12 Freshwater Shrimp Types (And How To Look After Them)

Freshwater shrimp make a great addition to any aquarium tank and can provide a much-desired cleaning service by scavenging any biofilm and algae build-up that can accumulate on the various surfaces inside a tank. In this article, we will describe twelve different freshwater shrimp types that are sure to liven up your aquarium.

These shrimp range from easy to care for to requiring an expert level of attention and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Most are excellent tank cleaners and thrive best in warmer water temperatures, with water hardness and pH ranging from soft to hard and acidic to alkaline, respectively.

A Quick List of the Different Freshwater Shrimp Types

  • Cherry shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Crystal shrimp
  • Tiger shrimp
  • Bee shrimp
  • Bamboo (Wood) shrimp
  • Blue bolt shrimp
  • Cardinal shrimp
  • Pinto shrimp
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Babaulti shrimp
  • Indian whisker shrimp

 What Are the Different Types of Freshwater Shrimp?

Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp can come in a variety of colors from the lighter range of reds, yellows, greens, and blues to the darker range of crimson, blue, black, and brown. There are also different patterns this species can sport including a plain solid color, a wild coloration with white, brown, and cream stripes, or a rili coloration which is defined by a clear midsection surrounded by solid coloration.

They enjoy a diverse tank habitat with a rocky substrate, aquarium plants, and driftwood – all surfaces that may provide plenty of biofilm build-up for them to snack on. While they will eat their fill as well as keep your tank clean, be sure to also feed them plenty of algae wafers, shrimp pellets, and blanched vegetables such as carrots and zucchini so they don’t go hungry.

Cherry shrimp are extremely hardy and very easy to care for, making them perfect for beginner aquarium hobbyists. They can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline waters, soft to hard water hardness, and a wide range of fairly warm temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 7 to 18
  • Temperature: 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 5 gallons

Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp are generally clear with tints of gray, green, or brown. They also sport lateral lines from head to tail made of small brown dots and dashes. They thrive best with small rocky substrate and lots of hiding places provided by aquatic mosses and plants as well as floating driftwood and loose branches.

Amano shrimp are great cleaners and will eat the algae build-up in your aquarium tank as well as any plant debris or leftover food that falls to the substrate. However, they do need additional feeding in order to keep healthy and will gladly accept a variety of foods including sinking pellets, squash, zucchini, cucumber, spinach, and frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms.

This species, like the cherry shrimp, are also very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of pH, water hardness, and water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.5 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 2 to 15
  • Temperature: 60 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Crystal Shrimp

Crystal shrimp can come in two basic varieties – red or black – with either of these colors intermixed with an opaque white throughout the body.

Because this species can be a bit trickier to care for, it is recommended to use a buffering substrate such as shrimp king soil or Amazonia aqua soil which will naturally help control the water’s pH and hardness levels. While vegetation is not necessary, mosses and floating driftwood are welcome additions to provide extra oxygen and shelter for the shrimp.

Crystal shrimp are not picky about their diet and will eat just about anything including sinking pellets, flake food, and the biofilm that will build up and cover the tank surfaces. While they can tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures, they are very picky about other water parameters and need to have acidic, soft water conditions in order to thrive.

  • Care level: Medium
  • pH: 5.5 to 7.2
  • Hardness: 4 to 6
  • Temperature: 65 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Tiger Shrimp

Tiger shrimp are a translucent yellow color with notable black or red vertical stripes all over its body.

A buffering substrate is recommended for tiger shrimp since they do require very soft water and this type of soil can help maintain an optimal pH and hardness. They do not need aquatic plants but floating driftwood and leaf litter are appreciated to provide hiding places as well as surfaces for biofilm to accumulate.

Since tiger shrimp are scavengers, they will eat detritus, algae build-up, and even the leaf litter and driftwood that decorate the tank. Their diet should also be supplemented with blanched vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, and zucchini.

They can tolerate a wide range of warmer temperatures but are very picky when it comes to needing soft water conditions. They also prefer slightly acidic waters so keeping these parameters within their tolerance range is important to keeping them healthy.

  • Care level: Medium
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.2
  • Hardness: 3 to 6
  • Temperature: 65 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size:1 to 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Bee Shrimp

Bee shrimp can appear with many different colorations including black and white zebra stripes, red and black stripes, or solid coloration of black, white, or blue. This species thrives in habitats with lots of hiding places so adding some small caves and a variety of aquatic plants and mosses is key to optimal health for these shrimps.

Bee shrimp will eat algae and decaying plant matter from the tank but also require supplementation to their diet provided by flake foods, sinking pellets, vegetables such as kale and spinach, and frozen bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. They prefer slightly acidic waters, soft on the water hardness scale, but can tolerate a wide range of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Medium 
  • pH: 6.0 to 6.8
  • Hardness: 3 to 6
  • Temperature: 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 2 gallons

Bamboo (Wood) Shrimp

Bamboo or wood shrimp mimic their namesake in appearance making them great camouflage artists. They are usually red or brown in coloration with white lateral and dorsal striations down their bodies. Their optimal habitat includes coarse substrate and large rocks with additional rooted aquatic plants so that there are plenty of places to shelter.

Bamboo shrimp are passive filter feeders and will eat anything that comes their way. Powdered foods such as algae, baby brine shrimp, or crushed flakes are the best way to feed them.

Their diet can be the trickiest part of their care, but they are fairly tolerant in terms of water conditions. They can stand water that tends to either side of a neutral pH, soft to moderately hard water hardness, and a very wide range of slightly warm to very warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy to Medium
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 6 to 15
  • Temperature: 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Blue Bolt Shrimp

Blue bolt shrimp are actually the hybrid offspring of crystal and bee shrimp and bearing a striking appearance with bright blue and white mottled coloration. Buffered substrate is the best option for keeping pH and water hardness low and although they don’t require aquatic plants, additions of floating driftwood for biofilm accumulation and hiding places are appreciated.

Like most freshwater shrimp, they will eat the biofilm that grows on the tank’s surfaces, but their diet should also be supplemented with shrimp pellets, almond leaves, and blanched vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, and lettuce. While beautiful, this species can be hard to keep because they require very soft, acidic waters in the slightly warm water temperature ranges.

  • Care level: Medium to Difficult
  • pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • Hardness: 3 to 6
  • Temperature: 65 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 5 gallons

Cardinal Shrimp

Cardinal shrimp are red in color with various small white dots all over their bodies. A very distinctive feature of this species are their pure white forelegs. They thrive best in an environment that has dark sandy substrate topped with driftwood and rocks. Plants are not necessary, but they will feed on them if you put some in the tank.

Cardinal shrimp will mainly eat the algae and biofilm that grows on the various surfaces inside the aquarium tank, but their diet should also be supplemented with powdered algae and crushed baby brine shrimp. These shrimps can be difficult to care for because they require slightly alkaline waters with a hardness ranging from soft to moderately hard and temperatures tending more on the warmer side.

  • Care level: Difficult
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.4
  • Hardness: 3 to 10
  • Temperature: 77 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Pinto Shrimp

Pinto shrimp are another crossbreed variety with tiger shrimp and bee shrimp or tiger shrimp and crystal shrimp parents. Their coloration can come in black, white, or red patterns of zebra stripes, skunk stripes, or spotted heads. Substrates of buffered sand or soil are best and adding plants or rocks for hiding places are always a good idea.

Pinto shrimp are not picky eaters and will consume a multitude of different foods including algae, bacteria, snails, biofilm, carrots, spinach, cucumber, bananas, broccoli, and frozen insects. This species can be difficult to care for because they require acidic, soft water which can be naturally maintained using buffered substrate. They do, however, tolerate a wide range of warmer water temperatures.

  • Care level: Medium to Difficult
  • pH: 5.5 to 6.5
  • Hardness: 3 to 6
  • Temperature: 65 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 25 gallons

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp are translucent as their name implies with an orange or yellow-colored spot in the middle of their tails. It is best to use a dark-colored fine gravel or sandy substrate in order to provide contrast to see the shrimp better. They also like lots of vegetation, so plant a diverse array of aquatic plants for the ghost shrimp to shelter.

Ghost shrimp will eat almost anything so feeding them algae wafers, sinking pellets, or flake food is a good choice. Adding calcium supplements to ensure a strong exoskeleton is also a good recommendation for this species. These shrimp are easy to care for and can tolerate a very wide range of warm temperatures, soft to moderately hard water hardness, and slightly alkaline waters.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 7.8
  • Hardness: 3 to 15
  • Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 5 gallons

Babaulti Shrimp

Babaulti shrimp range in coloration from green to brown to yellow to red and can come in dotted or striped patterns. A feature of note for these dwarf shrimp is the presence of a pupil on the eyeball. Sandy or fine gravel substrate is best for this species and they enjoy a lot of aquatic plants especially mosses which provide a great amount of surface area for algae to accumulate.

This species is an avid scavenger and thrives on decaying plant matter, biofilm and algae build-up, and any leftover food that sinks to the bottom of the tank. To ensure a well-balanced diet, the addition of blanched vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, cucumber, and zucchini as well as flake and pellet foods are recommended.

Babaulti shrimp are very hardy and optimal water parameters for them include neutral pH, soft to hard water hardness, and warmer water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 4 to 18
  • Temperature: 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Indian Whisker Shrimp

Indian whisker shrimp appear very similar to ghost shrimp with clear bodies but are distinguished by their extremely long feelers. This species is not picky about substrate type but they do require a lot of hiding places in the forms of aquatic plants, rocks, caves, and driftwood as cannibalism after molting is prevalent.

Indian whisker shrimp will eat a wide range of animal and plant matter including decaying fish, bloodworms, daphnia, shrimp, snails, blanched vegetables, leaf litter, dead plants, algae wafers, sinking pellets, and flake food. They are easy to care for requiring optimal water conditions of slightly alkaline pH, soft to moderately hard water hardness and a wide range of warm water temperatures.

  • pH: 7.0 to 7.8
  • Hardness: 3 to 15
  • Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

FAQs

What Are the Hardiest Freshwater Shrimp?

Amano shrimp, ghost shrimp, and red cherry shrimp are the hardiest freshwater shrimp for your aquarium because they have a wide tolerance for a range of water parameters including temperature, pH, and water hardness. They are great shrimp for those new to the shrimp-keeping hobby.

These species are also easy to breed so as long as you give them the proper care and feeding they require, you can have a long-term supply of any of these three freshwater shrimp.

How Many Species of Freshwater Shrimp Are There?

There are over 600 species of freshwater shrimp to choose from when selecting the right shrimp for your aquarium. They range in ease of care from beginner to expert and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Many species can be crossbred, hence why there are so many different species because breeders are always looking for that unique look for the latest and greatest ornamental shrimp.

What Is the Easiest Shrimp to Keep?

Once again the grand prize goes to the red cherry shrimp, with the Amano shrimp and ghost shrimp not far behind. These shrimps are the easiest to keep because they are so hardy. They are not bothered by hard water, their temperature tolerance has a wide range, and they can withstand pH values on either side (acidic or alkaline) of the neutral mark.

Recap

Freshwater shrimp are excellent scavengers and can keep your aquarium tank free of biofilm and algae build-up, but also require a bit of supplementation in their diet. While some species are extremely hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, others tend to be on the pickier side and need to have precisely soft, acidic waters or specific dietary needs.

Most freshwater shrimp love to have places to hide, so decorating your aquarium tank with lots of plants and cave structures makes for an intricate setting that you know will be kept spotless by your newly acquired crustacean pets.

All of these species provide beautiful ornamentation to an aquarium tank from brilliant blues to speckled patterns and much more. Freshwater shrimp breeders continue to create unique species be crossbreeding popular types so there is always something new to look forward to.

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