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Ornamental Shrimp

Ornamental shrimp are great for aquariums, and they are perfect for the small nano-tanks that are so popular today.

Posted: January 20, 2011

By David Lass

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Caridina japonica
Caridina japonica

When Takashi Amano introduced the tropical fish hobby to his exquisite planted aquariums, he also introduced us to the wonders of small ornamental shrimp -- especially the "Amano Algae Eating Shrimp.” This beautiful little shrimp does a spectacular job of cleaning algae from aquatic plants and other objects in an aquarium (although it really doesn’t do anything to algae on the aquarium glass).

Amano shrimp, and many other shrimp of the genus Caridina and Neocaridina, have become established as a staple of the aquarium hobby/business, and if you are not stocking and selling them in your store you are missing out on an excellent profit-maker. The Amano shrimp are very hardy and active little shrimp, and the only thing to be careful of is that they can also become a snack for many aquarium fish.

In addition to the Amano shrimp, the next most popular group would be what is called "cherry shrimp,” for the clever reason that these shrimp are red. The only minor problem with the cherry shrimp is that it is only the females that have the deep cherry red color; but the other side of that "problem” is the fact that they reproduce like rabbits. The Amano shrimp must go through a marine/brackish stage in their development and do not reproduce in an aquarium. Cherry red shrimp will breed freely, and as long as there are no predators they will quickly populate an aquarium. I know a few local fish stores who keep a few 20-gallon aquariums in their back room for producing cherry shrimp for sale.

The final group of shrimp that do great in an aquarium are the Atyopsis shrimp, which usually go by the moniker of flower shrimp, mountain shrimp or bamboo shrimp. These shrimp get to be around 3 inches overall, and they are distinguished by the first two legs on each side of the body being modified into "fans,” which they use for filter feeding. It is really interesting to watch one of these shrimp sitting where the water flow is best in the aquarium, and alternating the four "fans” as the shrimp shovels minute food from the water stream into its mouth. If there is not enough food in the water column, these shrimp are perfectly happy grubbing around the aquarium like their other, smaller brethren.

Ornamental shrimp are great for aquariums, and they are perfect for the small nano-tanks that are so popular today.


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Reader Comments

Rafael E.    Miramar, FL

6/11/2011 1:50:24 PM

There is an error in this article. It states that "...only the males that have the deep cherry red color". It should state the opposite. Because, it is the females which have the brighter red color.
This is the link to the article:

Matt    St. Paul, MN

4/28/2011 7:07:46 PM

I have had 7 shrimp now, all of them have been a major specialty, and the ghosts and wood shrimp in my sand bottom 10gal juvie goldfish tank are definatly the stars of the show, always swimming right up to the glass when they see you.

Jilian    Calgary, AB

2/13/2011 8:49:10 AM

I've seen some shrimps in the nano tanks and other display tanks at my local pet store... never thought to have shrimp in my tank, but after reading this article I might have to give them a try!

Chocolate Delight    Moose Pass, AK

2/12/2011 3:55:33 PM

I can attest to the fact that Cherry Shrimp will "breed like rabbits" and can over populate a tank. On the other hand they do great in planted shrimp bowls and do not need a heater. At cooler temperatures however the red colors fade at bit.

One correction of this article is that it is the "female" cherry shrimp that are redder and larger as well. The males are more of a translucent red and swim about more in mid water then do the females.

This is very good article. I love shrimp :)

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