive fish. Stable and good water quality is essential. Breeding these nocturnal critters is relatively easy.

5. Bamboo Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis)

Bamboo shrimp
  • Common Names: Wood shrimp, Moluccas shrimp, Singapore flower shrimp
  • Average Size: Up to 8 cm (3.15 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons

Bamboo shrimp, originating from the warm waters of Southeast Asian volcanic islands and a few other parts of Asia, belong to the Atyidae family.

These filter-feeding shrimp have unique feathery fans used to catch food particles in the water. The herbivore displays brownish-red hues with thin pinstripes.

The peaceful nocturnal crustaceans are valued for their efficient algae control despite being challenging to breed. When they molt, they are sensitive, so provide spots to hide.

6. Blue Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. blue)

Blue dream shrimp
  • Common Names: Blue velvet shrimp, Blue jelly shrimp, Blue diamond shrimp, Blue dream shrimp
  • Average Size: 2.5-3.18 cm (1-1.25 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5-10 gallons
  • Popular Varieties: Standard/wild, yellow, green, violet, chocolate, black, white, red, fire red, painted fire red

Blue shrimp are a selectively bred variety of cherry shrimp of the Atyidae family, originating from eastern China and northern Taiwan. The non-fussy creatures get their color from iridophores reflecting blue light or the absence of melanophores combined with blueish flesh.

The hardy and easy-to-care-for shrimp need dense vegetation and hiding spots. The active herbivores primarily graze on biofilm and detritus.

They molt periodically, leaving behind empty exoskeletons. Pregnant females hide and, if stressed, may abandon eggs.

7. Vampire Shrimp (Atya gabonensis)

Vampire shrimp
  • Common Names: African fan shrimp, African filter shrimp, Gabon shrimp, Blue rhino shrimp, Cameroon fan shrimp
  • Average Size: Up to 15 cm (6 in)
  • Average Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

The vibrant and dynamic vampire shrimp originating from West Africa belong to the Atyidae family. Recognized by their fan-like claspers, their color varies from creamy white to rusty brown, deep blue, and more.

These nocturnal, non-aggressive creatures are skilled at catching food particles with their unique feeding habits. The peaceful creatures are suitable for community tanks with hiding spots for molting.

8. Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis var. crystal red)

Crystal red shrimp
  • Common Names: Bee shrimp, Red bee shrimp
  • Average Size: 2.5-3.8 cm (1-1.5 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 1.5 years
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Popular Varieties: Crystal white, crystal black, golden, blue, tiger, princess bee, blue bolt, tangerine tiger, shadow panda

Crystal red shrimp are selectively bred dwarf freshwater shrimp from Taiwan bee shrimp which resulted in unique color patterns.

Hailing from Southeast Asia, these active and non-aggressive invertebrates are popular for their vibrant red and white stripes.

The nocturnal omnivores add a unique aesthetic to aquariums. The sensitive Atyidae family shrimp are ideal for nano-planted tanks. Breeding is relatively easy, but attention is needed to maintain desired color patterns.

9. Sulawesi Shrimp (Caridina dennerli)

Sulawesi shrimp
  • Common Names: Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, Cardinal shrimp
  • Average Size: Up to 2.5 cm (1 in)
  • Average Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
  • Care Level: Moderate to Expert
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

Sulawesi shrimp originate from Sulawesi, Indonesia, and belong to the Atyidae family. Discovered in 2007, these nocturnal shrimp boast varying shades of red with distinctive white spots.

The visually stunning species are challenging to care for and not recommended for beginners. Though peaceful, cardinals are best kept in single-species tanks due to their demanding water needs.

A word from FishInAquarium

Freshwater shrimps add a wow factor to your tank with their distinct features. However, they are not just fascinating additions to aquariums but also add to the dynamic balance of your underwater ecosystem.

Many of them munch on algae and even detritus and become a must-have to maintain a clean tank.

These shrimps also come in a wide range of budgets, expertise levels, and housing needs. So, you can definitely find a suitable shrimp for you!

If you have found the article informative and insightful, do share it with fellow aquarists. Don’t hesitate to mail us if you have any more queries!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.