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Helpful Tips for Keeping Aquarium Shrimp

Green shrimp in aquarium

Photo by Jörg Möller

Thinking about getting shrimp for the first time? Or maybe you’ve had shrimp before but can’t seem to keep them alive?

No worries.

Shrimp aren’t actually that difficult to care for, as long as you know a few tips to help you out. Here’s what to know about keeping shrimp in a freshwater aquarium…

Check their water parameters

When you bring home new shrimp, the best way to make sure they’ll acclimate well is to talk to the seller at the aquarium shop or exotic pet store where you bought them. They’ve been living in a tank with particular water parameters prior to being bought. They’re used to that kind of water.

Group of red and white shrimp

Photo courtesy of Nature Check

Getting the aquarium setup at your place close to what they’re used to will help them adjust to the new environment.

Research the shrimp species

Shrimp come in many different species, such as:

  • Cherry
  • Fancy blue
  • Orange pumpkin
  • Black rose
  • Snowball
  • Crystal
  • Tiger
  • Ghost

Ghost shrimp in aquascaped tank

Ghost shrimp photo courtesy of Nature Check

Each type of shrimp has slightly different preferences for care. You’ll want to make sure that you’re providing what your specific shrimp species needs.

Reconsider when it comes to tap water

Tap water is often treated with chemicals for various bacteria and pests. These additives are generally safe for humans, mammalian pets, and even fish. Invertebrates, such as shrimp, however, have very different body systems.

The things added to tap water to keep you safe may actually be detrimental to shrimp. Instead, you can try water that has been through reverse osmosis or distilled water with some shrimp-specific minerals added back in.

Here’s a good source of minerals for shrimp tanks:

Aqueon Shrimp Essentials Water Conditioner

Yeah, it’s going to be a little more expensive to get these kinds of water, but you’ll have to replace shrimp way less often.

Buy local

A lot of problems can occur in the process of having shrimp shipped to your home. Some shrimp die in shipping, and if the seller doesn’t fast the shrimp first (give them a period without food), the animals can get bacterial infections from ingesting their own poop during shipping.

Green shrimp on gravel

Photo courtesy of Nature Check

You can avoid all the potential problems associated with shipping shrimp simply by purchasing from a trusted local aquarium store, such as The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights.

Give the shrimp some buddies

That’s right, shrimp do better with other species in their tank. But it’s not because they’re lonely and want friends. Keeping something like snails in your shrimp tank actually helps to keep the water balanced with the right levels of beneficial bacteria and pH.

Shrimp crawling on snails

Photo courtesy of Soo Shrimp Breeders

When shrimp are kept alone in an aquarium, because they produce very little waste, they are prone to ammonia spikes in the water at certain times, such as when new shrimp are born or if there’s too much food in the tank. Having a couple other animals in the tank will help maintain balance and prevent these spikes.

Bonus, these extra animals will also help to eat any excess food.

Feed the shrimp

So what do aquarium shrimp eat? Well, pretty much anything. They are omnivorous scavengers.

That makes a planted tank with aquascaping a good choice for shrimp. The shrimp make up the cleanup crew for these kinds of tanks. They’ll eat leftover fish poop and algae on the tank walls. If they share a tank, they can eat the leftovers of whatever you feed the other animals.

Of course, if the shrimp are the main or only inhabitants of your aquarium, they will need something more substantial to eat. Here are a couple of good shrimp-specific foods:

Omega One Shrimp and Lobster Pellets

ZooMed Aquatic Shrimp Food

Too much food, by the way, is always worse for shrimp than too little, which is one of the reasons why it’s good to have snails or fish in the aquarium with them.

Come into the Tye-Dyed Iguana and take a look at the types of shrimp in our tropical aquariums.