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If you are in search of a new and interesting aquatic animal to add in your aquarium then you should definitely consider freshwater aquarium shrimps. These are some of the most fascinating and gorgeous creatures that you can house in your tank.
What most aquarists fail to take into consideration is the important role played by shrimps in freshwater aquariums. Not only are freshwater shrimps beautiful to look at, but they also help to keep your tank clean and healthy. Being scavengers, they eat unwanted algae and also help in cleaning up after your aquarium fish, leaving your tank water clean. Simply put, they improve your tank’s water quality.
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There are, however, numerous shrimp varieties and this makes it difficult to pick one that will best suit your tank. Let us take a closer look at a few of the most common aquarium shrimps to help make your decision easier.
15 best freshwater shrimp varieties
1. Red Cherry Shrimp
This type of shrimp comes in a huge variety of beautiful colors, except for the purple color. The most popular kind sold is the red colored shrimp and thus the name red cherry. When compared to other colored shrimp species, this particular species is the easiest to look after.
They are not picky eaters and will consume essentially anything that is fed to them. A huge portion of their diet is, however, biofilm, which is basically a natural accumulation of everything found in an aquarium. A mature biofilm takes a lot of months to eventually develop and so these shrimps should only be introduced to a completely cycled tank, which takes approximately 2 to 3 months.
The red cherry shrimp can co-exist with any other shrimp or fish that won’t consume them. And when it comes to their temperament, they are hardly ever aggressive. They are, in fact, one of the most peaceful shrimp species.
2. Neocaridina Shrimp
Closely related to the red cherry shrimp, the neocaridina shrimp aka the yellow shrimp make for good additions in any aquarium. The name “yellow shrimp” is attributed to their lemon color, however, there are a few individuals that are shinier. The more translucent color is as a result of the selective breeding between wild brownish-grey neocaridina descendants that took place over the years specifically for their yellow pigment.
A number of these somewhat translucent shrimp are really far along with the selective breeding procedure as the opaque lemons that possess the desired deep yellow color.
The price of this shrimp species varies depending on the color, with the somewhat translucent ones being significantly cheaper than the opaque yellow ones. And just in case you are intending to set up your own program for selective breeding, then you need to know that colonies comprising of 10 individuals go for about 40 dollars.
3. Blue Velvet Shrimp
Blue velvet shrimp are normally selectively bred with the help of the same neocaridina species used for the yellow and cherry shrimps. They are stunning blue color makes them quite attractive to the eyes.
They will consume almost anything that the stumble upon in the aquarium including algae. Nonetheless, they should be fed on high-protein shrimp pellets to promote breeding.
The females often grow to be slightly larger than the males and they are capable of growing to a maximum length of 2 inches. The males, on the other hand, can only grow to a maximum length of about one and a half inches.
This particular shrimp species should be housed alone, separate from any other species in order to ensure the purity of the strain. They do well when planted tanks with a capacity of at least 10 gallons.
4. Caridina Babaulti
This variety of caridina is popular for its vertically striped body. And just like the red cherry shrimp, caridina babaluti come in a broad range of colors, the most common ones being brown, red, and yellow.
They enjoy feeding on rotting vegetation, which makes planted aquariums their ideal home. Supplementing their diet with blanched vegetables is something that they will definitely love.
This shrimp species can be housed in community tanks with other peaceful inhabitants. They are, however, shy and are very easily intimated by other fish or shrimps. When housed with other caridina shrimp, interbreeding might take place and that is precisely why it is advisable to only house them with the neocaridina dwarf shrimp.
Given that they are a new addition in the shrimp keeping hobby, not much is really known about these cute, colorful creatures. They are, therefore, not recommended for beginners.
5. Crystal Red and Black Shrimp
These are one of the most stunning shrimp, particularly planted tanks. Whereas the neocaridina shrimp are often translucently colored (apart from the black rose, blood Mary, and cherry shrimps), the crystal red and black shrimp are very strong and solidly colored.
This shrimp species is among the most common picks for nano planted aquariums. These shrimps are, however, quite sensitive and so the nano tank has to have a capacity of at least five gallons to ensure that the water parameters are always stable. Any drastic changes in TDS, kH, or gH as a result of evaporation could be detrimental to these shrimps.
The crystal red and black shrimp also require a mature and well-established biofilm in their tank. And given that they are a more costly shrimp species, a lot of aquarists avoid housing them in community aquariums. This, however, does not mean that they cannot be housed with other peaceful shrimp or fish.
The main problem with community tanks is that this shrimp species often find it difficult to put up with massive water changes. In fact, water changes that are above 20 or even 10 percent can seriously shock and kill them. That is not all! Nitrates, even at low levels, are lethal to these particular shrimps. And when you are only allowed to change 10 percent of the tank water at a time, it becomes almost impossible to keep the level of nitrates down.
6. Black King Kong (BKK), Wine Red, and Blue Bolt Shrimp
All these shrimp species are totally gorgeous and stunning; they are quite beautiful to look at. Their eye-catching coloration and intricate care make them the “holy grail” for hobbyists. The wine red shrimp is the BKK’s red version and they share a couple of patterns.
The BKK and wine red shrimps are either solidly colored, feature a tiny white triangle located on the hump, o have a white striped “panda” patterning. Their stripped pattern is actually the reverse of that found on the Crystal shrimp. The crystal shrimp has whiteheads whereas wine reds and the black king kong have red and blackheads, respectively.
The blue bolt, on the other hand, doesn’t have any clear patterning. It instead has grades that are based on their blue color. Lower grades have white bodies with mottled blue heads, and as you increase in grade, the quantity of white reduces and blue becomes deeper.
All these shrimps can be housed in a single aquarium without any worries of loss of color. The resultant offspring will resemble the adults. These shrimp species are quite pricy and a single shrimp can cost you most than 100 dollars!
7. Tiger Shrimp
Tier shrimps have clear bodies with vertical, thin stripes. They are a hardy species and quite easy to look after. They also need a well-established aquarium and cannot withstand water changes that are more than 10 or 20 percent.
There are several color variations of the tiger shrimp, the most conspicuous one being the Orange Eyed Blue Tiger (OEBT). Other variations include the Black tiger, Royal blue OEBT, Blue tigers, tangerine tigers, Galaxy tigers, and Super tigers among others.
Similar to most other species of shrimp, they mainly feed on biofilm and waste, but you can still substitute their diet with blanched vegetables and shrimp pellets.
8. Amano Shrimp
If you are looking for attractive shrimp that are also easy to look after then you will definitely love the amano shrimp. They are social creatures and do well when in groups of at least four. It’s very entertaining to watch them moving around together, swimming over plants, snatching food from fish, and then swimming away to eat the food away from other fish.
Amano shrimp are among the best algae eaters that you can ever come across. They will seriously devour any nasty algae habiting your tank, leaving your aquarium completely free of algae.
Most aquarium amano shrimp are normally wild-caught. This is because the young ones have to undergo a saltwater or brackish stage before going through metamorphosis, upon which they are no longer capable of surviving in saltwater.
9. Ghost Shrimp
Anyone looking for the easiest shrimp species to look after should consider getting a ghost shrimp. Also known as glass shrimp, ghost shrimp are often used as feeders, which makes them very cheap; they are sold at 0.30 dollars per piece. They are known to be very hardy and provided that they drip acclimatized just like fellow shrimp, they should do well.
However, given that they are mostly utilized as feeders, you should expect about two-thirds of the shrimp you purchase to die. They live in deplorable conditions and this results in early death. Nonetheless, there isn’t any other shrimp species that is easier to look after than the ghost shrimp.
They are often housed with bettas since they are too huge to be consumed and do well in most community tanks. You will find them grazing at the bottom of your tank for food remains and so to get sufficient protein, you will have to supplement their diet with shrimp pellets.
For reproduction to take place, you will need a female and male. The two will mate and the female shrimp will be observed holding a number of eggs in her swimmerets for about 3 to 4 weeks. It is after this period that these eggs will finally hatch into larvae, which will then undergo metamorphosis in a week.
10. Indian Whisker Shrimp
This shrimp species is quite similar to the ghost shrimp. They are, however, very aggressive towards fish such as bettas. Ghost shrimps feature two pale red spots on their tails, red stripes on their claw arms, and a bit of red on their antennae. The Indian whisker shrimp, on the other hand, does not have these. They, instead, have light blue shade and they grow significantly longer claws as they get older.
Apart from these slight differences, the ghost and Indian whisker shrimps look alike and are frequently sold as each other. One major difference between the two is that a young ghost shrimp is capable of surviving in freshwater whereas a young Indian whisker can’t.
11. Vampire Shrimp
Do not the spooky name scare you away! Vampire shrimp massively resemble crayfish and are, in fact, a great substitute to the huge crayfish. At first glance, they might be confused for crayfish, until you realize that their clans are in fact fans.
They generally grow to a length of 3 inches when housed in an average-sized tank, although they are those that claim that these shrimp are capable of growing to 6 inches. They are filter feeders and so harming your fish is almost impossible. This, however, doesn’t mean that they have to be housed in a tank with high water flow and suspended particulates.
Despite their huge size, Vampire shrimp are somewhat guarded, and they often spend their time hiding or chilling in high water flow regions. When housing these shrimps, it is normally advisable to place either one or two decorations in regions with high water flow so that these shrimp can rest on top of them and feed.
Most vampire shrimp are wild-caught, which makes them a rare species. And not unless you have a remarkable local fish store, you will have to place your order online. Just like the Amano shrimp, their larvae require salt or brackish water to develop, but the adults can’t withstand high salinity.
12. Pinto Shrimp
The pinto shrimp exhibit the classic solid coloration displayed by the Caridina shrimp. They feature white stripes, spots, and triangles based on the pattern and they come in either red or black varieties. The patterns are three in number; zebra, fancy, and spotted head.
These shrimp species is quite difficult to look after but their extreme beauty makes up for this. Some popular fancy patterns include skunk, fishbone, cloud, galaxy, and spotted head. Only a few pinto patters breed true. Most of them provide you with the opportunity to come up with your own variety.
This shrimp species is not tolerant to massive water changes. And it is precisely for this reason that they are kept in species-only aquariums for close observation.
13. Wood/Bamboo Shrimp
Wood shrimp, also commonly referred to as bamboo shrimp are tiny shrimp with remarkable camouflage abilities. Being a filter-feeding variety, their tank should have a strong current. They enjoy sitting on decorations that are positioned in the strong water flow and then open up their fans.
They wave their tiny fans in the flowing water, running it over their mouth every now and then. They use their fans to trap small particulates in the moving water, which is actually their main food source.
The fact that they are filter feeders makes them a bit challenging to care for. It is hard to make sure that they are getting enough food and so they do need a bit of extra care.
This particular shrimp species requires its tank to have plenty of hiding spaces given that they basically have no means of defending themselves against aggressive tank mates. The good thing about them is that they are capable of fitting into most community tanks, provided the tank has peaceful inhabitants and a high water flow.
14. Snowball Shrimp
This stunning freshwater shrimp species gets its interesting name from its white translucent color together with the small pure white eggs that are produced by the females that resemble tiny snowballs.
They are one of the best varieties for beginners as they are very easy to look after. They prefer waters with pH values ranging from 7.0 to 7.5 and temperatures ranging from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. And as long as these two requirements are fulfilled and they are housed in a tank planted with plants such as the java fern, the snowball shrimp will start breeding.
Like most crustaceans, the snowball shrimp shed off their exoskeleton with time as they grow. That said, do not freak out if you notice an unresponsive shrimp at your tank’s bottom. Remove it and you will be surprised to find out that it is just the outer shell.
15. Blue Bolt Shrimp
The blue bolt shrimp is a white and blue color variation of the bee shrimp. Like most other shrimp, they are known to be peaceful creatures that are capable of thriving in community aquariums provided the tank does not have any large fish that might want to feed on them, for instance, tiger barbs.
A tank with a capacity of 10 gallons will provide enough space to house a massive colony of nearly 40 individuals. And if the tank is densely planted and its water temperatures are maintained between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with pH values of 6.2 to 7.8, this shrimp will start to breed.
A colony of about 10 to 15 individuals is recommended when starting.
Selecting the right tank mates for your freshwater aquarium shrimp
As mentioned earlier, it is best to keep some shrimp species in shrimp-only aquariums as they might get attacked and eaten by the larger fish. But that does not mean that shrimp and fish can’t co-exist in one tank. There are, in fact, some fish species that can be housed with shrimps without any sort of danger.
If you wish to house the two together, just ensure that the fish species you go for is not carnivorous. To be on the safe side, you should even avoid omnivorous fish as they have the potential to prey on shrimp too.
Another important factor to take into consideration is your tank’s condition. Your aquarium’s conditions should allow your shrimp to thrive and then select fish that match these conditions. Shrimp tend to be very sensitive to certain water parameters. That said, you’ll want to ensure that your aquarium is set up to their needs and then proceed to choose the other tank occupants based on how well they can adjust to those parameters.
A good rule to go by when selecting tank mates for your aquarium shrimp is that calm and peaceful community species of fish are always the best. Shrimp often get stressed by fast-swimming or lively fish and that is why it is advisable to go for gentle fish species such as livebearers, rasboras, and tetras just to mention a few.
As you can tell from the above list, there are lots of great options available out there when it comes to shrimps for freshwater aquariums. But before settling on one species for your tank, there are a couple of things that you need to consider.
Note that not all species of shrimp thrive in community tanks, particularly if aggressive fish are in the mix. Such fish are likely to prey on your shrimp. That said, you need to go for a shrimp species that will work well with what you already have.
Also, before introducing freshwater shrimp to your aquarium, it is vital to ensure that the water parameters match your shrimp’s needs and that your aquarium is well stabilized.
And just in case you are thinking about shrimp breeding, ensure that you get a variety that breeds quickly and easily. Some species are really difficult breeders and may give you a hard time, particularly if you are still new in the game.
All in all, shrimp make for beautiful and interesting additions to any tank environments. And apart from their beauty, most of them feed in rotting plant matter, detritus, and algae, leaving your tank clean and healthy.
So if you’re thinking of adding amazing water creatures to your freshwater aquarium, consider one of the 15 species that have been mentioned above.