The Feeder shrimp, ghost shrimp, or glass shrimp, is a freshwater crustacean popular with fish keepers of all experience levels. As the name might suggest, ghost shrimp are mostly clear in color in order to evade predators. This allows the inner-workings of their body to be viewed as it processes food, a large reason as to why they are an attractive addition to an aquarium. Different specimens may have different colored dots on their backs. Originally these shrimp were primarily used as feeders but many aquarists keep them as “fun to watch” additions to their community tanks that double as scavengers and algae eaters.
Being easy to care for, they are a great addition to a tropical community aquarium containing small, non-aggressive fish. Ghost shrimp are not for the sentimental, their life spans just one year, but this makes them much more affordable. In an aquarium ghost shrimp make your life that little bit easier. As a prominent scavenger, the shrimp will clear up any uneaten food as well as keeping algae levels down. Their cleaning prowess will keep the tank looking clean. They do this throughout the day and are always active and busy.
Moulting. Though their lives are short, specimens will molt regularly as they eat and grow, becoming too large for their previous shell. This can become fairly frequent, it all depends on how much they eat and how fast they grow. Once they have shed their old shell, they will be particularly vulnerable until their new shell hardens. While this should not be cause to worry, do not be surprised if your ghost shrimp take damage through rough behavior from boisterous fish. Ensure that your tank has crevices or plants for molting shrimp to hide in. When you see a molted shell sitting on the sediment it is natural to panic and assume it is a dead shrimp, but with closer inspection its hollow interior should clearly identify it as a discarded exterior. When a shell is shed you do not need to remove it from the aquarium immediately because they usually become food for other shrimp in the tank.
Tank Size Given their small size ghost shrimp can be kept in relatively small environments, 20 litres should be treated as a bare minimum but preferably larger. You can safely keep around one ghost shrimp per litre, though bear in mind the number of other species you have in the tank.
Tank Environment An ideal aquarium would contain an abundance of live plants. Some popular examples are hornwort, cabomba and java moss. Ghost shrimp will use debris from the plants as an additional food source, varying their diet and tidying your tank at the same time. However, make sure that the plants are hardy so that they can survive any nibbling from stray shrimp. Plants also provide areas for shrimp to hide in, particularly when molting but also when being harassed. Decorations and rocks can also be used to diversify the hiding spots available.
As bottom-dwellers, ghost shrimp will spend a lot of their time on the sediment and are known to burrow. Sand or fine gravel reduces the likelihood of damage to the shrimp, and most importantly their sensitive antennae. A fine grain prevents food from sinking into the sediment as well, meaning that it sits on the surface waiting for scavenging shrimp.
Compatibility Ghost shrimp are peaceful creatures, but obviously this cannot be said about all tropical fish. A shrimp’s gentle nature and small size makes them prone to being eaten by larger tank mates. Consequently ghost shrimp should only be added to a non-aggressive community of small fish. Some good tank mates could be:
- Characins such as tetras and hatchetfish
- Small barbs like the cherry barb
- Peaceful loaches like zebra and kuhli loaches
- Small catfish like those of the Corydoras genus
- Other aquarium shrimps with similar temperament
There is an extensive range of fish that should be avoided. A general rule of thumb should be to stay away from those who have a large enough mouth to eat a shrimp. Fish with a reputation of being hostile or territorial are also likely causes for the loss of ghost shrimp. Bettas are good examples of aggressive fish that are popular in the home aquarium, and should not be paired with ghost shrimp.
A group of shrimps is not necessary, a single shrimp will function happily on its own. However it is fun to watch their interactions within a group.
Water Conditions Ghost shrimp enjoy a light flow of water which can easily be generated by the filter outlet or an air pump. Generally the shrimp can cope with most conditions, provided that they remain consistent. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels need to be monitored, as well as any other potential pollutants. Overfeeding, overstocking and dirty filters are likely causes for levels to rise. Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish and should be kept as low as possible. Nitrate is less toxic and is used by plants for growth, but should be maintained around 5-10 ppm. Regular water changes will help to control these chemical levels.
It is important to note that copper is very toxic to shrimp and should not be introduced into the tank. When adding medication into the water be sure to check its contents, as many contain copper.
Feeding Ghost shrimp are easy to feed as they will greedily eat anything you present them with. This includes most shop bought foods such as flakes, pellets and algae wafers. Their broad diet makes them excellent tank cleaners as they will consume excess algae, plant detritus and any food left over from a fish’s meal. Watching a shrimp rise to the surface to grab a flake is particularly entertaining, but if you have a tall tank then sinking pellets will make it easier for them to grab some food before all of the mid-water fish take it. One algae pellet will easily fuel a tank containing many shrimp, any more and you risk overfeeding.
The food mentioned should be sufficient to maintain a healthy shrimp, but calcium supplements could also be added to ensure a strong shell is formed. Search Rebel Pets for “shrimp food” for numerous fish foods specific for shrimps
|Adult Size:||4 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Beginner – all levels|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 litres|
|Temperature:||18 to 28°C|
|pH:||7.0 – 8.0|