Top 10 Shrimp Species To Liven Up Your Aquarium


Are you looking to liven up your aquarium? Freshwater shrimp are definitely an interesting addition to the tank. There are countless shrimp species to shoose from depending on your level of expertise as an aquarium owner.

This article covers the top 10 freshwater shrimp species that you should consider for your aquarium.

Below are the top 10 freshwater shrimp species that will instantly liven up your aquarium

1. Caridina sp. (Red Goldflake Shrimp)

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: The Red Goldflake Shrimp is distributed in the waters of Sulawesi, Indonesia
  • PH: 7.0 – 8.5
  • Temperature: 26 – 29°C (78 – 85°F)
  • Hardness: 5 kH; gH 12
  • Description:  This Caridina shrimp, which measures around 2.5 cm in length, has a visually appealing red and gold coloration.  The dark maroon color, coupled with its gold speckles around the body, provide a beautiful, unique contrast.  There does not seem to be much difference in color between males and females.
  • Diet: The Red Goldflake Shrimp can be fed the same diet as any other Sulawesi shrimp.  Spinach, lettuce, prepared shrimp food and algae water will do the job.  You should only feed it once a day, but in saying that, this Sulawesi species seems to prefer being fed at night.
  • Breeding: The Red Goldflake Shrimp can be bred in freshwater.  The female will keep the eggs – 20 – 25 in total – attached to her body for 3 – 4 weeks.  The young shrimp will be carbon copies of their parents, albeit much smaller.
  • Comments: Keep Red Goldflake Shrimp in tanks of at least 15 gallons, with no more than one shrimp per gallon of water.  You may choose to decorate your tank with sand, rocks and plants, which will simulate the species’ natural environment.  This species should only be attempted by experienced hobbyists as it requires plenty of attention.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: Red Goldflakes are reasonably shy and much happier within their own tribe.  They are best kept in a tank of their own.  It certainly should not be housed with large, aggressive fish, for obvious reasons.  If you must keep this in a community tank, it is most likely suited to other dwarf shrimp species.

2. Caridina serrata (Red Tupfel Shrimp)

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: Caridina serrata, better known as, Red Tupfel Shrimp, is another hybrid Caridina.  There is not a great deal of information on this relative of the Bee and Tiger Shrimp, other than it is selectively bred in Germany.
  • PH: 7.0 – 8.5
  • Temperature: 15 – 23°C (59 – 73°F)
  • Hardness: 1 – 12 (gH); 1 – 8 (kH)
  • Description:  This Caridina shrimp is a red variant of the normal Tupfel shrimp. Red Tupfel Shrimps have a red colour inside their bodies, small black dots and a black band around their heads. Males reach 2.5 cm in length; females are slightly longer at 3 cm.
  • Diet: The Tupfel Shrimp should be fed similarly to the Bee and Tiger Shrimp.  This may include fish food pellets, flake, algae and bio-film.  It will even enjoy fresh vegetables – lettuce, zucchini, for example – from time to time.
  • Breeding: Breeding is the same as the Tiger and Bee Shrimp: it has no larval stage.  The female will produce around 20 – 25 hatchlings and, once hatched, it can be as little as a week before the female is again capable of possessing eggs.  This species is quite fertile and, as such, is an excellent type for beginners.
  • Comments: This shrimp does not eat plants, so do not be afraid to decorate your aquarium in such a fashion.  There is not a great deal of information available in terms of specific tank requirements, but this species should be treated in a similar fashion to Bee and Tiger Shrimps.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: A one-species tank is recommended for this tiny, placid shrimp.  Its diminutive size would make it an easy target for larger, hungry predators.

3. Caridina sp. cantonensis (Black Tiger Shrimp)

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: Caridina sp. cantonensisor Black Tiger Shrimp, is selectively bred from the regular Tiger Shrimp.  They reportedly originate from Southeast Asia.
  • PH: 7.0 – 7.5
  • Temperature: 22– 24°C (71 – 74°F)
  • Hardness: 3 – 10 dKH
  • Description:  Black Tiger Shrimp males reach 2.5 cm in length; females are slightly longer.  There are two different types of Caridina sp. cantonesis – one with normal black eyes and ones with orange eyes and a heftier price tag.  It is unknown how the orange eyes were introduced into this species.  You can expect the Black Tiger to live approximately 1 – 2 years.
  • Diet: The Black Tiger Shrimp can be feed leaves, spinach, prawn and other dry foods.
  • Breeding: Caridina sp. cantonensis is a reasonably difficult species to breed.  Strict attention must be paid to its favored water conditions because the Black Tiger is fragile due to poor genetics.  The sexually mature female may display a saddle if her coloration is good.
  • Comments: Try not to change the water temperature and chemistry too often.  Black Tigers should be kept in a tank anywhere between 40 – 90 liters.  It is a difficult species to maintain and should only be attempted by experienced hobbyists.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: This shrimp is easy to maintain but should not be housed with large, aggressive fish.  It will get along easily with other dwarf shrimp, including the Amano Shrimp, Bumblebee Shrimp and the Bamboo Shrimp.

4. Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis (Snowball Shrimp or White pearl shrimp)

  • Family: Atyidae
  • Distribution: The exact origin of the Snowball Shrimp is unknown, although it was bred in Germany as a hybrid.
  • PH: 6.5 – 7.0
  • Temperature: 20 – 28°C (68 – 82°F)
  • Hardness: 3 – 25 dH
  • Description: The Snowball Shrimp, which grows up to 2.5 – 3 cm in length, is transparent with a milky-white body and black or brown eyes.  Both sexes have the same color intensity, and the female produces bright white eggs.
  • Diet: This Neocaridina feasts upon algae mostly, but can be fed live and frozen foods on occasions.
  • Breeding: The Snowball Shrimp doesn’t have a larval stage and has the same breeding habits as the Blue Pearl Shrimp.  It generally takes between 30 – 45 days for its eggs to hatch.  Breeding is easy: this is a very prolific species.
  • Comments: This species can be kept in a tank as small as 12 liters in volume.  Provide sand and plenty of plants for Snowball Shrimp to thrive.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: There is not a great deal of information as to compatible species, but given its small size, avoid housing Snowball Shrimp with predatory fish.  Remember that housing Neocaridinas together can lead to interbreeding.

5. Caridina cantonensis (Red Tiger Shrimp)

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: The Red Tiger Shrimp is distributed in wild Chinese streams.
  • PH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Temperature: 15 – 27°C (59 – 81°F)
  • Hardness: 3 – 10 dKH
  • Description: This Caridina shrimp has red stripes, black eyes and an orange or yellow tail.  Males are 2.5 cm in length; females are slightly larger at 3 cm.  It is so far unknown as to why the Red Tiger has red stripes and its cousin, the Tiger Shrimp, doesn’t.  Females of this species have a curved underbelly which makes sexing easy, but both males and females display the same intense red-striped coloration.
  • Diet: The Red Tiger Shrimp will accept any shrimp food: spinach, shrimp pellets, fish flakes, bloodworms, etc.  Be careful not to overfeed this shrimp; shrimps are scavengers and, as such, do not need a constant food source.
  • Breeding: Females will produce 20 -25 hatchlings and can take as little as a week to have eggs again after hatching.  This species breeds identically to the normal Tiger Shrimp, and has no larval stage.  Females will produce around 20 – 25 hatchlings and are capable of possessing eggs again as little as a week later.  The Red Tiger Shrimp is easily bred, easy to look after and, therefore, an excellent species for beginners.
  • Comments: This species differs only in colour to the Tiger Shrimp, so treat accordingly.  A colony of Red Tiger Shrimp can be housed in a 10 – 20 gallon tank.  Be vigilant with your water levels – the cleaner the better – and consider using a sponge filter to stop the tiny babies from being sucked away.
  • Article/Books:
  • Recommended Compatible Species: A one-species tank is recommended for this tiny, placid shrimp; it is small and a prime target for predators.

6. Procambarus clarkii (Red Swamp Crayfish)

  • Family: Cambaridae
  • Distribution: Procambarus clarkii has its origins in the south-central United States and north-eastern parts of Mexico.  It can now be found in the River Nile, Japan, Hawaii, and areas of Western Europe, including Spain and Portugal.  This crayfish is found in slow streams, swamps, ponds and ditches; it will not be seen in fast-flowing streams.
  • PH: 7.5 – 8.0
  • Temperature: 19 – 29°C (66 – 85°F)
  • Hardness: 8 – 18 °d
  • Description: The Red Swamp Crayfish can grow as large as 20 cm in length, but is usually 10.5 – 12 cm.  The body is dark red and segmented, and its abdomen has a black stripe on it.  This species uses its appendages for feeding.  This species can live from 2 – 5 years; some individuals have made it to six years.
  • Diet: The Red Swamp Crayfish is a carnivore and will eat anything.  It has a preference for insect larvae, snails and tadpoles, and is not adverse to eating worms and other dead animals.
  • Breeding: This species has an internal process of fertilization.  The male’s sperm will enter the female at the bottom of her legs, where the eggs are fertilized and then released.  The female will create water current in a bid to drive the eggs into her pleopods.  The eggs will remain there for six months before becoming larvae.  It will take three months for the young to become sexually mature.
  • Comments: This species should, given its size, be tanked in a 40 liter aquarium at the very least.  The Red Swamp Crayfish is quite aggressive and will destroy vegetation or decorations in your tank, so provide it with a substrate for it to burrow in, along with several hiding places.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: Procambarus clarkii is a very territorial species and should not be housed with other crayfish.  Do not keep it with slow, small, or long-finned fish as the crayfish will make light work of them.  This crayfish is best kept in a one-species tank.

7. Macrobrachium assamense (Red Claw Shrimp)

  • Family: Palaemonidae
  • Distribution: Macrobrachium assamense originates from East Himalayan waters, Chota Nagpur and Satpura, and mountainous parts of Burma.
  • PH: 7.0 – 7.5
  • Temperature: 20 – 30°C (68 – 86°F)
  • Hardness: 3 (gH); 1.5 (kH)
  • Description: The male Red Claw Shrimp can reach 8 cm in length; females are shorter at 6 cm.  This species has a brownish appearance – but can vary from a light yellow-brown color to a dark brown – and a transparent carapax; males have huge red tongs with black stripes.  Females are usually light green; eggs are a dark green color.
  • Diet: The Red Claw Shrimp will eat anything – snails, live or frozen food, dead animals, and more.  You might consider feeding it fish food pellets, flake, algae and bio-film.  It will even enjoy fresh vegetables from time to time.
  • Breeding: Macrobrachium assamense have an interesting style of courtship in which the male uses his tongs to hug the female.  The female Red Claw Shrimp will carry 20 – 60 fertilized eggs for a couple of weeks before hatching.  This species is relatively easy to breed.
  • Comments: You could keep one couple of Macrobrachium assamense in a 50 liter tank; for larger numbers you will need at least 100 liters.  Allow plenty of decoration so the shrimp can create territories and hiding spaces.  Be sure there is no easy escape route in your tank, as this species loves to climb and, given the chance, could probably find its way out.  A good idea would be to put a cover on the top of your tank.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: Macrobrachium assamense will eat small shrimp, snails and fish.  This is an aggressive species which should probably be housed in a one-species tank.  Red Claw Shrimp will be fine in small groups as long as your tank is big enough to accommodate them.

8. Caridina sp. Orange Delight

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: Caridina sp.or Malaya Shrimp, is another dwarf shrimp distributed in the lakes of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
  • PH: 7.0 – 8.5
  • Temperature: 26– 30°C (78 – 85°F)
  • Hardness: 4 – 6 dH
  • Description:  The Orange Delight Shrimp gets its name from its unique bright orange coloration.  It is covered in white dots and 2 -3 white dashes along its body, which makes it easy to identify in an aquarium environment.  A tiny shrimp, this species would be doing well to reach 2.5 cm in length.
  • Diet: Orange Delight Shrimp should be fed a wide-ranging diet of prepared shrimp food, algae water and blanched vegetables.  This species is not a fussy eater and will take in most of what you offer it.
  • Breeding: The Orange Delight Shrimp doesn’t have a larval stage.  The female will carry her eggs until they hatch – usually around 20 – 30 days – and the miniature shrimp will emerge. These youngsters are small, shy and will spend a lot of their time in hiding, so give them a few spaces in which to hide.
  • Comments: Tiny as they are, it is recommended you keep your Orange Delight Shrimp in a tank of at least 10 gallons in volume.  Putting more than 25 Orange Delight Shrimp in a small tank would overcrowd them, which can lead to stress.  This species is not for beginners and should only be kept by experienced hobbyists.
  • Tip: This species will turn a brownish color when stressed.  This may be a result of overcrowding, fear or bad health.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: It is important you do not house this shrimp with other predatory fish.  Its bright color will make it stand out and it may be feasted upon by predators.  Most other dwarf shrimp species will make good tank mates.  Ottos can generally be housed with any dwarf shrimp species.

9. Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis (Blue Pearl Shrimp)

  • Family: Atyidae
  • Distribution: The Blue Pearl Shrimp, a direct relative of the Snowball Shrimp, was selectively bred in Germany by Ulf Gottschalk, a prolific German breeder.
  • PH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Temperature: 23 – 28°C (74 – 82°F)
  • Hardness: 7 dKH
  • Description: The Blue Pearl Shrimp has an aesthetically pleasing light-blue color which was attained only after many years of selective breeding.  This shrimp will range from 2.5 – 3 cm in length, with females slightly larger than males.  Some of these shrimp will have tiny red spots on their body.
  • Diet: This species will eat algae, but can be fed any typical aquarium food.  It will enjoy vegetables, quality flake, fish pellets and bloodworms.
  • Breeding: One of the easiest species to breed, the Blue Pearl Shrimp produces in exactly the same way as the Red Cherry Shrimp: no larval stage.  The young will hatch as miniature versions of the adults.  If you keep your tank well maintained, you should have no problems breeding this prolific species.
  • Comments: Provide aquarium plants, substrate and plenty of space for this species.  Make sure you don’t let any copper into the aquarium, as it is toxic to all dwarf shrimp.  Like the Red Cherry, this species will do best in a tank with sand substrate, plenty of plantation and roots.  Beginners will have no problems with this easy to manage shrimp.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: Similar to the Red Cherry Shrimp in many ways, this species will also be compatible with small tetras, such as Glowlight, Cardinal and Neon.  Avoid puffers, loaches and, of course, aggressive cichlids.

10. Caridina cf. cantonensis sp. (Crystal White Bee Shrimp)

  • Family: Caridina
  • Distribution: The Crystal White Bee shrimp has its origins in southern Chinese waters.
  • PH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Temperature: 15– 26°C (59 – 78°F)
  • Hardness: 1 – 4°d
  • Description:  The male Crystal White Bee Shrimp will grow a length of 2.5 cm; females will be slightly larger at 3 cm.  This species has a series of small white lines that run across a transparent body.  The female’s eggs are a blue-green color.
  • Diet: Bee shrimps are herbivorous and will enjoy moss, riccia, catfish tablets and algae wafers.
  • Breeding: This species breeds in a similar way to other bee shrimp, particularly its cousin, the Crystal Red Shrimp.
  • Comments: Provide plenty of plant life and excellent water conditions for the young offspring to thrive.  You need not have a tank greater than 10 liters in volume.  Be sure to watch your Crystal White Bee Shrimp closely to monitor any changes in their behavior.  Be careful to rid your tank of excessive undissolved substances to keep this species in top health.
  • Recommended Compatible Species: There is not a great deal of information on this species, but avoid keeping with aggressive fish and other members of the Cardinia family unless you want to promote interbreeding.