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Pet Shrimp: What to Know About Taking Care of Your Underwater Pets

by Robert Lupton October 20, 2022 12 min read

Pet Shrimp: What to Know About Taking Care of Your Underwater Pets

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), almost 70 percent of American households own at least one pet.

As you can already guess, dogs are the most popular domestic pet, closely followed by cats. But pet ownership isn't all smooth sailing; it's a significant investment and long-term commitment. 

The good news is that there is another more affordable and less time-consuming pet to own. Pet shrimp are gaining immense popularity across the globe. They're easy to take care of and are a great way to teach kids about their unique ecosystem. 

Are you looking to add these overlooked critters to your family? 

Learn everything you need to know about taking care of your underwater pets in this guide. 

About Shrimp

Many people opt for fish over shrimp, but these tiny sea creatures are fascinating. Shrimp are shellfish that belong to the crustacean family. They typically live within marine waters and are often caught for food and, more recently, as pets. 

Shrimp are small and range from a fraction of an inch to more than 8 inches. They have slender bodies that have hard casings. These casings, or 'exoskeletons,' shield shrimp from hungry predators and protect their vital organs. 

As shrimp grow, they shed their casing and grow a new one. This process is known as 'molting' and leaves shrimp vulnerable to attacks. 

Shrimp are a vital part of the ecosystem as they are an important food source for larger animals such as fish and whales. Shrimp also play a role as 'cleaners' that help eliminate dead decaying matter such as dead crabs, clams, snails, and fish. In fact, a large portion of their diet is made up of dead tissue and parasites.

As pets, shrimp eat algae (a lot of it) without harming plants. Because they have a big appetite, this dramatically reduces the need for filtration and algae control. 

Shrimp are capable of surviving in various environments and are constantly adapting to suit harsh conditions. Most shrimp species live in saltwater, including the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic Ocean. As the name suggests, freshwater shrimp live in landlocked freshwater areas more shallow than in the deep sea. 

Freshwater shrimp tend to be larger and are typically not edible – hence why they make great pets.  

Benefits of Freshwater Shrimp 

While you can keep saltwater shrimp as pets, freshwater shrimp tend to be more robust and less expensive. If something happens to the water chemistry in your aquarium environment, freshwater shrimp are more forgiving. At the same time, a small mistake is more likely to kill saltwater shrimp as they are susceptible to salinity disruptions. 

Freshwater shrimp can live between two to three years, depending on the species and tank conditions. In the right conditions, they can reach up to eight years. Freshwater shrimp also come in various colors that range from red, green, and yellow to blue, black, and brown. 

Some of the benefits of owning shrimp as pets are:

  • They offer great entertainment 
  • They make a colorful and unusual addition 
  • There is a breed for all budgets 
  • They're generally easy to maintain 
  • They eat almost anything
  • You can fit plenty in your tank
  • Some are nocturnal 
  • They keep your tank clean
  • They're easy to breed
  • They coexist with many types of fish  

Most freshwater shrimp are easy to keep and can improve the water quality of your tank. They are an exciting addition to your tank and serve a vital cleaning role. 

Freshwater Shrimp Species

There are close to 600 varieties of freshwater shrimp to choose from. Although there are many different shapes, sizes, and colors available, some are better suited to aquarium life than others. The three most commonly kept groups of freshwater shrimp are: 

  • Caridina 
  • Neocaridina
  • Palaemonetes 

Although less popular, other types include Atyopsis, Atya, and Macrobrachium

Neocaridina vs Caridina

Neocaridina and Cardinia are the two most popular types of freshwater shrimp. While they look similar, they have different needs, making it essential to know which type of shrimp you are looking after. 

Neocaridina is the easier type of shrimp to start with and is ideal for beginners. They are hardy and can typically survive in a broader range of conditions. On the other hand, Cardinia requires softer water, which is generally more challenging to maintain. 

The Neocaridina genus includes dwarf shrimp species such as Red Cherry Shrimp and Snowball Shrimp. Many first-timers choose these species' as they are easy to care for and breed.

The Cardinia genus includes species such as Sulawesi Shrimp and Blue Tiger Shrimp. Again, these species are better suited for more experienced shrimp keepers. 

Popular Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp Types 

Now, it's time to look at the different types of freshwater shrimp for some shrimpspiration for your tank. We'll also discuss important care information you need to know. 

Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata

Amano Shrimp, also known as Algae Eating Shrimp, Yamato Shrimp,

and Japanse Shrimp, are resilient and active creatures. They are easy to care for and have big appetites for algae. 

Amano Shrimp are non-aggressive dwarf shrimp and are not well-suited to inhabiting an environment with larger species. Avoid Cichlids, Large Plecos, and Gourami. They can inhabit the same environment as Cherry Shrimp, Bristlenose Pleco, and Neon Tetras. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Japan and Taiwan
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 5 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years 

Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocardidina davidi

Red Cherry Shrimp are tiny, ornamental freshwater shrimp. They are the most popular shrimp in the hobby. Cherry Shrimp are smaller, only reaching about 1.6 inches long. 

Suitable for beginners and experienced aquarists, Red Cherry Shrimp are one of the hardiest and easiest shrimp to keep. They will add color to your tank and are known for their algae-eating capabilities. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Taiwan
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 5 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years 

Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis

Crystal Red Shrimp is a popular species of dwarf shrimp and are appreciated for its bright red and white coloration. They make an excellent pet for any shrimp keeper – beginner or expert.

However, they are fragile when it comes to water quality. Perform water tests frequently to ensure the water values are where they're supposed to be. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Taiwan and Japan
  • Difficulty: moderate  
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 10 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1-2.5 years 


Blue Bolt Shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis

Blue Bolt Shrimp is a type of Tawain Bee Shrimp variety. They have a brilliant blue coloration that varies in translucency. Looks aren't the only thing Blue Bolt Shrimp have; they are also fantastic cleaners and will keep your tank looking sharp. 

They have similar requirements to Crystal Red Shrimp and require a specific range of water parameters to keep healthy. While Blue Bolt Shrimp can coexist with other Neocaridina, you may find it harder to create a happy balance.

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Southern China
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 10 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1.5-2 years 

Chocolate Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi

As the name suggests, Chocolate Shrimp produce a rich chocolatey colored shell. They make for an eye-catching and functional addition to your freshwater tank.

Chocolate Shrimp are hardy and will tolerate soft or hard water. They also require minimal feeding in a tank with an abundance of algae, biofilm or decaying plant matter. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Eastern China
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 5 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1.5-2.5 years 


Vampire Shrimp (Atya gabonensis) 

Vampire Shrimp is a filter feeder that spends a significant portion of its day hiding, especially during daylight hours. Make sure you have plenty of cover with plants, caves, and a hidey-hole. 

This type of shrimp requires a larger tank to stay well-fed and happy. A larger tank is also important to accommodate their size – up to six inches. Because they are filter feeders, it's wise to have a strong filter that can blow particles around the tank for the shrimp to catch. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: South America and Western Africa 
  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 20 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 





Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus

As the name suggests, Ghost Shrimp are translucent in color and grow up to 1.5 inches long. Their unique physical appearance makes it easy to see what the shrimp have eaten that day, adding to the quirkiness of the species. 

While they're not known for their longevity, Ghost Shrimp are shy, making them the ideal tank companion for other peaceful species. It's good to keep Ghost Shrimp away from predatory fish to avoid injury as the species regularly molt. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: North America
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 5 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1 year

Singapore Flower Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis

With a pretty name like Singapore Flower Shrimp, it's no wonder they're a beautiful and popular species among freshwater aquarium hobbyists. Singapore Flower Shrimp require at least 20 gallons of freshwater that provide plenty of hiding places and decaying plant matter for the shrimp to feed on. 

It's important to note that this type of shrimp species is challenging to breed as they require brackish water to raise the newly hatched larvae. However, they are straightforward to care for and great for beginners and experts alike. 

Care facts: 

  • Origin: Asia 
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Temperament: peaceful 
  • Diet: omnivore 
  • Tank size: 20 gallons (min) 
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years

Feeding Freshwater Shrimp

As far as feeding freshwater shrimp goes, they have relatively few demands. As omnivores, freshwater shrimp eat both meat and vegetarian, allowing them to enjoy many different types of food. 

Their preferred food is biofilm, a surface scum that forms on the water surface of aquariums. While biofilm is an excellent nutritional substance, it will not be enough to sustain an entire population as your tank grows. 

At this point, you will need to start providing food for your shrimp. Shrimp feed on decaying plants, deceased animals, and algae as they grow. As their diet consists of protein and vegetable matter, it's essential to find a variety of foods that contains these essential nutrients and minerals. 

Freshwater shrimp will happily eat the following: 

  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Freeze-dried
  • Frozen foods
  • Algae sheets
  • Wafers 

At Flip Aquatics, we stock a range of quality shrimp food products, from Shrimp King Snow Pops to Shrimp Lollies. You can also give your shrimp fresh vegetables such as spinach, kale, zucchini, and sweet potato.

You will need to peel these veggies and boil them before freezing them. You can offer veggies several times a week, which you can supplement with their algae diet. 

Finally, there are a few things to remember when feeding your freshwater shrimp: 

  • Feed around 2 to 3 times a week
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding 
  • Try to alternate the food you give to them
  • Avoid buying cheap food 

While it is tempting to buy the 'cheap stuff,' avoid it. Cheap doesn't always mean quality. Cheap food can break down too quickly in the water and end up in the water column and not in your shrimp's stomach. 

Breeding Freshwater Shrimp

Breeding shrimp can be highly profitable if well executed. Even if you're breeding as a hobby, it's still essential to understand how to breed freshwater shrimp properly. 

Crossbreeding is a common practice but is not recommended for beginners. Shrimp aren't likely to adopt the best traits from different breeds as other animals. It may lead to inferior shrimp with weakened traits. 

Red Cherry Shrimp are popular to breed given their superior characteristics and popularity among freshwater shrimp hobbyists. It's pretty simple to breed Red Cherry Shrimp as long as you follow these steps: 

  1. Inducing breeding
  2. Ensuring health and comfort while carrying eggs 
  3. Raising the young 

Inducing breeding is achieved by keeping the water levels stable. Your shrimp will also need a regular food source with higher protein foods.

Ensure there are no predators in the tank once the baby shrimp are born. Most predators are more than happy to eat a newborn shrimp. 

If you're new to breeding, you may encounter a few hurdles. Common reasons your shrimp are not breeding include: 

  • You're using the wrong foods 
  • You don't have the suitable freshwater shrimp species for breeding
  • You have the wrong tankmates 
  • Your baby shrimp are hiding 
  • You're doing too many water changes 
  • Your shrimp don't have enough hiding spots 
  • You have the wrong temperature in your tank 
  • You don't have the correct water parameters

One way to boost your hobby breeding is by implementing live aquatic plants in your breeding set-up. Live aquarium plants can benefit shrimp breeding in many ways, including: 

  • Providing a natural filter
  • Help remove nitrates from the aquarium water 
  • Replicate your shrimp's natural habitat
  • Extra source of baby food
  • Add more surfaces for biofilm to grow on
  • Add more cover and security 

Breeding shrimp is a fun (and addictive) hobby that can become profitable when done correctly. Once you become more experienced in shrimp breeding, you can experiment with different species and have fun doing it. 


Freshwater shrimp such as Red Cherry Shrimp is a great beginner shrimp that is exceedingly hardy. While it can be tricky to find a suitable tankmate for these tiny shrimp, it is possible, but you need to find the correct balance. The tank conditions and setup play a significant role in the success rate of keeping shrimp with other fish or invertebrates. 

Some of the best tankmates for dwarf shrimp include: 

  • Neon Tetras 
  • Male Betta Fish 
  • Freshwater Snails
  • Dwarf Gourami 
  • Bristlenose Plecos 
  • Cory Catfish 

Of course, you can add other shrimp to the mix. The most common shrimp tankmates include Amano and Ghost Shrimp. Most shrimp will not fight each other; just be prepared for crossbreeding and ensure your tank is large enough to support the growing population. 

Shrimp Tank Setup 

The health and well-being of your shrimp come down to one key component: the aquarium setup. Dwarf freshwater shrimp are relatively easy to keep but need the right equipment to make sure they live a happy life. To get started, ensure you have the following to set up a nano shrimp tank: 

  • 3-10 gallon aquarium tank
  • Aquarium cover
  • Aquarium filter 
  • Heater and thermometer 
  • Aquarium substrate 
  • Replacement filter
  • Other decorations
  • Aquarium water test kit
  • Shrimp food
  • Aquarium vacuum
  • A fishnet 
  • Aquarium glass scrubber
  • 5-gallon bucket

Let's look at each of the major components and their importance to the needs of your shrimp. 


The first step to having pet shrimp is deciding what tank to get. As the saying goes, bigger is always better. Although shrimp can survive in smaller tanks, the water can fluctuate in parameters and temperatures. 

Shrimp do not like frequent changes, which may lead to their premature death. Freshwater shrimp also actively breed, so a larger tank is required to support new arrivals.

It is recommended that you don't go any larger than 40 gallons. Instead, opt for 20 to 30 gallons as a starting point. This will be more affordable and easier to set up. 

Test Kit

Water test kits are important to make sure that all the parameters in your aquarium are normal. Without one, you cannot estimate the right condition and risk the health of your shrimp. You won't find an experienced shrimp keeper who doesn't use test kits. 

There are several parameters you need to keep an eye on. They include: 

  • Ammonia 
  • Nitrite
  • Nitrate 
  • pH
  • GH
  • KH
  • TDS

When you first get started, you need to measure ammonia and nitrite religiously. As your tank matures, you will primarily focus on nitrate levels. You will also need to test pH, GH, and KH to ensure they stay stable. 

Please note that parameters are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Different shrimp require different parameters. For example, Red Cherry Shrimp can tolerate the following parameters: 

  • Temperature: 65-85°F
  • Chlorine: 0 ppm
  • Ammonia/Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm
  • pH: 6.2-8.0
  • GH: 4-8 dGH
  • KH: 3-15 dKH

These parameters are similar to other dwarf shrimp species. While Red Cherry Shrimp are very hardy, not all shrimp are. Do your research beforehand to ensure you provide a safe environment for your shrimp.


Once you have a shrimp tank, you'll need a filter. Not all filters are created equal – some are better suited to shrimp than others. Choosing the right shrimp filter can be tricky as you need to consider the size of your tank, the type of filter, and your budget. 

There are four main types of shrimp filters: 

  • Canister filters
  • Hang-on-back (HOB) filters
  • Internal filters
  • Sponge filter 

Canister filters are ideal for larger shrimp tanks but are the most expensive. HOB filters are less expensive but not as powerful. Internal filters are suited for tanks that are less than five gallons, while sponge filters are a good choice as they are easy to maintain and prove good filtration. 

The primary factor when making your choice is shrimp safety. Shrimps are small and can easily be sucked into filters. As long as your filter is shrimp-safe, you're good to go. 


When it comes to aquariums, the substrate refers to the material used to cover the bottom of a tank. It affects water chemistry, filtration, and the well-being of your shrimp. As a result, choosing a suitable substrate is inherently important. 

There are several choices of aquarium substrate. They include: 

  • Gravel 
  • Sand
  • Crushed coral 
  • Pebbles
  • Soil

Many recommend using inert substrates, including gravel, sand, and baked clay products. Inert substrates last forever and break down slowly, if at all. They are also the easiest aquarium substrates to manage and do not change the chemistry of your water. 

At the end of the day, shrimp can be successfully kept in almost all types of substrates. What matters most is stability. Shrimps don't like sudden changes; just ensure you keep the water close to the desired parameters.  

Pet Shrimp: The Unique Pet Experience

Pet shrimp are a fun and popular pet experience for children and hobbyists looking to expand their hobby into the shrimp and nano fish world. 

When you bring any animal into your home, it deserves your best efforts. The same goes for pet shrimp. Ensuring you have a suitable environment for your shrimp to thrive in is crucial to the success of your efforts. 

At Flip Aquatics, we are passionate about shrimp and providing healthy animals to our customers. Whether you're a complete beginner or looking to expand your hobby, you can find everything you need here. From shrimp and nano fish to live aquatic plants and freshwater snails, we cater to everyone's aquarium needs. 

Browse our range of shrimp and start your new underwater adventure today! 

Robert Lupton
Robert Lupton

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