How and What to Feed your Shrimp

How and What to Feed your Shrimp

Today we will talk about how you should feed your shrimp. The most important thing you can learn today is to feed less.

This is extremely important because on the on hand you don’t want to underfeed shrimps. On the other hand, you want to ensure proper nutrition and at the same time, you don’t want to overfeed them because it could possibly deteriorate your water quality. So, where is the balance here? Luckily, there are some pointers what to do in these circumstances. This article can also help those persons who are trying to find answers to why their shrimps keep dying one by one.

The first thing you need to look into is how much do you feed your shrimp? But let’s talk in details.

So, overall feeding issues can be divided into 3 questions:
1. How often do you need to feed shrimp?
2. How much do you need to feed shrimp?
3. What do you need to feed your shrimp?

 Before we start, there is also an important question.

Who else and what else is in your aquarium?

 If you also keep fish and snails in your planted aquarium, in this case, you may not feed shrimps at all. It means that you do not have to give them any specifically designed products. Shrimp will pick up the remains of food, fish and snail poop, dying plants, dead algae particles, microorganisms and etc. If you add dried leaves, spinach leaves and some over natural food it can be absolutely enough for them. This is the environment where they used to live in.

If your shrimp live in a separate aquarium then this is what this article about. 

How Often Do You Need to Feed Shrimp?

The answer solely dependents on how many shrimp you have in your aquarium.

If you have just purchased your first 10 or 20 shrimps, in this case, the suggestion will be to start feeding them once a day every Tuesday and Friday.

Follow the prescript of the necessary dose on the label of the product you use but do not trust it completely. The point is that manufacturers are tent to be over safe. In most cases, they simply advise to use too much and it is also understandable. Because they do not know what else you are giving to your shrimp.  Even more, they can tell you to feed shrimp multiple times daily.

So, your primary task is to understand how quickly shrimps are consuming this food.

If they are consuming it relatively fast then you need to add another feeding day – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Every shrimp keeper has his own plan. Some people feed shrimps only 2 or 3 times a week, while others can do it 5 or 6 times a week. It does not mean that some of them are right and the rest are wrong. On the contrary, they just found their way which is good for their situation and aquariums.

As you can see, there is no single recipe for everybody.  Be prepared to change the routine when it is necessary. Start small and build your way up to a nice schedule.

It is highly recommended to use feeding dishes. You can read more about Feeding Dishes for Shrimp right hereThey will help you to better understand how hungry shrimps are.

How Much Do You Need to Feed Shrimp?

It would be better to repeat again that underfeeding is better than overfeeding. In nature, under normal conditions, shrimps can live without food for several days.  So, do not worry about it.

Now to the answer. Again, nobody will tell you an exact number here. There are too many factors in this equation and they are changing constantly. As a result, what’s good today, it can be bad next week.

The optimal dose of manufactured food is determined empirically. Many experienced aquarists recommend using the mighty “Rule of thumb”. Shrimp must eat everything you give them in 20-40 min.

Remember that shrimps are scavengers. Let them fulfill their role in your aquarium. Without manufactured food, shrimps eat mainly biofilm and microalgae which grows naturally in the tank. You can help them with that by adding some dry Indian almond leaves (Mulberry leaves or Guava leaves or even Alder Cones and etc). For example, you can give them 24-hour access to either spinach leaf or a small piece of pumpkin or cucumber for one full day of the seven-day week.

Tip: It is not recommended to give shrimps food with a large amount of protein. You should not give them more than 35-40% of the weight of the food. Shrimp will eat all the time because they do not know when to stop. Eventually, it will simply disrupt metabolic processes in their digestion. They will get sick and can die.

What do You Need to Feed your Shrimp?

This question has many answers. There are so many options that it can be a little overwhelming for a beginner.

Nevertheless, before we even start describing different products you need to understand the most important. Shrimps need diversity in food. It will be an absolutely awful idea to give them 1 or 2 variants of food. Even if it is an ultra-premium product line of the well-known brand.

Another bad idea is to buy cheap food. First of all, you can simply overfeed them. The second downside is quality. Cheap food breaks down too easy in the water. You need the balance between what the shrimp can break down themselves and what breaks down from the water. Otherwise, your food will end up in the water column and not in the shrimp’s stomach.

Let’s take a look at several different types of food, which you can feed the shrimp. Of course, there are dozens and dozens of different products on the market. That is why we will pick one cheap, two more expensive, and a few common products for the aquarium.

1. Sera Catfish chips 

This is a budget food for shrimp. It is not expensive if you take into account how many months it will last you. Sara makes the great food for the fish and it will suit your shrimp as well. The good thing about Catfish chips is that the water does not break it down easily. The shrimp has to pick off what they want to eat and have a couple of hours to do so.  In the long run, it will work out cheaper and you tend to feed less.

It is rich with protein – 32% and contains wheat flour, wheat germ, fish meal, spinach, alfalfa, spirulina, seaweed, vitamins, and natural alder and willow wood.
Price 12.9$
Weight 3.3 ounce (95g)
0,13$ per 1g

2. Hikari Shrimp Cuisine

This is a fantastic food to give to your shrimp. It is great to use this food in a small amount every two to three days just for the nutritional value. Unfortunately, it is expensive.

Hikari Shrimp Cuisine is rich with crude protein (35%) and in vegetable matter, it contains seaweed and spirulina, has all necessary minerals for molting prosses, reduces water quality problems. Improves natural, brilliant colors of shrimp and etc.
Price – 6,99$
Weight – 0.3 ounces (9g)
0,77$ per 1g

3. Bacter AE

Another great product for your shrimp. The main downside is the price.
Bacter AE contains a crazy amount of ingredients, improves water quality and increases the development of biofilms, which are essential for shrimp.
Price – 19,99$
Weight – 1.3 ounces (38g)
0,52$ per 1g

4. Spinach leaves, Zucchini, Cucumber and etc.

These products are inexpensive, especially when you grow them yourself. Then you have an unlimited supply of it. You can also guarantee that it is insecticide and pesticide free. Whereas it might not be the case when you buy it.

Tip: it is better to use only young leaves or vegetables. Boil them for 2 minutes and then rinse leaves repeatedly with running cold water. You can leave it in your tank for a day until the leaf is eaten. If it is not completely eaten, it would be better to remove the remaining part.

You can read more about “How to Blanch Сucumbers and Zucchini for Shrimp” right here.

5. Indian almond leaves or Catappa leaves

Do not forget about Indian almond leaves. They are excellent. Basically, you can put them in a tank for a month or two until they are completely broken down and eaten. It provides a constant food supply for the shrimp.
You can read more about “Indian almond leaves and Alder Cones” right here.

An Example of the Feeding Schedule

Feed your shrimp only once a day (time is not that important, choose what suits you best). There are three reasons why to do it only once a day:

  1. Shrimp eat mainly biofilm and microalgae which grows naturally in the tank
  2. There is also a constant supply of Indian almond leaves. They are almost always available in the tank.
  3. For one full day of the seven-day week, they have 24-hour access to either spinach leaf or a small piece of pumpkin or cucumber.

So here is how the feeding schedule can look like:
on Monday – Hikari Shrimp Cuisine
on Tuesday – Sera Chips
on Wednesday – Hungry day
on Thursday – Bacter AE
on Friday – Sera Chips
on Saturday – Spinach leaf, a small piece of pumpkin or a small piece of cucumber (that you may leave in a tank for 24 hours)
on Sundays – Feed whatever you want or just skip feeding for the day and give them another hunger day.

How do you feed the shrimplets?

The smallest shrimp babies are territorial. So if you have a big tank and your shrimplets are sitting in one place, they will not move to the other side of the tank to feed! That is why it is better to give them powder (For example, “The shrimp king baby” food) because it spreads all over the tank.

9 thoughts on “How and What to Feed your Shrimp

  1. Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Many thanks for providing this information.

  2. Hi Michael,
    I just started a 20L tank with 10 Red Fire shrimps in it. The aquarium has a lot of moss in it. I feed them about 3 times a week a few pearls with stinging nettle. I also put a catappa leaf in there, but they never seem to be super impressed about the food. Usually I see only 4 or 5 of them staying around the food and eating it, but never finishing it in one day. I understand I have to feed them less, but I want to ask, it this behavior normal? Shall I try other type of shrimp pearls as well?

    1. Hi Andreea,
      Actually, it can be both.
      First of all, it is a normal shrimp behavior. It means that they are not hungry and have plenty of other goodies in your tank that are even tastier than the pearls.
      Second, it is always recommended to vary their diet from time to time. It will also give you a better understanding of their preferences as well.
      Best regards,

  3. Such a great article put together with research about shrimp habbits. Thanks!

  4. Hi Michael,

    Wonderful article. One of the concerns i had was mostly with the young offspring’s survival rate. As you already stated, there is biofilm everywhere. With that thought, i always fed my tanks a variety of foods, just sparingly. i did this to feed the adults and leave more biofilm for the youngsters. Since the population increased i never changed anything. Now that you pointed out Bacter AE, i’m defiantly going to try this !

    Now with this in mind i had come across two different posters of videos for shrimp colonies in planted tanks. The one had only shrimp and snails while the other had shrimp with a large population of Endler’s. The snail tank had a poor survival rate of babies while the Endler tank had a huge survival rate. When i looked up close to the snail video i saw hydra and planaria amongst the plants and glass. The Endler tank ? ….clean as a whistle !

    Some people claim these critters are harmless, but this example kind-a proved to me the opposite. The Endler tank has fish that hunt and will clean the surface for anything on a continual bases, yet the baby survival rate was huge also, the tank was cleaned of anything Endler mouth size, while a tank with no predators had survival problems, and as a result very low population. {Note: The Endler babies were introduced to the tank at the same time as young shrimp. if that helps?}

    Just wanted to point out to everyone its best to be on the safe side if you want your shrimp tank to be natural looking with plants and make sure to sterilize bought plants or buy sterile lab cloned cultures.

    1. Hi Craigis,
      Thank you for the feedback!
      Be very careful with overfeeding. It may cause a huge problem in shrimp tank! (Water tederioration, infestation, etc.). Snails are great but if they thrive it means that there are also a lot of food (overfeeding).
      Personally, I have never had a luck with Endlers in shrimp tank. Therefore, I never recommend keeping them together.
      Best regards,

  5. Hi Michael, I’m very thankful for your article because it reinforces my plan to feed my shrimp a variety of food. I was thinking that once the colony gets more established, I would like to add some fish into the tank. What are some fish that would work? I have a 7 gallon square, well planted tank with a lot of hiding places.

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