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Ghost Shrimp Care, Food, Lifespan, Habitat – Video
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Ghost Shrimp, also known as Glass Shrimp, are relatively easy freshwater aquarium shrimp to keep. Ghost Shrimp are almost always available for sale at local pet stores as well as at the larger chain stores. At the pet shop, they are frequently kept in a small tank with other shrimp of their kind. The small tank often has a sponge filter or air stone pumping bubbles. On display, the Ghost Shrimp tank often does not look like something other than a tank of murky water with tons of bubbles.
Ghost Shrimp are relatively inexpensive and are often purchased as “feeders” for larger more aggressive fish. Some Cichlids can eat Ghost Shrimp all day long. But Ghost Shrimp are more than a tasty snack. They are great aquarium cleaners and can be a lot of fun to watch. Many new hobbyists don’t give Ghost Shrimp a second look, but they really can be an interesting invertebrate to keep in their own right.
Ghost Shrimp look good when kept in a tank with black aquarium gravel or substrate. It’s also good to keep them in a tank with a black background. When the shrimp is up against the black gravel or background it makes them easier to see.
Ghost Shrimp Behavior, Upclose: 30 Second Video
More Ghost Shrimp Videos:
Glass Shrimp Eating A Dead Amano Shrimp
Glass Shrimp Feeding Closeup In A Freshwater Tank
Shrimp Tank Mates Are Very Important
Shrimp Eating, And Food Gets Stolen
Ghost Shrimp Pictures Gallery
Ghost Shrimp care is relatively easy. They are very active and busy invertebrates tirelessly scouring the tank for food to eat. Always on the go, these shrimp are in their element when kept in an established tank that is not “too clean”. As scavengers, they search the gravel or substrate for little bits of edible material that is otherwise uneaten. To that extent, Ghost Shrimp are decent aquarium cleaners, almost in the same league as Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snails. Ghost Shrimp are small so they may not eat as much as larger invertebrates, but they are constantly picking away at nearly everything they are near.
Tank Size For Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp can be kept in small tanks like 5 or 10 gallon aquariums and larger. With small aquariums, be mindful of the limitations of the tank in terms of low water volume and limited surface area. So be sure to not accidentally overstock the tank. Ghost Shrimp are small creatures but they contribute to the bio-load of a tank just like other living organisms. Overstocking a small tank with lots of shrimp will cause water quality issues and can create an unhealthy environment. So follow the typical fish stocking rules for community tanks and things should work out fine.
With small tanks like a 10 gallon, try not to add too many Ghost Shrimp. They may get aggressive and nasty toward each other if there are too many living together in a small space.
Ghost Shrimp Habitat & Water Parameters
Ghost Shrimp seem to enjoy establish planted aquariums with a moderate current of continuously moving water . An appropriately sized HOB power filter should do the trick and keep the water circulating properly. Additionally, an air pump with a fine air stone will create a wall of tiny bubbles to help keep water moving as well. With the bubbles, it’s fun to watch the shrimp get drawn up into the current and have to move their hind legs ferociously to swim out of it. Ghost Shrimp are great swimmers.
Ghost Shrimp Like Live Aquarium Plants
Keeping Ghost Shrimp in a tank with hardy live plants can also be a good idea. Aquariums with lots of live plants are never “too clean” as the plants constantly shed plant matter into the water column. Ghost Shrimp seem to enjoy picking through the messiness and feasting on the parts they can eat. Keeping aquarium plants is also a good idea because they provide little places to explore and hide especially near the bottom of the tank. Other hiding places can be created with decorations or rocks built into caves and caverns. Either way, it’s important that Ghost Shrimp have places to sneak away to from time to time.
As far as water parameters go, Ghost Shrimp seem to be comfortable in the tropical community tank range. Water temperature can be 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with some suggesting that a slightly wider temperature range is also acceptable. Aquarium pH should be fine anywhere between 7.0 and 8.0 provided there are no sudden shifts, and the water should also be on the hard side. Standard aquarium lighting will do. And as with all freshwater aquarium shrimp, be very careful when treating the tank with medicines. Keep Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates in check. And most importantly, avoid copper as copper can be fatal to aquarium shrimp.
Ghost Shrimp Food, Size & Color Range
Ghost Shrimp food is broad as they will eat almost anything. They are great pickers and will eat like machines. Ghost Shrimp food can include some forms of algae, dead plant latter and detritus. These shrimp love fish or shrimp pellets, fish flakes, algae wafers or bits otherwise uneaten food. And its a good idea to find food supplements with Calcium, as Calcium is necessary for healthy shell growth. Ghost Shrimp food may also include their fallen tank mates, as they will even feed off dead fish or dead shrimp. Of course, it’s important to take dead inhabitants out of the water quickly otherwise there can be an ammonia spike in the tank. It’s fun to watch Ghost Shrimp swim up and pluck bits of food out of the water. And there is a pecking order with feeding as well. Bigger shrimp eat first.
Ghost Shrimp Size, Shape & Appearance
Ghost Shrimp size varies by age, but generally they grow to be about 1 1/2 inches in length. In terms of width, Ghost Shrimp size is generally about the diameter of a pencil eraser when fully grown. Ghost Shrimp tend to be thinner and more streamline as compared to Amano Shrimp. Ghost Shrimp have a little hump midway down the length of their tail. And like other shrimp, they resemble small crayfish. But there are some differences. One big difference is the size of the creature and the pliability of their shell. Glass Shrimp have much softer shells than crayfish.
Ghost Shrimp Antenna
A Ghost Shrimp has a pair of long antenna and a pair of short antenna. Their rostrum is on the top of their head right between their eyes. Behind the rostrum is a carapace area. Its in this carapace area where many of the inner workings of this shrimp can be seen, especially when feeding. The shrimp’s front legs are attached to the underside of the carapace. The legs are long, slender and clear. When the shrimp is feeding on the tank bottom or on hard surfaces, its primary method of movement is to walk with its legs.
Behind the carapace, they have six abdominal segments that form a flexible covering. The area between the third and fourth abdominal segments comes together to form what appears to be a slight pointed area that juts up slightly higher than the other segments. Little clear swimmerets are tucked under the abdominal segments. These swimmerets can be seen fluttering back and forth as the shrimp moves up and down through the water column. And female shrimp keep their eggs safely tucked under the abdominal segments closest to the carapace.
The sixth abdominal segment connects to the tail. The tail is also made up of flexible, moving segments. But these segments are thin and flat. In the middle of the tail is the telson. Under the telson are the four segments of soft shell that make up the uropod. The uropod can expand and contrast slightly to make the tail more broad or more narrow as need be. And on the edges of the uropod segments, the shrimp has very fine filament-like “fringe”. Similar looking “fringe” filaments also appear on the edges of the swimmerets.
When the shrimp needs to move very quickly, in case of danger, it can be seen becoming very streamline and quickly flapping its uropod under its abdomen. This causes the shrimp to propel itself backwards at very high speeds. Often, one quick thrust backward is sufficient to get out of dangerous situations like conflicts over a piece of food. But it’s not uncommon for them to pump their uropod a couple times in a row to put some real distance between themselves and danger. When this happens, the shrimp can end up retreating to other side of the tank in an instant.
Many people describe Ghost Shrimp color as a transparent shrimp, but I think they are more on the translucent side. Their bodies are generally clear with a hint of hazy grey, or sprinkled with green dots. Ghost Shrimp color ranges from translucent light grey to a translucent darker grey, but in either case one can see almost see through the shrimp, and certainly can see inside the shrimp. And that is one of the most fascinating aspects of a Ghost Shrimp: One can see the internal workings of its body when it feeds. It’s really amazing to watch close up. They may also have little green dots on their torso, and orange rings on their feelers and front legs.
Ghost Shrimp Lifespan & Molting
Ghost Shrimp lifespan can be anywhere from a couple of days to 1 year. In some cases under good conditions and with a little luck, a Ghost Shrimp lifespan can be a little longer than a year. But usually not that much more that that.
Ghost Shrimp are at risk of dying soon after they are added to a tank. It’s not uncommon for Ghost Shrimp to die within a day or two of being introduced to an established tank with healthy and stable water. Some will appear dead on the bottom of the tank and others will simply “disappear”. At the same time, other Ghost Shrimp from the same batch acclimate well and thrive in their new environment. Maybe its the stress of being brought home from the store, or maybe they experience stress due to very slight differences in water parameters, but whatever the reason be prepared to lose a few shrimp with each batch.
Another consideration is that because these shrimp are considered “feeders” they may not be treated very well when transported to the store. They are often kept in overstocked, under-filtered tanks with poor water conditions. That may be why some are prone to dying when transported to a home aquarium.
Ghost Shrimp Molting Process
Ghost Shrimp are often kept in groups. It’s difficult to say how often Ghost Shrimp molt because its hard to figure out which of the group has lost its shell. Most commonly a hobbyist will wake up one morning, check out the tank and see a couple of clear white empty shells on the bottom. As long as they shrimp are there, all is good. The important thing to know is that Ghost Shrimp molt as they eat and grow. So as long they are actively feeding and moving about, it’s normal for them to molt often. Molting just means they are healthy and growing larger.
When Ghost Shrimp molt they are very vulnerable until they get acclimated in their new shell. That’s why its important to keep them in a tank with lots of small hiding places. Live aquarium plants are good for this purpose.
After molting occurs, leave the empty shed shell in the tank for a few days. Other shrimp may take turns feeding off it. Re-ingesting the minerals in the old shell helps set up their next molting cycle.
Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates
Ghost Shrimp tank mates can be small non-aggressive community tank fish that are not large enough to eat them. They are not going to last long (meaning a matter of seconds) with Goldfish, Oscars and other cichlids, Frogs, Turtles, crayfish or other aggressive roughens.
Good tank mates for Glass Shrimp can include others of their kind, as well as: Bamboo Shrimp (aka Wood Shrimp), Vampire Shrimp (aka Viper Shrimp), Amano Shrimp , provided the Amanos are larger, Red Cherry Shrimp , Nerite Snails , Mystery Snails , Malaysian Trumpet Snails , Gold Inca Snails , Ivory Snails , and Ramshorn Snails . Ghost Shrimp can also be tank mates with some calm and peaceful community tank fish especially Cory Catfish and Otocinclus Catfish . As always, check with the clerk at the pet store about potential compatibility issues before purchasing Ghost Shrimp and adding them to a tank.
Berried Ghost Shrimp: Reproduction
Ghost Shrimp breeding is challenging. I have kept Ghost Shrimp berried, or with eggs, but I have never been successful reaching the stage where I’ve seen live babies. This may be due to the fact that the shrimp have always been in busy tanks with tank mates that could be interested in eating the offspring. That said, they can reproduce in fresh water and can be purchased carrying eggs. So have some fine sponge filters handy to cover power filter intakes in case you see larvae. And it may be a good idea to move the berried shrimp to a separate tank so the baby shrimp do not get eaten by hungry predators when they are first born.
Keeping Glass Shrimp As Feeders:
If Glass Shrimp are going to be used as feeders, its not necessary for to keep them in an elaborate tank. Just about any size tank will do for this purpose. Gravel and live plants are not necessary either. Although some floating Anacharis may be useful in keeping the tank water somewhat healthy. One thing that should be present is a constant flow of air bubbles. Tiny air bubbles are necessary to keep the water moving and the surface area agitated. So a small air stone, a few feet of tubing and a small air pump are needed.
If Glass Shrimp are going to be kept for any length of time, a small sponge filter would also be a good idea. Unfiltered feeder tank water has a tendency to get dingy, cloudy and yellow-looking pretty quickly. A sponge filter will act as a mechanical and biological filter, and the bubbles will keep the water moving. A corner sponge filter with a weighted bottom will work well. A small net should also be on the accessories list. Finally, its probably not necessary to keep the feeder tank heated or covered. But a hood or clear cover may be a good idea to limit splashing from the bubbles aerating the tank.
Ghost Shrimp: Expert Care Guide For Beginners
- August 9, 2023
- Care Guides , Invertebrates
Ghost shrimp (also known as Glass shrimp), are easy to care for, cheap, and entertaining to watch.
Making them a great addition to most freshwater aquariums.
Often used a feeders, cleaners, or just for a bundle of fun, in this guide, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about housing these critters.
The Overview: What Are Ghost Shrimp?
Ghost shrimp are dwarf freshwater shrimp native to the Southeastern United States. They’re also called glass shrimp or grass shrimp.
There are several species sold under the name ghost shrimp, but most in the aquarium trade are Palaemonetes paludosus .
They’re bred as live food for larger aquarium fish or as an ornamental species for home aquariums.
What do Ghost Shrimp Look Like?
Ghost shrimp got their name because…well…they look like little transparent ghosts swimming around the tank.
This is going to sound weird, but the name and the way they swim always makes me think of the little ghosts that chase you around in Pac-Man.
Their bodies are so clear that it can be really hard to see them against some backgrounds.
Which is kind of the point. It makes them harder for predators to see them.
This is a good thing for the ghost shrimp. I’m sure fish find ghost shrimp just as tasty as humans do their bigger Gulf shrimp cousins.
Let’s break down their different parts:
Ghost shrimp have four antennae, one pair is longer than the other.
Just like other insects, fish and crustaceans, they use their antennae to navigate around objects, find food, communicate with each other and sense water conditions.
2. Body Segments
Ghost shrimp anatomy is very similar to other shrimp species.
Their bodies can be divided into two main parts, the cephalothorax and the abdomen.
The cephalothorax is the large, front section of the body. And don’t be intimidated by the word. All cephalothorax just means, “head chest.”
The front of the cephalothorax comes to a point, called the rostrum. This gives the head the distinctive look you usually associate with shrimp, lobsters and crayfish.
An eyestalk comes off either side of the rostrum. Ghost shrimp can actually move the eyestalks around so they can see their surroundings without moving their bodies.
That way, they can keep an eye on predators lurking around without moving and giving their positions away.
Behind the eyes is the carapace, a big section of shell that covers the rest of the cephalothorax.
Most of the shrimp’s organs, like the heart, stomach and gills, are found there.
The carapace is so transparent that you can actually see food as it’s eaten and moves through the digestive system.
Kind of gross, and yet, somehow fascinating.
On the bottom of the carapace are five pairs of walking legs, called periopods. Shrimp use these to walk along the bottom or climb on rocks and plants.
Two pairs of periopods also have tiny claws, like a lobster or crab, that the shrimp uses to put food in its mouth.
The next segment is the abdomen. This section is mostly taken up by the big muscles that work the tail. The reproductive organs and the intestine are also in this segment.
The abdomen is covered by seven overlapping plates of shell. The overlapping plates allow the abdomen to be flexible so the shrimp can curl its tail.
Underneath the abdomen are five pairs of swimming legs, or pleopods, that the shrimp can use to scoot around in open water.
Female shrimp carry their eggs on the bottom of their abdomens and constantly fan them with the pleopods to give them oxygen.
The last abdominal plate comes to a sharp point, called a telson. Four pieces of shell called uropods fan out from either side of it, forming the tail.
Shrimp use their tails to evade predators. The tail curls rapidly and the shrimp can hurl itself backwards to get away.
3. Color Range
Ghost shrimp don’t really have much of a color range. Their bodies are always almost completely clear.
If you look closely, they are covered with little dark speckles, some greenish, others more brown.
How Big Are Ghost Shrimp?
Ghost shrimp stay pretty darn small, adults are usually only 1.5 inches long. The absolute biggest are 2 inches long.
Females tend to be a bit bigger than males.
How Long Do Ghost Shrimp Live?
These little guys do not have a very long lifespan. They usually only live for about a year.
If you buy ones that were meant for feeding large fish, they may not live long at all.
Most are wild caught and have a rough time in transport. Feeder animals are generally not handled and housed as well as animals meant to be pets.
It’s a sad fact, but it’s true.
If you’re buying feeder shrimp to keep and raise, it’s a good idea to get a large group. That way, you hopefully get some tough enough to survive and breed.
Ghost Shrimp Molting
All shrimp molt . Once their outer shell hardens, it can’t actually get bigger.
As the rest of the shrimp grows, the shell becomes too small. They have to shed this old one so a new, larger one can replace it.
Most young dwarf shrimp molt almost weekly . Adults might go a month or more between molts. It all depends on how much they are feeding and growing.
It’s difficult to tell how often individual ghost shrimp molt since they’re usually kept in big groups.
So it’s hard to tell which ones have molted and which ones haven’t.
But molting is always a good sign. It means your shrimp are healthy and growing.
The Molting Process
A day or two before the molt, you might notice that the shrimp looks a little more opaque than usual.
This happens because the new layer of shell is forming underneath the old one.
When the big day arrives, the shrimp will curl its tail under its body again and again, trying to loosen the old shell.
You might also see the shrimp moving its legs a bunch, trying to loosen those up, too.
The shell will split where the tail meets the cephalothorax. The ghost shrimp will usually pull it’s front half out of the old shell and then flick backwards really quick to get its tail free.
Sometimes, they’ll do this so quickly that you’ll miss it completely.
Molted or Dead? How to Tell?
One thing about molting though, sometimes it can freak you out because the molted shell looks like a dead shrimp in the tank.
And just to add to your worry, you might count ghost shrimp and find that one’s missing.
That’s because shrimp are really vulnerable after a molt. Their new shell is soft for a few days. They do everything they can to hide themselves during this time.
Luckily, it’s easy to tell a molt from a dead shrimp.
A molted shell still looks clear, like it’s made of glass. Sometimes, you see only half of the shell because the shell splits between the cephalothorax and tail.
A dead ghost shrimp won’t look clear anymore. Their body turns a whitish pink color. It almost looks like the shrimp has been cooked .
If you find a molted shell, it’s fine to leave it in the tank. Shrimp will often eat the old shell, which has minerals in it that are really good for them.
Ghost Shrimp Care & Tank Requirements
Now you know a bit more about Ghost shrimp, let’s run through the steps needed to set up an aquarium.
What Tank Size is Best for Ghost Shrimp?
Since ghost shrimp are so tiny, they don’t need a huge tank. You could keep a single shrimp in something as small as a 2 gallon.
But if you’re wanting to keep a group (which I would recommend), it’s better to put them in a 5 gallon or larger.
Keep in mind, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to control your water quality.
Filtrations for Ghost Shrimp
Ghost shrimp are actually pretty tough, or they wouldn’t be able to survive the conditions of being caught and then shipped all over the world.
So you don’t need to go completely over the top with your filtration. You can just use a filter that’s rated to handle your size tank.
Ghost shrimp aren’t crazy about a really strong current in the water. They can have a hard time swimming against it.
So don’t add a filter meant for a 40 gallon on a little 10 gallon tank. The poor ghost shrimp would be plastered to the floor of the aquarium.
Hands down, the best kind of filter to have in a shrimp tank is a sponge filter . They don’t create a lot of crazy flow and they’re great mechanical and biological filters.
Plus, shrimp can’t get stuck on/in them. You’ll even see that the shrimp will graze along the sponge all the time.
You can use a standard hang on the back or canister filter if that’s what you already have.
But, shrimp can get sucked into filter intakes that are really powerful. Many, many people have opened up their filter to clean it and found shrimp inside, munching on filter gunk.
You can add a sponge pre-filter onto the intake of your existing filter that will keep shrimp (especially babies!) safe.
A Special Mention for Lids
It’s best to have a tight-fitting lid that has as few gaps as possible.
Shrimp are really good jumpers and have been known to end up on the carpet.
So make sure to close up any gaps in your lids as much as possible in case your shrimp decide to go on a walkabout.
Lighting your Ghost Shrimp Tank
Here’s the thing about lighting and aquariums: it’s more for us than it is for the critters we keep.
Fish and shrimp really don’t have “lighting requirements.”
The lights are there so we can see the tank, not because our livestock has some kind of solar receptors.
If anything, a lot of species need shady areas that they can retreat to. That helps them feel less stressed.
Ghost shrimp will do fine under bright lights or dim ones. Just give them some little hidey holes so they can get away from the light if they feel shy.
If you’ve got live plants in the tank (which the shrimp will LOVE), base your lighting on what the plants need. The shrimp will just hang out either way.
Plants and Decorations
Like I said before, shrimp like lots of places to hide. Being in a bare tank can be really stressful for them. Especially when they’re molting.
Make sure to give them lots of options for hiding places. Rocks, fake plants, driftwood, decorations with little caves, however you want to do it.
Ghost shrimp will really appreciate a heavily planted tank. This gives them lots of places to hide.
And they will happily munch on plant material as it breaks down.
Plus, live plants help keep down nitrates in the tank, so they make the environment healthier.
Ghost shrimp don’t actually require any kind of special substrate. Gravel, sand or planted aquarium substrate will be just fine.
You should pick your substrate based off of the plants you pick .
But, you can see them better against a dark substrate.
A Special Mention: The Nitrogen Cycle
You want to make sure that you don’t add ghost shrimp unless your tank has been properly cycled.
If you’re new to all this, maybe you think you just add water and then drop fish in.
Sorry, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
As fish and shrimp eat, they put off waste.
All that pee and poop starts to break down in the tank and put off ammonia (NH3 ). This is bad news because ammonia can build up and quickly stress or kill fish/invertebrates.
Luckily, there are beneficial bacteria that colonize a tank’s filters and substrate. One kind turns ammonia into nitrite (NO2 -1), which is still really toxic. But then another kind takes nitrite and turns it into the much less toxic nitrate (NO3- ).
But the bacteria don’t just show up overnight. It can take weeks for the beneficial bacteria to move in and start doing business.
This can mean that any critters in the tank are exposed to toxic ammonia and nitrite. This can easily stress and kill fish and invertebrates.
Ghost shrimp aren’t terribly delicate. They can adapt to all sorts of conditions.
But at the same, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to do well in a tank while it’s being cycled.
Make sure that your aquarium is fully cycled before adding ghost shrimp.
You can see our full guide on cycling your tank here.
Pro Tip: Taking the time to do a fishless cycle before you add livestock to a tank will give you better results. Patience will pay off with healthy, happy fish.
Ideal Water Parameters for Ghost Shrimp
- Ammonia and Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- Temp: 65°-75°F (18.3°-23.8°C) ghost shrimp can survive in temps as high as 80°F, but higher temperatures can cause molting issues and an increased chance of bacterial infection.
- GH: 3-10 dGH (50-166.7 ppm)
- KH: 3-15 dKH (53.6-268 ppm)
- pH: 7.0-8.0
Pro Tip: Most shrimp experts don’t even use heaters in their tanks. They just let the water acclimate to the room temperature. Subtle temperature swings between day and night actually mimic the shrimps’ natural habitat.
Ghost shrimp can adapt to many different water conditions. But shrimp, and other invertebrates, need a source of calcium in order to form their shells.
It’s important to maintain a healthy GH so the shrimp always have a source of calcium to form their shells.
Pro Tip: If you have soft water, you can add minerals with a supplement like Seachem Equilibrium or Weco Wonder Shells. Offering calcium rich foods like blanched spinach is also a big help.
Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimp
Here’s the thing, ghost shrimp are small and…tasty.
Fish have a simple rule when it comes to roommates: if he fits in my mouth, he must be food.
Large, aggressive fish will definitely eat these guys.
Even smaller fish may harass a shrimp to death by picking at it.
And you can’t know for sure how it’s going to go.
For example, bettas are way too small to eat an adult ghost shrimp in one go. But they might keep nipping at a ghost shrimp until it dies.
It’s also been reported that assasin snails might kill and eat shrimp.
Species you might mix with ghost shrimp:
- Otoclinus catfish
- Nerite snails
- Mystery snails
Just remember, even small fish can be a threat to larval ghost shrimp.
It’s also not a good idea to mix ghost shrimp with other kinds of shrimp. They have been known to kill red cherry shrimp and other smaller species.
Ghost Shrimp Diet & Feeding
Ghost shrimp will spend much of their day grazing on the algae and biofilm that grows in the tank.
You’ll see them constantly walking around, sifting through the substrate.
It’s a good idea to use a glass feeding dish for these guys. Shrimp are messy eaters. Putting their food in a dish keeps little pieces from breaking off and sinking into the substrate.
Ghost shrimp can be snappish with each other when it comes to food. It’s better to use a larger feeding dish so less aggressive shrimp have room to eat.
What do Ghost Shrimp Eat?
Ghost shrimp are omnivores so they will eat just about anything. Some good foods include:
- Shrimp food pellets
- Globs of algae
- Blanched vegetables like spinach, romaine, cucumber or zucchini
- Algae wafers
- Blood worms
- Leaves (Indian almond leaves are a favorite)
Related Post: What Do Freshwater Shrimp Eat?
How Often Should I Feed Ghost Shrimp
Because ghost shrimp constantly graze on stuff in the tank, you don’t actually have to feed them a whole lot.
If you have fish in the tank, they’ll happily eat any flake food that sinks to the bottom.
If you have a large colony of ghost shrimp, feeding every day is OK. Just make sure that the shrimp eat it all within 4 hours and remove uneaten food.
If they’re leaving a lot of food, give them less at a time. Or you can switch to feeding every other day.
If you only have a few shrimp, you probably only need to feed them four times a week. Especially in a heavily planted tank where they can graze all day.
You should always see the shrimp actively go after food within 10 minutes or so of it being dropped in the tank.
If they’re not immediately going for it, they’re not really hungry. Remove the food and give them a day or two to get hungry.
Ghost Shrimp as Feeder Fish
Ghost shrimp do make a tasty treat for large fish, like Oscars or Jack Dempseys .
But there’s a catch.
They’re really not that nutritious. Most ghost shrimp are wild caught and generally just not treated very well.
Feeder fish are really only as nutritious as the diet they’ve been eating. So if they’ve been jostled around from place to place and fed a crummy diet, they’re not that great of a food source.
The good news is, you can change that by gut loading.
Hold the shrimp for several weeks in a separate tank and feed them a nutrient-rich diet. This can greatly increase their value as a food for fish.
Since ghost shrimp will eat just about anything, give them food that has all the nutrients your fish need.
After a few weeks of fattening them up, drop them in the tank and watch your fish go to town.
I always enjoy watching my fish go after live foods. They just get so excited about it.
Concerns About Parasites
You might be worried about your fish picking up parasites from live foods. This is a legitimate concern, especially if you feed things like feeder goldfish or minnows.
Ghost shrimp can carry nematodes in their guts.
But the good news is that the nematodes that infect ghost shrimp do not appear to be able to affect fish.
There are parasitic nematodes (Camallanus) that can infect fish. But they use copepods, tiny crustaceans, as their intermediate hosts . Not shrimp.
How to Breed Ghost Shrimp
Breeding ghost shrimp can be tricky. When they hatch from their eggs, they are free-swimming larvae that are very vulnerable to fish and other shrimp.
It’s best to have a separate breeding tank. The breeding tank doesn’t need to be fancy, a simple sponge filter is great. The sponge filter won’t suck up any tiny shrimp larvae.
If you can swing it, live plants in the breeding tank are great because they provide a food source for larval shrimp. But they’re not absolutely necessary.
Female ghost shrimp will develop a green “saddle” on the underside of their tails. This is a cluster of eggs that the female will constantly fan with her swimming legs.
The term for a female carrying eggs is “berried” since the little eggs look like little round fruit.
They’ve always looked more like grapes to me, but I wasn’t consulted when the hobby decided on the term.
Berried females put out pheromones that let the males know they’re ready. Males will zoom around until they find her and fertilize her eggs.
A few days after you see the female become berried, remove her from the main tank. Keep her in the breeding tank until the eggs hatch, usually a month.
You can tell the eggs have hatched because they’ll no longer be clustered under her abdomen.
Then take the female out of the breeding tank and put her back in the main tank. That way she won’t eat the babies.
Shrimp larvae can be fed finely powdered spirulina or infusoria.
Pro Tip: You can culture your own infusoria. It’s really simple and a fun science project to do with kids. You can watch a video here.
Shrimp larvae will metamorphosize into tiny shrimplets after about a week. They can then be fed just like adult shrimp. Be careful not to overfeed.
After 5 weeks or so, shrimplets should be big enough to put in the main tank.
Final Thoughts On Ghost Shrimp Care
Ghost shrimp really are interesting creatures. I love their see-through bodies and nonstop antics.
They’re active, constantly skimming the substrate or grazing along plants and driftwood. There’s always something to watch with them in the aquarium.
They make a great addition to the cleaning crew in your tank or can even star as the main attraction.
You don’t need a huge tank or an elaborate setup to enjoy these guys. A 5 gallon with a simple sponge filter will do the trick.
Raising ghost shrimp is a great way to always have live foods on hand for predatory fish.
With a little effort, and the right setup, these guys can breed like crazy. Then you can have a constant supply of yummy treats for your large fish.
Whether for pets or feeders, or both, I highly recommend these crazy little critters.
- Red Cherry Shrimp: Aquarist’s Care & Anatomy Guide
- Aquarist’s Guide To Amano Shrimp: Care, Lifespan, Feeding, And Tank Mates
- The 16 Best Freshwater Algae Eaters (Clean-Up Crew) To Control Algae Growth
- 13 Best And Worst Types Of Bottom Feeder Fish For Your Aquarium
- Katherine Morgan
Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. An aquarium specialist, I've kept tanks for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast.
Well done. Thanks.
I’ve had lots of planted and not planted aquariums, just started my first planted with lots of shrimp! And love it. Your article was nicely written, quick and easy to read and still I still learned! Thanks
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Zebra loach care & tank set up guide for beginners, bamboo shrimp care guide & tank set up for beginners, assassin snail care guide & tank set up for beginners, hillstream loach care & tank set up guide for beginners, red-tailed shark complete care & tank set up guide for beginners, chili rasbora (boraras brigittae) care guide for beginners.
- List of Aquarium Guides
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- Setting up the Aquarium
- Cycling the Tank
- Cloudy Aquarium Water
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- The Planted Tank
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Ghost Shrimp Care
Ghost Shrimp, also called Glass Shrimp are one of the easiest species of freshwater shrimp to keep. They are primarily translucent, small and highly active. Ghost shrimp are extremely popular due to their low price. Ghost shrimp can often be purchased en mass for as little as 20-50 cents each. This price makes them attractive to prospective owners but also as a live feeder for larger carnivorous fish. Ghost Shrimp are scavengers and do an excellent job of cleaning the aquarium of rotting debris and algae. They are effective at actively reducing nitrates within the aquarium and having a very low biomass footprint.
Ghost Shrimp are extremely hardy and condition tolerant when directly compared to other varieties of shrimp such as Crystal Red Shrimp and Red Cherry Shrimp. For this reason they are the best beginner shrimp to trial before moving on to more expensive varieties. They are easy to breed and maintain. Ghost Shrimp will consume almost any type of food. They are also effective scavengers. Ghost shrimp are tolerant but are still sensitive to water fluctuations. Water chemistry should be kept stable when housing Ghost Shrimp. If they begin to look unwell in the aquarium immediately check the water temperature and recent additives.
- The optimum aquarium temperature for Ghost Shrimp is around 65-85°F (18-29°C). Ghost shrimp can tolerate temperatures as low as 65°F. Ghost shrimp are best kept around 75°F in a tropical aquarium. Higher temperatures will lead to faster growth and reproduction rates. However higher temperatures reduces dissolved oxygen and stocking will need to be lowered. 85°F (30°C) is the upper limit tolerated by Ghost Shrimp. At low temperatures Ghost Shrimp are more susceptible to disease.
- Ghost Shrimp pH can be variable from 6.5 – 8.0. A neutral range will maximize health, color and hatching rates of Ghost Shrimp eggs. Neutral tap water is perfect for water changes.
- Before adding any Ghost Shrimp to the aquarium ensure nitrite is 0. Cycle the tank and check the levels with a test kit. Ghost Shrimp are highly sensitive to nitrite.
- Ammonia should always be 0 post cycling. Ghost Shrimp are sensitive to elevated ammonia levels.
- Nitrates should be less than 20ppm. It is not a requirement but it is highly encouraged to have nitrate levels of 0ppm. More water changes and plants can help keep nitrates lower.
Water Changes 30%
- The aquarium water should be changed at least 30% every week. Use a spare glass heater to bring the changed water up to the aquariums temperature. This will reduce shock on the Ghost Shrimp during water change.
Adding the Ghost Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp can be kept in aquariums larger than 5 gallons. It is recommended to keep them in a species only aquarium. Ghost shrimp are small and defenseless, easily harassed and consumed by larger fish. Ensure the aquarium has been chemically tested and it is within the parameters listed above before adding the shrimp.
- Add the Ghost Shrimp from the plastic bag to a bowl. Use air-line tubing and a rubber band to create a siphon from the aquarium. Kink the tubing by placing the rubber band over a bent section of the tube. Adjust the kink to allow a slow drip of 1 drop of water per second exiting the tube. Let this drip into the bowl for the next 20-30 minutes and monitor carefully.
- After 20-30 minutes use a soft mesh net to transfer the Ghost Shrimp into the aquarium. Cover the net with one hand when moving the shrimp as they can jump and escape.
- Ghost Shrimp are hardy but can be affected by poor water quality. If a situation does arise check the water immediately. Perform a water change and try to identify the problem. If you have more than one aquarium move the Ghost Shrimp to a suitable temporary home. Even if the conditions are sub-optimal is often far better than leaving them in a toxic aquarium.
- Here is a link to a full guide to setting up a shrimp tank . Including setup instructions, cycling and choosing the correct hardscape in much greater detail.
Feeding Ghost Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp are scavenger feeders and will accept a wide variety of foods. They are omnivorous and will naturally feed on brush algae and fallen food.
- Ghost Shrimp can be fed processed foods such as flakes & pellets. They are typically unfussy eaters. Ghost shrimp have a unique clear body, the food can be seen making its way through the digestive system. Ghost Shrimp will also eat boiled zucchini and soft vegetables. Vegetables provide the shrimp with necessary nutrients and are a low cost solution.
Ghost Shrimp as live feeders
- Ghost shrimp can be purposefully bred to feed to aquarium fish. Larger freshwater species including Oscars, Arowanas, Cichlids, Angelfish, Discus and Trigger Fish will benefit. Ghost shrimp are high in natural oils and fats, beneficial for coloration and development.
- Ghost Shrimp have much lower risk of carrying disease than other live feeder species. Feeder fish and blood worms can carry harmful parasites while Ghost shrimp are exempt as invertebrates.
- A separate aquarium should be set up to breed the Ghost Shrimp. Ghost Shrimp breed readily and can be farmed to be a sustainable weekly meal for the display tank. Further reading regarding breeding can be found below.
Tank mates & Compatibility
- Ghost Shrimp are best kept in a species only aquarium or with other very small shrimp species. They breed quickly, are fairly hardy and interact well with their own species. They lack proper defenses to be housed with larger fish and are often used as live feeders.
- Ghost Shrimp must be kept away from fish such as Discus, Oscars, Cichlids, Arowanas and Angel Fish. Tetra's and other smaller fish can pose a risk to younger fry and harass smaller shrimp.
- Adult varieties are often kept with small fish. They can be extremely productive in the aquarium, reducing nitrates and removing excess algae. It is recommended to have a strong starting population of at least 20 when housed with fish. This is due to a safety in numbers argument. The Ghost Shrimp will have adequate time to feed and rest without being targeted.
How Many Ghost Shrimp can be Kept in the Aquarium?
- Ghost Shrimp have an extremely low biomass and ecological footprint. They produce very little waste and aid in the reduction of nitrates. For this reason there is a soft cap of 10 shrimp per gallon of tank water. Careful note should be taken of temperature and water conditions in highly stocked tanks. High temperatures can increase reproduction rates but will lower the dissolved oxygen content of the water. Plants can aid in oxygenation and shelter.
- It is recommended to use an air filter with Ghost Shrimp. The young are small and weaker swimmers than the adults. Slower water currents are preferred by all ages of Ghost Shrimp.
Breeding Ghost Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp are easy to breed. Ensure the tank is stocked with both males and females. Females are much larger than males, usually about 1.5x the length. It is optimal to have twice as many females as males.
- Choosing specific ratios may not be possible when purchasing. In this case purchase at least 20 to ensure a healthy mix of both male and females.
- Raise the temperature in the aquarium to around 80°F. Raising the temperature can help simulate warmer months (and therefore wetter months) of the year. Water changes can also help contribute to breeding behavior. Higher temperatures increase metabolism and will help breeding activity in the Ghost Shrimp.
- It is important to fill your tank with patches of thick plant cover. This will give the Ghost Shrimp piece of mind and safety needed for breeding. Raising the relative hardness of the water can spur breeding. Harder water signals to Ghost Shrimp higher calcium and mineral levels necessary for maturation of eggs. This can be obtained by adding a small bag of limestone chips to the filter.
- Within one to two weeks females will be noticeable with rows of hundreds of eggs beneath their tails. Ghost shrimp will constantly fan the eggs to ensure they remain oxygenated and healthy. Ensure the tank is using an air filter at this point. Ghost Shrimp fry are small and fragile.
- Sometimes the Ghost Shrimp become pregnant but there are never any young. In this case check three parameters. The calcium is at appropriate levels in the tank. Too elevated can lead to impermeable shells. Too low can lead to soft development. Ensure the temperature is around 80°F, this is necessary to encourage birth. Relax the Ghost Shrimp with plant and artificial cover.
- Ghost Shrimp fry are born live from the mother. The eggs will be carried for around 1 to two weeks. Immediately after being born the fry must fend for themselves. It is wise to move them to a fry-only tank. Ghost Shrimp are scavengers and will often eat their own young.
Resources » Aquarium Pets » Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp Care Guide & Species Profile
The ghost shrimp is a freshwater shrimp of the Palaemonetes family. This species is small and primarily clear in color, which is why it got its name.
These shrimp are popular among aquarists because the shrimp are easy to care for and act as tank cleaners.
Ghost shrimp make the perfect addition to any tropical community consisting of other small non-aggressive fish.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Ghost shrimp facts & overview, appearance & behavior, ghost shrimp tank & water requirements, care & diet, lifespan and molting, should you get a ghost shrimp for your aquarium, ghost shrimp faqs.
Although ghost shrimp fossils suggest this crustacean’s existence in the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, these tiny crustaceans were first described in North America in the 1850s.
Ghost shrimp can frequently be seen on sand beaches and coastal regions around the Pacific Ocean.
Adult Size & Life Expectancy
Adult ghost shrimp grow up to 1.5 inches long. Females can grow up to 2 inches long.
A lifespan of only one year means these small shrimp aren’t known for their longevity.
Ghost shrimp are available at most pet stores, especially stores specializing in aquatic creatures. They typically cost $0.50–$3 per shrimp.
You can buy this freshwater species at AquariumFis h or Aquariumfishsale.com .
The ghost shrimp’s transparent body gives it a quirky appearance — especially since the clear body allows others to see what the shrimp have eaten that day.
This species’ peaceful and shy nature makes the ghost shrimp an ideal tank companion for other peaceful species.
Colors, Patterns, and Size
Ghost shrimp are transparent. This unique physical characteristic helps these shrimp avoid predators and makes the species attractive in any aquarium. This species doesn’t vary in color, but some ghost shrimp have colored spots on their back. Females develop green markings on their sides when approaching puberty.
Ghost shrimp are small. Females grow up to 2 inches long, but males only grow 1.5 inches. Unlike fish, ghost shrimp don’t have fins and use their tails to move.
This species molts regularly, as it grows too large to fit its shell. When these small shrimp shed their shells, they’re especially vulnerable until the new shell grows. During this time, keep your ghost shrimp away from any boisterous fish to avoid injury.
Ghost shrimp are known for being passive and peaceful, making them the ideal tank mates for busy tanks with many other species.
These shrimp can be found swimming around the middle of the tank or cleaning leftover food and algae from the bottom. They tend to stay active and busy during the day and occasionally burrow in the sand.
While this tranquil species enjoys being in a group, a single shrimp will survive happily on its own.
Any aquarist hoping to house a ghost shrimp should ensure the shrimp’s tank is consistently warm and has a capacity of at least 5 gallons.
Habitat and Tank Requirements
Ghost shrimp enjoy decorations such as driftwood, rocks, and sand. Only use rounded rocks in the tank, as sharp rocks can injure the shrimp’s exoskeleton.
Avoid nitrates accumulating in the tank. To remove nitrates from the tank’s water, introduce fast-growing floating and root-feeder plants to the tank.
Avoid plants with sensitive roots, as the shrimp’s burrowing habits may damage them.
The ideal tank conditions for a ghost shrimp should be as follows:
The tank conditions for a ghost shrimp should mimic the shrimp’s natural habitat — warm freshwater, with a layer of sand at the bottom and a range of plants to enjoy.
Ghost shrimp don’t require excessive filtration — purchasing a filter to match the size of your tank is sufficient, and a sponge filter is ideal. The shrimp enjoy swimming in the bubbles created by an air pump .
Avoid creating a current that’s too strong, inhibiting your shrimp’s ability to swim.
Caring for a ghost shrimp is relatively easy. These shrimp enjoy a varied diet, including algae off the side of their tank.
Ghost shrimp’s delicate exoskeleton increases their risk of injury, so keep your shrimp’s tank free of sharp decorations.
Diet and Feeding
Feed your ghost shrimp a diet consisting mainly of algae, aquatic plants, larvae, weeds, and pellet foods. It’s also worth feeding ghost shrimp calcium supplements to help them form a hard shell.
Due to the shrimp’s small size, these crustaceans only require small amounts of food, most of which they can acquire from their tank mates’ leftovers. If you keep your ghost shrimp alone or just with tank mates of the same species, you’ll need to give them their own food.
The amount of food the shrimp require depends on how much algae is in the tank. The more algae there is, the less you’ll need to feed them.
A group of four shrimp needs feeding once every other day, and just one ghost shrimp only requires food once every few days. This species’ scavenging nature means you don’t need to be too strict with its feeding routine.
Caring for ghost shrimp is straightforward because of their lack of stringent feeding needs, relatively small tank size requirement, and peaceful nature.
Supplement your ghost shrimp’s food and water with calcium to keep their shell strong. Bright lights and access to hiding places within the tank will keep this species entertained.
Ghost shrimp react negatively to improper water conditions, such as pH outside of the 7–8 range, or the presence of ammonia in the tank. The shrimp are also particularly susceptible to the vorticella parasite and several bacterial infections.
Vorticella is a parasite that appears as a white fungus on the ghost shrimp’s tail and the tip of their nose. This parasite may cause a loss of appetite and energy in ghost shrimp and can be treated with aquarium salt and a good filter.
Bacterial infections will appear as a pink, swollen spot on a ghost shrimp’s body. Unfortunately, bacterial infections are usually fatal for ghost shrimp, so the best course of action is to separate the infected shrimp from their tank mates to stop the infection from spreading.
Is a Ghost Shrimp Dangerous?
Ghost shrimp are not considered dangerous. However, aquarists should avoid keeping too many of these shrimp in a tank together, because the species can become aggressive and attack its tank mates when it has to fight for space.
Ghost shrimp make ideal tank mates for small, calm, bottom-dwelling fish, due to both species’ shy and non-aggressive natures.
These tiny crustaceans’ size makes them vulnerable to being eaten, so avoid pairing them with large predators.
Ideal tank mates for ghost shrimp include:
- Cherry shrimp
- Amano shrimp
- Kuhli loaches
- Freshwater snails
- Cory catfish
- Vampire shrimp
Ghost shrimp live for around a year, but this can vary depending on the individual and the place of origin.
Because they are so cheap and easy to breed, these shrimp are often used as feeder fish for larger species in the home aquarium, and as a result, are often kept in high densities with poor filtration.
This makes them more likely to die during transport and increases their mortality rate. It is common for some individuals to die a few days into life in their new tank, even if the tank is perfectly healthy.
Although their lives are short, ghost shrimp molt regularly as they eat and grow, becoming too large for their previous shell. This can become fairly frequent. It all depends on how much they eat and how fast they grow.
Once ghost shrimp have shed their old shell, they will be particularly vulnerable until their new shell hardens. While you don’t need to worry too much during this time, don’t be surprised if your ghost shrimp takes damage through rough behavior from boisterous fish.
Ensure that your tank has crevices and plants for molting shrimp to hide in.
When you see a molted shell sitting on the sediment, it’s natural to panic and assume it’s a dead shrimp. However, upon closer inspection, the hollow interior of the husk should clearly identify it as a discarded exterior.
When your ghost shrimp sheds its shell, you don’t need to remove it from the aquarium immediately because it will usually become food for other shrimp in the tank.
Ghost shrimp are easy to breed provided they’re kept in a healthy environment without predators. For an optimal chance of breeding, stock the tank with twice as many females as males. You can establish which shrimp are female by their larger size and green saddle, located under their bodies.
To simulate the shrimps’ warmer mating months and encourage breeding, raise the tank’s temperature to around 80°F. After a few weeks, the females will produce eggs, which will appear as green dots around their legs.
Allow a few days for the males to fertilize them. Having high levels of calcium in the tank will improve the chance of these eggs maturing.
Once the eggs are fertilized, move the females to a different tank to allow the young to hatch, as ghost shrimp have been known to eat their own young.
The babies’ environment should match the main tank, with a thin layer of sand and some smooth decorations. Adding a robust sponge filter to the tank will ensure none of the young get sucked into the aquarium’s equipment. Feed the baby shrimp small amounts of particle food until they grow legs, at which point you can feed them the same diet as an adult ghost shrimp.
Shrimp are fully grown at five weeks old, at which point you can move them back to the main tank with their parents.
If you’re looking for a crustacean with a unique appearance and peaceful nature, a ghost shrimp is ideal. These tiny shrimp will not only entertain you with their energetic antics, but they’ll also keep the tank clean and free from algae.
The ghost shrimp’s small size and ability to get along with tank mates make this crustacean a fascinating addition to any aquarist’s tank.
- Can ghost shrimp live with neon tetras?
- How do you keep ghost shrimp alive?
- Can ghost shrimp live with guppies?
- Can a ghost shrimp live with a betta?
- How many ghost shrimp can I put in a 10-gallon tank?
- Can ghost shrimp live alone?
- Why is my shrimp dying?
- Is my ghost shrimp dead or molting?
- Is it ok to leave dead shrimp in the tank?
- Is my ghost shrimp male or female?
- Can ghost shrimp live without a heater?
- Why do ghost shrimp jump out of water?
- Why do ghost shrimp turn white?
- Why are my ghost shrimp dying?
- How long do ghost shrimp live for?
- Should I remove dead ghost shrimp?
- What conditions do ghost shrimp need?
- Will ghost shrimp clean my tank?
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I have some questions about keeping ghost shrimp. I started a small tank, in anticipation of housing a betta, but I have not done so yet. i established a zebra snail, tiger snail, and three ghost shrimp to cycle the tank. I ended up with two female shrimp who had eggs and one small male to start. I can see the two females and they have since lost their eggs, but the male has been hard to find. I did a water change today and I’m not sure if I have a shed (stuck to a live plant) or a dead male. I can see the two females. At this point I’m more interested in making sure that my water quality is good before I even think about adding a betta. I’m also worried about the shrimp. I’ve done water changes and checks. I had some teak wood in the the tank that I hoped would lower the hardness, but it lowered it way more than I thought, even after doing water changes. I took the teak out, but I’m not sure where to go from here. I’ve been testing the water and my water is still too acidic. I’ve been working on going through the cycle of the tank, but in every test, my nitrate and nitrite level is low. Chlorine is zero. I don’t really know where to go from here. Right now, I’m looking at making sure I can take care of ghost shrimp before I even introduce a betta. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong with cycling the water. Any advice/help would be appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Sarah, Thanks for your message. We always recommend that you do fishless cycle (including other aquarium animals too). It may take slightly longer but it is always safest for all the fish/invertebrates involved. Since you have already cycled your tank with shrimp and snails, all I can do is advice you from here, but if you ever happen to cycle a tank again, don’t put any creatures into it. You can read more about setting up your first tank in our article here: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/how-to-set-up-a-fish-tank/ Great that your chlorine levels are at 0. Your nitrite levels need to be at zero too, and your nitrate levels should be low (you carry out water changes to keep these low). Just wait until your nitrite levels are down. You tank needs to build up a specific bacteria which converts the ammonia to nitrites. Once this has been established, you’ll see the nitrite levels coming down. With regards to the acidity problem, have you checked your regular tap water? While it’s unusual for tap water to be acidic, this does happen from time to time. If you’re sure it’s the wood you’ve put in (some wood can alter the pH of the water), you can boil it to remove the toxins. In the meantime, there are plenty of products you can buy to raise the pH, just make sure you do it really slowly to stop your current inhabitants getting stressed. Keep an eye of the shrimp on the plant, and just take it out in a few days if you’re sure it’s dead (or just the shed exoskeleton). Robert
When the ghost shrimp dies, it usually takes on a peach colour, I have found this out by breeding and online.
oh wow. today I found a clear shrimp shed, but at the time I thought it was a dead shrimp. I was freaked about until I saw a page about ghost shrimp molting. thanks for the description though! should be helpful.
Don’t do water changes, Toncontrary believe water changes aren’t good for your tank. Keep the water you have for an extended time, get a pleco in there as well as some Cory cats, there a dirtier fish but they will help you get your water right, there also very hard to hurt or kill as they adapt quickly to there New tank.
Hi, I’ve recently lost a ghost shrimp that had difficulty molting, what can I do to prevent this in the future. I’d like to breed them with minimal loss.
Common causes of that impact molting are GH, KH and TDS. Check that your water parameters are all at the levels they’re supposed to be at. Robert
I am wondering- how many babies can a ghost shrimp have at a time? I have tried google, but it says everything BUT what I searched for.
They usually carry 20-30 eggs at any one time. Thanks Robert
Are ghost shrimp okay to keep with guppies?
Hi Anna, yes ghost shrimp are fine to keep with guppies. You can read more about keeping guppies on our care guide here: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/guppies/ Thanks, Robert
Are ghost shrimp okay with goldfish?
Hi Ella, they might be OK being kept with slower fancy goldfish varieties? Which goldfish do you have? Thanks, Robert
I just purchased 3 ghost shrimp and in less than an hour my 2, 3 inch koi fish gobbled them up. The 3 smaller gold fish seamed to be less interested. I am going to buy more shrimp tomorrow because I feel they should be able to survive in my aquarium because there are plenty of rocks and plant to hide in and around. I did a lot of rearranging and stirring up in the process and they were possibly struggling to maintain a safe shelter.
I had a Betta in a 1/2 gallon ‘betta tank’ for two weeks until I did some research on why he was lethargic and found out they need more! And filtration and airation… So I set up a little 3.5 gallon bio bubble…horrible little tank, has a wicked current and it’s an absolute pain to do water changes or anything else you need to do. So I bought a new 10gallon tank with all the fixings (whoever said betta’s are a cheap fish don’t do it right!), Did the cycle, added the Betta and a snail I had got the the 3.5g, a week later added 3 Cory catfish and a week later added 3 ghost shrimp (the store said they went well together). The Betta has left everyone alone though and seems happy in his tank with the others. I’m wondering if I could get a few more shrimp and if so should I stick to the ghost shrimp or could I get others? My water is hard GH 180 KH 180 PH 7.5 NO2 0 NO3 0
Hi Jennifer, the reason ghost shrimp work so well with Bettas is that they are see-through and so don’t attract too much attention. You could keep other shrimp with them with caution such as cherry shrimp ( https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/cherry-shrimp/ ) or amano shrimp ( https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/amano-shrimp/ ). Thanks, Robert
My beta killed ghost shrimp and snails
I have two pregnant ghost shrimp and I’m wondering how the process of having the babies will be if I do not separate them into an isolation tank. How many are likely to survive and how long until they are big enough to see so that I can clean the tank without killing those that survive?
Hi Trisha, I wouldn’t recommend keeping them in a community tank, or even with the mother once they’re born as they’re extremely likely to be eaten. Thanks, Robert
There are these small clear things attached to one of our fake plants that have been there about 2 weeks. They appear to be growing but they’re still so small it’s hard to tell. We had a berried female ghost shrimp so could these be her babies? They’re not swimming or floating around; they’re just attached to the plant and too small to make out any features although they are clear. How fast do the babies grow?
Hi Emily, The eggs normally stay attached to the mother until they are ready to hatch (around 21 days), she will then flick them off so it is possible that what you’re seeing are tiny shrimp. They’re barely even visible for the first few weeks. If your tank is well established there will probably be enough algae in there for them to eat, if not you’ll need to add some power based feeds such as spirulina. They should be fully grown within 5 weeks. Thanks, Robert
So I have a small 5 gallon tank, I did a creatureless cycle then added my snail and ghost shrimp, about 2 monthsater (4 days ago) I added one more ghost shrimp and a few small chili rasbora. As was well, unfortunately now I cant find my shrimp! My 4 year old and I have been searching in the tank. I do have a few plants and a little wood for them to hide but it’s been two days with no shrimp.sightings. is this normal? I feel like this is a dumb question but how could my little shrimp just disappear?
Hi Erika, do you have many hiding places in there? It’s very likely that he is hidden away! Thanks, Robert
I’m shocked to read that the lifespan is around a year. My little guy had been with us for at least 3 years now! The neighborhood kids have named him Mr. Professor and love trying to find him. When they can’t, they say he’s gone to his laboratory in the “basement” of the tank. Haha. How lucky are we to have had him for so long?!!!
I’ve been wanting to get some shrimps for weeks now to deal with dead plant matters (lots of new moss but isn’t doing too well probably cuz of algae) and was shocked that no one in the big fish club have any Cherries. I found some rare blue but shipping is outrageous when it should be free. Finally, with the mosses getting worse, I just had to grab some shrimps and the Ghost are the only option/color at PetsMart. Was surprised at them being only 39¢ and I grabbed all 8 that they had. Now they are in the tank with no problem so far with my sweet Betta. He isn’t bothering them. I’ve saw one went face to face with him and he was totally chill. Another rode on his back, lmao!!! Hope it doesn’t take long to see results for them to eat the dead/decaying brown stuff of the mosses.
I read that you could put shrimp with Betas so I did. I don’t know how many I’ve put in there total but I’ll say this, only 3 ghost shrimp have survived and 0 colored shrimp survived. The colored shrimp seem to disappear within 1-2 days. I finally have a shrimp only tank now with 1 pregnant female and I think I just got 2 more females. But I need more tanks cause I want to separate all the colors so I don’t end up with brown or grey shrimp. I also am concerned about moving my pregnant female because I’m afraid it’ll stress her out too much and because I don’t like the idea of having her in a breeder box for weeks. I had her in this tank by herself for weeks hoping she would have them before I got any more shrimp but I gave up thinking she was ever going to have them. But I know I’m an impatient person so maybe it just hasn’t been long enough. Hopefully I can get another tank set up before she has them so she doesn’t have to go in a breeder box! Just thought I’d share my experience with shrimp and Betas. Btw, my Beta didn’t start eating them until I put the colored ones in there with him.
I have a pair of ghost shrimps I noticed she was carrying eggs in her belly I put her in a tank on her own waited for her dropping the eggs but I cant find them what am I doing wrong thanks
Hi Helen, did you allow time for the male to fertilize the eggs before moving her? Thanks, Robert
I bought three ghost shrimp for my African dwarf frog to eat. He hasn’t eaten them yet, but I noticed that one of them was pregnant a few days ago. Now there is a cluster of semi see through things. They are piled up on the bottom of the tank and they each have little black eyes but they do not move at all. There has to be at least 30 of them. Is this the baby ghost shrimp?
Hi Angelle, when you say she looked pregnant, what did you see? Shrimps carry their eggs and in this species, they’ll be a greenish color and will be attached to the shrimps legs. Thanks, Robert
I dont know if anyone is still keeping up on this page, I just bought 48 ghost shrimp to breed and start feeding my Gold, turquoise, green, Severums. Plus one Oscar. They are in a separate tank and hopefully when the mother gets eggs I’ll move them to another separate tank with a sponge filter, so the little ones survive! This article was really helpful, anymore tips for breeding in large amounts such as the 48 I got.
We have two yellow belly sliding turtles that we would like to get some ghost shrimp to help with upkeep of the tank. Do you have any advice on how to clean the tank once we introduce the shrimp? We have to change their water currently about once a week, every two weeks at most. I’m hoping this will extend the time unless this is the norm? As novice aquatic pet keepers, any information you can help with would be greatly appreciated!!
I have a few ghost shrimps in my guppie tank. One of my shrimps has turned a beige color. I read that she is having issues with molting and that I need to add Iodine to my water. Is this true?
I have an online friend who claims to have a 6 yr old ghost shrimp. Is this some kind of record for longevity?
I’ve been keeping Ghost Shrimp in my 65g community as cleaners and critters of interest. I have a well planted tank with lots of hides for both fish and invertebrates. This morning, I spied two tiny sets of antennae belonging to two 1/2 centimeter juvenile shrimp! Against all odds, they are maintaining numbers. And, I have a renewable and constant food source for my fish, namely my Peacock Gudgeon Gobies :-)>
Hi Leigh Ann, as a turtle keeper myself, all my life, I would like to know size of tank, diet etc. I would think ghost shrimp would be eaten as soon as they could catch them. You should have a basking place with a uvb/uva light bulb. An overturned clay flowerpot with a flat Rock works well if your turtles are still small. A clamp lamp with a reptile bulb directed at the basking rock works and is cheap. There are internal filters made for turtles, but I use a powerfilter that hangs on the top of the tank, because I have my water level a few inches from the top of the tank. I also have a full hood with a long turtle bulb. You can feed dark lettuces, crickets, earthworms etc. I cut up fish and raw shrimp in bite-sized pieces, and put reptile vitamins on it. I freeze it in snack size bags, in meal size portions, or amt you can use in a couple days, if you have little guys. A couple feeder goldfish are good clean-up buddies until the turtle gets them. Vary the diet, keep them warm, (submersible heater a must) scoop out leftover food,if you don’t have goldfish, and they should live many years. Hope this helps!
I would advise leaving the molts in the take, as the shrimp will often eat them to regain some minerals they lose
can you change their colors?
Hello. I have some ghost shrimps in my aquarium, some of them are peaceful , some of them are not. They went after my guppies… Is this behavior natural for the shrimp?
Do Ghost Shrimp go well with Black Neon Tetras
Will my clown loaches eat my ghost shrimp if I put them in the same tank?
I have had a ghost shrimp for about 8 months and I just got a new betta fish in my tank to replace my other that had died. Twice now I have found the ghost shrimp up on the side of the tank out of the water. I have managed to get it back into the water and it seems like it is fine. Is the poor thing completely traumatized by the betta fish. It got along (seemingly) with the other betta fish. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Do ghost and cherry shrimp make noise? I have been noticing a cicada like noise coming from my tank and wonder if it’s them.
I got a 30 gal tank,I started with 12 wild caught ghost shrimp, 3 crawfish, and 2 turtles, (one red ear slider and one yellow belly slider), all plants and rocks are from the wild, nothing store bought except food. I now have too many shrimp and 7 crawfish. Still got the turtles also. Plenty of hiding spots and bigger river stones make great crevices for them to hide. I think the turtles enjoy the shrimp cleaning there shells. The shrimp are just as cool to watch as the turtles are. Thanks for the tips about the Ph,
Info good and helpful, however, not so fast to give bettas bad wrap please. I have a solo male Koi in 10 gallon w/10+ ghost and solo female Koi in 2.6 gallon w/several ghost. Everyone gets along just fine. When I approach tank to feed male, the shrimp and betta rise to the top for food and all done peacefully together. It’s fun to watch while I can rest my tank kept clean and nitrites low to none. My advice: research the temperament of your betta especially if male. Like people, bettas have unique personalities too. My understanding Koi most docile.
Hey everyone..I have a question…I have 2 tanks for my shrimp bc one has the two moms n one dad n the other is all my beautiful but still very micro sized shrimp babies…the parents tank is fine but my babies tank is super cloudy. I have a few plants in the babies tank but I can’t figure out why it looks so cloudy or “dirty”. I checked my levels and only thing that’s reading a bit higher than usual is the nitrites…any ideas how to safely reduce that? I have quite a few babies and don’t wanna lose any if possible! (They are pets not food) also if anyone can recommend a good filter for the babies tank n where to look that be great! I had to make a filter to go over the intake so my babies didn’t get sucked in bc I can’t find any anywhere near me…Thank you so much for your time!
I had a berried ghost shrimp about a month ago. The eggs hatched in the tank with other fish because I didn’t want babies and didn’t separate them. After about a week, I saw the larvae floating around and a week later, I saw about 3 babies crawling on the gravel. They were big enough to not be eaten. Then, they dissapeared and I haven’t found them since a few days ago. Where could they have gone?
I have a 55 gallon tank with a large cascade filter and 2 underwater gravel filters. A grate underneath the gravel, usual old time setup. Just seemed an offbeat, not the usual tank set-up these days. I have kuhli loaches, bristlenose plecos, bronze corydoras and just added 10 small mystery snails. I want to add some more fish, I am thinking about getting more fish (several months ago I lost my almost foot long goldfish, some loaches, some corydoras and some bristlenose – I believe the filter medium wasn’t properly neutralized and had traces of bleach…..everything is now fine)the corydoras are spawning and laying eggs like crazy since the goldfish are gone. The fish I am looking to add are tetras (cardinal and super blue emperor) chinese algae eaters (lost him too) tiger barbs and some ghost shrimp. They, according to the charts should all get along. I used to find my plecos trying to suck the slime coat off the goldfish. I also HAD 2 turtles (at different times, found as hatchlings) which I found near dead and nursed back. They were always harassing the mystery snails, and I found him eating one that he finally got to come out of his shell. I live in Florida on the west coast gulf area, we have all kinds of free pets, you don’t even have to look…
My ghost shrimp are 3 years old. I got them for black fungus in my 55 gallon molly tank (which they took care of in a couple of months). My last 4 mollies recently died at 2.5 years old. The shrimp live in a very mature tank. For the last 1.5 years, I have only added water due to evaporation and do not need to remove any because of the good health of my aquarium. There is a little salt; when I used to do water changes in the past I would add 4 tbsp. for 20% water removal. I thought I would take the shrimp to the pet store but I don’t want to give the pet store old shrimp that will die soon. I don’t think these shrimp are decedents of my original shrimp for two reasons: 1. the mollies would eat tiny shrimp fry and/or 2. the filter would suck them in. Everything online says ghost shrimp would only live around a year or so, maybe up to 2 under very good conditions. Should I take them to the pet store or just wait until they die? I admit, they are very interesting if you can observe them closely, but it’s very hard to see details unless they get near the glass. I don’t plan on getting any other fish. I only had the mollies because my mother couldn’t keep caring for them. It’s been a long 6 years with molly babies and more babies and more babies…thank goodness for the nearby fish store that would trade young mollies. I finally lucked out when these last four mollies never had babies. I just thought of this: what if the ghost shrimp successfully breed now that the mollies are gone?
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Can Ghost Shrimp Live In Cold Water?
Ghost shrimp are fascinating little creatures to get, but can you put them in a coldwater aquarium or need a tropical aquarium to survive. Whatever they need, they are great for children and adults alike, who can learn a lot from caring for them.
Ghost shrimp can live in cold water and survive temperatures as low as 45 Fahrenheit in the wild, but the best temperature range to keep them in is between 65 and 82 Fahrenheit.
There are several different species of transparent shrimp sold as Ghost shrimp or Glass shrimp.
Get The Right Ghost Shrimp
If you are planning to get them, make sure you get freshwater ghost shrimp. Sometimes the type of ghost shrimp sold in pet stores will need brackish water to survive. If you put them in a freshwater aquarium, it wouldn’t be long before they would die.
However, most ghost shrimp sold in pet stores are a freshwater species and will thrive in both cold water and tropical aquariums.
Now before you part with your money, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, you’ll be glad to know you’ll be getting what is probably the easiest shrimp to look after, and they are excellent for beginners.
It’s also great to know they can be kept in cold water as well as tropical aquariums. You’ll undoubtedly want to know what advantages and disadvantages these two different environments offer to the shrimp.
Although ghost shrimp are exceptionally hardy, you should remember that, like most shrimp, they are sensitive to varying water temperatures. So if you notice they’re looking unwell, check the temperature.
Ghost Shrimp Temperature
Talking about temperatures , these little fellows can tolerate lows of sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. If you decide to house them in a tropical tank, the optimum temperature would be around 75 degrees.
You’ll notice the difference in activity from these creatures depending on the temperature. The lower it is, the less animated they’ll be, with higher ones resulting in more active shrimp in your tank. Provided you’re happy to see your shrimp grow faster and reproduce a lot quicker, then a higher degree of heat would get you your desired results, with 85 degrees Fahrenheit being the upper limit for ghost shrimp.
However, you’ll need to know two things here. Higher temperatures will lower dissolved oxygen and which means stocking needs lowering. On the flip side, lower ones could make your ghost shrimp prone to disease. Just stick to the guidelines above, and your shrimp should be excellent.
But what about pH, nitrate, and ammonia levels? I hear you ask. Good question, and an important one, so let’s get to it and start with pH levels . These can vary between 6.5 and -8, with a neutral range maximizing both health and color.
Next is nitrite, not to be confused with nitrate. Ghost shrimp are extremely sensitive to this, so make sure it’s 0 ppm.
Ammonia should also be 0 ppm post cycling as once again; the shrimp are sensitive to heightened levels.
Although nitrate should be no higher than 20ppm, I’d recommended that you have 0 ppm levels.
Keeping Nitrate Levers Down
More frequent water and plant changes are the right way of keeping nitrate levels in the optimum range, which brings us to the next question that you no doubt feel obliged to ask.
How do I go about changing the water, and how often? The longer you leave it, the dirtier it will become, and your shrimp’s health will suffer because of it. With this in mind, you’ll be wanting to do at least a 30% water change every week. Make sure you use a glass heater or keep your water in a bucket in the same room to bring the changed water up to the aquarium’s temperature to reduce the shock to the shrimp.
With all this talk of temperature, there’s one thing I have yet to mention, and I’m sure it won’t be long before you ask.
Do I need a heater for ghost shrimp? Ghost shrimp do not need a heater. If you do decide to use one, remember they’re more active in warmer water, then set it up a couple of days before adding the shrimp.
If you’re considering putting your shrimps with other fish, proceed with caution. Ghost shrimp are peaceful creatures, gentle of nature, and small in size, making them prone to being eaten by larger fish. With this in mind, only house them with small non-aggressive fish if you want to keep them off the lunch menu.
What do Ghost Shrimp eat?
Ghost Shrimp are typically unfussy eaters , see, I told you they were easy to look after. They’ll happily eat the processed flakes and pellets on sale at pet stores.
They’re also partial to a bit of boiled zucchini and soft vegetables and will naturally feed on brushed algae. Feeding time can either be a mystifying affair or just downright strange, depending on how you look at it.
Because these shrimp are translucent, you can see right through them, meaning the food they take in is visible when making its way through the digestive system.
How Many Ghost Shrimp Should You get?
So your mind is made up, you’re going to pay a visit to the pet store and pick up your ghost shrimp. Great, but how many are you going to get, and where will you put them? You may already have an aquarium or small tank to put them in, which is excellent. But is it big enough? Because they produce very little waste, which aids in reducing nitrates, a conservative estimate is ten shrimp per gallon of tank water.
To keep Ghost shrimp, you don’t need large, expensive tanks or aquariums to look after ghost shrimp. But those numbers could quickly multiply as these little creatures breed quite easily as long as there’s a good ratio of both males and females. You’ll notice that females are a lot bigger than their male counterparts. Turning up the temperature in the tank will speed up the breeding process if breeding’s your plan.
So in general ghost shrimp are easy to look after. They are fascinating, mystifying, cheap, and Ghost shrimp can live in cold water.
Can ghost shrimp live out of water? Ghost shrimp can’t live out of the water, but they can survive a short period out of the water if they stay wet. They can sometimes climb out of the water looking for a better place, but they will die if they don’t find their way back to water soon.
Can ghost shrimp live alone? Ghost shrimp can live alone, but they are much happier living in a group.
My name is Jaap, and I am a passionate shrimp and fish enthusiast. I rediscovered my love for this hobby with my son and want to share our knowledge and tips with you on this aquarium blog. We cover topics such as setting up and maintaining an aquarium, feeding and breeding your shrimp and fish, and creating the perfect environment for them to thrive.
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Ghost Shrimp: Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size and Disease
- By Adam Edmond
Like the name of this invertebrate suggests, ghost shrimps are clear or transparent in color. The primary reason behind this is to evade the chase of predators who live in the natural habitats and the home tanks.
However, these shrimps’ clear appearance also contributes to a fascinating view of how their body works and how they process food. If you are an aquarist interested in learning more about the morphology and physiology of aquatic life, these shrimps are hands down the best way to start.
Besides their transparent body, the ghost shrimp anatomy includes two antennas fitted to the top of their head – both of varying sizes. However, their antenna has significant sensory functions and helps detect chemical changes in the water body and even food.
Another unique sight in their appearance is the rostrum, a beak-like extension situated just between the eyes and the shrimp’s carapace. The primary function of the carapace is to provide a protective outer covering to the shrimp while they are swimming around.
Just behind the carapace is where you will find the infamous swimming limps, otherwise known as pleopods, that connect directly to the tail. They also have a tail fan embodying the exterior of the uropod, giving them their characteristic look and appearance.
Lifespan of Ghost Shrimp
The typical lifespan of a ghost shrimp is between 8 months to a year. However, this isn’t a standard time frame because some of them can live less or more, depending on the environments they are kept in and their feeding in the tank.
Besides being kept as a part of the tank, some aquarists even add a bunch of ghost shrimp as feeder fish for the other larger fish. In such cases, their care isn’t the aquarist’s priority, and they are thus kept in poor living conditions, leading to premature death in the tank.
Another part of their lifecycle worth mentioning is the regular molting process that they undergo. The molting frequency depends on the quantity of food the shrimps are eating and how quickly they switch from their standard size. Generally, they molt when they become larger than their shell.
Ghost Shrimp Size
The typical size of a mature ghost shrimp is not more than 1.5 inches. The male ones are comparatively shorter than the adult female shrimps.
However, despite their length, they aren’t very wide in appearance, which is why they appear sleek and thinner than some of the other shrimp species, especially the peppermint shrimp . These shrimps’ smaller and intangible size is also why they are often offered as a live feed to the larger fish species.
Natural Habitat and Origin
Ghost shrimps are popular freshwater crustaceans that are found in several lakes in North America. Although aquarists know that they hail from freshwater regions, their origin is not that clear. However, they were first officially classified in the early 1800s, which is a few centuries ago.
Although they were fascinating to look at during the initial days of their discovery, their existence became very common as the days passed. They are rarely kept as an addition to the community tanks and are mostly used as a live feed.
If you are wondering about their nature, ghost shrimps are timid about their surroundings. However, they are an active species and are often categorized as aquarium cleaners because of the algae they feed on. So, they are a significant part of aquaculture.
Ghost Shrimp Care and Tank Set-up
Contrary to what many think, ghost shrimps are extremely vulnerable in their natural habitat, especially in the rivers and lakes containing many larger fish species. So, when setting up a tank for them, mimicking a similar backdrop and set-up is crucial to adapt to the surroundings easily.
Given the small size of these shrimps, you will often find that they fit right in the smaller tanks and with the bare minimum in them. For your convenience as a beginner, we will discuss everything related to the tank setup that you need to know about.
Ghost Shrimp Tank Size and Specifications
It doesn’t matter whether you keep the ghost shrimp alone or in groups, make sure that you fill the tank with enough crevices and hiding spots so the ghost shrimps don’t feel in danger all the time. This is one of the leading causes of stress and premature death in these small crustaceans.
Following are some of the crucial details about tank set-up that you need to be mindful of:
Optimum tank size for Ghost Shrimp
The minimum tank size recommendation for ghost shrimp is 5 gallons. You can house 3-4 shrimps per gallon of water, which means that a 5-gallon variant can easily house 10-15 of these small invertebrates in them.
However, if you are keeping them in a community tank, you need to be extra careful of the other fish species that you pair them with.
When it comes to water filtration, you need to integrate a light flow filter that won’t generate heavy water current.
A water filter should always be available in the aquarium, even though ghost shrimp like to do all the cleaning. An internal sponge filter is the best option, especially if you have a small tank (about 5-gallons), as it will also provide an extra food source.
For large tanks, external filters are a better option, as they help change foul water and larger debris.
Ghost shrimp, like many other shrimp species kept in the home tanks, are bottom feeders . So, you will often find them navigating down to the bottom of the tank in search of food or a hiding spot from their predators.
So, make sure that you fill the bottom with the fine but dark-colored substrate so you can spot the transparent colored ghost shrimps in the tank. Fine sand works the best as a substrate for the tank since these shrimps have a habit of digging into the substrate for food. Any kind of rough-edged substrate will end up causing injuries or even make it harder for them to find food to eat.
Water Parameters for Ghost Shrimp
Ghost shrimps babies and adults are very adaptable to the water conditions you place them in. This is why you don’t have to go overboard with the water parameters and maintain the favorable conditions to their lifestyle.
When setting up the tank for ghost shrimps, you need to be mindful of three things: temperature, pH, and water hardness.
The ideal water temperature for ghost shrimp is between 65 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that these small invertebrates prefer living in warm water conditions, so you need to pair them with fish species that favor warm water. Higher temperatures can accelerate growth and reproduction rates, while lower temperatures lower the shrimp’s immunity and disease.
A heater should be placed in the aquarium if kept in a colder room or if you live in a colder climate.
The perfect water pH level for ghost shrimp is between 7.0 to 8.0 , which indicates that they prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water conditions, which is very easy to recreate in the home aquariums.
Be very careful when treating water or other fish in the aquarium with medication. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates should always be monitored and, most of all, avoid copper accumulating in the water, as it is fatal to the shrimp.
Nitrites and ammonia should be 0, while nitrates should never be higher than 20ppm.
The only standout factor with the water parameters is the water hardness because they rely on soft water conditions with a scale between 3.72 and 6.75 .
Ghost Shrimp Tank Landscape
Ghost shrimp like to live with many live plants in an environment of moderately moving water. They can even tell a live plant from a fake one; live aquarium plants provide shed-matter shrimp like to eat, leading to a cleaner aquarium.
Also, plants, along with decorations and rocks, provide ideal hiding places for the little crustaceans and make them feel more at home.
When you generally go to buy ghost shrimps for your home aquarium, you will often notice some of them chucked into a plain transparent tank with no hideouts or decorations. Those are the live feeds. If you want to house a ghost shrimp, that is the last thing you want to do.
Setting up the inside of the tank for a ghost shrimp does require some important pointers and reminders that we will discuss now.
Best Plants for Ghost Shrimp Tank
As we mentioned before, fine sand and gravel make the best substrate for the ghost shrimp tank. These are easy to dig through and don’t inflict any kind of pain or injury to the shrimp while they are down at the bottom looking for food.
However, simply relying on the substrate will only get you so far. Instead, you need to fill up the tank with different aquatic live plants to replicate their natural living conditions in the lakes and rivers.
Plants like java moss and hornwort make up for the two best options for live plants. Utricularia Graminifolia is also good for them. Besides being a good spot for hiding, keeping live plants in the tank also generates algae that the shrimps feed on now and then.
Lighting for Ghost Shrimp Tank
Besides the live plants, an aquarist also needs to be mindful of the lighting conditions in the tank. If you are extremely critical about the lighting, let us ease your mind by saying that the ghost shrimps don’t necessarily care about it.
They are bottom dwellers and bottom feeders, so they won’t have a specific day or night cycle for active or hiding out. So, if you want, a plain LED aquarium light on the top will get the job done just fine.
Feeding Ghost Shrimp
It’s very easy to feed your ghost shrimp, as it will eat almost anything found in the aquarium. Their diet consists of algae, dead plant matter, or uneaten bits of food. Also, boiled soft vegetables can be an inexpensive solution while providing the shrimp with many nutrients.
Of course, processed foods can also be fed to the ghost shrimp, such as pellets designed for small fish or shrimp, fish flakes, or wafers. Mostly anything that can easily be broken into small bits will be acceptable.
As the ghost shrimp has clear bodies, food can be seen while passing through the digestive system. Ghost shrimp should be fed twice a day and given the amount of food eaten in about 1-3 minutes.
Their broad spectrum of eating habits makes them perfect aquarium cleaners because they will gobble down the food from the bottom, clear out algae deposition and ensure that the tank doesn’t have unnecessary food remnants in it. They also feed off of plant debris in case a plant has died in the tank.
What kind of food you feed your ghost shrimp depends on the height of the tank. If the tank is too tall, the chances of these shrimps coming up to the surface to feed off the flakes is very low. In such cases, you can rely on sinking pellets to feed them.
A few other feeding factors worth considering is that these small ghost shrimps need a good calcium supplement now and then. Since they molt quite frequently, the calcium helps build a stronger shell. Also, try to avoid any kinds of food sources containing copper because that is highly toxic and fatal for the shrimps.
Ghost Shrimp Behavior and Temperament
Ghost shrimps, like the other shrimp species, are very peaceful and like to keep to themselves. You will find them spending the majority of their day on the bottom of the tank, either digging for food or hiding from the predators.
During and after their molting, you will find these shrimps hiding away in the crevices and caves to protect them from the predators in the tank. They will do so until their shell reforms and hardens on the exterior.
Besides their general nature, they aren’t very societal in larger community tanks with different fish species and like to keep to themselves most of the time. You will find them swimming around in the tank now and then, but it is very easy to lose them out of sight due to their clear body.
Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates
Ghost shrimp do best in a one-species aquarium or other small shrimp species, like the Red Cherry or the Crystal Red Shrimp . They are pretty social creatures and interact well with their kind.
If you plan to keep your ghost shrimp on their own, keep in mind that too many can get aggressive against each other.
Ghost shrimp can be placed with other small snails or fish, such as the Betta Splendens , but it always depends on the Betta, as their moods are prone to sudden changes. Some aquarists observed Bettas would constantly chase the shrimp or start hunting it suddenly after a long while it didn’t care about it.
The best option when placing shrimp and fish together is to start with a well-established shrimp population, as safety in numbers will decrease the chance of ghost shrimp being eaten.
Keep in mind that larger fish are very likely to eat or harass the shrimp, so consider placing it only with smaller fish. Young glass shrimp should only be kept with other shrimp, as they are even more vulnerable than the adults.
Breeding Ghost Shrimp
If you are housing ghost shrimps with an intent to breed them, you won’t have to go out of your way to do anything in excess. Just ensure that they are kept in a tank with the same species and with no predators in sight.
When there are no predators and no external stress, it becomes easier and natural for these shrimps to breed.
However, if you have the ghost shrimps stationed in the community tank and you want to breed them, setting up a breeding tank is important.
Transfer the female and male ghost shrimp into the breeding tank and wait for them to produce eggs around their leg region. They can produce 20-30 at a time. The male ones then approach the female shrimps and fertilize the eggs.
Make sure you keep a close eye during that process and remove the male ghost shrimps once the fertilization is done. The pregnant ghost shrimp will stay alone in the breeding tank until the eggs hatch.
Once the eggs hatch successfully, transfer the female ghost shrimp into the community tank because they don’t show maternal instincts and can eat their fry. Ensure that you fit a good-quality sponge filter into the breeder tank to keep a steady water flow without the small shrimps getting sucked into the machine by mistake.
Since the newly hatched shrimps have a very tiny body and mouth, you want to feed them the littlest amount of food and supplement to nurture them and help them grow to become stronger and mature. Once they have grown into full-sized adults, you can feed them the standard foods that you would with a larger adult ghost shrimp.
Ghost Shrimp Common Diseases and Treatment
Like any other invertebrate in the tank, even ghost shrimps are susceptible to a few water-borne diseases that aquarists should be aware of.
One of the most common diseases that affect the ghost shrimp is Vorticella. The disease comes from algae that the shrimps feed on, making their body and the clear shell look white and moldy in nature and texture.
Besides Vorticella, a bacterial infection is another common issue that most ghost shrimps suffer from. If you find the shrimp extremely fatigued or showcasing bright pink spots on the shell with swelling, it is a sign of bacterial infection caused by poor water conditions.
The best way to treat both diseases is to have a clean tank with reduced levels and ammonia and nitrate in them. If you aren’t cleaning the tank or treating it with salt every week or every two weeks, these diseases will affect the shrimps and other inhabitants in the tank.
If the ghost shrimp is infected with a bacterial infection, you need to immediately separate it from the main tank to prevent the others from getting an infection. 9/10 times, the bacterial infection leads to the premature death of the shrimp.
Are Ghost Shrimp Right for You?
From the small size to the ease of care, ghost shrimps are ideal for beginners who want to introduce invertebrates into their tanks. They are extremely cheap, which means that you can buy a bunch without paying a hefty amount like with other fish species.
All you have to do is put in a little effort to take care of them and be fascinated by their beautiful nature and appearance. Besides the unique appearance, these small shrimps are quite active when they want to, which again keeps the aquarists amused from time to time.
Do ghost shrimps molt?
Yes, ghost shrimps molt every few days, especially when they have eaten a lot more than they generally would. If their body becomes larger and can’t fit into the shell anymore, they molt and shed the shell. During that time, they undergo regeneration and hideaway in the crevices in the tank.
Do ghost shrimp eat fish poop?
Ghost shrimps do nibble on fish poop now and then. However, they don’t necessarily feed on the poop altogether and will just inspect and nibble on it.
Why do my ghost shrimp keep dying?
One of the most common reasons behind premature death is due to poor water and living conditions. Also, if the shrimp is paired with other larger fish species that they feel threatened to, it can put them under stress and result in death.
Do ghost shrimp clean tanks?
To an extent, ghost shrimps clean up tanks by eating algae, plant debris, and other food remnants in the bottom. However, don’t expect to rely on them solely for cleaning the tank. You need to do it manually as well.
Do ghost shrimp eat moss balls?
While the ghost shrimps don’t eat moss balls , the addition to the tank helps the shrimp graze on it and hide away in their crevices. Only the amono shrimp have a habit of nibbling and tearing apart the moss balls in the tank.
Should I remove death ghost shrimp?
If the ghost shrimp have died of natural causes, you don’t have to worry about removing them because larger fishes will eat them. However, if they died due to an illness, especially a bacterial infection, you must remove them immediately without any questions.
Do ghost shrimps jump out of tank?
Ghost shrimps are bottom dwellers, so you won’t find them swimming up to the surface of the tank. This means there are little to no risks of them jumping out of the tank.
Can ghost shrimp live with bettas?
Yes, ghost shrimps and bettas can live together. However, we’d recommend that you put enough hiding spots in the tank so the shrimps can protect themselves instead of becoming a feast. Read more on this in detail on our guide ghost shrimp compatibility with bettas .
Ghost shrimp are pretty little creatures and inexpensive in bulk quantities, and very easy to keep. They make an interesting addition to small aquariums or can form a colony of their own.
Glass shrimp are also useful in reducing nitrates and algae while having a very low biological footprint, but you should always watch a tank containing fish and shrimp together. With a little monitoring of the tank, they can live up to two years.
If all these sound appealing to you and you don’t want the extra hassle of taking care of complex fish species, ghost shrimp babies are the perfect addition to your tanks. We hope this guide gives you all the inputs you need to know if there is anything else you need information on, leave us a question in the comments.
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How to Take Care of Ghost Shrimp
Last Updated: January 20, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Marshall Stephens . Marshall Stephens is an Aquarium Expert at Private Oceans Aquariums in West Palm Beach, Florida. Marshall has over 20 years of experience in the aquarium industry and focuses on captive-bred animals. They specialize in tropical and marine aquariums and are a contributor to the Loggerhead Marine life center in Jupiter Florida. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 32 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 390,846 times.
Ghost shrimp are interesting, low-maintenance aquatic pets. Also known as glass shrimp, translucency is their most recognizable trait. They’re fairly hardy, and you’ll just need to ensure the water’s temperature, chemical, pH, and oxygen levels are within healthy ranges. While they only live about a year, they tend to breed rapidly, so you establishing a long-term colony is super easy!
Setting up the Tank
- Shop for tanks for aquatic pets online or at a pet store. Go with a tank that has a secure lid. Believe it or not, ghost shrimp can jump out of the water and escape!
- If you have an existing aquarium and want to add shrimp to it, keep in mind shrimp don’t do well with most fish species. Unless you’re raising the shrimp to feed your fish, keep them in a tank with other shrimp, snails, and docile fish, such as Cory catfish.
- For a larger tank, go with an external aquarium filter with a sponge cover over the intake. That way, shrimp won’t accidentally get sucked into the filter.
- If you go with an external filter for a larger tank, choose one that changes 3 to 5 times the amount of water in your tank per hour. If you're not sure which product to buy, head to the pet store and ask an employee for recommendations.  X Research source
- Keeping live plants in the tank can also help oxygenate the water.
- Ghost shrimp are sensitive to chemicals, dust, and debris, so be sure to rinse away any impurities before lining the tank.
- Add the gravel to the tank gently to avoid damaging the glass.
- You could also put a cave or other decorative hiding spots in your aquarium. In addition to leafy aquatic plants, consider adding moss to the tank. Moss is low maintenance and will provide food for your shrimp.
- Look online or at your local pet store for an aquarium heater and thermometer. The right heater depends on the size of your tank. A 50-watt heater should do the trick for a 10 gallon (38 L) tank. For other sizes, use this calculator to determine the wattage your heater needs: https://aquariuminfo.org/volumecalculator.html .
Adding Your Shrimp to the Tank
- Then, after 1 to 2 weeks, test for nitrites. Look for nitrite levels to spike, then drop after a few days to 0 ppm. When nitrite levels drop, nitrate levels should increase. After 2 to 8 weeks, ammonia and nitrite levels should stabilize at 0 ppm, and nitrate levels should be under 2 ppm.
- Cycling the tank encourages healthy bacteria to grow. These bacteria consume ammonia and nitrite, which are toxic to ghost shrimp and other aquatic pets.
- After adding the shrimp and water to the bowl, it should only be about half full. There needs to be enough room to add more water, so choose a large enough bowl.
- Gravity will siphon water through the tube from the tank into the bowl. Monitor the water flow and, if necessary, tighten the rubber band to slow the drip. Allow water to drip into the bowl for about 30 minutes to slowly acclimate the shrimp to their new water's chemistry.
- Don’t just dump the water from the bowl into your tank, especially if you’re adding the shrimp to an existing aquarium. Water from the pet store may contain parasites and bacteria that could contaminate your tank.
Keeping Your Shrimp Healthy
- Ghost shrimp will also munch on waste, algae, and other matter in the tank.
- If you feed your shrimp store-bought pellets, check the instructions for the recommended amount to feed your pets.
- Watch your shrimp as they eat. Since their bodies are translucent, you’ll be able to see food make its way through their digestive systems!
- Make sure the water temperature is around 75 °F (24 °C). If you’re only keeping shrimp in the tank, you shouldn’t need to do much more maintenance than water changes. However, if there are larger fish in the tank, periodically remove waste with a siphon vacuum or brush.
- Test your tap water before adding it to the tank. It should be free of heavy metals and chlorine, and ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0 ppm. If necessary, treat your water with a dechlorinator, which you can buy at the pet store, or use bottled or filtered water.
- Unless you’re using your shrimp as food, fish species you should definitely avoid include oscars, arowanas, cichlids, angelfish, discus, and Triggerfish.
- If you want to add shrimp to your existing aquarium and don’t care if some get eaten, add at least 20 to the tank. The shrimp will be more resilient if their numbers are stronger.
- If you’re using the shrimp as food, it’s wise to establish a colony in a separate tank to replenish the population in the main aquarium.  X Research source
- The water’s pH, or acidity level, should be neutral. If the pH isn’t between 6.0 and 8.5, purchase an aquarium tank amendment at the pet store. Treat the water according to your product’s instructions.
- If the ammonia or nitrite levels are over 0 ppm, do a 30% water change, remove any visible waste, and consider applying ammonia neutralizing drops to the water. If you have a friend who owns a healthy aquarium, you could also add gravel from their tank to yours to introduce beneficial bacteria.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- Shrimp spawn rapidly and are easy to breed. To promote breeding, purchase at least 20 ghost shrimp to ensure a healthy mix of males and females. Eggs and baby shrimp are fragile, so keep plenty of plants and other cover to offer protection.  X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- With the right conditions, ghost shrimp can live for a year or more.  X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Your shrimp will be easier to spot if the bottom of the tank is filled with darker material. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- Ghost shrimp can jump out of their tanks if the water is too high or the tank is lidless. Thanks Helpful 11 Not Helpful 1
- If you’re not raising shrimp for food, buy ghost shrimp sold specifically as pets. Shrimp sold for feeding aren’t typically kept in good conditions, may not be healthy specimens, and may not live as long as shrimp sold to be kept as pets. Thanks Helpful 10 Not Helpful 1
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water after maintaining the tank or feeding your shrimp. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 1
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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about aquariums, check out our in-depth interview with Marshall Stephens .
- ↑ https://aquariuminfo.org/ghostshrimp.html
- ↑ https://aquariuminfo.org/beginner.html
- ↑ https://aquariuminfo.org/shrimptank.html
- ↑ https://aquariuminfo.org/cycling.html
- ↑ https://petcentral.chewy.com/keeping-and-breeding-dwarf-freshwater-shrimp/
- ↑ https://www.theaquariumguide.com/articles/ghost-shrimp-care
About This Article
To take care of ghost shrimp, feed them a small amount of store-bought shrimp pellets twice a day. Or, you can feed your ghost shrimp small bits of boiled vegetables, like zucchini or spinach. Also, make sure you keep the temperature in their tank around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to add other aquatic animals to the tank with your ghost shrimp, stick with other shrimp species, snails, or small, docile fish. To learn how to set up a tank for ghost shrimp, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Ghost Shrimp Care Guide (Diet, Tank & Breeding)
Ghost Shrimp , also commonly known as Glass Shrimp , are a class of decapods crustaceans, swimming crustaceans commonly seen in freshwater aquariums .
Their easy availability means that they are a common addition to many tanks. They generally have two positions, one as feeders to larger fish and the second as highly effective tank cleaners.
Easily overlooked by most enthusiasts, the Ghost Shrimp is an interesting and active addition to a small freshwater aquarium.
Ghost Shrimp are a small invertebrate, growing to a maximum of 1.5 – 3 inches in length. They are transparent, with a yellow to orange spot in the center of the tail. They have 10 legs and their body is segmented.
Females are larger than males, have a green saddle that runs underneath their body (absent in males) and a ridge on top of their tails that is very pronounced.
Ghost Shrimp Origin
The earliest dated shrimp fossils found are from the Lower Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Ghost Shrimps originate from North America and have been in the hobby aquarium ever since people began creating aquaria in the 1850s .
Palaemonetes paludosus is the Latin name and they are common in the southern states, east of the Appalachian Mountains. They are bred in captivity throughout the world and have generally been used as feeders for larger, more aggressive fish.
Ghost Shrimp Diet
Known as pests to clam farmers who spend a fortune clearing them from their clam farms, Ghost Shrimp are omnivores which will eat just about anything left in the tank.
They will feed on leftover food, parts of live plants that shed and even on dead tank mates. It’s important to remove dead fish from the tank as soon as possible though, as they may cause an ammonia spike in the tank.
They will also eat flake foods and sinking pellets, even ones intended for other fish.
Algae is another source of nutrition for them. One algae pellet per day ( we love the sinking algae wafers by API ) will feed a tank with lots of shrimp, but take care not to put them in a tank with much smaller fish as they will occasionally attack and eat them.
These shrimp are scavengers and they can often be seen swimming upside down at the top of the tank waiting to feed on food flakes.
How To House Ghost Shrimp
These small invertebrates are best kept in a small tropical aquarium environment. The ideal PH is 7.2 and the ideal temperature is 75 Fahrenheit.
The water should be fairly hard and certainly within the range of 3-15 DKH (degrees of carbonate hardness).
Although the shrimp can survive in lower temperatures they become less active the lower the temperature. In this environment their peaceful nature can lead to them being attacked.
They certainly thrive in slightly warmer temperatures, but they have been known to become more active in warmer climates, resulting in them attacking other species within the tank. It’s therefore important to attain the right balance of temperature to ensure the ecology system of the tank.
The aquarium should contain live plants and some hiding places for the shrimp to escape to from time to time. They burrow so they need some sand or gravel to give them a place to hide.
Ghost Shrimp molt and when their shell is regenerating they are very vulnerable to other tank mates. So they need a space to hide during the molting process.
Ghost Shrimp are best kept with similar species, such as the Amano Shrimp (as long as it’s larger than the Ghost Shrimp), Bamboo Shrimp, Vampire Shrimp, Nerite Snails, Gold Inca Snails and Ivory Snails.
Any larger fish will feed on them so it’s important to keep them in a separate aquarium.
Ghost Shrimp Behaviour
Shrimp are burrowers and they use this technique to feel safe within the tank and to feed. Their 10 legs are used for different purposes, always keeping them busy and on the move.
The claws of the first and second set of legs are used to help them dig their burrow. When they create their burrows of about 2 – 3 feet in length, they use another set of legs to hold the sandy mud.
Whenever they reach the capacity that they can carry, they turn around and exit the burrow, depositing the sand outside.
They continue this until they have created a collection of burrows with at least two openings. These burrows are only temporary and the Ghost Shrimp will create new burrows in a never ending cycle.
The remaining legs are either used for grooming or bracing the shrimp whilst it’s burrowing.
Ghost Shrimp Lifespan
As these shrimp are mainly used as bait, it’s likely that the environment they have been kept in when being transported to pet shops and aquarium supply shops is not optimal for their survival.
Even when they arrive at the shop they are often kept in over stocked tanks where the environment is not completely accurate to ensure their survival.
When being transferred into your aquarium environment the likelihood of some of them dying within the first couple of days is high.
If the shrimp survive the first few days they can live up to one year or slightly more.
Ghost Shrimps go through a molting stage in their lifespan. This is the process where their outer shell drops off as they eat and grow.
During this period the shrimp is very vulnerable, so it is very important that they have somewhere to burrow during this time, preferably live plants or somewhere with lots of little hiding places.
It’s an amazing transition to watch live, if you can catch it. Have a look at this video to see exactly how they do it…
Breeding Ghost Shrimp
These shrimps are difficult to breed, simply because their eggs hatch as free floating larvae. They do not metamorphose into miniature versions of the adults until at least a week and therefore it’s difficult to keep an eye on them.
When the eggs are hatched, they need a good powdered algae such as Spirulina, and they should be kept in a separate tank until they have reached the stage where they look like their parents.
As with all shrimp, it’s very important to ensure no copper is introduced to the water system. Copper is toxic to Ghost Shrimp and is contained within many fish medication. If you need to medicate other species make sure you remove your Ghost Shrimp to another tank to ensure their survival.
I created this website to help fellow fishkeepers get accurate and helpful information at the click of a few buttons. I've always loved caring for fish and their aquariums, but I've certainly made mistakes along the way. So I'm hoping to help people avoid common fishkeeping mistakes so they can enjoy this satisfying hobby alongside me!
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Ghost Shrimp ( Palaemonetes paludosus )
Min. Tank Size
19 Litres (5 US G.)
5.1-7.6cm (2-3 ")
20 -29 °C (68-84.2°F)
Omnivore Pellet Foods Flake Foods Other (See article)
This animal is available captive bred
- 1 Alternative names
- 3 Lifespan data
- 4 Tank compatibility
- 6 Feeding regime
- 7 Environment Specifics
- 8 Behaviour
- 9 Identification
- 10 Special Note
- 11 Pictures
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Alternative names [ edit ]
Sexing [ edit ], lifespan data [ edit ], tank compatibility [ edit ], diet [ edit ].
Ghost Shrimp are detrivores and will consume algae (although uncommon), detritus and leftover food. If insufficient food is present, supplement with a quality flake food or pellet. It's not an effective algae eater. [2 ]
Feeding regime [ edit ]
Environment specifics [ edit ].
Ghost Shrimp do well in warmer temperatures, though they can survive in waters that are as cold as the upper 50 degree Fahrenheit range. It has been observed that in very warm temperatures, Ghost Shrimp become much more active, and they have been reported to become so aggressive as to attack fish in warm temperatures. In cooler temperatures, they are quite peaceful and it is the Ghost Shrimp who are in danger of fish attacks. Shrimp should have some plants to hide in, particularly if they are kept with fish that might eat them.
Behaviour [ edit ]
Identification [ edit ], special note [ edit ], pictures [ edit ].
Platies & Ghost Shrimp
Female Ghost Shrimp Carrying Eggs
References [ edit ]
- ↑ Lifespan data from The Conservation Management Institute (CMI) within the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech USA , Species Id M070010, 26 AUG 1996.
- ↑ The Aquarium Club
External links [ edit ]
- Shrimp, Crabs and Crayfish
- Tropical Invertebrate Species
- Invertebrate Difficulty - Easy
- Invertebrate Availability- Very Common
- Invertebrate Diet - Omnivore
- Invertebrates (Freshwater)
- Invertebrates (Brackish)
- Shrimp (Freshwater)
- Algae Eaters
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- This page was last edited on 19 July 2023, at 11:42.
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