Keeping shrimp in your aquarium is a fantastic way to diversify life in your underwater world. They are incredibly fun to watch and you can lose hours just observing them go about their daily life.
They also have a huge appetite for algae, making them the perfect candidates for your very own “aquarium clean up crew”
The problem is, a lot of beginners simply don’t know enough about them to provide them with the environment they need to thrive. Shrimps are delicate little creatures who require a keen aquarist to make sure they are living a happy life.
So that’s where this article comes in. Here are 5 must-know tips that every aquarist must know before adding shrimp to their aquarium. (I’ve also thrown in a few recommendations for beginner-friendly shrimp that are ideal for the first-time shrimp keeper)
Different Breeds of Shrimp have different water requirements
While a lot of shrimp species look the same and behave in the same way, that doesn’t mean they require the same water parameters to survive.
Shrimp can be found in waters all across the globe, from cool waters with a low pH, to warmer waters with a higher pH.
Keeping the wrong shrimp in the wrong aquarium can lead to stress and a massively decreased lifespan for your shrimp. That’s why knowing the particular water requirements for the specific breed of shrimp you are interested in keeping, is crucial to their survival.
Before adding shrimp to your aquarium, be sure to research the specific species of shrimp you want to keep and get up to scratch with their specific needs.
Make Sure You Have Plenty of Plants and Places For Them To Hide
Keeping plenty of aquatic plants, rocks, and ornaments in your shrimp tank is important for several reasons.
First of all, shrimps love to feast on algae, which can only flourish on a surface, so the more surface area you have in your aquarium, the more places there are for your shrimp to find themselves a snack.
Will My Fish Eat My Shrimp?
Some will, some won’t. Aquatic shrimps are small creatures, rarely growing over an inch in size, so if you keep other fish in your aquarium, especially larger fish, your shrimps will need plenty of hiding places to stay out of harm’s way. Shrimps can make a delicious snack for a lot of freshwater fish.
What Plants Do Aquarium Shrimp Prefer?
Shrimps are not fussy creatures. They will enjoy the presence of almost any aquatic plants, so feel free to decorate your tank with whatever greenery you prefer.
With that being said, shrimps do have a preference: Java Moss.
Java Moss is cheap, readily available, easy to care for, and makes the perfect shelter and food source for shrimps. They simply can’t get enough of it. It’s the perfect plant for shrimp aquariums.
Use Sponge Filters if possible (Or at least cover your intake with sponge)
If you are keeping just shrimp in your aquarium, we highly recommend using a sponge filter, purely for safety reasons.
The last thing you want is to wake up and find all of your shrimp sucked into the intake of your filter.
While sponge filters aren’t the most powerful filters you can buy, they are perfectly adequate for a shrimp only aquarium, and the lack of exposed intakes removes the worry of the filter eating your shrimps.
If you have a larger aquarium with other fish and plants, sometimes a sponge filter isn’t enough and you need a more powerful filter.
If that’s the case, simply purchase a sponge filter head for a few bucks and wrap it around the intake of your filter.
This shouldn’t affect the flow of the intake, but it will protect your shrimp from an unnecessary death.
Don’t Keep Shrimp With Aggressive Fish
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t keep shrimp with aggressive fish. Who would have thought eh?
Establishing plenty of hiding places is often enough to protect your shrimp from the vast majority of freshwater fish. Most smaller fish won’t even acknowledge your shrimp, nevermind eat them.
However, there are several aggressive fish that simply don’t consider your affinity to your shrimp. They have instincts, and they are hungry! It’s the circle of life to them. They see a small, snack-sized shrimp, and they eat.
Some of the more common aquarium fish that wouldn’t hesitate to munch on your shrimp include:
- All Cichlids
- Betta Fish (Siamese Fighting Fish)
- Tiger Barbs
- Most shark species (Including red-finned and rainbow)
- Some Tetras (Vampire and Bucktooth, specifically)
If a fish in your tank is considered aggressive or even semi-aggressive, chances are, they will at least have a nibble at any shrimp in your tank.
As a rule of thumb, if the shrimp is small enough to fit in the fishes mouth, there is a risk of them trying their luck.
Keep this in mind when populating your shrimp tank, or adding shrimp to your already established aquarium.
Only Keep One species of shrimp per tank
Crossbreeding is a common practice in the shrimp keeping hobby, but it’s not something we recommend for beginners.
Shrimp don’t simply adopt the best traits of different genus if you were to crossbreed them like many other animals.
Crossbreeding the wrong shrimp, while sounding cool in practice (mixing different colors to create a new color, for example) will lead to inferior shrimp with weakened traits and imperfections.
The piece of information you need to look out for is the shrimp genus, which is always the first word of the shrimp’s scientific name. Let’s take the Red Cherry Shrimp as an example.
It’s by far the most popular shrimp in the fishkeeping hobby and it has many different names (Red cherry, Cherry red, fire red, sakura red, and several more)
The scientific name of the Red Cherry Shrimp is Neocaridina heteropoda. The first word (Neocaridina) is the Genus. The second word (Heteropoda) is the species.
Knowing this information will allow you to easily identify the genus of the shrimp you are interested in keeping.
Never keep two shrimp from the same genus in the same aquarium. Shrimps love to breed, and no matter how hard you try to keep them apart, they will always find a way to do the deed, leading to an inferior next generation of shrimp.
It’s perfectly fine to keep shrimp from different genus in the same aquarium. For example a neocaridina and a caradina. As long as you know the genus of the shrimp, you will be fine, but as a general rule of thumb, we recommend only keeping one species of shrimp per aquarium.