Top 5 Dwarf Shrimp for Your Next Freshwater Aquarium
Because of their unique colors and abilities, dwarf shrimp have seen a rapid rise in popularity in aquariums since 2000. 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. There are many types of grass shrimp. Whisker shrimp, long-arm shrimp and even prawns. Because they have clear-colored bodies it can be difficult to identify their exact care needs. Some ghost shrimp species prefer freshwater, while some prefer brackish water. Some live 1.5 inches (4 cm), while others grow to 5 in (13 cm) and might try to eat their tankmates.
There is no guarantee that they will survive in an aquarium with the diverse species you get. But most of them can be kept in tropical temperature ranges between 70-80degF and 22-27degC. 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. These 1.5-inch (4cm) shrimp come in many other colors than red. These shrimp are stunning to look at and also make great cleanup crew members. They eat crumbs and pick up 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. Give them both clean water and nutritious foods, and they will readily produce tiny babies for you. Our detailed breeding article provides more information on how to breed and keep cherry shrimp.
3. Amano Shrimp
Caridina Multidentata is another translucent shrimp that we have on our list. It can grow to 2 inches (5cm) long and has dots or dashes running down its lateral. Although they are quite common, Takashi Amano was the father in modern aquascaping. He often used amano shrimp because of their extraordinary ability to consume algae. If they’re hungry enough, this species will eat brown diatoms, hair alga, and even black beardalga. They are much more robust than other shrimp. They can tolerate temperatures up to 65-80F (18-27degC), pH between 6.5 and 8.2, and GH levels above 4deg (70ppm). Just keep a tight lid on the aquarium because they love to escape if given the chance. 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 or wood shrimp, grows to 2-3 inches (5-9cm) in length and has feathery fans at its front legs to capture and eat small particles floating in the water. Due to their feeding habits, a sponge filter is recommended. It won’t remove all the crumbs from the water. You can then give them finely ground foods like Repashy gel foods (in its raw form), Hikari First Bite and specialty foods for filter feeding shrimp. If your fan shrimp is foraging on the ground, it could be a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients, so consider increasing its daily portion size, target feeding with a pipette, and adding tall decorations for it to perch on while catching food. Bamboo shrimp larvae, like the amano shrimps, need salt water to survive. They will not reproduce in an aquarium.
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. They do well in water between 68-75degF (20-25degC), pH lower than 7.0, low KH, and 4-7deg (470-130ppm) GH. But, for the best results, you should ask the seller where the shrimp were kept. To keep the water parameters stable, many hobbyists prefer using active buffering substrate to lower the pH, as well as RODI (reverse osmosis deionized) water with mineral additives specific to bee shrimp.
To delve deeper into the world of freshwater aquarium shrimp, read this comprehensive article by Chris Lukhaup (The Shrimp King). Also, don’t forget to check out our list of preferred vendors to browse their amazing selection of shrimp.