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Introduction to Freshwater Shrimp

Please welcome back Patty Little to That Fish Blog. Patty has previously written such articles as Water Gardening in Natural Ponds & Preparing Your Pond Plants After Winter. Please welcome Patty Back to That Patty LittleFish Blog.

As aquarists, we may find ourselves in a constant quest to find the next unique and interesting creature to enhance our underwater display.   We may not always consider shrimp when we ponder species to add, but if you’re looking for something new, particularly if you have a planted community, freshwater shrimp species may be just what you’re looking for.  Shrimp are not only fun to observe, but in many cases they serve as efficient cleaners.

There are several species of freshwater shrimp offered commonly in the aquarium hobby, some more often than others.  Let me introduce you to the first two species you may encounter in your quest.  I’ll talk about some others in my future blogs.

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp, aka glass shrimp, are probably the most common shrimp offered in the trade, but they are usually offered as a live food source or treat for predators, both marine and freshwater.   These guys are terrific additions to the home aquarium, as they serve as scavengers as well as consumers of soft algae on rock, wood, and other surfaces.  These shrimp, Palaeomonetes sp., are hardy, inexpensive, and low maintenance.  They are virtually translucent, though some may be slightly more opaque with a hint of white or green to their exoskeleton, and a small orange or yellow dot adorns the tail.  The contents of their stomach, or at least the color of their last meal is quite visible.  They have ten pairs of legs, the front 2 tipped with small claws for feeding. Ghost shrimp grow to about 2 inches, and they tend to grow quickly.
They do not tend to have long lives, maybe about a year or so.  Be sure to ask your source if they are housed in freshwater, as there are some species that are brackish or marine, and will not tolerate full freshwater for extended periods. Otherwise, they are fairly undemanding.  They prefer a clean environment with low to neutral Ph, and temperatures ranging from the low 60’s to the mid 80’s.  They like plenty of cover like plants and caves, and will be perfectly happy scavenging leftover flake food and algae.  Ghost Shrimp can be housed in groups or singly in smaller tanks, and they can be housed with peaceful community fish, particularly small tank mates like tetras, rasboras, and other non-predatory fish.

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp, sometimes offered as Japanese Marsh Shrimp or Yamoto Numa-Ebi, were introduced and popularized by Takashi Amano, whose planted aquaria are world renowned.  These little shrimp are about 2 inches at maturity, and are prized by aquarists with planted tanks for their algae-eating habits.  Algae and decaying plant matter is their primary diet, though as with most shrimp, they will greedily eat flake food when offered, and may eat some soft plants like java moss if algae is in short supply.  They are attractive shrimp, with light brown bodies and a tan stripe down the middle of the back.  They have reddish-brown markings along their sides.  They are relatively long lived, and absolutely safe in community environments.
Amano Shrimp are not tolerant of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels, and the aquarium housing them must be well maintained.  They prefer a Ph of 6.0-7.5 and temps from the high 50’s to the high 70’s.  If your algae issue is significant, feed flakes sparingly to steer them to the soft algae.  They will not be successful with tougher algae like spot algae and the infamous Black Brush Algea.

Thanks for the great article Patty,

Until next time,


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