50 Frequently Asked Questions About Dwarf Shrimp

50 Frequently Asked Questions About Dwarf Shrimp

by Michael

This time I will answer the most frequently asked questions. Some of them I saw on the internet, while others were sent to my e-mail.

1. What is dwarf shrimp?

Shrimp are crustaceans of the order Decapoda (Deca (greek for) – ten; poda – foot). The name describes one of the features of these dwarf invertebrates — the fact that they have five pair of articulated legs.

2. Do dwarf shrimps sleep?

Yes, they do. However, dwarf shrimp do not lay down for that.  In the behavioral sense, sleep is characterized by minimal movement, non-responsiveness to external stimulation and decreased heart rate. In general, dwarf shrimp usually stay (even upside-down) in a place motionless and antennae lowered down. Unfortunately, there have not been studies about sleep duration.

3. Can you eat dwarf shrimp?

Yes, you can.  But they are too small and do not have a lot of meat. For example, adult Red cherry shrimp weighs about 1g (fully-grown Amano shrimp weights approximately 3g). Main muscles are located in the abdomen. Therefore, one dwarf shrimp has about 0.3g of meat.

4. Can dwarf frogs live with shrimp?

Dwarf frogs and shrimp are not compatible. Dwarf frogs are big enough to eat Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp. Therefore, they will try to catch the shrimp at any opportunity. Even Amano shrimp or Ghost shrimp are not safe with dwarf frogs.

5. Can dwarf puffers live with shrimp?

No, they cannot live with dwarf shrimp. Dwarf puffers will wipe out your shrimp colony eventually. Even bigger shrimp like Ghost shrimp and Amano shrimp are also not safe.

6. Can shrimp be kept safely with fish?

Unfortunately, it is very hard to keep any shrimp colony with fish unless it is Otocinclus. This fish is extremely peaceful and like 99% safe for the baby shrimp. In all other cases, you will have some loses or complete shrimp annihilation.

You can read more about “Сherry Shrimp in a Community Tank. Tips to Make it Successful” right here.

7. Can dwarf crayfish live with shrimp?

It is very unlikely. All crayfish species (even relatively peaceful Dwarf Mexican crayfish) are opportunistic feeders. It means that if they can catch it (shrimp or small fish), it will get eaten. Therefore, it is not advisable to keep any type of crayfish with any type of dwarf shrimp.

You can read more about it in my article “Dwarf Mexican Crayfish – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

8. What do dwarf shrimp eat?

They are omnivorous (detritivorous) feeders. Therefore, they will eat everything that falls on the bottom of your tank – fish food, shrimp food, flakes, pellets, vegetables, etc. It makes them an outstanding cleaning crew.

In the wild, according to studies, the most common food is detritus, which was found in 93% in shrimp guts (Algae are in the second place – 65%).

9. Do dwarf shrimp eat plants?

No, they do not eat healthy plants. I would like to stress it again – healthy plants. However, they will eat dying or rotting plants. Sometimes it confuses beginner aquarists. However, do not worry, your shrimp know better about everything that happens in your tank. After all, they are scavengers. Let them do their job.

10. Do I need a heater for a shrimp tank?

Considering the fact that Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp can easily withstand temperatures from 18 to 28 C (64 – 82F), it is not necessary. However, if your room temperature fluctuates too much (too fast), it would be better to install a heater.  In addition, if you are planning to keep Sulawesi shrimp, in this case, you will need a heater to keep the tank warm enough (they need 26-29C or 79-84F).

11. How long do you have to wait to put shrimp in a new tank?

First of all the tank must be fully cycled before you introduce the shrimp. There should not be any ammonia and nitrites. However, if you want to be truly successful I would wait a few weeks more (let it mature) until there are some algae growth on the sidewalls of the tank. Algae is one of the most important natural sources of food for the shrimp.

12. What water parameters do they need?

Although the majority of shrimp are quite adaptable, their requirements differ depending on the habitat they come from. Therefore, it really depends on the type of shrimp. For example

  pH (optimal) KH (optimal) GH (optimal) TDS (optimal)
Cherry shrimp 7.0 – 7.5 2 – 4 6 – 8 150 – 200
Ghost shrimp 7.0 – 7.4 5 – 8 5 – 8 150 – 200
Amano shrimp 7.0 – 7.4 2 – 4 7 – 8 150 – 200
Cardinal shrimp 7.8 – 8.2  4 – 8 6 – 8 100
Bamboo shrimp 6.5 – 7.5 2 – 6 6 – 8 150 – 200

13. What is the best freshwater shrimp for beginners?

For beginners, I would suggest the following species: Red cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, and Ghost shrimp.

You can read more about “3 Most Hardy Dwarf Shrimp For Beginners” right here.

14. What is the life cycle of cherry shrimp?

The embryonic development of the eggs takes 25 – 35 days. Newly hatched baby shrimp looks like a tiny copy of the adult shrimp. At this stage, they are about 2mm long. In 60 days, they become juveniles and it is possible to distinguish females and males. They become adults 15 days later and within 1 to 3 days, they are ready to mate.

You can read more about “Breeding and Life Cycle of Red Cherry shrimp” right here.

15. How many eggs can shrimp have?

It really depends on the type of shrimp. For example, Red cherry shrimp can have from 20 to 50 eggs. Amano shrimp can carry hundreds even thousands of eggs depending on the size and age of the female.

16. How often do shrimp breed?

In general, they can breed every 1 – 2 months. However, it also depends on the species and the temperature. The high temperature will increase their metabolism and they can breed more often. However, it also has downsides. The faster their metabolism the shorter is the life of the shrimp.

You can read more about “How Frequent Mating Affects Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

You can read more about “How Temperature Affects Breeding of Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

17. Do dwarf shrimp eat their babies?

No, they do not eat their young. Dwarf shrimp are absolutely peaceful and non- aggressive creatures (Except Macrobrachium shrimp, which is predatory. They can easily hunt down adult dwarf shrimp, snails, and even small fish). Nonetheless, if you completely deprive them of essential nutrients (protein), all shrimp can become cannibalistic.

18. Can I keep Red cherry shrimp with Ghost shrimp? 

It is possible but not advisable. Although Ghost shrimp and Cherry shrimp will not crossbreed, Ghost shrimp can be pretty aggressive and cannibalistic. Due to the size difference, (Ghost shrimp are two times bigger then Cherry shrimp) it can become a real problem. 

19. How long do dwarf shrimp live?

Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp can live from 1 to 2 years. Ghost shrimp have a life span from 1 to 3 years. Amano shrimp can live up to 5 years. Bamboo fan shrimp can live up to 7 years. Cameroon fan shrimp can live 8 – 10 years.

You can read more about “How Long Do Dwarf Shrimp Live?” right here

20. Can cherry shrimp breed in freshwater?

Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. red) are a type of freshwater dwarf shrimp. They breed exclusively in freshwater. Neocaridina can tolerate slightly brackish water for some time. However, in most cases, they will stop breeding.

21. How many dwarf shrimp per gallon (liter)?

You can have 1 – 3 shrimp per 1 liter of water (5 – 10 per gallon).

You can read more about “How Density Affects Cherry Shrimp” right here.

22. How often do dwarf shrimp molt?

It depends on the age of the shrimp. Newly hatched shrimp molt every few days. Juvenile shrimp usually molt every 4 – 10 days. Adult dwarf shrimp molt every 1 – 1.5 months).

You can read more about “Aquarium: Molting Process and Metabolism of the Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

23. How fast do dwarf shrimp grow?

Dwarf shrimp do not grow in ordinary understanding. They have an external shell that limits the size of their growth. Therefore, in order to grow, they need to shed the old shell off. It is called molting. According to the studies, after molting shrimp increase in the body size:

  1. Post-larvae stage – 20%.
  2. Juvenile shrimp – 7%.
  3. Adult dwarf shrimp molt only to regenerate lost limbs.

You can read more about “Aquarium: Molting Process and Metabolism of the Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

24. How often to feed dwarf shrimp?

Some shrimp keepers do it every day, others feed their shrimp only 2 – 3 times a week. As you can see, there is only one rule here. You can feed them as often as you want if you DO NOT overfeed them. Overfeeding is the number one problem for beginner shrimp keepers. They do not know or simply underestimate the fact that shrimp are scavengers. They will almost always be able to find a food source in your tank.

Uneaten food can quickly decompose and cause an outbreak of infection. 

25. How do I know if my shrimp is pregnant?

Pregnancy is not the correct term here. Basically, females shrimp have  two stages:

  1. “The saddle” stage.

You can see it on the back of the female. The saddle consists of small undeveloped and unfertilized eggs forming in the female’s ovaries.

  1. The berried stage.

After mating, the female move the eggs from the “saddle” to the brood pouch (beneath the abdomen) and at that moment the eggs go through the sperm and become fertilized. A female carrying eggs under her abdomen is said to be “berried”.

You can read more about “Shrimp Gender. Female and Male Difference.” right here.

26.  How big dwarf shrimp grow?

It depends on the species. Most Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp grow to an adult size of 2 – 3cm which is just about one inch. However, there are also exceptions. For example, Amano shrimp grow up to 1.5 – 2″ (3 – 6 cm). In addition, we also have real giants in this hobby, Bamboo shrimp can become 8 – 10 cm (~3 – 4 inches) long and can hardly be called “Dwarf” anymore.

27. How do you take care of dwarf shrimp?

To put it in a nutshell, depending on the species, you will need to have specific water parameters, a filter, and an air pump. In addition, it would be better to put a substrate and add some plants.

You can read more about “Guide: How to Breed Shrimp” right here.

28. Are Red cherry shrimp easy to keep?

Yes, they are. Red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) are very easy to keep and are the perfect beginner shrimp to try before you move on to other species of shrimp.

You can read more about “Red Cherry Shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding” right here.

29. Can dwarf shrimp live without a filter?

Yes, they can live without a filter. However, in order to do that you need to have a lot of plants in the tank (really a lot!). Keep in mind that you will have to keep the lights on for 12+ hours per day if you want to sustain that kind of eco-system.

It is not recommended for beginner shrimp keepers.

You can also read “The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp” right here.

30. Can Red cherry shrimp breed with Crystal shrimp?

No, they cannot. Red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina genus) and Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina genus) cannot interbreed. In addition, they prefer different water parameters. Therefore, it will not be a good idea to keep them together.

You can read more about interbreeding in my article “Culling Shrimp. Selective Breeding.”

31. Why are my shrimp not brightly colored?

This is a very difficult question. There can be many reasons why it happens. For example, genetics, stress factors, poor water quality, age (too young), not enough necessary nutrients, the color of the substrate, lights, etc.

32. Can I improve shrimp color?

Yes, you can. If you want to improve and exaggerate desirable color in general, in this case, you will have to do the culling. If you are talking about your current shrimp colony, in this case, you need to give them, for example, color enhancing food.

You can read more about “How to Enhance Shrimp Color?” right here.

33. Why are my shrimp dying?

There can be so many reasons for that, so it will not be possible to name them all. These are just some of them. For example, incomplete nitrogen cycle (ammonia, nitrites, nitrate), bad water parameters (PH, GH, KH, TDS),  too hot / too cold, sudden temperature and water parameters fluctuations, not enough nutrients, not enough minerals, copper,  overfeeding, parasites and diseases, poor acclimation, different toxins, too big water changes, imbalance in sexes, etc.

You can read more about “Hints for Survival and How Do Not Kill Your Shrimp” right here.

34. Do shrimp eat fish/snail’s poop?

Yes, they do. Shrimp are scavengers. They will find, eat and clean everything in your tank, including fish/snail’s poop. Actually, that poop contains good bacteria for their digestive tract and it is just an all-around win for everybody.

35. How big should a shrimp tank be?

The optimal tank size for shrimp is 10-gallon (40 liters). Of course, the majority of dwarf shrimp can be kept in 5-gallon tank or even smaller tanks. However, keep in mind, that consistency is the most important thing in shrimp hobby. The problem of small tanks is that it can be harder to keep all water parameters stable. Basically, this is the main reason why the 10-gallon tank is considered as an optimal choice.

36. The best dwarf shrimp tank mates?

Any type of snails. Snails and shrimp benefit each other very well. They are not aggressive (except assassin snail) and make an excellent cleaning crew.

Note: Do your research, because there are some types of snails who do eat healthy plans, for example: Marisa cornuarietis, Pomacea canaliculata (Apple snail). In some countries it can be illegal to sell Apple snails, they are considered to be in the top 100 of the World worst invaders, and top 40 in Europe.

To learn more, you can read my article “Marisa Cornuarietis Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

37. What vegetables can I feed my shrimp?

You can feed them all sorts of vegetables. Shrimp are not picky eaters. They will gladly eat whatever you give them. In practice, shrimp keepers usually give them zucchini, cucumber, spinach, carrots, and kale.

You can read more “How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp, Snails and Fish the Right Way.” right here.

38. How do shrimp reproduce?

Shrimp reproduce sexually. It means that males and females need to mate. After that, female shrimp carry young in the form of eggs, which are carried in the underside of the abdomen, until hatching. The quantity of eggs depends on the species and the size of a female.

39. Do Red cherry shrimp eat algae?

Yes, they do. In the wild, algae are the second most popular common food for shrimp. First place takes detritus.

40. How to prevent shrimp from escaping?

You will need to lower the water level by a few centimeters (about 1 inch from the top). Use a lid to cover your tank. Check your water parameters, they can try to escape if they do not like the water.

41. What is the most popular dwarf shrimp?

Red cherry shrimp is hands-down the most popular shrimp in this hobby followed by Amano shrimp and Crystal red shrimp.

42. Can dwarf gouramis eat dwarf shrimp?

Yes, they can. Their small size should not confuse you and give you a false sense of security. They can be quite aggressive and harass even adult shrimp until it dies.

You can read more about “Сherry Shrimp in a Community Tank. Tips to Make it Successful” right here.

43. What is the largest dwarf shrimp?

This is a tricky question. I would say that Amano shrimp are the largest (1.5 – 2 inches (3 – 6 cm)). The point is that the term “dwarf shrimp” is not scientific. Therefore, it is not possible to answer this question correctly.

Amano shrimp belong to genus Caridina, which is commonly called “dwarf”. However, there are also significantly bigger shrimp in this hobby (for example, Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis) – 8 – 10 cm (~3 – 4 inches) or Cameroon fan shrimp (Atya gabonensis) can grow up tp 6 inches (15 cm)).

44. Can shrimp eat fish food?

Absolutely yes. Shrimp will not care about it. This is one of the reasons why they are so cool. They will eat almost everything.

45. Do shrimp need oxygen?

Yes, they do. As a matter of fact, they have gills to breathe.

You can read more about the respiratory system of dwarf shrimp in “Dwarf Shrimp Internal Anatomy” right here.

46. What are the most common dwarf shrimp diseases and parasites?

Dwarf shrimp can have many diseases and parasites. However, the most common are Scutariella JaponicaPlanariaVorticellaHydra and Ellobiopsidae or Green fungus.

47. Can I use plant fertilizers in my shrimp tank?

Yes, you can use some. The problem is that almost all plant fertilizers contain copper. Unfortunately, shrimp are very sensitive to copper. Therefore, if you decide to use one you will have to choose shrimp safe fertilizers.

I made a list of shrimp safe fertilizers (according to the manufacturers) in my article “How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp”.

48. Do shrimp need plants?

No, shrimp do not need plants. However, plants will greatly benefit shrimp tank (additional filtration, aeration, hiding places, etc.).
You can read more about “Top 5 Pros and Cons of having Plants in Shrimp Aquarium” right here.

49. How can I tell a male from a female shrimp?

In most cases, it is quite easy to tell the difference. The females are usually larger and more colorful. The females also have a broader and rounder tail. The more reliable indicator of gender is the presence of what is known as the saddle (unfertilized eggs). 

You can read more about “Shrimp Gender. Female and Male Difference.” right here.

50. What is the basic tank setup for cherry shrimp?

Add a 2 – 3 cm (~1 inch) of an inert substrate to the bottom of the tank. Next, install an aquarium filter and air-pump. Fill it with water. Wait until the nitrogen cycle is done. Add dwarf shrimp.

You can read more about “Basic Shrimp Tank Setup for Neocaridina” right here. 

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