Some varieties of aquarium shrimp can be added to community tanks while others are better establishing their own colony in a designated aquarium.
What you’re hoping to accomplish with your shrimp will determine what kind of shrimp is right for you.
If you’re thinking about adding some new life to your aquarium, here are the 10 best freshwater aquarium shrimp to consider:
1. Red Cherry Shrimp
These are one of the most popular species because of their bright, beautiful color and because they’re easy to care for.
They do well in community tanks as long as there are no aggressive fish present.
2. Ghost Shrimp
If you’re looking for the easiest shrimp to care for, it is, without a doubt, the ghost shrimp.
They’re great for first-time shrimp owners and are great scavengers so they make a fine addition to a non-aggressive community tank.
3. Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimp are another variety that’s really easy to care for and a good choice for a beginner.
They can tolerate more fluctuations in water balance and will eat just about anything. Plus, they’re fast breeders who will grow a colony in no time.
4. Blue Tiger Shrimp
This is another gorgeous shrimp that will add a pop of color to any tank.
They’re easy to care for as long though they’re very sensitive to ammonia and nitrate so it’s very important not to overfeed them.
5. Panda Shrimp
Named for their bold black and white patterns, panda shrimp are both eye-catching and a little less common than most of the other shrimp we included on our list.
They’re very sensitive to water changes and breed very slowly.
6. Babaulti Shrimp
Babaulti shrimp come in a variety of colors and some striped varieties.
They’re pretty easy to take care of and are more resilient to things being a little off-kilter. They love to eat dead plants and make a great addition to a planted tank.
7. Blue Bolt Shrimp
This rare species is one of the most unique looking and features a bright blend of blue, green, and yellow coloring.
They’re very sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates and can be difficult to find in regular pet stores.
8. Crystal Red Shrimp
These gorgeous shrimp have grown very popular and experts have begun breeding them achieve elaborate and unique patterns so these shrimp can be a little expensive. They’re also a little more difficult to care for.
9. Bumblebee Shrimp
Named for their black and gold striped pattern, these shrimp are really sensitive to water chemistry and are not a good choice for beginners.
They’re a great addition to a tank with red cherry shrimp because they like the same kind of water and won’t interbreed.
10. Amano Shrimp
These shrimp are known for their love of eating algae. They’re easy to care for though not so easy to breed.
They’re one of the largest varieties, growing to 2 to 3”. This makes them great for community tanks as they’re too large for most fish to eat.
Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp Tank Mates
Unfortunately, most fish are not friendly tank mates for shrimp, especially if you’re planning on breeding them and baby shrimp make a quick and easy meal for even the smallest aquarium fish.
There are a few fish that can live peacefully with freshwater shrimp. Otto cats and small plecos have sucker type mouths and will leave baby shrimp alone.
Of course, if you don’t plan on breeding and raising the young, you have a few more options. Guppies and Tetras are both great tank mates. They may eat the babies but they’re too small to bother adult shrimp.
A good rule of thumb is any fish that’s not an aggressive breed and has a mouth that’s too small to eat an adult shrimp is probably safe to add to the tank.
While most types of fish have a stereotypical temperament, remember, it really all does come down to the individual fish. They have personalities, too, and just because a type of fish is considered “non-aggressive” doesn’t mean the individual fish won’t be.
Snails are a great option. Some, like Red Ramshorns, Spixi, or Trumpet snails, can actually benefit your tank. They won’t eat the living plants and are great scavengers. Plus, most importantly, they won’t eat the shrimp, even the babies.
Each of these types of snails has other benefits, too. Red Ramshorns will take care of uneaten food and even eat algae from the glass. They come in a few bright colors and are a beautiful addition to a shrimp tank.
Trumpet snails burrow into the substrate and help to oxygenate it which can help build beneficial bacterial colonies that are so important to a thriving tank environment. They only come out at night and when it’s time to eat. They also scavenge uneaten food and help keep the aquarium clean.
Spixi snails are a variety of apple snails. They’re much larger than the other two snails mentioned and shouldn’t be kept in small aquariums. If you have a large aquarium, though, they’ll take care of algae and uneaten food. Plus, they’ll leave the shrimp alone.
If you plan on keeping Dwarf Shrimp but not breeding them or raising the young, there are many fish that make great tank mates. Endlers Livebearers, Guppies, many species of Tetras, and most species of Killifish make great cohabitants.
Again, it’s really important to consider aggressiveness of the fish you’re trying to put with the shrimp.
Another thing to consider is size. If a non-aggressive fish has a mouth less than half the size of a full grown shrimp, the fish won’t be able to eat it. That said, if they’re aggressive, they can still injure the shrimp or cause it a lot of stress, another reason aggressive fish should be avoided.
How to Care for Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp?
In order to understand the basic care of these shrimp, it helps to consider where they live in nature. Most of the popular freshwater shrimp breeds originated in eastern Asia.
Ghost shrimp, which are native to the American South, are the only glaring exception.
Their origin really affects the type of environment they like, especially when it comes to water temperature and pH.
Let’s start with a little more information about the kind of environment aquarium shrimp like to live in.
Tank and Water Requirements
Larger species require aquariums of at least 10 gallons while smaller shrimp can thrive in 10 gallons or less. Live plants are recommended and you should make sure that the substrate is designed for shrimp keeping.
Take care with the filter, too. Some intakes can be a little too powerful and actually suck the shrimp in. One solution is to cover the filter with a screen or switch to an air driven sponge filter.
Although specific requirements vary for each species, there are some common things that apply to them all. First, ammonia and nitrites should be kept to undetectable levels and nitrates should stay below 10 ppm.
pH requirements vary from species to species. For example, ghost shrimp, Amano, and bamboo shrimp aren’t picky about pH and will do well as long as it doesn’t reach either extreme. On the other hand, crystal shrimp need low pH while Caridina shrimp need higher pH.
Research the type of shrimp you’re planning to buy so you know for sure what the water chemistry needs to be, especially if you already have an existing tank and can’t easily make changes.
Once you’ve added the shrimp to the tank, a partial water change is required every week. Start with a 10% change one week, then do 25% the next, and repeat.
Freshwater shrimp are algae eaters which is why you shouldn’t put them in a brand new aquarium. Shrimp eat the biofilm that forms in an aquarium after it’s been cycled a few times and a healthy community of shrimp can survive on this alone.
Once the shrimp population grows, though, they will require supplemental food. The good news is they’re not picky and will eat just about anything. There are plenty of different flakes and bite available commercially or you can try very small pieces of pear, spinach, or cucumbers.
A big thing to remember is it’s always better to underfeed shrimp than overfeed them. Overfeeding can cause a lot of problems and the shrimp will be just fine if they’re slightly underfed.
As we mentioned, when the shrimp population is small, they can survive on the biofilm that naturally grows in the tank. Eventually, though, you will need to add food.
There’s no definitive answer as to when you should begin feeding. Once the shrimp population grows, do a test by offering them a small amount of food. Remove any food that hasn’t been eaten after an hour to prevent overfeeding and keep the tank clean. If they’ve eaten, you can begin feeding them.
Start by giving them food only a few times a week. Try different amounts until you figure out how much they need. If the food is all gone really quickly, add a little more. If there’s a lot left after an hour, you probably gave them too much.
Remember that, if you’re breeding, the shrimp population can grow pretty rapidly which means the food requirements will be constantly changing. The big takeaway is not to overfeed as it leads to contaminated water and could kill your shrimp.