The Ghost Shrimp, or Glass Shrimp, is a freshwater crustacean popular with fish keepers of the experience levels.
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 this article, we will cover all you need to know about Ghost Shrimp, including care.
|Minimum Tank Size:||5-10 Gallons.|
|Tank Set-Up:||Tropical Freshwater: Caves and Plants.|
|Compatibility:||Small Peaceful Fish.|
Ghost Shrimp Overview
This article will focus on freshwater Ghost Shrimp. There are different species of ghost shrimp within the palaemonetes genus, however, most fish stores just use the common name ‘Ghost Shrimp’. Nowadays they can be found across the world.
In an aquarium, it makes your life that little bit easier. As a prominent scavenger, the shrimp will clear up any uneaten food as well as keep algae levels down. Their cleaning prowess will keep the tank looking clean.
A group is not necessary though, a single shrimp will function happily on its own. When getting the shrimp be sure to check whether they are bread as a feeder or for a home aquarium. Feeder fish are often treated poorly and are unlikely to survive for as long.
The appearance of Ghost Shrimp
As the name might suggest, ghost shrimp are mostly clear in color to evade predators.
This allows the inner- workings of the body to be viewed as it processes food, a large reason why they are an attractive addition to an aquarium.
Different specimens may have different colored dots on their bakes. They will grow to roughly 1.5 inches but females will become larger than males.
It has two pairs of antennae, one long and one short. These antennae are sensory organs that detect tactile or chemical information such as toxins or food in the water.
Antennae also have social uses but this is less understood. The rostrum, a bake-like extension, is between the eyes and in front of the carapace.
The carapace is a hard protective shell that encases the softer parts of the shrimp for defense.
Behind the carapace are six flexible abdominal segments that house pairs of pleopod’s “swimming limbs”.
The sixth abdominal segment connects to the tail, in the middle of which is the telson, the final segment.
Under the telson are four further segments that embody the uropod, forming the iconic tail fan.
Ghost Shrimp Lifespan and Molting
As mentioned previously, it lives for around a year, but this can vary depending on the individual and the place of origin.
Since they are so cheap and easy to breed as feeder fish for larger species in the home aquarium, and as a result are often kept in high densities with poor filtration.
This makes them more likely to die during transport and increases their mortality rate. It is common for some individuals to die a few days into life in their new tank, even if the tank is perfectly healthy.
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 assumes it is a dead shrimp, but with closer inspection, its hollow interior should 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.
Ghost Shrimp Care and Tank Requirements
A freshwater shrimp like this one would typically live in rivers or lakes where there is flowing water, fine sediment, and crevices to hide in.
It is important to consider this when designing your aquarium. Given their small size ghost shrimp can be kept in relatively small environments, 5 gallons should be treated as a bare minimum but preferably larger.
You can safely keep around 3 or 4 ghost shrimp per gallon, though bear in mind the number of other species you have in the tank.
Shrimp contributes to the biological load, but far less than most fish. If you are unsure then it is always better to start with fewer so that you do not risk overstocking the tank, you can then add more later.
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.
As bottom-dwellers, ghost shrimp will spend a lot of their time on the sediment and are known to burrow.
Send 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.
When considering the water parameters in the tank, Ghost Shrimp are not fussy. They happily suit standard tropical aquarium conditions.
Temperatures can range between 65 and 82o F. Some people claim that these boundaries can be stretched even wider, but this may stress the animals and reduce activity.
The water should be slightly hard and kept between 7.0 and 8.0. 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 cooperate 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, overstock, 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. If you are keeping ghost shrimp as feeder fish then their tanks can be more simplistic, with a similar setup to the breeding tank. Just make sure the water is kept clean and moving.
Ghost Shrimp 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 board diet makes them excellent tank cleaners as they will consume excess algae, plant detritus, and any food leftover 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 the mid-water fish take it.
One algae pellet will easily fuel a tank containing many shrimp, 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.
It is important to note that copper is very toxic to shrimp and should not be introduced into the tank.
When adding medication to the water be sure to check its contents, as many contain copper.
Compatibility With Other Fish
Ghost Shrimp are peaceful creatures, but obviously, this cannot be said about all tropical fish.
A Shrimp’s gentle nature and small size make them prone to being eaten by larger tank mates. Consequently, it should only be added to a non-aggressive community of small fish.
Suitable Tank Mates
- Characins such as tetras and hatchet fish.
- Small barbs like the cherry barb.
- Peaceful loaches like zebra and kuhli loaches.
- Small catfish like those of the Corydoras genus.
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 shrimp.
Fish with a reputation for 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.
Fish are not the only available tank maters. Since most aquarium shrimp share a similar temperament you can add other species to complement the ghost shrimp.
Cherry Shrimp pair particularly well due to their vibrant color, but other species work well too
- Bamboo Shrimp.
- Vampire Shrimp.
- Amano Shrimp.
Snails are also a good way of diversifying the tank.
Ghost Shrimp Breeding
If we kept them in a healthy environment with no predators then, they are easy to breed.
The tank should have enough males and females for breeding. The males are small than the females. You can put two females for every male in the breeding tank.
Maintain the temperature from 75oF to 80oF. You should plant live plants in the breeding tank.
This will give the larvae shrimp a hiding place as well as some food. The water movement should be low.
If you use any filter, cover the filter intake with a sponge or nylon cloth. If you do not cover the intake, small larvae or small shrimp may be sucked into the filter.
When you see 20-30 green dots attached to the female’s legs. Wait a more few days so that the males have a chance to fertilize themselves. Feeding is one of the most difficult jobs in breeding.
When they are in the larvae stage you can feed them powered foods. Such as Spirulina, Infusoria, Artemia, and Zooplankton. Feed them twice a day 50-100ml. You can syringe a measuring tool.
After hatching from the eggs, you should remove females from the breeding tank. They can eat the young ones so keeping them separate is a good idea.
Once the larvae have reached metamorphosis, they will start swimming like adults. After, that they do not require any further special care.
When metamorphosis is complete they will grow legs. Once they grow legs, you can feed them the same food as the adult Ghost Shrimp.
Do ghost shrimps breed easily?
Yes, Ghost Shrimp are easy to breed. If you kept them in a healthy environment with less stress they will breed normally. A separate breeding tank is needed for breeding. Being easy to breed, they are also commonly used as feeder fish.
There are many reasons to choose them for your aquarium.
They are small in size, and easy to take care of. Best choice for beginners. They have a unique appearance. Fun to watch. They are cheap. They are a great addition to any non-aggressive community tank.
Even if they are good community fish, but not pair them with bigger fish. The big fish will probably eat the Shrimp.