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Tag Archives: Freshwater Shrimp

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Algae in Freshwater Aquariums and Ponds: a Primer (Part II)

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Please see Part I of this article for information on using plants and bacteria to control algae. Today I’d like to take a look at some algae-eating fishes, snails and shrimps.

Sucker Catfishes (Plecostomus, Hypostomus, Loricarichthys spp.)
An incredible array of fishes consume algae, with these interesting beauties being among the best known. Larger sucker cats and Chinese sailfin sharks (see article below) can also be kept in outdoor ponds.

Thailand Flying Fox, Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus
This nicely marked fish consumes all types of algae, and is also fond of the flatworms that sometimes arrive in aquariums along with live plants.

Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis
This fish is similar in appearance to other, less-effective species, and is sometimes sold as the “True Siamese Algae Eater”. It does well in schools, and consumes even the coarser varieties of hair and beard algae.

Chinese Hillstream Loach, Beaufortia kweichowensis
This small loach is one of my favorites. It has been compared to a flounder in appearance, but reminds me of the oddly-shaped torpedo rays.

This active loach is adapted to fast-flowing waters, and fares best in high oxygen environments. It is well-suited for removing algae from glass and plant leaves, and is rarely if ever bred in captivity…definitely a fish worth working with for those interested in breaking new ground.

Garra pingi pingi or Pingi Log Sucker, Discognathus pingi
Formerly rare in the trade, this stout East Asian bottom dweller has a huge appetite for algae of all types. Many aquarists find they must supplement its diet with algae wafers; those I have kept took pre-soaked kale as well.

This is another species which would make a nice breeding project, as only wild-caught animals are available at this point.

Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
The “standard” algae control fish in smaller aquariums, the taxonomy of this interesting species is somewhat of a mystery. While typically reaching 4 inches in length, I recall receiving shipments of individuals that topped 11 inches. I hope to keep some in an outdoor pond in the future, to see if the increased water volume might spur additional growth.

Algae eaters relentlessly comb rocks, glass and plant leaves for algae, and will take leftover fish flakes as well.

Freshwater Shrimp
Almost all of the dozen or so species currently available favor algae as food. Particularly attractive is the cherry shrimp, Neocaridina denticulata sinensis. Given proper care (please see article below) they will breed prolifically, with a large group making for a spectacular display.

Freshwater shrimp will co-exist with the fish mentioned above, but will, however, be harassed or eaten by fishes with carnivorous tendencies.

A number of snails live almost entirely upon algae, but many consume plants as well. Apple snails can eat a surprising number of plants overnight, while olive Nerites (please see article below) take only algae and do not reproduce in fresh water. The Japanese trapdoor snail is also a good choice, but needs warm, well-filtered water.

Further Reading
To learn more about some of the creatures mentioned above, please see the following articles:
Freshwater Shrimp

The Chinese Sailfin Shark

The Olive Nerite

Please write in with your questions and comments. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Freshwater Shrimp: an Overview of Popular Aquarium Species – Part 2

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part I of this article for information on the care of freshwater shrimps, and for profiles of other popular species.  Today I’ll highlight a few beautiful, lesser-known species in the genus Caridina and Brazil’s yellow-bellied grass shrimp.

Red-Nosed or Rhino Shrimp, Caridina gracilirostris

A relative newcomer to the trade, the rhino shrimp is already quite popular.  In its native India, this shrimp inhabits salt marshes and, while it thrives in freshwater, it will not reproduce without exposure to brackish water.  It also differs from other shrimps in its propensity to swim rather than crawl.

Rainbow Shrimp, Caridina babault

This ¾ inch beauty occupies a huge natural range – India through Malaysia – and occurs in an equally impressive range of colors – blue, red, rust, yellow and variations thereof. 

Black Forest Shrimp, Caridina sp.

Dwelling in Thailand and perhaps elsewhere in Southeast Asia, this shrimp-fancier’s favorite is boldly marked with a broad white band about the body and a white-tipped head.  At 1 inch in length, it is large enough to make quite an impressive display when kept in groups.

Brazilian Yellow-Bellied Grass Shrimp, Palaemon pantanal

One of the few South American species in the trade, this hardy 1.5 inch long fellow is best kept in cooler waters than the aforementioned species, and is an excellent choice for an outdoor pond.  It does best at temperatures of 68-70 F, but will remain active and healthy in colder conditions as well.

Further Reading

For information on keeping 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.

Please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Palaemon serratus image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Enrique Dans.

Bamboo Shrimp referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Faucon

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.


Keeping the African Giant Filter Shrimp (African Fan Shrimp, Vampire Shrimp), Atya gabonensis, Part 2

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Please see Part I of this article for further information.


Giant Fan ShrimpThe fan shrimp’s unique mode of feeding is very interesting to observe.  The first 2 appendages are lined with plume-like bristles which are waved about when food is detected.  Tiny organisms, organic detritus and algae are trapped in these and transferred to the mouth.  Fan shrimp will also pick food particles from the substrate, in more “typical shrimp” fashion, and I have several times observed them feeding on dead fish (at night).

If you keep fan shrimp with fish, it is important to introduce food at night, just before you turn out the lights…the shrimp will rarely get enough to eat otherwise.  I keep a few yo-yo loaches, Kuhli loaches and armored cats with mine, but beware of adding too many nocturnally-feeding fish.

Unlike many shrimps with specialized feeding adaptations, these accept nearly any pelleted or freeze dried food.  One of the few published reports on their feeding habits in the wild (please see below) established that fan shrimp are omnivorous, with algae forming a major part of the diet.  I therefore provide my shrimp with both plant and animal foods.  I use algae  and shrimp tablets as a basis of the diet, alternated with flake and freeze dried foods.  Liquid invertebrate food  may also be squirted into their hiding places.

African fan shrimp begin waving their feeding appendages about as soon as food is sensed.  I usually drop algae tabs or other foods right near them, after which they will move over it and begin waving away.  If you look closely, you’ll be able to see fine particles of food lodge in the brushes as the tablet dissolves.

My fan shrimp do not gravitate towards the filter outflow in order to trap food, as do the Singapore wood shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis) which share their tank.  They will, however, filter fine food particles from whatever water currents pass by their lairs.  Some suggest keeping these shrimp in well-established tanks that house high populations of diatoms and other micro-organisms.  Certainly this is a good idea, but as we know little of their actual food intake needs, I would suggest that shrimp in these situations be fed as described above as well.

Social Grouping/Compatible Species

African fan shrimp do exceedingly well in same-species groups; I have also kept them with Singapore wood shrimp, Atyopsis moluccensis, Japanese marsh shrimp, Caridina japonica and cherry shrimp, Neocardina denticulate.  Small, peaceful community fish such as guppies, zebra danios, cherry barbs and so on are also fine, but please see the feeding cautions above.

Alternatively, you can house fan shrimp with fish that do not compete for food, i.e. live food specialists such as elephant-nosed morymids and butterfly fish (both of which are also native to West Africa, although not to the same habitat-types).

Small and large cichlids, carnivorous catfish and crayfish will attack fan shrimp.

Captive Longevity

Unpublished reports set captive longevity at just over 5 years.


Anecdotal reports claim breeding success in heavily-planted outdoor ponds.  The young are said to be planktonic for a period of 2-3 weeks after hatching, which would certainly complicate matters in an aquarium.  I plan to look into this further and report back.


Giant Fan ShrimpFan shrimp are, as mentioned, very much oriented to a specific home cave, being more like crayfish than shrimp in this regard.  I imagine (but this has not been established) that such holds true in the wild as well.  I have observed them to become quite stressed if routed from their retreats.  In most cases, they wander about, often for days, before returning to the cave.

Be extremely careful when working around them, and avoid moving or re-arranging their caves.  I usually forego cleaning the glass directly in front of their caves, unless I happen to catch the shrimp “away from home” on rare foraging forays.  In those cases I’m always careful to return the rocks to their original position – a slight change in their shelter’s height or depth has seemingly caused my shrimp to seek “new accommodations”.

We have a great deal to learn about this and other freshwater invertebrates… please write in with your questions and comments. Thanks, Frank Indiviglio.

Very little has been published about this species in its natural habitat.  An interesting article concerning field research with fan shrimp in Nigeria is posted at:


Introduction to Freshwater Shrimp II

Welcome back Patty Little Back with profiles on two more types of freshwater shrimp you may find interesting and consider adding to a peaceful community tank. These are species that we commonly carry in the retail store.

Cherry Shrimp
Cherry ShrimpCherry Shrimp, Neocaridina heteropoda, are named for their deep red, speckled coloration. They originated from Northeast Asia and this is not their color in the wild; they have been selectively bred to enhance the reds. Their natural coloration is reddish brown to brown to help them blend to their environment. Cherry Shrimp are common, colorful, cheap, and hardy. They are an ideal beginner shrimp as they may survive in conditions that many shrimp will not tolerate.
Cherry Shrimp thrive in a wide array of conditions. Ph from 6.0-8.0, soft or hard, temps from 72-84 will be tolerated with ease. They will eat about anything from flake and pellet to fresh and frozen offerings like spinach, spirulina, bloodworms and a variety of other offerings, but though healthy specimens will attack food with vigor, they do not need to be offered food every day. Overfeeding can cause health issues and fowl the water.
Cherry Shrimp only grow to be about an inch in length. Males are easily distinguished from females as they are significantly smaller and have less intense coloration. A small colony of 5 or 6 shrimp will give you good odds of having both sexes. These shrimp are known to be quite prolific and will breed regularly and produce fry which can be raised easily under good conditions and as long as no fish are present. Mature females will show a yellow-green “saddle”, which are actually eggs developing in her ovaries. The fertilized eggs are carried by the female under the tail for 2-4 weeks until the young shrimp hatch and disperse. The tiny shrimp babies are identical versions of the parents. Colonies of these shrimp are easy to establish and small species set-ups can be ideal to really get to know these fascinating little guys! Image referenced from Wikipedia Commons, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/13/Two_red_cherry_shrimp.jpg

Bamboo Shrimp
There are several different types of filter feeding shrimp that are available in the aquarium trade. One of the coolest, I think, is the Bamboo Shrimp, aka Fan Shrimp, Wood Shrimp, Asian Filter Shrimp, Mountain Shrimp, and Singapore Shrimp. This species, Atyopsis moluccensis, is quite attractive and bold in a predator free tank, a worthwhile addition though they can be a little pricey. They grow to 2.5-4 inches in length and at that size they can easily become a centerpiece member of your aquarium community. They are safe for docile tankmates despite their large size, as they are filter feeders.
Bamboo Shrimp occur in a varying range of colors, but are typically some shade of red, tan, or brown. A cream colored to yellow stripe runs down the center of the shrimp’s back, and thinner stripes line the flanks. The most appealing physical characteristic of these shrimp are the fan-like filtering appendages they use to collect food. The fine filaments open to collect tiny bits of food (as opposed to claws like most shrimp) which are swiped through the shrimp’s jaws. Feeding requires that the shrimp is able to sit in an area of current, so some keepers suggest that wood or some other furniture is placed in an area of moderate flow so the shrimp has a good place to perch and feed. Periodic feedings of liquid invert foods may be appreciated, but in great moderation so water quality does not decline.
Bamboo shrimp can live for several years under good conditions. They prefer Ph between 6.5 and 7.5, temps between 72 and 82F. These shrimp need specific conditions to breed and reproduction with this species is not something that will occur in a freshwater aquarium as the larvae need varying degrees of salinity as they mature before returning to freshwater as mature specimens. This species is captivating and if given the right conditions can be a real conversation piece for aquarists. A large planted tank with plenty of flow will be prime real estate.
I hope to blog on some other less common freshwater shrimp in the next installment of this series, tune in again!