Although they might not be what you first think of when you envision having an aquarium pet, freshwater shrimp can be a great addition to your community tank if you’re looking for something unique!
The best freshwater aquarium shrimp for a beginner is a shrimp species that is easy to take care of and that will thrive in the type of water you have. The choices are soft water shrimp and hard water shrimp. Care for these different species varies and each has its own requirements.
Keep reading to learn everything you ever wanted to know about having pet shrimp in an aquarium! Get ready to be a shrimp keeper!
Here is a list of the most popular freshwater aquarium shrimp for beginners.
Best Freshwater Shrimp For Beginners
Amano Shrimp Description
Possibly one of the best algae eaters on this list, Amano shrimp are a popular shrimp you can find in many pet stores.
Also called japonica shrimp, Amano shrimp thrive in a community tank, and can sometimes hold their own against larger shrimp.
NOTE: If one of your current fish can fit a shrimp in its mouth, you should be careful of housing the two together. You don’t want your Amano shrimp to end up as a snack!
An interesting fact about Amano shrimp is they cannot breed in freshwater and need to be born in saltwater. After they are babies, they will spend the rest of their life in freshwater.
Amano Shrimp Care
One of the hardiest shrimp, Amano shrimp can thrive in nearly all conditions, as long as the water parameters are clean.
For temperature, Amano shrimp can be kept anywhere from 65 degrees to 85 degrees, and their pH levels can range from 6.5 to 8.0. Anything lower than a pH of 6.5 can dissolve their shells.
Babaulti Shrimp Description
The Babaulti shrimp is another great option for beginner freshwater shrimp enthusiasts. This shrimp is a bit unusual and not one of the most popular but it should be because it has a great look.
Colors include green and it even has what looks like Zebra stripes! What more could you want. The Babaulti shrimp originates in India and other parts of Asia.
Babaulti Shrimp Care
Plan on at least having a five-gallon take for your easy-going Babaulti shrimp but ten gallons is always better. They like to hide behind plants and rocks so include those in the aquarium.
The Babaulti shrimp is a dwarf shrimp so take care not to put them in with larger fish as you will one day find they have disappeared!
Babaulti shrimp like to eat algae, biofilm, and old decaying plants. Just make sure they get enough to eat on a daily basis. That is your job as aquarium keeper of the shrimp!
Bamboo Shrimp Description
A truly unique creature, the Bamboo shrimp or Atyopsis moluccensis, is a species of shrimp that filter feeds on small particles in the water column through its fan-like hands.
This can make care somewhat hard, but as long as you feed them properly they can grow to be four inches long and a gorgeous reddish-brown.
Because of their larger size, bamboo shrimp are a good choice for fish aquariums with larger fish as they are not as likely to be eaten as the other species of dwarf shrimp.
Bamboo Shrimp Care
The best way to care for this unique species of shrimp is to provide conditions similar to that of its natural environment.
To do this you should have fast-flowing water (not a sponge filter) and have a tank of at least 20 gallons. There should be plenty of hiding places for the shrimp and you should feed it specialized powdered food.
One of the most popular ways to do this is to target feed food directly upstream of where the shrimp is so it can filter feed.
In general, bamboo shrimp like the tank to be about 68 to 77 degrees and have a pH of 6.5-7.5. There should be at least some hardness in the tank in the forms of GH and KH as these are not soft water shrimp.
Bumblebee Shrimp Description
The Bumblebee shrimp is a great addition to any aquarium because of its unique look with white and black stripes on their bodies. Is that why they are called Bumblebee?
Technically, the word Bumble Bee is spelled using two words but you will often see it used in one word.
You will find Bumble Bee shrimp in many places in the world such as Australia, Bermuda, and all the way to Japan. An interesting aspect of them is they don’t have a physical head.
The lifespan of a Bumble Bee shrimp is about two to three years.
Bumblebee Shrimp Care
These shrimp do not eat algae. Bumblebee shrimp are carnivorous and dine on meat. You can simply feed them with frozen meat such as pieces of fish or even shrimp.
It is recommended that you actually feed them and watch them eat as they may not be able to find the food if you simply drop it in the tank and leave.
Make sure to have plenty of hiding places for them as they like to be alone.
Cardinal Shrimp Description
The Cardinal shrimp, aka Cardinia dennerli, is a very precious and rare species.
This species of shrimp is certainly not one to be kept in a community aquarium as you definitely don’t want this shrimp to become a feeder shrimp.
The beautiful color of this dwarf shrimp reminds many of Christmas with its deep reds and white spots, the red color even outshines the red color of red cherry shrimp.
These shrimp are very difficult breeders and command a large price tag for them. Their care requirements also bump up the price even more.
Cardinal Shrimp Care
The name of the game is a hard and warm environment for these shimmering shrimp. They like warm water between 77 and 86 degrees.
Hotter temperatures will decrease oxygen and suffocate these shrimp while lower temperatures will not allow these shrimp to properly function.
The aquarium these shrimp are set up in should be very mature (at least 3 months old). These shrimps really only eat biofilm and often refuse prepared foods.
These shrimp need very hard water, and the best way to do this is to remineralize reverse osmosis (RO) water. Tap water will not work.
There are specific remineralizers that will cater to the exact mineral ratios these delicate shrimp need. Their pH needs to be around 8.0 and their hardness will be covered by their remineralizer.
Crystal Shrimp Description
A fascinating and rare species of shrimp, Crystal shrimp, are brilliant reds or blacks mixed with whites.
There is even a complex grading scale associated with them to describe their patterns and coloring.
These are some of the easiest soft water shrimp to care for but not the easiest.
They can eat the biofilm off leaf litter, or prepared shrimp foods. These dwarf shrimp can fetch high prices, and good quality food is one way to keep them happy and healthy.
Crystal Shrimp Care
These shrimp can be extra sensitive to poor water quality or incorrect water parameters. Additionally, they do not like sudden changes in water as this can stress them out.
For this reason, it is important to keep them in good clean water with regular small water changes.
These shrimps prefer the cooler end of tropical temperatures around 65-75 degrees, with dead in the middle being perfect.
pH wise, crystal shrimp thrive in acidic water with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Additionally, they prefer their water hardness to be fairly low.
The KH should not rise above 2, but GH on the other hand should be kept around 4-6 ideally.
Crystal shrimp are ideal for shrimp-only tanks as they are more susceptible to poor water qualities and ammonia spikes.
Ghost Shrimp Description
Ghost shrimp are the only shrimp on this list that is naturally native to the United States. They are very hardy but not as good of algae eaters as Amano shrimp.
Ghost shrimp are sometimes confused with freshwater prawns, which must be kept alone and are not suitable for community tanks.
Breeding ghost shrimp is slightly harder than other species on this list because they hatch as larvae. These larvae are microscopic and are difficult to care for, but if they survive then they will grow into miniature versions of the adults.
Ghost Shrimp Care
Ghost shrimp do best in warm water, but not hot. The ideal water temperature range is about 70 to 80 degrees and the ideal pH is from 7.0 to 7.8. The pH can be a little lower, as long as they have enough hardness in the water.
Neocaridina Heteropoda Description
Neocaridina heteropoda, also known as Neocaridina, Neos, Cherry shrimp, Snowball shrimp, and Dwarf shrimp is by far the most commonly bred and kept species of freshwater shrimp.
The most common type is the ever-so-popular Red Cherry shrimp. Their vibrant red color pops against the stunning greens of live aquarium plants.
These shrimp are easy to breed. As long as they are kept in an aquarium with proper parameters, little mini versions of the adults will show up.
They should ideally be kept in a peaceful community tank with smaller fish that can’t fit them in their mouth, or else you risk the possibility of your prized shrimp becoming a tasty meal.
Neocaridina Heteropoda Care
Care for Neocaridina shrimp is generally pretty easy. You should start with a small group or larger to encourage them to breed and feel safe.
The temperature range for Neocaridina heteropoda should be regularly between 60 and 85 degrees, but there are reports of them living in ponds outdoors year-round.
The pH should be kept between 6.0 and 8.0, and they need at least a few degrees of KH in their tank (at least 2)
Neocaridina Heteropoda Types
There are many kinds of Neocaridina shrimp that are all the same species, but with different colors or patterns.
These different kinds will breed together, and often they will make wild-type shrimp that are brown and spotted.
Below is a list of some common types of Neocaridina Heteropoda and a short description.
- Red Cherry Shrimp
There are many grades of red cherry shrimp, from barely red to vibrant red. This is the original variety.
- Blue Dream Shrimp
Blue dream shrimps are deep blue shrimp with an opaque body. Blue diamonds are slightly lighter and more clear.
They are also called Blue Velvet shrimp and even Fantasy Blue Velvet shrimp because of their amazing blue color!
- Green Jade Shrimp
Greed jade shrimp sometimes blend in with the background plants because of their deep dark green appearance.
- Black Rose Shrimp
Technically just an extreme Blue Dream, Black Rose shrimp are inky black and can sometimes even have purple undertones.
- Snowball Shrimp
The exact opposite of Black Rose, Snowball shrimp are milky white and when they swim around it looks like snow falling in your tank.
- Yellowback Shrimp
The Yellowback shrimp sports a bright yellow strip down its back, hence the name. They really stand out in your aquarium and are entertaining to watch!
- Rili Pattern Shrimp
This pattern can be combined with any of the above colors. The pattern basically makes the middle of the shrimp a white color and the back and front end the normal color. It is very unique!
Should I Have Live Plants in my Shrimp Aquarium?
Yes! Live plants are one of the best ways to mimic natural conditions in your tank and keep the water quality pristine.
Plants make the water conditions better by removing nitrates, something which filters cannot do. There are many different kinds of plants, but below are a few of the easiest to keep with your shrimp.
Best Live Plants for Freshwater Shrimp Aquarium
This genus of plants is sturdy and very easy to care for! There are many forms and so you have a lot of choices when picking what kind you want.
These are very slow-growing so you don’t need to trim them but it won’t make your tank very lush.
- Java Fern
Similar to Anubias, java ferns are slow-growing but still easy to deal with. They grow a little faster than Anubias so they will fill in your tank faster.
Frogbit is one of the best plants you can have with your freshwater shrimp because it pulls lots of nutrients out of the water and helps keep the water conditions pristine.
Frogbit also has long-flowing roots that shrimp like to climb and feed on.
Freshwater Shrimp Feeding Requirements
Freshwater shrimp can be fed wither shrimp-specific food, or any food containing algae.
The more expensive and rare type should be kept on a diet of high-quality shrimp food such as pellets. Amano shrimp, ghost shrimp, and Neocaridina will eat biofilm or algae in a mature aquarium.
If your aquarium is new or doesn’t have many algae, it would be wise to supplement them with algae pellets, or specific shrimp food.
Related Freshwater Shrimp Questions
Can I eat my aquarium shrimp?
This is generally not a good idea because you don’t know what kinds of parasites or diseases your shrimp may have. Additionally, there is very little edible meat within the tiny shrimp.
How long will my shrimp live?
Freshwater shrimps have a lifespan of one to four years depending on the species, and sometimes it can be even longer!
To ensure your shrimp lives as long as possible, make sure they are happy and healthy in their water.
Higher temperatures will also decrease the lifespan of shrimp while increasing their growth and breeding rate.
Where do freshwater shrimp come from?
Freshwater shrimp come from all over the world! However, many of the popular aquarium freshwater shrimp come from Asia, especially the southeast region.
One of the most popular species, the ghost shrimp, is found in the south of the United States.
The Neocaridina and Cardinia genera kept in the aquarium hobby are mostly from eastern and southeastern Asia.
What type of filter do I need on a shrimp aquarium?
In general, sponge filters are the best filter type to keep with shrimp. Sponge filters don’t suck in water powerfully, unlike power filters (powerful filters such as hang-on the back type and canister filters).
If you have a power filter, make sure your dwarf shrimp don’t get sucked up by using a guard on the intake pipe.
Do I need a water test kit for a freshwater shrimp aquarium?
A test kit is a valuable addition to your arsenal of fish tank tools. Test kits help to make sure your water parameters are suitable for whatever species of shrimp you may have.
Water test kits are essential to troubleshoot issues you may have in your freshwater fish tank.
In general, you want to make sure your aquarium has plenty of hiding places and the last thing you want to do is allow your water parameters to fall out of line with what your shrimps prefer.
As long as you also avoid sudden changes in water parameters, you can’t go wrong.
What is the Blue Tiger shrimp?
Blue Tiger shrimp has become a very popular addition to many people’s aquariums due to their amazing look and vibrant blue color.
The Blue Tiger is probably a shrimp that you should add later after you gain more experience as they can be fragile in several ways and require a bit more knowledge to take care of.
What about the Blue Bolt shrimp?
As with the Blue Tiger shrimp, we recommend that you wait until you gain some experience before adding a Blue Bolt to your tank.
The Blue Bolt shrimp is very sensitive to the condition of their water so having a good working knowledge of shrimp care is more important for this species.
What about the Vampire shrimp?
The Vampire shrimp has a great name and amazing look but is another one that we recommend you wait on adding to your tank. They require a little more care than the other beginner-friendly shrimp we listed above.
Having freshwater aquarium shrimp can be a lot of fun and doesn’t require a whole lot of work. Just make sure you put a little thought into it before you add them to your tank.
Don’t worry though, whatever your skill level, there is a freshwater shrimp that will work for you!
Also, some of the easiest shrimp to take care of are also the most interesting ones to have in your aquarium!