Home | Aquarium Livestock | Freshwater Shrimp: an Overview of Popular Aquarium Species – Part 1

Freshwater Shrimp: an Overview of Popular Aquarium Species – Part 1

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Until recently, freshwater shrimp have largely been ignored in the US aquarium trade. I’ve kept a few native species over the years, and was awed by some huge, long-clawed specimens that I collected and released in Costa Rica.  But it wasn’t until I visited Japan several years ago that I became aware of the scores of small, colorful Asian and South American shrimps that were being bred and sold regularly there.  Happily, most of those I came across at that time are now well established in the trade here in the USA.

Environment and Tankmates

The following shrimps will co-exist with one another, provided the dietary needs of the specialists are met.  All thrive at temperatures of 74-80 F and a pH range of 6.5-7.5.  They do best in heavily planted aquariums with moderate water flow and, like many invertebrates, are very sensitive to ammonia.  Many species appear somewhat social, congregating together, and most gravitate to and forage on driftwood if such is provided. 

Freshwater shrimps may be housed with small, peaceful aquarium fishes, but will be attacked buy predatory species and crayfishes.  I have had very good luck in keeping breeding groups with guppies, armored cats (Corydoras spp.) and hill stream, coolie and yo-yo loaches.

Feeding Shrimp

All the following species consume algae, with some favoring hair algae, but they also take a wide variety of flakes, pellets, carrion and organic detritus.  Shrimp of all types are seemingly always foraging, day and night, and should be provided with a wide variety of food options. 

In addition to live algae, I offer freshwater shrimps tropical fish flakes, shrimp pellets, spirulina tablets and live brine shrimp.  If water quality is not an issue, it is also a good idea to allow them to feed upon an occasional small, dead fish.

Amano or Japanese Marsh Shrimp and Relatives, Caridina multidentata

This East Asian import was one of the first species established here, and is still a favorite.  Please see the article referenced below for further information.

The closely related dwarf blackberry shrimp and emerald green shrimp, both native to Thailand, are beautifully patterned and may hybridize with the amano shrimp.  All three prefer to feed upon hair algae, but will take a wide variety of other foods.

Bumblebee Shrimp, Caridina trifasciata

Another Japanese import, the bumblebee is strikingly marked in black and white and possessed of a squat build that makes it seem larger than its ¾ inches.  Voracious scavengers as well as algae eaters, a group of these beautiful shrimps makes a spectacular display.

Orange Halo or Bee Shrimp, Caridina sp.

Favoring hair algae, this native of Thailand is bright orange in color and reaches ¾ inches in length.  In common with its relatives, the orange bee shrimp does best in groups.

Pearl or Snowflake Shrimp, Macrobrachium mirabile

A giant among the dwarf shrimp, this long-clawed species may top 2 inches in length.  It hails from India, where it favors the brackish water of river mouths.  Captives do fine in freshwater, however, and make excellent scavengers.  Despite its size, it is inoffensive to its smaller cousins.

Further Reading

For information on keeping the popular amano, cherry and bamboo shrimps, please see An Introduction to Freshwater Shrimps.

To learn more about a truly unique shrimp, please check out my article Keeping the African Giant Filter Shrimp.

Next time I’ll cover a few species that are rather new to the trade, as well as some more colorful and unique favorites.  Please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.


About Frank Indiviglio

Read other posts by

Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.