Caridina cf. Babaulti shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding

Caridina-Babaulti - Caridina shrimp

Caridina cf. babaulti is a beautiful and mysterious shrimp. This relatively new and unknown dwarf shrimp comes in different colors (green, brown, red, yellow) and patterns (stripes and dots). Sometimes they are also called Green Neons, Zebras and Chameleons. This is a slightly rarer shrimp in the American shrimp hobby but is well worth the hunt. They can be found from central India to Malaya and in the west to Iraq.

Caridina cf. babaulti are active, low maintenance and fairly hardy shrimp (once settled in). They have a unique ability to change color very fast when startled or agitated. Their coloration looks especially lovely against a dark colored background.

Until now, there are very few studies on distribution, reproduction, growth or diseases on Caridina cf. babaulti, although this species is gaining popularity and becoming the important ornamental shrimp worldwide.

The scope of shrimp keeping in a planted aquarium or in dedicated aquaria is increasing among the hobbyist. This exponential growth in the demand needs a steady supply of stocks so the main objectives of this article are to describe a standard hatchery technology for freshwater ornamental shrimp and producing desirable strains with the help of selective breeding and interbreeding.

Currently, the demand for this species in the industry is met by wild caught.

Caridina cf. babaulti

Taxonomy of Caridina cf. babaulti 

Caridina cf. babaulti does not have their own scientific name yet. The status of this species is still a controversy in the world.

The abbreviation cf. (short for the Latin: confer/conferatur, both meaning “compare”) is commonly placed between the genus name and the species name to describe a specimen that is difficult to identify because of practical difficulties or to express a possible identity.

In other words, this species has not been formally classified or studied with scientists to give it its actual name. That is why, because of the significant resemblance between a newly observed specimen and a known species now we call it Caridina cf. babaulti.

As already stated that the taxonomy of this genus is very difficult, and with a large number of described species, elucidating the identities of the present specimens are not possible, as such the identity Caridina cf. babaulti must be regarded as tentative, to keep certain reservation on its denomination.

Babaulti species itself consists of two subspecies:

  • Caridina babaulti babaulti distributed in India, but poorly known (De-Grave, 2013),
  • Caridina babaulti basrensis distributed in Iran and Iraq (Gorgin, 1996).

Currently, it is also not known if both subspecies could represent valid species or if a single, variable species is involved.

Quick Notes about Caridina cf. babaulti Shrimp

Name Caridina cf. babaulti
Other Names
Indian zebra, Zebra, Stripes, Green, Green Neons, Malaya, Brown, Blue. Rainbow, and Chameleons
Scientific Name Caridina cf. babaulti (preliminarily)
Tank size (optimal) 10 gallons (~40 liters)
Keeping Easy-Medium
Breeding Easy-Medium 
Size 2.5 – 4 cm (~1 – 1,5 inches)
Optimal Temperature 24 – 28°C  (~75°F – 82°F)
Optimal PH 6.5 – 7.5 (6.2 – 8.0)
Optimal GH 6 – 8 (4 – 14)
Optimal KH 3 – 8 3 (0 – 12)
Optimal TDS 100 – 150 (50-250)
Nitrate Less than 20 ppm
Diet Algae eater/omnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Life span 1-2 years
Color Form Green, brown, red, yellow, blue

Description of Caridina cf. babaulti var “Green” Shrimp

Caridina cf. babaulti var “Green” ShrimpAll shrimp species are unique but Caridina cf. babaulti stands out even here. They have an extremely long and serrated rostrum. The top of their nose has noticeable little toothy appendages (like small dragons).

These shrimp are pretty fascinating. Besides the fact that they have huge color variations. Caridina cf. babaulti also have some chromatic adaptation (like Chameleons), which means they will adapt to suit their environment. This chromatic adaptation let them change the color when they are agitated or startled.

Some time ago, aquarists thought that these chameleon’ abilities were a reaction to the stress. However, it does seem to be so. The point is that initially they are translucent and that is how they turn orange, brown, green etc. Caridina cf. babaulti can change (effect) their color during mating or if you have a dark substrate in the tank. It is just a really nice feature and very pronounced in this particular species.

There is a theory that by doing so during mating, they show potential mates that they are strong and healthy. Because it requires a lot of metabolic energy to do that.

Their eyeballs are a little different from other dwarf shrimp and they have an actual little pupil on their eyeballs.

Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp are a little bit shy until they are in bigger numbers.

The size of this species also varies from normal (2,5cm or 1 inch) to big ones 3.5 – 4cm (~1.5 inches)

Description of Caridina cf. babaulti var “Stripes” shrimp

 Caridina cf. babaulti var “Stripes” shrimpAs I have already mentioned Caridina cf. babaulti can have different patterns as well. This variation of Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp is also called “Indian zebra” shrimp. It looks similar to Caridina fernandoi shrimp but has a longer rostrum.

Males and Females are transparent with fine stripes on the body. Juveniles are uniformly transparent as well with 5-7 black narrow horizontal stripes on the body and another on the tail fan who seems to break in points. Some shrimp may have additional bands or a rather small number of them. They start to pick up coloring when they reach the size of 1 centimeter.

Caridina cf. babaulti var “Stripes” have wider stripes compared to Tiger Shrimp.  

Caridina cf. babaulti Stripes vs Caridina cf cantonensis Tiger

Description of Caridina cf. babaulti var “Malaya” shrimp

Description of Caridina cf. babaulti var “Malaya” shrimpMalaya shrimp (or Malaysian Shrimp) was introduced to shrimp community in 2000. It has a peculiar color that depends on gender and may vary depending on the environment. It acquires a bluish or greenish tint between plants, reddish-brownish tint on the driftwood, golden to brown color on the substrate. Sometimes shrimps have white stripes and (or) a back-stripe.

The breeding cycle of Caridina cf. babaulti var “Malaya” shrimp is different from other Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp. However, they do not require special conditions for that (unlike Amano shrimp).

The incubation period is rather short – 15-17 days. After that, they have 5 larvae (zoeae) stages which last only a few (5-10) days. The larval stage takes place in freshwater. Then the larvae molt and turn into miniature (about 2 mm) copies of the parents.

They have a normal shrimp size – 2-3cm.

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

Behavior of Caridina cf. babaulti Shrimp

Healthy shrimp skitter all over an aquarium, constantly searching for food. They seem to never hold still and are always moving about. When food is dropped into the aquarium, they soon sense it and scurry to the front of the aquarium to eat.

They are also excellent maintenance crews in cleaning the aquatic plants compared to other shrimp.

Caridina cf. babaulti Shrimp Diet

An interesting fact is that Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp require very little food. They are excellent algae eaters and almost better substrate sifters. Where these shrimp are present in greater numbers there will not be any problems with different kinds of algae covering your substrate. These little guys will take care of it.

Shrimp will do fine on basic fish and shrimp food pellet or flake. Feed only an amount that can be eaten in one or two hours.

Many shrimpers advocate putting Indian almond leaves, alder cones (you can read my article about it here) , oak leaves etc. in the aquarium as a source of food for the shrimp. Make sure that the leaves have been soaked really well before adding them to the tank to ensure that most of the tannins have leached out. The leaves slowly decay, and the shrimp seem to feed on both the leaves and the other organisms that break down the leaves.

It will be also a great idea to give them blanched vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, carrots, lettuce and etc (you can read my article about it here).

There must be adequate algae and/or biofilm in the tank for the fry to feed on. In tanks lacking algae or biofilm (usually newer tanks), shrimp can be fed by crushing algae flakes before dropping them in.

Do not forget that calcium plays a huge role for the shrimp. Therefore. I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

In addition, you can read my article “Top Food for the Shrimp – Bacter AE”.

Plants and Substrate for Caridina cf. babaulti Shrimp

There must be adequate algae and/or biofilm in the tank for the shrimp to feed on. Therefore, the more surface area you have in the tank the better is for the shrimp. Slower-growing plant species, such as Java moss and Java fern, work pretty well in a shrimp aquarium. Shrimp will find their own food when aquatic plants are growing in their aquarium.

As for substrate, it really does not matter much. However, judging by their natural habitat, fine-grain, gravel and also white silica sand can make them really happy. They are especially effective on a sandy substrate, where they clean the sand grain by grain.

Keeping Caridina cf. babaulti Shrimp

Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp are relatively hardy, they can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. However, this species also has a weak spot. They are very fragile upon import. That is why shipping shrimp purchased online is always tricky in this case. It seems like that Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp are more susceptible to that kind of stress than any other shrimp species.

Therefore, once they are in a mature tank (well-established tank), you need to make them comfortable as best as you can. If (when) they survive the first few weeks, keeping them will be almost as simple as Red Cherry shrimp.

Their water conditions are also very similar to Cherry shrimp or any of the Neocaridina shrimp. Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp thrive in warm temperature (anywhere between 70F to 80F). They can have a kH from 0 to 12 and a gH from 4 to 14, TDS from 50 to 250 so that is a pretty wide range. Note that is their breeding parameters whereas they can survive even in more extreme parameters. However, they will not breed in this case.

Any shrimp are much less tolerant of poor water conditions than most fish. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates will eventually kill the shrimp. If your nitrates level is more than 20 you should do the water change.

It is especially important that you use sponge filtration to prevent their babies from getting sucked up.

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

*Remineralazers for RO/DI water: Salty Shrimp GH/KH+

Gender Difference. Mating Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp  

Similar to Cherry shrimp, the females are noticeably bigger and rounder than males. Females have that saddle which is their visible ovaries. The males are smaller and lack that rounded abdomen.

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

The mating process usually takes place 1-3 day(s) after the introduction of male and female into the same tank. Female molts (read more about it) prior to mating and release a certain chemical substance into the surrounding water to attract males. This signals the male that the female is ready to spawn.

Their mating occurs rapidly in less than 10 sec. During the mating process male and female of Caridina cf. babaulti are facing each other. The eggs become fertilized when they pass through the sperm on the way to the brood pouch. The pouch is formed by pleopods and overhanging of pleura of the female. Thin ribbon-like filament binds the eggs in grape-like bunches and attached it to the female’s pleopod. The membrane can hardly be distinguished since it is thin, transparent and lying close to the surface.

Fertilized eggs have an oval in shape, vary from greenish to yellowish in color. The egg size has an average length of 1.19 mm.

Breeding Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp 

Caridina cf. babaulti breeding is the same way as Cherry shrimp (read more about it) just a little bit slower.

These shrimp have more eggs compared to Neocaridia shrimp. The female usually has about 40-60 eggs which are also smaller in size compared to Neocaridina shrimp. The number of eggs produced per female of freshwater shrimp depends on the size of the female itself. Smaller females produced fewer eggs compared to larger females.

The eggs stay in the brood pouch until hatch. The incubation period lasts approximately 30 days. After that, Caridina cf. babaulti release fully formed miniature versions of adult shrimp.

Caridina cf. babaulti does not have a planktonic larval stage, therefore, it is a completely *suppressed type of reproduction.

Caridina cf. babaulti reach first maturity at around 75 days old with total length 2.3±0.2 cm. Upon reaching maturity, the presence of visible ovaries can be seen through the cephalothorax region of the females.

Note: Most of atyids undergoes the normal type of larval development and produce relatively small-sized eggs with long planktonic phase. As for abbreviated type, larval of planktonic phase only takes a few days. For example, Caridina babaulti basrensis shrimp have 5 larvae (zoeae) stages, which last from 6-10 days (depending on the temperature). The number of eggs laid by females ranges from 69 to 457.  

Tankmates for Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp

Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp is a great choice for any community tank. They are very peaceful and do not mind to live with snails. For example, Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Japanese trapdoor snails, Mystery snails, etc. Actually, shrimp and snails make a great team; they benefit each other very well. Just be careful with water parameters. Snails can suffer from shell attrition whilst the pH is under pH7.

Another great advantage is that they do not crossbreed with any of the Neocaridina species. Thus, you can keep them together safely and not have to worry about any hybridization.

In addition, Vampire Shrimp, Bamboo (Singapore Flower) Shrimp, and Amano shrimp (check out my guides about them) will also make a great company for them.

Conclusion

Many freshwater shrimp from the family Atyidae have been gaining popularity in the aquarium industry over the past years. Caridina cf. babaulti is a new species of ornamental aquaculture industry due to its peculiar attractiveness such as body color and morphology.

The easiness in breeding this shrimp will spread this shrimp just as widely in the hobby as some other popular shrimp species.

Caridina cf. babaulti is a nice addition to any planted tank or shrimp tank and can be recommended even for beginner shrimp breeders.

References

  1. Breeding and Life Cycle of Fresh Water Ornamnetal Shrimp-Stripe Shrimp, Caridina cf. Babaulti ISSN: 2319-7706 Volume 4 Number 7 (2015) pp. 794-801 (Research and Development centre, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, India) http://www.ijcmas.com
  2. Distribution, development, and metabolism of larval stages of the warmwater shrimp, Caridina babaulti basrensis (Decapoda, Atyidae). Article in Marine behaviour and physiology. March 2005
  3. Caridina babaulti. Ecological Risk Screening Summary. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, July 2017. Web Version, 11/17/2017
  4. Biodiversity and Biogeography of Caridean Shrimps of Pakistan Book January 2012
  5. Isolation and Identification of Pathogenic Bacterium Aeromonas veronii from Ornamental Shrimp Caridina cf. babaulti Article November 2016

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