Shrimp keeping is a fun hobby and useful addition to your freshwater aquarium. They help to keep your tank clean and prevent algae buildup on decorations, glass, and plants. While they are beneficial creatures, they are also active and fun to watch specimens.
Freshwater aquarium shrimp come in a variety of sizes and colors – some blend into the background, others add vibrant colors. Whatever it is you are looking for, here are our choices for the 15 best freshwater aquarium shrimp.
1. Red Cherry Shrimp
Red Cherry Shrimps are one of the most popular choices for freshwater aquariums. They come in a variety of ‘grades,’ which range in color from mostly clear with a few red spots to strikingly vivid solid red. They are straightforward to take care of and tolerate a wide range of water parameters.
The suggested temperature is 65-85 °F, with a pH of between 6.3-8.0. They grow to be about 1 – 1.5 inches in length. Their lovely coloring makes them a great addition to any aquarium setup, as red will stand out with almost any color of substrate, rocks, and plants. They are incredibly hardy little shrimp, so they are an excellent choice for beginner aquarists.
They also breed very quickly and prodigiously, so they are a great choice if you are looking to start a colony.
2. Ghost (or Glass) Shrimp
Looking for an excellent clean up crew that can live in any tank? Look no farther than the ghost shrimp! Ghost shrimp are just as hardy as the Cherry Shrimp and can live in aquariums with a pH between 6.3-8.0 and temperature between 65 and 80 °F.
Because they are often difficult to see, you can usually keep them with more aggressive fish that would normally eat other small crustaceans. The trick to this is to make sure your aquarium is densely planted with lots of hiding places for the shrimp. They also breed like crazy, so even if a few go missing, they can replenish their population quickly.
Additionally, they’re one of the least expensive options as far as shrimp go, so even if they get eaten by aggressive tankmates, you won’t be out a lot of money.
3. Bamboo Shrimp
Bamboo Shrimp are fascinating animals. They generally have a brownish body with a cream-colored stripe down their back, but their color changes based on their environment and mood. In addition to their natural brownish color, they can also be seen in all shades of green, red, yellow, and even blue.
Their most exciting aspect is the way they feed. Unlike most freshwater aquarium shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp have delicate fans on their front legs, which gather food particles from the current. Therefore, they are most often seen sitting stationary, letting the current bring their food to them. Because their feeding habits differ from that of other aquarium shrimp, some special care is required to keep them healthy and happy.
First, their minimum tank size should be at least 10 gallons. They need more space and higher water flow to make sure they are getting enough food. If you see your Bamboo Shrimp scavenging through the substrate, it is a sure sign you need to intervene. They will eat anything they catch in their fans, so any shrimp or fish food you have will do. Simply crush it into powder and release it into your tank.
In addition to the hiding spots you should have for all shrimp, it’s also a good idea to have at least one tall object, like a piece of driftwood, in a spot with good circulation: This ensures they can perch and feed efficiently. These are shy creatures, so aggressive or fast-moving tankmates are not recommended. They require particular parameters to breed, so they are perfect if you are not looking for population growth.
They grow between 2-3 inches and require a pH level of 6.5-7.5 with a temperature between 68-77 °F.
4. Amano Shrimp
Amano Shrimps are one of the hardiest and most useful of the freshwater shrimp. They are very active animals. Since they are constantly feeding, they are often seen flitting about the tank, as long as there are no aggressive tankmates.
One of the best algae eaters you can find, they will rid even the most stubborn plants and decorations of the unsightly growths. But be on the lookout – once your tank is sparkling clean, you will need to make sure they have enough to eat.
In a well-established planted tank, they should be fine on their own. But with newer tanks or those with little or no live plants, they will need to be fed. Spirulina flakes or other high-quality plant-based foods should be added several times per day.
They range in size from 1 to 2+ inches and should be kept in water ranging from 64-84 °F with 6.5-7.5 pH.
5. Blue Velvet Shrimp
These striking shrimps make a vibrant addition to any tank. They look great when paired with a contrasting substrate. For example, the light blue variation of this shrimp looks fantastic in habitats with a black substrate. In contrast, the dark blue variety stands out brilliantly against white sand.
They come from the same species as the Cherry Shrimp, so they are hardy and thrive in most any aquarium environment. They are easy to breed, so they’re another excellent choice for a shrimp only tank or make a great addition to peaceful community tanks.
Keep their water temperature between 65-85 °F with a pH of 6.8-7.5. Like most shrimp, they require little extra care in a well-planted tank but should be fed plant-based food in new setups or aquariums with few or no live plants.
6. Gold Nebula Shrimp
If you are looking for a good algae eater but want to impress your friends with something a little more exotic than the Amano Shrimp, the Gold Nebula is a great choice. They are just as active and adaptable to tank conditions as the Amano but display gorgeous hues of gold and green.
Adults grow to over 2 inches in length so, when full-grown, they will generally do well with some tankmates that would eat smaller shrimp such as Angels and Rainbowfish. Their water should be kept at 64° – 84° F, with a pH between 6.5-7.5.
7. Black Cherry Shrimp
Also called Chocolate Cherry Shrimp and Black Rose Shrimp, these dark-colored beauties stand out boldly against a light-colored substrate. A relative of the Red Cherry Shrimp, they share the easy care and strong disposition as their cousins, just in a dark brown to black color.
As with the Reds, their water should be kept at 64° – 84° F with a pH of 6.8-7.5.
8. Babaulti shrimp
Babaulti shrimp come in a variety of colors. Green is generally the most popular, but they also come in yellow, red, and my favorite, zebra stripes. Their care is straightforward. A 5-gallon tank kept at a pH level of 6.5-7.8 with a temperature of 65-80 °F will suit them nicely.
These shrimps are a little shyer than some other varieties, so make sure to offer plenty of places for them to hide, such as plants, rocks, or caves. The only recommended tankmates for Babaulti shrimp would be small, peaceful fish or crayfish, other shrimp, and snails.
Like most other shrimp, they are scavenging feeders, so without a heavily planted, established tank, they will need additional food. Even in these types of tanks, their diet should still be supplemented with things like high-quality shrimp food, blanched vegetables, or leaf litter.
They are difficult to breed, so when kept in a community tank, their population will stay low. If you are looking to breed them, a species only tank is your best option.
9. Pinocchio Shrimp
These rare shrimps are a real conversation starter! Also called Pinokio, Rudolph, red-nosed, and mosquito shrimp, they are sure to draw attention and start a conversation with their long, distinctive noses, which grow back if they are broken.
Their bodies are clear with a red (or sometimes yellow) strip down their back that extends down to their nose. They are more difficult to keep than many other species, but their unique appearance makes it well worth the work. Without precise parameters, they will not breed, which makes them a perfect addition if you are not looking to care for baby shrimp.
They need a constant temperature of between 75-80 °F, with a strict pH between 7.0-8.0. They are known to jump, so make sure to keep them in an aquarium with a lid.
10. Cardinal Shrimp
Cardinal Shrimp, also called White Glove shrimp and Sulawesi shrimp, are fairly new to the fishkeeping hobby but are already very popular. They are absolutely brilliant-looking little shrimp, with a dark red body, contrasting white spots (that are sometimes ringed in blue), white antennae, and white front legs, which are fascinating to watch while they feed.
And when we say little, we mean it – A full-grown adult will barely reach one inch in length. They do require some extra care, so they are not recommended as a beginner shrimp. It is important for your tank to mimic their natural habitat, the island Sulawesi. Low temperatures will stress them to death, so make sure to invest in a heater appropriate for your tank size.
They need water temperatures of at least 78 up to 88 °F and a pH of 7.0 – 8.4, although 7.8 – 8.2 is ideal. Slow water flow is a must, and most, if not all, of their food, should be provided naturally from an established tank with plenty of plants. Water changes should be kept to a minimum, as they become stressed with too much fluctuation in water parameters.
They do well with and seem to enjoy having tankmates from their native habitat.
11. Crystal Black Shrimp
Crystal Black Shrimps, commonly referred to as CBS, are a variety of Bee Shrimp and have lovely stripes of alternating black and white. They are relatively easy to take care of but do require a lower pH than some other species. They do best in water between 70-78 °F with a pH between 6.2-6.8, although they can live with slightly higher alkalinity.
They will find most of their food on their own in a planted aquarium. Their diet can be supplemented with plant-based shrimp food. They are safe to keep with all aquarium plants and non-aggressive tankmates and make an interesting addition to any aquarium setup.
12. Crystal Red Shrimp
Crystal Red Shrimps, or CRS, are another variety of Bee Shrimp. They look essentially the same as CBS, although with alternating red/white stripes rather than black/white stripes. They require the same water parameters and feeding, so keeping the two together can be a fun and interesting to watch combination in your tank.
The two species will breed together, but only produce either red/white and black/white fry, so you will always have both color combinations in your tank!
13. Blue Bolt Shrimp
Like the combination of two colors but are not a fan of red or black? Check out the Blue Bolt! Yet another variety of the Bee Shrimp, these colorful additions look great with nearly any aquarium setup.
Depending on the quality of breeding, Blue Bolts can range in blue and white hues from starkly different bands (like CRS and CBS) to a more mottled combination. They require the same pH levels as CRS and CBS but can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, from 65-80 °F.
14. Rili Shrimp
Rili Shrimps are another variation of the species that brought us Red Cherry Shrimp. They come in a variety of colors: black, red, orange, blue, green, and everywhere in between. Their patterns vary, but Rili Shrimp generally have a single solid color on their head and tails with clear or transparent colored bodies that sometimes bear spots.
They are just as adaptable as their Red Cherry cousins, tolerating water temperatures anywhere between 64° – 84° F with a pH between 6.8 – 7.5. You can keep them in a tank as small as 2 gallons or add them to your large community tank as a cleanup crew that is interesting to watch.
15. Green Lace Shrimp
If you are looking for a larger shrimp than many on this list, the Green Lace Shrimp may be for you. Their average adult size is 3 inches, so they are much easier to spot in a tank than some smaller species of shrimp.
They are closely related to the bamboo shrimp, so they share the same tank requirements but are rarer and much harder to find on the market. They are filter feeders, so make sure to have decent water flow in your tank with plenty of places for perching.
These shrimps can be kept as a single specimen. Still, if you keep a group of them, they will often congregate together to feed, which can be quite entertaining.
No matter which type of aquarium shrimp you choose, all of them can make great additions to a community tank or a shrimp only species tank. Active swimmers with a massive variety of colors, different species of shrimp can live in almost any water parameters.
Freshwater shrimp are great additions to any freshwater habitat and provide helpful tank cleaning services. They come in such a wide variety of colors and sizes; we are sure you will find the right kind to compliment your aquarium.