A Guide to Common Shrimp in the Aquaria

  • #1
Well I thought it would be nice to write a guide to freshwater shrimp here that would answer many questions about them.


First off, a lot of these shrimp have rather long names, and the abbreviatons would be in paranthesis after the first instance of the shrimp name. For example: Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS). Order of letters count too, remember that Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) are very different that Crystal Red Shrimp (CRS)!


Q: I just finished cycling a tank. What kind of shrimp can go in it?
A: Most species of shrimp are very sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and even nitrates in the tank. Generally, you want the tank to be well-mature for atl east a month before adding shrimp to it.

Q: Will [name of fish] eat my shrimp?
A: Many fish over 4 inches would eat shrimp when given a chance. Generally, if the shrimp can fit into a fish's mouth, the fish would attempt to eat it.

Q: Do shrimp have to have plants to survive?
A: Plants are very important to shrimp survival. Although they're not mandatory, it's a good idea to get them. This can be as simple as a sprig of Java Moss in the tank to provide food and shelter.

Q: Can I breed these shrimp in my tank?
A: Some shrimp can breed in the aquarium, some cannot. This will be explained further in each individual shrimp's profile. Overall, unless you have a specialized shrimp-only setup, you will see very few babies present, what with fish eating them and the equally hazardous filter intake.

Q: Will shrimp eat my fish?
A: Depending on the shrimp, but usually no. Look at those tiny, sometimes not even present claws. Very few fish (except the possibility of fish fry) are in danger of most reasonably small shrimp species.

Q: Oh no! There's the dead husk of my shrimp in the tank! What do I do?
A: Look carefully. If it's an empty shell chances are, that's just the shrimp's newly shed skin. The shrimp is probably hiding somewhere to protect its vulnerable new body.

Q: Can I interbreed these two different species of shrimp?
A: Interbreeding is most common in tanks with two species of Neocaridina shrimp, who would produce rather unattractive, usually sterile young. This is why you should normally have one Neocaridina species per tank. Neocaridina like RCS cannot interbreed with Caridina like Tiger Shrimp, however, so mixing the two is generally fine. Same goes to Caridina shrimp, so you mostly cannot put a Crystal Red in the same tank as a Tiger.

Q: How many shrimp can go in my tank?
A: Ah, the universal shrimp stocking question. Let's first assume you're going for a shrimp-only tank (I call it SOWLP, Shrimp Only With Live Plants tank, lol). Anyways, it depends on the species. In a heavily planted, well-filtered tank, you can go with 10-15 Neocaridina species, like RCS, or ghost shrimp, per gallon. With Caridina, you can go for about 10 shrimp per gallon. Of course, filter-feeders like bamboo shrimp prefer about 1 shrimp every 5 gallons, and vampire shrimp at 1 shrimp every 20 gallons. There are always exceptions. Small tanks like 5 gallons should limit themselves to 5 shrimp per gallon, regardless of species, and no filter-feeders at all. Larger tanks could possible support larger amounts of stock.

[reserved for profiles]


Red Cherry Shrimp, Neocaridina heteropoda var. "red" (RCS)

Ah yes. One of, if not the most, commonly kept dwarf shrimp species. RCS are very very small, from the gigantic size of 1/2 an inch to the colossal girth of 1 inch long. No, they will not eat your bala shark. Keep them with smaller fish, around neon tetra-zebra danio size. These shrimp appreciate heavy cover, such as driftwood and Java moss, so they have somewhere to hide when molting (shedding exoskeleton). Otherwise, even neon tetras can take advantage of its lack of armor and attack the shrimp.

RCS eat all sorts of things. Algae, shrimp pellets, leftover fish food, wafers, and just about anything else. It's best to feed your shrimp very sparingly, once or twice a week, and some fishkeepers don't even feed them at all, instead, they eat food that the fish have left over, as well as algae and pick at plants occasionally.

Breeding RCS is very easy. If you have a male and a female, in a warm, filtered tank, they will mate. Sexing the shrimp can be done when they are 2/3 of an inch long - females have an abdomen that curves outwards, which is straight in males. Females are also larger and more colorful than males, the females often bright red while the males are transparent with a scattering of red dots. When a female is of sexual maturity, she will develop a yellowish "saddle" on her thorax. Your RCS may be breeding in your tank this very second.

After mating, the female becomes "berried", a term used to describe it when she starts carrying small yellow eggs underneath her tail. This gestation period lasts about a few weeks to a month. When the eggs hatch, she releases the young, miniature copies of the adult, into the water, where they are at mercy of the fish and the suction of the filter intake tube. A shrimp breeding tank can be about 5 gallons, with a sprig or two of Java moss. A sponge filter is required, so that the babies are not sucked into it, and the algae growing on it provides food for the miniature shrimp. No feeding is necessary, unlike fish fry. In time, they will grow to the size of the adults. The adults will not cannibalize the young, so you should not worry about that.

RCS male and female. Here you can see the many noticeable differences between them. Photo courtesy of planet inverts

Blue Pearl Shrimp, Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis var. "blue" (BPS)

Well that's quite a mouthful for such a small shrimp. Lets just call it "BPS" for now. BPS are a color morph of N. zhangjiajiensis, and, due to constant interbreeding to produce that ice-blue color, rather more sensitive to nitrates and water parameter changes than RCS. Otherwise, they are pretty similar to RCS. If you see little red dots along the side of the abdomen, chill, those are natural. Generally, you can sex and breed them the exact same way as RCS, other than the fact that they breed a bit less often. Again, feed sparingly, high nitrates are easily its worst enemy.

Other Varieties

Yellow shrimp and snowball shrimp are both common (albeit a bit expensive) shrimp species that can be found time to time. Yellow shrimp are a color morph of Neocaridina heteropoda, snowball shrimp are a color morph of Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis, relatives of the RCS and BPS, respectively. Both have virtually identical requirements, but, as most color morphs go, are more nitrate-sensitive. Sakura shrimp are a type of RCS which have been bred so the red color is extremely distinct and solid.


Tiger Shrimp, Caridina cantonensis var. "tiger"

Another common shrimp species, the tiger shrimp's name derives from the stripes on its abdomen. This species is quite hardy, as well as grow a bit larger than the standard RCS, maxing at about 1 to 1.5 inches long. However, it is perfectly harmless to your fish, despite what its name might suggest. The shrimp's body is a translucent cream color, with deep black stripes running down the length of its tail, ending in a fan of orange "fins".

The tiger shrimp is a bit harder to breed than the RCS, as it spawns most readily in soft-water conditions. However, when conditions are right, it spawns readily, and the berried female carries the eggs for a few weeks, then releases the young as RCS do. A good article on breeding tigers and other species of softwater shrimp can be found here:

Most of all, tiger shrimp, being a Caridina species, cannot interbreed with RCS. It is also perfectly placid, and can be housed with RCS without fear that it would attack them or their young.

Crystal Red Shrimp, Caridina cantonensis sp. "red" (CRS)

Here's when calling your precious Neos "cherry red shrimp" doesn't work, because most people will think you're referring to this candy-cane striped species. CRS are softwater breeders, and require lower pHs to breed successfully. They can be treated like tiger shrimp for the most part, however, are generally smaller, more fragile, and more colorful (until compared to the gaudy OEBTS, or orange-eye blue tiger shrimp).

"Why fragile, Elodea?" you say? CRS are graded through a system of an increasing amount of white on the carapaces, which, as you may expect, doesn't usually randomly pop up in a stable population. Instead, populations of CRS are continuosly interbred until the most desirable traits appear, which, although means you get a really neat looking shrimp, also means that the painfully small gene pool makes it unable to adapt to changes in its environment as well as other shrimp. Simply put, I personally recommend 15 gallons for these guys, not because of space issues, but because it's harder to screw up the nitrogen levels and temperatures, which might prove deadly to the shrimp.

A pretty but frail shrimp, it's best to keep this notoriously expensive crustacean in a species-only tank or with other tiny, unimposing tank mates (think other shrimp). Treat it like all other shrimp, but be a bit more careful with this guy's tank.

Amano Shrimp, Caridina japonica (aka Algae or Yamato Shrimp)

I have to say, these guys are the lawn mowers of the shrimp world. Like lawn mowers, they will quickly devastate the populations of beard algae and other hairlike algae in your tank, and unfortunately, like lawnmowers, they can be indiscriminate of what type of vegetation they consume. In other words, if you fail to feed these guys enough, you may wake up one morning and realize that all of your Java ferns have turned into Mandagascar lace plants.

Amano shrimp are large, robust, and transparent, however are quite boisterous during feeding time. In my experience, they have stolen shrimp pellets literally from the jaws of my fish, so you generally need not worry about them being too reclining or timid. These large shrimp (the males reach and inch long, the females almost twice that) seem to have a thing for blanched zuchinni, although any other blanched vegetable, as well as sinking pellets and algae wafers would work as well.

Unlike most Caridina species, Amano shrimp have a full planktonic larval stage, as in the wild, these shrimp breed in brackish marshes and estuaries. Likewise, they will require brackish water to breed, therefore never breed in the usual freshwater aquarium. In fact, it's insanely difficult to raise the larvae to adults in captivity, therefore, many Amano shrimp you see in the market are wild-caught (but not all, as insanely difficult does not equate to impossible). The female would occasionally hold a mess of tiny, greenish-black eggs underneath her abdomen, however, in a week or two, they would have disappeared, as the eggs would not hatch (or the young would not survive) in fresh water.

Otherwise, the Amano shrimp is always an invertebrate you should consider over plecos and SAEs when you have an algae problem, as the add little to the tank's bioload but a lot to the elimination of that annoying beard algae on your driftwood.

Other Varieties

Most of the other varieties of Caridina are simply different strains of tiger shrimp, which include the extremely frail and expensive OEBTS, as well as the less seen red tigers and blue tigers. The CRS is actually a red strain of the bumblebee or crystal black shrimp, which looks and behaves the same but has black stripes instead of red.

Filter Feeders

Bamboo Shrimp, Atyopsis mollucensis (aka Flower or Wood Shrimp)

The bamboo shrimp is an intriguing species in both looks and behavior. In the hands of less experienced aquarists, this shrimp usually meets its untimely end, as it has slightly unusual feeding habits that many people do not realize. This shrimp can grow up to 3 inches long, and serves as an imposing figure in the tank, but is utterly harmless to anything but the tiniest fry, as its claws are replaced with fibrous fan-like appendages.

These "fans" methodically sweep the water in order to strain out any microorganisms (Leeuwenhook called them aufwuchs) or exceptionally small creatures, which would be eaten as the shrimp "licks" its fans in a rather amusing way. Because of this, this shrimp is only recommended for large tanks which have been matured for at least 6 months, as so there would be enough aufwuchs for the shrimp to eat.

Many owners of bamboo shrimp report that their beloved decapods are picking through the substrate like most other species. Unlike most other species, this is generally a very bad sign, as the shrimp most likely does not have enough food in the water column to eat. If this happens, the shrimp must be manually fed, usually by squirting newly hatched brine shrimp or finely powdered fish pellets in the shrimp's direction with a turkey baster.

As it requires a current to provide it with a constant supply of food, it is often beneficial to provide a large, flat rock or piece of driftwood which rests right in the output current of your filter, which provides the shrimp a surface on which to stand on as it waves its fans. Not only this, a piece of twisted driftwood, dense vegetation, or a rock cave is always useful for this timid species, as even at its large size, it is very vulnerable when molting and requires a place to hide.

Breeding bamboo shrimp in the aquarium is almost impossible, for, like Amano shrimp, these shrimp only spawn in brackish water. Like the Amano shrimp, you may see your female bamboo shrimp holding eggs, but they will not hatch.

Vampire Shrimp, Atya gabonensis (aka Viper Shrimp or Giant African Filter Shrimp

So apparently these guys grow to enormous crayfish proportions, e.g. 5 or so inches. However, it also appears that vampires are completely and utterly harmless to fish, which is supported by the fact that they completely lack any pincers of significant size, instead, using hairlike fans to filter food out of the water column. Despite their large size, vampire shrimp are surprisingly timid and therefore should not be housed with any fish that could potentially harm them, including cichlids. They pose absolutely no threat, and it seems unlikely that they would even go after fish fry.

Treat vampire shrimp like really big bamboos.


Planet Inverts - Planet Inverts
Live Aquaria -
Wikipedia -
AquaHobby -
AC Tropical Fish -
Experience of various Fishlore members -
Personal Experience


  • #2
I think it's a very good idea, it will be very helpful !

  • #3
This would be amazing
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Updated the thread to include the first member of Caridina, tiger shrimp. Coming up would be Amanos, CRS, filter-feeding shrimp, and a few new species from Sulawesi.

And still no FAQ questions.
  • #5
Excellent article! But the picture won't open for me
  • #6
Excellent article and very informative and helpful!


1. How many young on average do they have in one batch?

2. What is the time in between "spawns" if that's the correct term?

3. How long does it take for the babies to gain the size of young adults.

Sorry it took so long, Brian. For some reason, I just saw this tonight.


  • #7
Good morning,

Great job Elodea!

For the photo not opening:

Move your cursor to the link and do a right mouse click, then click on Open Link In New Window and it will open.

Thanks Elodea!


  • #8
Still didn't open for me
  • #9
Great info...thanks.......I have some in with some endlers.....theyre doing exceptionally well and I believe I even have new babies......
  • #10
thanks elodea! also, you can tie a piece of filter wool over the intake tube....use fishing line. when it's clogged, just replace. =]


  • #11
Another FAQ: How many shrimp can be kept in a tank of [x] size? e.g. 10G, 15G.

Or maybe easier: What is the ideal number of shrimp per gallon?
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Thanks guys and gals! Small update over long hiatus, I have Tigerfishy's FAQ up, BB, I need to go figure out the answer for yours', first. LOL.
  • #13
Quote: In a heavily planted, well-filtered tank, you can go with 10-15 Neocaridina species, like RCS, or ghost shrimp, per gallon.

Ghost Shrimp are not Neocaridina. They are part of the Palaeomonidae family.
  • #14
Great sticky!!

I am thinking of starting down the shrimp road and this was really helpful.


  • Thread Starter
  • #15

Because I decided to get off of my lazy bum and actually contribute to Fishlore in addressing the fact that 2 species does not account for "Common Shrimp in the Aquaria".

Vampire shrimp coming soon, hopefully later today.
  • #16
Ive notice you haven't mantioned XL American grass Shrimp I have three in my main tank they are around 3.5 inch long or are they uncommon
  • #17
This thread is 3 years old, doubt they are reading it anymore. Your glass shrimp are most likely ghost shrimp or some other similar shrimp from the paleomentes family. Check out planet inverts they have some care sheets on the left side of their home page.

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