The blue velvet shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. blue) is a species of freshwater shrimp with an electrifying blue color. If you’re looking for an addition to your aquarium that’s easy to care for, quickly reproduces, and whose appearance makes for a captivating sight, you’re right to consider this unique breed of shrimp. A bonus? They even clean your fish tank of undesired algae!
The blue velvet shrimp is an excellent choice for experienced aquarists and beginners because of how easy it is to care for them; however, there are a few parameters to watch for when caring for them. Read on.
A Brief Overview of Blue Velvet Shrimp
|Common Name:||Blue Velvet Shrimp|
|Other Names:||Blue Dwarf Shrimp|
|Scientific Name:||Neocaridina davidi var. Blue|
|Length:||1.5 – 2 inches|
|Optimal PH level:||6.8-7.5|
|Optimal Temperature:||72° to 82° F|
What Are Blue Velvet Shrimp?
The blue velvet shrimp is a distinct freshwater invertebrate with a bright blue coloring that stands out in the tank. This species is technically a color variation of the Red Cherry Shrimp, and they have many similar care requirements.
They come from the Atyidae family of freshwater shrimp and are currently classified under Neocaridina davidi, which has other color variations, including red, yellow, orange, green, violet, and black.
The blue velvet shrimp originates from Eastern China and Northern Taiwan.
In their natural habitat, they live in freshwater environments such as streams and ponds with rocky floors and a variety of plants and wood for hiding and feeding.
The species is completely blue, as the name suggests. The shade and hue may vary (there are several varieties of blue velvet shrimp) but they’re always quite vibrant with the same shade of blue all over their body, including their head, tail, legs, and abdomen.
They also have small dark dots concentrated in the front half of their bodies and their eyes have a similar dark color.
Blue velvet shrimp have three pairs of walking legs and two maxilliped limbs that they use to grab things. They have two long antennaes on their heads to sense vibration and movement in the environment and two little antennules that detect changes in water pressure and salinity.
The maximum size of a blue velvet shrimp is about two inches, although the majority are only about 1.5 inches long. Males are typically smaller and less colorful, growing to a length of 0.75-1.25 inches. How big they grow will depend on their genetics and the level of care they receive during development.
The blue velvet shrimp exists in one color: blue; however, there are four different color grades:
Low-Grade: They have large black spots on their heads, and their blue color appears translucent in some areas. Some low-color-grade blue velvet shrimp appear more black than blue.
Medium-Grade: They have some relatively see-through areas and have opaque shades of blue with black spots.
Medium-High-Grade: They have a completely opaque blue body with a dull black head spot. They are the second-highest grade.
High-Grade: These are the most popular, and they have a completely blue body with no black or see-through spots.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Lifespan
The average lifespan of a blue velvet shrimp is between one and two years. Their lifespan varies according to how they’re bred (ensure you purchase from a reputable breeder), their feeding habits, tank conditions.
As short a lifespan as two years might be, these shrimp are worth it, and proper care ensures they complete their life cycle.
How to Care for Blue Velvet Shrimp
Blue Velvet Shrimp are a hardy species, meaning they can cope in harsh situations. This makes it very easy to care for them, but doesn’t mean you should drop them into the aquarium to fend for themselves.
Blue velvet shrimp find it hard to acclimatize to a new tank and should be introduced to new water parameters using a drip method. Place them in a bucket and slowly drip water from your aquarium into the bucket. Once they are submerged, carefully watch them to see if they react negatively. A telltale sign is that their blue color will turn pale and dull if the water conditions don’t meet their needs.
Once you’ve acclimated them to their new home, there’s still something to watch out for: copper and zinc poisoning. Blue velvet shrimp hate that stuff and will react to the tiniest trace in their tank, so all their fertilizers and medications shouldn’t contain copper or zinc in them.
The ideal choice for Blue velvet shrimp is a 10-gallon tank, with the minimum tank size being 5 gallons. This is because the water parameters are more stable and easier to regulate at 10 gallons. It also helps you provide them with a more elaborate substrate.
If your blue velvet shrimp will have tank mates, you can go beyond 10 gallons of water.
A water temperature between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal in the tank, but can go as low as 65 degrees. Lower color grades can withstand different temperatures better than higher color grades. Blue velvet shrimp, however, can withstand warmer temperatures. The higher the temperature of the water, the higher their metabolism rates increase, helping them grow faster.
If the water temperature is too high, however, it can shorten their lifespan, so ensure you keep it below 80 degrees at all times.
Freshwater with a pH level of 6.0-8.0 and a hardness of 4-10 dGH is perfect for blue velvet shrimp. When the water is below the required hardness, shrimp will lack the calcium needed to develop new skeletons when molting. When blue velvet shrimp molt, they shed their exoskeletons.
As mentioned earlier, double-check your water to ensure it’s free from copper and zinc, as these elements are dangerous for the blue velvet shrimp.
While setting up their aquarium, it’s essential to imitate their natural habitat as best as you can.
They live in freshwater environments in the wild like streams and ponds with rocky floors and a variety of plants and wood for hiding and feeding. This means that the ideal blue velvet shrimp tank will be heavily planted to mimic their natural habitat and maintain water quality.
Blue velvet shrimp prefer to live in areas with aquatic plants like willow moss, floating plants, Anubis, and green cabomba. Consider buying tissue culture plants or cleaning and quarantining new plants thoroughly to remove pesticides. Tissue culture plants are grown in a lab, and they’re a great way to introduce plants into your aquarium without the risk of pesticides and pests. Blue velvet shrimp love the cover that these plants provide them, and the plants can help in sucking up nitrates from the water that can harm your shrimp.
Rocks and driftwood are fantastic additions to the aquarium since they facilitate algae growth. They also make ideal surfaces for algae and biofilm to accumulate for the blue velvet to eat. You can lay smooth pebbles over grains of sand to create the substrate or just plain sand if the former is unavailable.
You can also add an artificial log as they can serve as hiding places for the shrimp and provide a place for them to lay their eggs.
What Do Blue Velvet Shrimp Feed On?
Blue velvet shrimp are foragers and bottom feeders so they can easily survive on fish waste, rotting plants, algae, bacteria, and other aquatic microorganisms.
You can feed them fish food like shrimp flakes with a high algae content, powdered algae flakes, and pellets as long you watch for these two things:
- Don’t use any food containing copper or copper sulfate, as they’re toxic for blue velvet shrimp.
- Don’t overfeed the shrimp, as it could kill them.
If you run out of fish food, they can also be fed blanched carrots, spinach, and zucchini.
When shrimp are the only inhabitants of the tank, feed them 2-3 times per week; however, if there are other fish present, feed them once a week. After 2-3 hours, remove the leftover food fragments.
To determine whether your shrimps are being overfed or underfed, keep a watch on the algae. Untouched algae indicate overfeeding while algae that disappears quickly indicates you need to increase your feeding periods.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Behavior
Blue Velvet Shrimps are peaceful and pose no threat to their tank mates. They’re friendly with other shrimp but tend to shy away from their fish companions. They mostly spend their time scavenging, so they constantly move and clean up your tank.
During the day, they stay in their hidey-hole, so you’ll mostly see them after dusk. If they’re molting (shedding their exoskeleton for a new one), they’ll stay hidden until their skin recovers.
How to Breed Blue Velvet Shrimp
Blue Velvet Shrimp are usually sexually mature at 4-6 months of age. Their breeding process is not complicated; however, it shouldn’t be done in a regular fish tank.
To breed them, place your group of mating pairs in a breeding and nursery tank. Ideal mating groups should have a 1:5 female-to-male ratio. Your nursery’s tank water temperature should be between 72- 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and ensure to add a sponge filter and a small patch of java moss.
The female velvet shrimp’s color will begin to brighten as she enters breeding conditions, and her body will get rounder to prepare to carry the eggs. To copulate, one of the males will climb underneath the female. Once they’ve mated, the female will carry the eggs underneath her tail (you should be able to see them) until they hatch.
A female can lay up to 60 eggs at once, and they hatch within 20 days. Once the juvenile blue velvet shrimp emerge, you should remove the female from the breeding tank. The babies will immediately start to scavenge for food in the tank, so ensure there’s enough algae and biofilm for them to eat. You can also crush algae flakes into powder and feed them.
As they grow, juvenile blue velvet shrimp will molt once every week and will be ready to join the main tank in about 30 days. To prevent cross-breeding, don’t keep blue velvet shrimp in the same tank as other shrimp species. Keeping different color shrimp can result in a wild-type color from interbreeding.
The main things to consider when looking for tankmates for the blue velvet shrimp are:
- Prospective tankmates must not have a taste for invertebrates
- They shouldn’t be large enough to fit your beloved tiny shrimp into their mouths
In their natural habitat, these shrimp mostly live with other bottom dwellers. They coexist with native fish like small cyprinids, catfish, and loaches. In the aquarium, however, nano fish are their best mates.
Consider pairing them with ember and neon tetras because their colors look great combined with these stunning deep blue shrimp. You can also pair them with small fish that only eat micro-prey.
Here’s a list of exceptional tank mates for the Blue Velvet Shrimp:
- Hillstream Loaches
- Ghost shrimp
- Vampire shrimp
- Cory catfish
- Rabbit snails
- Red Nose shrimp
- White Wizard snails
Here’s a list of species to avoid combining with the Blue Velvet Shrimp
Common Diseases in Blue Velvet Shrimp
Blue velvet shrimp are hardy and relatively resistant to diseases; however, certain situations make them ill.
One of the most common parasites for Blue Velvet Shrimp is small flagellates. Flagellates are organisms with one or more whip-like appendages called flagella. The Vorticella parasite, brought on by excess decomposing organic matter or tank feeders, is the most common one.
Although it doesn’t directly injure your shrimps, it does force them to starve to death because they don’t have enough energy to fight off the parasite. Kill the parasites by adding a small amount of salt (5 grams per liter) to your water as a treatment.
As we’ve mentioned, copper, zinc, and blue velvet shrimp do not mix well at all. If you have to medicate other fish in the tank, remove your blue velvet shrimp, as many fish medications contain copper and zinc.
If you see any symptoms or unusual indicators of sickness, consult an aquatic veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Blue Velvet Shrimp Need a Heater?
Blue velvet shrimp can be kept in an aquarium without a heater, except if your room temperature fluctuates too much. In this case, use a heater to regulate the water temperature.
Do Blue Velvet Shrimp Need a Filter?
Yes, they do. And due to the shrimp’s tiny size, it’s crucial to use sponge filters to keep them (especially babies) from being drawn into the filtration system.
How Long Does It Take for Blue Velvet Shrimp to Grow?
It takes approximately three to six months for blue velvet shrimp to grow to their full size.
Blue Velvets are Shrimp-ly the Best!
We hope this article has answered all your questions on everything you need to do to bring a blue velvet shrimp through its life cycle. Ask questions in the comment section if you have any, and share your thoughts or experiences with this spectacular shrimp. We’d love to hear from you!