Top 5 Dwarf Shrimp for Your Next Freshwater Aquarium
Dwarf shrimp in aquariums have been rapidly increasing in popularity since the early 2000’s because of their beautiful colors, unique behaviors, and usefulness as cleanup crew. In a tank full of fish, adding a cool invertebrate with long antennae and multiple legs can bring a new and interesting facet to the hobby. Learn about five of the most common shrimp that you can find at your local fish store and see which one is right for you.
1. Ghost Shrimp
Many beginners get started with shrimp keeping by buying ghost shrimp because they are readily available in large pet store chains and are often sold cheaply as live feeders for predator fish. Many species of grass shrimp, whisker shrimp, long arm shrimp, and even prawns are all called “ghost shrimp” because of their clear-colored bodies, so it is hard to determine exact care requirements for them. Some ghost shrimp species can live in freshwater while others prefer to live in salt water. Some ghost shrimp species live for 1.5 inches (4cm) while others reach 5 inches (13cm) in length and may attempt to eat their tank mates.
Given the mixed bag of species you may get, there is no guarantee they will do well in your aquarium, but most of them can live in tropical temperatures from 70-80degF (21-27degC). They tend to prefer pH above 7.0 and higher GH (or water hardness) to help build strong exoskeletons. You can add minerals such as Wonder Shell or Seachem Equilibrium to soft water. Also, make sure they eat calcium-rich foods. Many ghost shrimp are carnivorous and will eat any kind of fish food that gets dropped in the tank.
2. Neocaridina Shrimp
The next beginner shrimp that many people purchase is Neocaridina davidi, also known as the “cherry shrimp” because of its most popular color. The 1.5-inch (4 cm), shrimp is available in many colors, including yellow, orange and green jade. Not only are they beautiful to behold, but they also serve as great cleanup crew members that scavenge for crumbs and pick off soft algae. Feed them a varied diet of small, sinking fish foods, shrimp foods that contain calcium, and catappa leaves that grow biofilm for babies to graze on. You can expect tiny babies from them if you give them clean water as well as nutritious food. For more info on how to keep and breed cherry shrimp, see our detailed breeding article.
3. Amano Shrimp
Caridina multidentata, another translucent shrimp, can grow up to 5 cm (5 inches) in length and has a series dots or dashes running down its sides. Despite their ordinary appearance, they were made popular by Takashi Amano, the father of modern aquascaping, who frequently employed amano shrimp for their amazing algae-eating abilities. The species is well-known for eating brown diatoms and hair algae. Compared to other shrimp, they are relatively hardy and do well in a wide range of temperatures from 65-80degF (18-27degC), pH of 6.5-8.0, and GH above 4deg (70 ppm). They will escape from your aquarium if they have the opportunity. Keep the tank closed. Amano shrimp have voracious appetites and will even steal food from bigger fish and cherry shrimp, so offer fish foods that are too big for them to carry away or are small enough to be scattered all over the tank.
4. Bamboo Shrimp
Looking for a peaceful, oddball invertebrate to spice up your aquarium? Atyopsis moluccensis (also known as the bamboo shrimp, wood shrimp, or Singapore flower shrimp) grows to 2-3.5 inches (5-9 cm) and has feathery fans on its front legs to catch and eat tiny particles floating the water. A gentle sponge filter, rather than a strong hang-on back or canister filter, is best for them. This will not remove any crumbs from their water. Next, give your shrimp finely ground foods such as Repashy gel food, Hikari First Bite, baby brine shrimp and other specialty foods that can be used to filter-feed shrimp. Your fan shrimp may be foraging on the ground. This could indicate that it isn’t getting enough nutrients. You can increase its daily intake, target feeding with a pipette and add tall decorations to allow it to perch while it catches food. The bamboo shrimp larvae need salt water to survive.
5. Caridina Shrimp
Caridina shrimp are similar in size to Neocaridina shrimp, but they are usually more expensive and difficult to care for. There are many varieties of Taiwan bees, pinto, pinto and crystal shrimp available if you’re up to the challenge. We strongly recommend that you set them up in a 10-gallon (or larger) aquarium that is very mature – meaning that the tank has been running for many months and has grown a healthy ecosystem of algae, biofilm, live plants, and microfauna. In general, they do best in cooler water between 68-75degF (20-27degC), pH below 7.0, low KH, and 4-7deg (70-130 ppm) GH, but for maximum success, ask the seller what conditions the shrimp were kept in. Many hobbyists use active buffering substrate to reduce the pH and RODI (reverse-osmosis distilled) water with specific bee shrimp minerals to keep the water parameters stable.
Chris Lukhaup (The Shrimp King) has written a comprehensive article that explains the world of freshwater aquarium shrimp. Also, don’t forget to check out our list of preferred vendors to browse their amazing selection of shrimp.