Freshwater shrimp come in lots of different shapes, colors, and sizes.
A lot of people look at shrimp and don’t see the point in placing them in their aquarium because fish tanks are for fish.
These people could not be more wrong!
They are fascinating creatures and your aquarium will reap the rewards by having these algae grazing or filter-feeding organisms in it. These organisms make perfect additions to community tanks that contain small and peaceful fish species like rummy nose tetra.
In this article, we will cover the best freshwater shrimps for aquariums and we will provide you with the basic knowledge required for keeping them within your home aquarium.
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Females grow slightly larger than males and can reach a size of around 4.7 inches. Females also have slightly smaller front legs than males which is useful to know when it comes to sexing them for breeding purposes.
Bamboo Shrimp are filter feeders and they have specialized fans which catch food particles from the water and bring the food towards their mouths. Feeding this shrimp can be done by using a variety of foods including newly hatched artemia, powdered fish flakes and algae powder.
Because this species is larger than any of the dwarf variants they need a larger tank (at least 20 gallons). They do well with a water temperature of 68-77°F and a pH of 6.5-7.5.
Ghost shrimp have evolved over millennia to be transparent in appearance. It is a strategy that has been developed to avoid predation.
A planted aquarium is usually best as this will allow them to feel safer as they hide amongst the plants.
Because of their small size, this species would make an excellent addition to any nano aquarium with a minimum size of 5 gallons. In an aquarium of this size you can keep around 20 of these freshwater shrimp.
If they breed prolifically, you might want to remove some of the offspring and take them to your local fish store where you could trade them in for store credit.
Bee shrimp are some of the most diverse freshwater shrimp in the hobby, with over a dozen selectively bred color variations. One of the more common species is the Black Bee variety from which a lot of other variations have been selectively bred.
Black Bee shrimp are small and only grow to a length of 1 inch. The color of this subspecies is white with black bars which run across the length of the body.
They are generally more difficult to keep than other species within the industry and are therefore not recommended for beginners. They prefer warm water of 68-78°F with a pH of 5.8-6.8.
The amano shrimp have a reputation for controlling algae. It was for this reason that the legendary aquarist Takashi Amano introduced them into the trade during the 1980s.
Since then their popularity has boomed and they are now the second most popular freshwater crustacean species, behind cherry shrimp.
They grow to a size of around 2 inches, which makes them one of the largest dwarf species in the hobby. They are a transparent grey color and females have long dashes along their body whereas males have evenly spaced dots. The color of these markings can be reddish-brown or blueish-green.
These freshwater shrimps thrive in planted aquariums with a water temperature of 70-80°F and a pH of around 6.0-7.0. Breeding in captivity is not very common as the fry hatch in saltwater before returning to freshwater as they grow.
Red Cherry Shrimp
The red cherry shrimp goes by a few other common names including Cherry, Fire and Sakura Shrimp. The name used actually depends on the individuals color grade.
Females tend to have a deeper red color than their male counterparts which are a paler red. They also have a rounder mid-section and are larger.
They are some of the easiest to keep and without a doubt the most common variety in the hobby.
If you keep these shrimp they require water with a pH of 6.5-8.0 and the temperature should remain constant (65-85°F).
The crystal shrimp also goes by the name Crystal Red or Red Bee Shrimp. Their color and patterns differ between each individual, but the most common is a white background with deep red patches or bars along the body.
Unfortunately, this freshwater shrimp is not for novice aquarists.
This is because they require a lot of maintenance as they require specific water parameters along with regular water changes.
By adding plants to the aquarium, however, they will absorb excess nitrates which will help complete the nitrogen cycle.
They should be kept in freshwater with a pH of 5.8-7.5 and the water temperature should remain constant between 62-76°F.
Red Rili Shrimp
This variation has been selectively bred from Red Cherries. They are a dwarf variety, which grow to around 1 inch in length.
You will notice their deep red head with a transparent midriff and a red tail.
A complex habitat in the aquarium will provide the ideal habitat for keeping this shy species.
Plenty of plants and ornaments like bogwood will not only provide hiding places for them, but it will also provide the ideal location for algal growth which they can then feed on.
They are easy to breed, you simply start by purchasing around 10 individuals and providing that they are kept in water with a temperature of 65-85°F, a pH of 6.2-8.0, they will breed on their own.
A sibling of the Red Cherry variety these shrimp are also referred to as the Yellow Shrimp because of their Lemon color.
However, some individuals are more translucent. This is due to the fact that wild brownish-grey Neocaridina ancestors have been selectively bred over the years for their yellow color.
Some of these slightly translucent individuals are simply not as far along the selective breeding process as the Opaque Lemons which have the desirable intense yellow color.
Their price usually varies with the coloration, with Opaque Yellows being more expensive than the slightly translucent ones. If you are looking to start your own selective breeding program, then colonies of 10 individuals cost around $40.
Blue Velvet Shrimp
This species have been selectively bred from the same wild Neocaridina species as the Cherry and Yellow Shrimp. Instead of being red or yellow, they are a striking blue color.
These scavengers will eat almost anything they come across including algae. However, high protein shrimp pellets should be fed to encourage breeding.
Females tend to grow slightly large than males and can reach a length of 2 inches when fully grown, whereas the largest males will grow to around 1.5 inches.
They should be kept separate from other species to keep the Blue Velvet strain pure. They should be kept in a planted aquarium which holds at least 10 gallons of freshwater.
As for water conditions a temperature of 72-82°F and a pH of 6.4-8.0 is ideal.
Blue Bolt Shrimp
This shrimp is a blue and white color variant of the Bee shrimp. They are a peaceful species which would do well in any community tank providing there are no fish which are large enough to eat them (such as Tiger Barbs).
A 10 gallon aquarium will provide plenty of space to keep a large colony of up to 40 individuals.
If the aquarium has plenty of plant cover and the water temperature is kept between 65-85°F with a pH of 6.2-7.8, they will begin to breed.
A good sized colony to start with is around 10-15 individuals.
Blue Tiger Shrimp
The Blue Tiger also goes by the name Orange Eyed Blue Tiger – this name describes this species perfectly. They are dark blue with black stripes and they possess stunning orange eyes.
Ideally, they should be kept in at least a 10-gallon aquarium. The pH of the water should be kept between 6.0-7.5, whereas the temperature of the water should be maintained in the region of 65-75°F.
They can be kept in a community tank with small, peaceful species like guppies or Ember Tetra as they will actually feed off of the fish’s fecal matter. If they are kept with fish, then make sure you also provide them with plenty of hiding places.
This freshwater species gets its name from both its translucent white color as well as the tiny pure white eggs produced by the females which resemble miniature snowballs.
They are a very easy species to care for which makes them ideal for beginners. They prefer a stable water temperature of anywhere from 72-82°F with a pH of 7.0-7.5.
Providing these conditions are met and they are kept in an aquarium with plants like Java fern and along with the correct nutritional requirements, they will breed prolifically.
As with most crustaceans, they shed their exoskeleton as they grow so don’t panic if you see a lifeless shrimp on the bottom of the aquarium. Simply remove it and examine it and you will probably find that it is just their outer shell.
Blue Pearl Shrimp
This is the exact same species as the Snowball variety, the only difference between the two is that they have both been selectively bred for different colors.
The Blue Pearl was selectively bred from the Snowball individuals that possessed a slight blue tint and it has been bred over the years to the point where now it is dark blue and has red speckles which run down their back.
They should be cared for in the exact same way as Snowball’s by meeting the same water parameters and keeping it in a planted aquarium.
Regular sinking pellets should be fed as well as blanched vegetables like Zucchini to supplement their diet.
Also known as the Fishbone Shrimp, this species is relatively new to the hobby. Their black background color is made to standout with the white patterns that range from their head and along their back to the tail.
This species is generally harder to care for and breed than other species which results in a bigger price tag of around $20 per shrimp.
They do best in freshwater with a pH of 5.8-7.4 and a constant temperature of anywhere between 62-76°F.
Indian Whisker Shrimp
This transparent species is very similar in appearance to the Ghost Shrimp.
However, the Indian Whisker Shrimp is slightly larger and can grow to 2 inches long.
This is a highly aggressive species, which if given the chance will kill other freshwater shrimp species as well as small fish. For this reason, it is best to keep this species in its own lightly planted tank of at least 5 gallons.
They are relatively hardy and able to tolerate a wide range of different water parameters (temperature 72-82°F and a pH of 7.0-8.0).
The Vampire Shrimp is one of the more uncommon species.
They can grow to a size of around 6 inches and their translucent color means they look like freshwater Crayfish. There is one thing however which sets them apart and this is that they are filter feeders.
They have small fans which catch tiny food particles that float through the water column.
Feeding them can therefore be quite challenging, as regular sinking pellets are too large so baby shrimp food is recommended.
Read Related Article: Vampire Crabs: The Full Care Guide
The freshwater shrimp keeping hobby has exploded in popularity in recent years.
There are numerous species of grazing shrimp that enjoy feeding on algae and keep your tank clean, as well as filter-feeding species which sift food particles from the water column.
Freshwater shrimp make an excellent addition to community tanks providing they are kept with small and peaceful fish species (they can also be kept with nerite snails).
They are ideal for both expert and novice hobbyists alike. As well as adding a variety of colors to your tank, they are also entertaining to watch.
What is your favorite species on this list and why? Let us know in the comments section below…