Blue Bolt Shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

_Blue bolt shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis)

Blue bolt shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis) are amongst the most popular freshwater ornamentals and are of high retail value. Therefore, today I would like to talk more about this wonderful species, from their diet to breeding, and find out if these are the shrimp for you.

Blue bolt shrimp are one of the most beautiful and recognizable species of shrimp that you can keep in a freshwater aquarium. The combination of spectacular colors and cleaning functions places them between one of the most preferred ornamental species of freshwater invertebrates.

Therefore, if you are interested in keeping Blue bolt shrimp as an aquarium pet or want to learn more about these unique creatures, this care guide will tell everything you need to know about them.

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Quick Notes about Blue Bolt Shrimp

Name Blue bolt shrimp
Other Names Blue Bolt, BB, Bolt Shrimp, Blue Caridina, Taiwan bee
Scientific Name Caridina Catonensis sp. Blue Bolt
Tank size (optimal) 10 gallons (~40 liters)
Keeping Medium
Breeding Medium (a high order shrimp).
Size 2.5 – 3 cm (~1 – 1,25 inches)
Optimal Temperature 20 – 22 °C (68-72 °F)
Optimal PH 6.0 – 6.8 
Optimal GH 3 – 6   
Optimal KH 0 – 2
Optimal TDS 120 –150 
Nitrate Less than 20 ppm
Diet Algae eater/omnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Life span 1-2 years
Color Form Blue to white coloration

Taxonomy Problems of Blue Bolt Shrimp

In shrimp keeping hobby, there is a popular concept that Blue bolt shrimp are a variety (mutation) of Taiwan Bee shrimp. Aquarists believe that Blue bolt shrimp were bred out of the genetic gene pool of Caridina cantonensis (Bee shrimp) for the most part. The views varied, however, as to the origin of this morph.

Some people think that it was a combination of Crystal red, Crystal black, Golden bee shrimp, and Snow Whites. Others believe that the direct line goes from Panda / King Kong blueish-white color or even Pinto shrimp.

Here comes the huge problem of our hobby. Unfortunately, nobody knows even the real origin of the so-called Taiwan bee shrimp! It still not clear, nor how they were found. Because of it, all other discussions about the origin of Blue bolt shrimp are absolutely pointless. Basically, the whole concept is based on theories.

What I think is that shrimp keeping hobby urgently needs systematization and analysis. There have been created so many different morphs of shrimp that we cannot even be absolutely sure what we have in our tanks anymore.

Natural Habitat of Caridina cantonensis

Obviously, because Blue bolt shrimp morph of Caridina cantonensis was artificially bred out, it is not possible to find shrimp with such coloration in the wild.

However, wild Caridina cantonensis is widespread and abundant in southern China. This species is currently ranging from Nan’ao island, Guangzhou, Yangjiang of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and probably northern Vietnam.

In nature, Caridina cantonensis prefer shallow, slow- to fast-moving mountain streams and rivulets.

Although no Hong Kong Caridina species is presently endangered, they are still threatened to some degree by habitat fragmentation, pollution, and collection for the aquarium trade.

Description of the Blue Bolt Shrimp

_Blue bolt shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis) foto by Peder Lundgren
_Blue bolt shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis) foto by Peder Lundgren

Blue bolt shrimp are some of the most beautiful aquarium shrimp in the hobby. They are characterized by a brilliant blue carapace that gradually turns into a white body. The coloration of the carapace can range from intense deep blue to light sky color with varying translucency.

Although Blue bolt shrimp do not have a complex system of gradation. It still exists. Generally speaking, the more blue coverage with the better opacity the higher is the grade, and the bigger the price tag for the shrimp. Therefore, if you see a solid blue color, it is a high-grade shrimp in the color aspect. These shrimp may have white spotting, especially on the tail. So, in addition, the smoother the color transition, the better.

Like all dwarf shrimp, Blue bolt shrimp usually grow up to 2 – 3 cm (~1 inch).

Once a proper aquarium is set up and optimum living conditions are met, Blue bolt shrimp can reproduce and live up to 1.5 – 2 years.

The Behavior of the Blue Bolt Shrimp

They are extremely interesting in terms of behavior. Blue bolt shrimp are not shy creatures, which means that you will see them a lot during daylight hours. It makes them a great choice for a peaceful community tank. They are completely harmless and will not bother anybody in the tank.

Blue bolt shrimp are not territorial. On the contrary, they are very social and tend to aggregate in large groups potentially reflecting the small size and limited defensive capability of these shrimps. In the group, they feel more relaxed and confident. At the same time, they lack social structure. It means that there is no dominant male or female.

Despite their small size they are very agile and can move very quickly.  Blue bolt shrimp are capable of going short distances 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inches) in the blink of an eye.

Feeding Blue Bolt Shrimp

Feeding Blue bolt shrimp is easy. Like all freshwater dwarf shrimp, they are scavengers and omnivores. They will eat just about any food they manage to find in the tank. Therefore, in a well-established aquarium, they will often find enough supply of food (algae and biofilm) by themselves.

However, it does not mean that there is no need to feed them at all if you want them to breed and thrive.

It will be a good idea to supplement them with common shrimp foods from time to time. For example, such as Bacter A.E. (read more about it), the varied range of Dennerle Shrimp King, Ebi Dama by Shirakura, or the Glassgarden Shrimp Dinner Food Pads, etc.

In order to add some variety to the diet and improve their immune system, provide them with some Indian almond leaves, alder cones, etc. Expect them to feast their way through blanched greens (lettuce, zucchini, spinach, etc.).

You can read more about it in my articles:

How and What to Feed your Shrimp.
How Often and How Much to Feed Shrimp.

Indian Almond Leaves and Alder Cones in a Shrimp Tank.
How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp, Snails and Fish the Right Way.

Feeding Schedule

You can feed Blue bolt shrimp just once a day (or once in 2 – 3 days if you have a matured tank), making the keeping process both inexpensive and highly convenient. Actually, by doing so, you will give them enough motivation to clean your aquarium as well.

Feed them in rations that would last them up to 3 – 6 hours max when eating. After that, depending on the food, it is better to remove the uneaten part from the tank to prevent overfeeding and fouling the water.

To prevent any potential mess you can also use feeding dishes. They will greatly reduce the amount of food debris in the tank.

Overfeeding

Although Blue bolt shrimp are great cleaners it will be a bad idea to think that they can clean absolutely everything. Actually, this can quickly turn into a big problem for your tank.

  • Overfeeding can potentially deteriorate your water quality thus shortening their life span.
  • Uneaten food will quickly decompose and change the balance of a tank’s chemistry.
  • In addition, overfeeding can also cause an outbreak of infection. Scutariella JaponicaPlanariaVorticellaHydraand Ellobiopsidae or Green fungus can become a very serious problem. It is not a joke to have these parasites because some of them are extremely dangerous for the dwarf shrimp.

Important: It is very easy to feed shrimp and even easier to overfeed. I will not get tired of repeating that overfeeding shrimp is the guaranteed way to kill them. That is why, if you are new to this hobby, you should NEVER forget this rule.

As a matter of fact, this is the main reason why many Blue bolt shrimp do not make it eventually.

Molting Blue Bolt Shrimp

Like other crustaceans, Blue bolt shrimp shed their exoskeleton (molt, read more about this process) as they grow. You’ll just look inside the aquarium one day and notice the exoskeleton floating in the water. The molting process shouldn’t scare you and make you think the shrimp has died.

The frequency of molting depends on the age of the shrimp. For example, for fully-grown shrimp, this process occurs every 4 – 6 weeks, while juveniles will do it every week or two.

During this period, the shrimp will display signs of decreased activity and even less association with other tankmates. It is advised that you do not touch the shrimp as they are very vulnerable at this point and may die if disturbed.

Tip: Once done with molting, do not remove the old shell. The exoskeleton contains a lot of calcium and many other microelements. Your shrimp will eat it later.

Calcium plays a huge role in any shrimp. Therefore. I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

Caring and Keeping Blue Bolt Shrimp

Keeping Blue bolt shrimp in an aquarium can be a little bit more complicated if you already do not have some experience. Therefore, this species is usually not recommended for beginners, particularly because their difficult care requirements means that there is little room for mistakes.

Tank size

Blue bolt shrimp do not require a lot of space and can be kept in containers as small as 5-gallon tanks (~20 liters).

However, it is difficult to keep the proper balance in such small tanks. Therefore, people who wish to keep this species should plan on housing them in a tank of at least 10-gallons (~40 liters), especially if they are new to this hobby.

Water Parameters

Temperature: Blue bolt shrimp can live in a wide range of temperature conditions. However, the optimal temperature should be in the range of 20 – 22 °C (68-72 °F). They do thrive in cooler temperatures.
pH: Optimal water pH should be provided for this species in the range of 6.0 – 6.8.
Hardness: Blue bolt shrimp will appreciate optimal KH 0 – 2 and GH between 3 – 6 GH.

Note: Obviously, the aquarium should be fully cycled and established before any Blue bolt shrimp are introduced. I cannot stress enough how delicate the shrimp can be. That is why extreme water parameters should be avoided. Even if they survive they will stop breeding.

Important: Check your water parameters and do regular water changes. Be consistent in your water quality. Dwarf shrimp do not like big and sudden changes, they can have huge molting problems (like “The white ring of death”) because of it.

Type of Water and Minerals

These shrimp require an excellent quality type of water. Therefore, tap water is no go. Our choice is only RO/DI water (reverse osmosis/de-Ionization).

A reverse osmosis system is an efficient, economical way to produce high-purity water. But this water does not have any minerals, so our task is to define all parameters of the water (pHKHGH, and TDS) manually.

Luckily it is easy to do with shrimp re-mineralizers. Nowadays, there are many good products on the market, but I always recommend Salty shrimp products (GH+) for that.

Substrate

Blue bolt shrimp require active (buffered) substrate like ADA Amazonia aqua soil, Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum, Akadama-Bonsai soil, etc.

Active substrate means that it alters (in our case lowers) water parameter (pH). As we already know, these shrimp like pH less than 7.

Filters

Clean water is also a must. Blue bolt shrimp are much less tolerant of poor water conditions than most other shrimp species.

Personally, I would always recommend using sponge filters or matten filters. They are cheap, easy to maintain and clean, provide a lot of surface to graze on, and absolutely safe for the baby shrimp.

Read more about it in my article “The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp”.

Aeration

Considering the fact that Caridina cantonensis species live in mountain streams and rivulets, we need to have good aeration as well for our Blue bolt shrimp.

Light

Light is not important for the Blue bolt shrimp. Lighting should be adapted to the needs of plants in the tank.

Decorations and Plants

This is not necessary but your shrimp will thank you if you give them some places to hide. Driftwood and plants will be excellent for that. In addition, they provide a lot of surface area for the biofilm. In nature, the majority of the food is a biofilm.

You can read more about it in my articles:

Driftwood in Shrimp Tank
“Top 5 Pros and Cons of having Plants in Shrimp Aquarium” right here.

Important: Before putting them into your tank do not forget to carefully acclimate them (read more about it) as all invertebrates. Do it very slowly. In general 2 – 3 hours will be good enough.

Be careful with chemicals like copper (read more)Crabs, shrimp, and crayfish do not tolerate copper-based medications.

Basic Tank Equipment (links to check the price on Amazon)

Sexing Blue Bolt Shrimp

There are few indicators that give away the sex of the Blue bolt shrimp.

  1. The larger shrimp are females. Males are smaller.
  2. Due to the fact that females carry eggs, the underside (abdomen) of the females is wider, it goes down to protect the eggs. Males Sexy shrimp are thinner.
  3. The presence of the saddle. In some cases, the saddle (on the upper body, behind the head, where eggs are stored before fertilization) of a female Blue bolt shrimp may be virtually impossible to see because of the coloration.

It is very important to have a good ratio of males and females to breed successfully if you have just started with this species.

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

Breeding Blue Bolt Shrimp

Once you have suitable water parameters in the tank, Blue bolt shrimp will start breeding.

When they are about 3 to 4 months old, they become sexually mature. Females molt prior to mating and release a certain chemical substance into the surrounding water to attract males. This signals the males that the female is ready to spawn causing the male shrimp to swim in frenzied circuits around the tank, seeking her out.

The number of eggs produced per female depends on the size of the female itself. The females will begin to carry a clutch of eggs under their tail. The female will keep the eggs for the entire time necessary for incubation (depending on the temperature it can range from 4 to 5 weeks). You will see it fanning its eggs regularly with pleopods.

After that, the Blue bolt female will release up to 30 – 40 fully developed shrimplets. At hatching, the young of this species are born as tiny replicas of the adults — not more than 2 mm in length and are perfectly independent.

Do not pay attention to their coloration at this stage. It will become more intense as the young mature.

You can also read my article “How to increase shrimplets survival rate?”.

Crossbreeding and Interbreeding Blue Bolt Shrimp

  1. Caridina species do not interbreed with Neocaridina species. So, it is safe to keep them together.
  2. Blue bolt shrimp can be also kept in the same tank without risk of hybridizing with all Taiwan Bee shrimp. Because all Taiwan Bee shrimp have similar genetic lines, they will produce shrimp that look similar to the parents.

Blue Bolt Shrimp and Suitable Tankmates

The ideal situation for the Blue bolt shrimp is a species tank, but they can be kept with other fish as long as those species are chosen with care. Large and/or aggressive fishes should be avoided.

Due to their peaceful nature, it makes a lot of sense if Blue bolt shrimp are kept together with tank mates that are equally quiet, peaceful and can share the same water parameters with them.

Blue bolt shrimp are compatible with:

Actually, shrimp and snails make a great team. They benefit each other very well. However, some snails can suffer from shell attrition whilst the pH is under pH7.

Keep Blue bolt shrimp away from all types of crayfish and crabs. They can and will try to catch the shrimp whenever it is possible.

In Conclusion

Blue bolt shrimp is highly valued in the ornamental aquarium trade. They are not only beautiful shrimp but also stay on the smaller side – perfect for someone with limited space like nano tanks.

Blue bolt shrimp is a great species to keep but is on the more expensive side. In addition, I would say that they are not beginner shrimp. However, it becomes pretty easy once you understand the principles of shrimp keeping.

Buy Blue Bolt Shrimp on Amazon

Main foto by Aquarium_Creation

Related articles:

7 Things Every Shrimp Keeper Must Have!
How to Set Up a Caridina Shrimp Tank

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