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Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp: Overview, Species & Care

If you wonder if the shrimp would make a great pet in your aquarium, then you are not wrong! They do not only look fun and cute, but it is also uniquely astonishing so that you will want to respect your pet forever. Shrimp is indeed one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

It is one of the favorite pets across the globe. These little buddies are easy to care for. And they can make a great addition to your aquascape. It does not require any special tools or a set of skills to maintain and care for the pets.

Not to mention that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to take care of them.

If you are interested in making them your pet, you are not alone. There are also fellow fans out there who have the same dream as yours.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceSemi-transparent body flattened from side to side
Life expectancyOne to seven years.
DietAlgae, veggies, leftover foods
Tank Size10 to 55 gallons depending on the number of specimens
Tank EnvironmentDensely planted aquarium tank, a lot of vegetation
Tank MatesEmber tetras or corydoras

They tend to be smaller than the other bottom dwellers. Since this specimen is an algae eater, it will be easy to feed them.

They are scavengers who like to explore the bottom part of your aquarium all the time.

It is a fantastic fish to be kept. And since they come in many types, you might want to research them first before deciding to add particular specimens to your tank.

Their aquariums are as much fascinating as freshwater fish tanks. Tanks require setup and maintenance similar to a fish aquarium. They are more delicate than fish that require extra care.

You can put together an aquarium regardless of your skill level. This guide will provide essential care tips about freshwater aquarium shrimp for beginners.

You will know about the ideal water temperature, aquarium setup, and other helpful information about different freshwater shrimp species.

They are the natural cleaning crew of the aquarium world. They are great at keeping the algae population under control inside the aquarium. Adding them to the aquarium help ease the aquarium cleaning process.

You will have to change the water less frequently since they will diligently remove algae, food scraps, and even fish carcasses from the bottom of the aquarium.

Freshwater Shrimp Species

You can populate the tank with different types of live freshwater shrimps. Here we will briefly review the famous shrimps that you can keep inside the aquarium.

Dwarf Shrimps

Dwarfs are the most popular aquarium shrimps. These come in a variety of sizes, types, and colors. Most dwarfs are smaller than two inches.

It makes them great for different tank sizes. The most common types of dwarfs include the Amano, red cherry, crystal, and bumblebee.

Amano Shrimps

Female amano shrimp

Amano shrimps (Caridina multidentata) are native to the waters in Southeast Asia. Amano are famous since they can remove a large number of algae inside the tank.

They look similar to the ghost, with a slight difference in markings on the body. Moreover, a fully grown Amano is more significant as compared to freshwater Shrimp. It can grow up to 2 inches and live for two to three years under optimal conditions.

Cherry Red Shrimps

Cherry red shrimp

Cherry reds (Neocaridina heteropoda) are also dwarf freshwater species that have a striking appearance. Also known as red cherry (RCS), they are native to freshwaters in Taiwan.

These species are found in different colors in the wild, including orange, green, violet, blue, and black. But shrimps with alternating red and white bands are frequently sold in pet stores.

They can grow up to 1.6 inches and live for one to two years in ideal conditions. They are Resilient breeders given the right food source and aquarium conditions.

Bee Shrimps

Bee shrimp

Bee or crystal red shrimps (Caridina cantonensis) are native to streams and swamps of China and Japan. The dwarfs species can grow up to 1.2 inches and live for about two years.

These have different color patterns, but the most common variety of crystal reds has a red-colored body with white stripes. They are also easy to breed, given the right conditions.

Bumblebee Shrimps

Bumblebee shrimp

Bumblebee shrimps (Gnathophyllum americanum) are stripped much like the insect. They are native to tropical lagoons, reefs, and bays in Southeast Asia. They can grow up to an inch in size and live up to 18 months.

Filter-Feeding Shrimps

Filter feeders are named since they feed by straining suspended food particles and dead matter. They pass water over a filtering structure to suck nutrients.

They are like a small vacuum cleaner that will remove waste products, algae, and harmful microorganisms inside the tank. They have impressive claws that sift nutrients out of the water.

You have to keep filter-feeders in an aquarium with a strong current that will keep the nutrients heading their way. The most common types of filter-feeders include the Vampire, Viper, and Singapore flower shrimp.

Vampire Shrimps

Vampire shrimp

Vampire shrimp (Atya gabonensis) is a freshwater filter-feeding shrimp native to waters in South America and West America.

Also known as the viper’s, Gabon’s, and African fan shrimp, the filter-feeding Shrimp have a lifespan of up to 5 years and can grow up to 6 inches as an adult.

They are usually light brown or light bluish-grey in color.

Some have pink, cream, or green shades. The vampire shrimps have a menacing appearance but are docile.

Singapore Flower Shrimps

Singapore flower shrimp

Singapore flower (Atyopsis moluccensis) shrimp will vigorously fan the water when feeding to remove the food’s nutrients. Also known as bamboo shrimp, they are native to rivers and streams in Southeast Asia.

They vary in color from brown with tan stripes to yellow, red, or green color with white or tan lines. It can grow to 3 1/2 inches and live for up to 2 years under ideal aquarium conditions.


Paleaomonetes are a hardy variety of shrimps that can survive different water conditions. They eat algae and microorganisms inside the tank. Their appearance is almost translucent and looks striking in an aquarium.

Ghost Shrimps

Ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) are translucent fish that are native to North America. Also known as glass or blue pearl, Sold as feeder shrimp for fish.

But you can also grow them inside the aquarium. They are peaceful crustaceans that eat algae and other debris inside the aquarium.

Keep babies in saltwater in the larval stage. But they mate and spend their adult life in freshwater aquariums. It can grow up to 1.5 inches and live up to a year.

Ideal Tank Conditions

They thrive in a variety of tank conditions. But ideally, the temperature should be kept between 70 °F to 80 °F (21 °C – 27 °C) for most of their species.

Make sure that the pH level is between 6 and 8. The water hardness level should be between 2 to 5 pH. They have difficulty shedding exoskeletons if the water is too hard.

They are sensitive to ammonia. The aquarium must have 0 ammonia and nitrites when you check it using a test kit.

A properly cycled tank will not have an ammonia or nitrite problem. Additionally, the nitrates should be less than 20 parts per million inside the tank.

Tank Setup

You should select a substrate that contrasts with the color. For instance, blue freshwater Shrimp will look great in light-colored substrates, while red cherry shrimp will look striking on black gravel.

If you want to create a planted tank, the gravel should be appropriate for the plants. Plants are recommended for a tank since they are a source of nutrients and serve as a hiding place for the shy little creatures.

It would help if you also placed driftwoods and rocks inside the tank. They feel safe and secure when there is décor that serves as a hiding place for them. But remember that driftwood release tannin that will soften the water over time.

Different types of equipment are required to maintain a freshwater aquarium. You will need an aquarium test kit, thermometer, heater, filter, and test kit for the aquarium.

Test Kits

The test kit can ensure that the water parameters are apt for different freshwater species.

With a test kit, you can measure and adjust the critical water parameters to ensure that they thrive in the aquarium. You can use the equipment to measure ammonia, pH level, and nitrate and nitrite levels in the water.

Moreover, the kit allows you to know about the carbonate hardness and the water’s general hardness. By measuring the water conditions, you can create a healthy environment for your Shrimp.


Thermometers are also important devices that you should buy for maintaining a suitable condition inside the aquarium. You can use the thermometer to find out the water temperature.

The ideal water temperature differs for different freshwater species. They are handy when adding fresh fish to the tank. They are extremely sensitive to changes in water temperature.

You can use the thermometer to ensure that the aquarium’s water temperature is the same as the water you are adding to the aquarium.

Their species can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. But it would help if you kept the temperature within the recommended range for the species to thrive inside the aquarium.


Using a heater is required to prevent the water from getting too cold. Consider buying an automatic thermostat that will set the temperature automatically.

You don’t have to change the temperature of the tank. The thermostat will adjust the temperature automatically. Ensure that you buy a high-quality thermostat since they are sensitive to even a slight temperature variation.


Aquarium Filters serve a dual role of removing debris from the tank and also assisting in the colonization of helpful bacteria in the tank.

When buying a filter, you should make sure not to suck the shrimp into the filter pipe accidentally.

You should buy filter guards to prevent the shrimps from getting sucked into the filter—the guards on the filter intake pipe. You can also buy filters that are designed especially for shrimp aquariums.

You should buy a sponge filter that is gentle and won’t suck the shrimps for aquariums. An air pump powers the sponge filter. The filters are great for small aquariums of up to 15 gallons.

Hang-on-bank filters are another type of filter that is also good for larger tanks. The filters clip on the back of the aquarium due to their name.

A great thing about this type of filter is that you can install it easily without getting your hands dirty. There is an inlet pipe that sucks the water and runs through a filter.

A canister filter is beneficial for sizeable freshwater aquariums. They may be costly but are the right choice for keeping a large aquarium clean. They are ideal for aquariums that are larger than 50 gallons.

Tank Mates

These should not be kept with aggressive fish. It would help if you keep shrimps with peaceful fish. Examples of fish that you can keep inside the shrimp aquarium include:

  • Pygmy Cory Fish
  • Small Tetra fish
  • Otocinclus
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnow
  • Glow-light Tetra
  • Borneo Sucker

You can keep any small peaceful fish. They will leave them alone in most cases. However, they will eat their babies. So, it is essential to keep baby shrimps in a separate aquarium.

You should also provide a hiding place for the shrimps to become the food of larger fish.

Food & Diet

They are omnivores that will eat anything that will fit inside their small mouths. Shrimps are scavengers that will eat algae and decaying plants and animals.

You can also feed them fish pellets or flakes. They also like collard greens and frozen kale. But you may need to chop or mince them into small pieces before feeding your Shrimp.

Breeding Guidelines

A pet baby shrimp in a freshwater aquarium

Breeding freshwater shrimp is not that difficult. Consider putting the shrimps in a tank of 40 feet. It will provide room for breeding a large number of baby shrimps.

You have to keep the temperature between 70 °F and 75 °F (21 °C and 24 °C) for the shrimps to breed. Consistency of temperature is essential for them to breed.

Consider keeping a thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature inside the aquarium.

A filter with 25 to 30 PPI is suitable for breeding. The filter inside the aquarium should not suck up the baby shrimp. You should install a filter guard to prevent babies from being sucked by the filter.

It should also keep water conditions ideal for breeding. Water hardness level should be maintained between 4 and 8 gH, while the carbonate hardness should be between 0 to 2 kHz. The optimal pH level for breeding shrimps is 6 and 7.5.

You won’t have to feed anything to the baby shrimp as long as plants and live rocks are inside the aquarium. The babies will eat algal growth and biofilm inside the tank. You can also buy the specially formulated baby formula from a pet store.

Related Questions

Do freshwater fish eat shrimp?

You need to be aware of the golden rule. ‘If a shrimp looks like it can fit in a fish’s mouth, then the fish will probably eat.’

However, the Otocinclus Catfish is the only fish we know of that is not likely to eat Shrimp. But if your Shrimp can fit in your tetra fish mouth, there is a general possibility it can feed on them.

What do freshwater shrimps eat in the wild?

Algae are the leading food for the shrimp in the wild. It grows on hard surfaces in freshwater streams and lagoons.

They are an omnivore and eat any food they come across, which fits their mouth. Some of the food items that the Shrimp will eat in the wild include small insets, dead organic matter, and larvae and eggs.

Where to find freshwater shrimps for sale?

You can find them for sale in most online pet stores. Online stores carry a more variety of shrimp as compared to local stores. You will most probably find a good deal online for freshwater shrimps.

Can you hatch brine shrimps in freshwater?

You can hatch brine’s eggs in a freshwater aquarium. There is no need to add salt to the water to make it salty. Just add baking soda and increase the water’s pH levels slightly to allow the enzyme they release to make a hole in the egg.

The ideal condition for the brine is between 80 °F and 82 °F (27 °C to 28 °C). The brine can also hatch at a lower temperature, but it will take longer.

Light is required during the first few hours to trigger the hatching of the eggs.

Wrapping Up

Freshwater Shrimp is an excellent addition to any freshwater tank. It is a natural cleaning crew that keeps the algae population in check inside the aquarium.

You will not have much difficulty in caring for the shrimps.

Many aquarists set up dedicated aquariums with no fish. But you can keep them with non-predatory and peaceful fish. They are exciting and entertaining sea creatures that deserve a place in your aquarium.