Care of Aquarium Shrimps

Shrimp are very sensitive to changes in aquarium water parameters. Learn all about their care here.
Care of Aquarium Shrimps
Georgelin Espinoza Medina

Written and verified by the biologist Georgelin Espinoza Medina.

Last update: 11 July, 2023

The type of creatures that can be bred in a fish tank are diverse, a variety of fish, mollusks, amphibians, turtles, and even crustaceans. Some of the most interesting are aquarium shrimps, some with really beautiful designs and colors. These little animals have certain maintenance advantages: little care, and low costs are the ones that stand out the most.

Shrimp belong to the crustaceans of the order Decapoda. And, although their development is generally simple, there are certain aspects about their care that you should know about. Therefore, in this article, we’re going to tell you all you need to know if you’d like to have these cute arthropods in your home.

Characteristics of aquarium shrimps

As mentioned, shrimps are crustaceans, so they have the usual characteristics of the group. They have a segmented body, protected by an exoskeleton, with several articulated appendages. Among them 4 antennae, 6 mouthparts (maxillipeds), 5 pairs of legs, which allow them to move very well in the water. In addition to the pleopods, their abdominal region has different roles, such as the reproduction or incubation of eggs.

The name Decapoda comes from the number of legs this type of animal has. In total it has ten (5 pairs).

The colorations of shrimps are very varied and beautiful. Some are translucent, almost transparent, which helps them not to be seen easily. Others have intense tones, flashy, bright, shiny, and different designs. Some have the ability to change their body colors.

Aquarium shrimps.

Habitat and distribution

The habitat of shrimps is very diverse, as they can live in both marine and fresh waters. In the world, their distribution is cosmopolitan, ranging from tropical to temperate zones. They’re found in shallow waters and with different depth values, generally close to 500 meters. However, some live at greater ranges.

Aquarium for shrimps

This type of aquarium is exclusively for shrimps, so no other species of animals are kept inside. The size is usually variable, but the bigger they are, the better they can move and live. Besides it’s easier to maintain the water parameters.

These aquariums also have live plants that provide many benefits to the aquarium. They serve as shelter for the shrimps, provide food and maintain the environmental conditions, as well as preventing the accumulation of toxic substances.

What elements do shrimp need in their aquarium?

Although it’s simple to maintain aquarium shrimp, it is necessary to place some elements in their tank. These are the ones we will mention below:

  • Plants: Live plants can be incorporated into the aquarium. Some used are Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana), Java fern (Microsorum pteropus), riccia (Ricciafluitans), among others.
  • Substrate: This must be nutritious and allow the rooting of the plants. In addition it should be compacted in a suitable way, so that it doesn’t create air pockets that can become a source of contamination. Gravel or sand is usually used as substrate.
  • Filter: A filtering system allows us to keep our aquarium clean. However, not all equipment is safe for shrimp, as both adults and hatchlings can be sucked in and become trapped. The most appropriate is the sponge filter, but it’s necessary to check if the filtration capacity is adequate for the size of the tank.
  • Lighting: It’s also important to add a source of light, Particularly if you have plants in the aquarium.

Physicochemical parameters of the aquarium water

Water quality is the fundamental aspect for the correct development of shrimp. There are different parameters that should be monitored, among which we should highlight the following:

  • Temperature: they can usually withstand a wide temperature range, but ideally between 20 and 25°C (68 to 77 Fahrenheit)
  • pH: This is recommended to be close to neutral, in the range of 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Nitrite: 0 parts per million (ppm).
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm.
  • Nitrate: Values below 20 ppm are required for the correct development of these crustaceans.

Cycling and maintenance of the aquarium

Before introducing the shrimp, all the elements of the tank must be installed and put into operation for a period of about 1 month; this is known as cycling. Its purpose is to generate the appropriate microbiota for the animals, in addition to ensuring that the parameters are in the optimal range.

It’s necessary to check the values with water quality kits at least every 7 days, since they’re very sensitive to their environment. It’s also important to clean the aquarium; this is achieved by replacing only up to 30% of the water in the tank, with a frequency of 2 to 4 times per week or when we believe convenient.

Similarly, it’s necessary to check the operation of the filter, lighting, and temperature regularly.

What do aquarium shrimps eat?

These crustaceans have an omnivorous diet, i.e., they eat both animals and plants. Their menu is very broad and includes meat. They consume mosquito larvae, fish scales, and other crustaceans, including artemia. Some cooked vegetables can also be provided.

In addition, special nutritious commercial food is available in granules or flakes and can be purchased at a pet store. Aquariums  without plants need a larger supply of food.


In general, shrimp are very healthy animals and easy to care for. Healthy pets are always active, with a shiny body and uniform coloration. They also have a good appetite. If any of these characteristics change, seek expert help.

The most common condition is porcelain disease, caused by the parasite Thelohania, which attaches to the tissue and changes its color to white. If this symptom is observed, an expert veterinarian should be consulted to provide the appropriate treatment.

In addition, overpopulations should be avoided so as not to cause stress to the shrimp.

Other important details

Aquarium shrimp.

Apart from all the aspects mentioned above, it’s necessary to take into consideration other facts about these interesting little animals. We’ll now list them below:

  • Molting: Shrimp are arthropods, therefore, they periodically molt their exoskeleton. When they shed their shell, they appear lighter or transparent and are quite vulnerable, so they tend to hide. A high protein diet causes problems in molting, the ideal is to cover 35-40% and the rest with vegetables.
  • Longevity: They have a variable life expectancy. Most of them live between 15 and 18 months. However, there are specimens that can last up to 6 or 7 years.
  • Reproduction: They are oviparous animals, easy to reproduce. Females usually carry their eggs in their abdominal appendages. They take about 4 weeks to hatch.
  • Types of shrimp: There are different species of shrimp, many of which are eye-catching and perfect for our freshwater aquarium. Some of the most common and easy to care for are the cherry neocaridina or“red cherry” (Neocaridina davidi), among others.
  • Compatibility: Generally all shrimp live together without problems. In relation to fish, there are some species that can stay with our crustaceans, in particular, small, peaceful and with mouths oriented upwards. Among them are the Anabantidae and dwarf characids, as well as some small catfishes. However, it’s recommended that they be placed alone.

Although aquarium shrimp are easy crustaceans to care for and maintain, you should never take everything for granted. For them, it’s vital that the water parameters remain stable and that they receive the nutrients necessary for their development. All pets deserve responsibility and attention, no matter how small they are.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Plichta, Z., Kobak, J., Maciaszek, R., & Kakareko, T. (2021). All Shades of Shrimp: Preferences of Colour Morphs of a Freshwater Shrimp Neocaridina davidi (Decapoda, Atyidae) for Substrata of Different Colouration. Animals, 11, 1071.
  • Prasertsri, S., Limsuwan, C., & Chuchird, N. (2009). The Effects of Microsporidian (Thelohania) Infection on the Growth and Histopathological Changes in Pond-reared Pacific White Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Katsetsart Journal, 43, 680-688

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.