Red Nose Shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding
Caridina gracilirostris, also known as Pinocchio shrimp, Needlenose Caridina, Red Nose Shrimp, Rudolph Shrimp, and some other names, is a fascinating animal and a great albeit somewhat uncommon addition to a home aquarium.
The combination of the weird-looking appearance, strange swimming style, and cleaning functions places Red Nose Shrimp between one of the most interesting ornamental species of freshwater and brackish invertebrates.
However, I have to mention right from the beginning that Red Nose Shrimp are more difficult to keep and should not be attempted by novice shrimp breeders.
So, if you are interested in keeping Caridina gracilirostris 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.
As usual, in this detailed guide about Red Nose Shrimp, I have gathered all information about this specie based on existing studies, experiments, researches, and experience of aquarists.
Quick Notes about Red Nose Shrimp
|Red Nose Shrimp
|Pinocchio shrimp, Rhino Shrimp, Red Nose Shrimp, Rudolph Shrimp, Mosquito Shrimp, Redfronted Shrimp, Rocket Shrimp, Needlenose Caridina, Red-Stripe Shrimp, Rote Nashorngarnele
|Tank size (optimal)
|10 gallons (~ 40 liters)
|3 – 4.5 cm (~1 – 1.7 inches)
|24 – 28 °C (75 – 82 °F)
|7.0 – 8.0
|4 – 15
|1 – 10
|100 – 200
|Freshwater or SG = 1.0113 (15% ppt)
|Less than 20 ppm
|1.5 – 2 years
|Semi-transparent with red and yellow stripe
Natural Habitat of Red Nose Shrimp
Caridina gracilirostris is widespread and abundant in Madagascar, Japan, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia (Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Is., Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatera), Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak), Palau, Philippines, Singapore, Province of China (Taiwan, Province of China (main island)), and Thailand.
Caridina gracilirostris inhabits lower parts of lakes, and slow-moving streams or rivers with seawater influence, very often from brackish water.
Description of the Red Nose Shrimp
Red Nose shrimp are easy to distinguish due to several identifying features on their bodies.
They have a very long red beak—called a rostrum—that is slightly angled upwards. This specie also has a distinctive hump in their body, which distinguishes them almost from all other dwarf shrimp species.
The body of Red Nose shrimp is semi-transparent that makes them potentially a really good alternative of Amano shrimp. Depending on the diet and environment, the shrimp may have some changes in coloration as well (a little more greenish, or yellowish).
Their bodies have a yellow stripe on the back and red stripe on the sides (along its body).
Red Nose Shrimp can grow up to 4.5 cm (1.7 inches) in length. Like most types of shrimp, they usually live around 1.5 – 2 years.
The Behavior of Red Nose Shrimp
Red Nose shrimp can make a wonderful and rewarding pet for a dedicated shrimp keeper.
They have a calm disposition, making them perfect for keeping with other types of freshwater fish, shrimp, or snails in your aquarium. They are not aggressive and can peacefully coexist with any other inhabitants.
As all dwarf shrimp, Red Nose shrimp are very social. They prefer to cluster with other members of their species. You will not have any territorial disputes in your tank.
Generally, they are not shy. In large numbers, they become very bold and active regardless of the day time. It makes them a great choice for a peaceful community tank.
Red Nose shrimp have a very interesting swimming stile; they can swim head down as helicopters can fly.
They are also good jumpers, so be careful with that.
Feeding Red Nose Shrimp
Like most freshwater shrimp, Red Nose shrimp are scavengers and omnivores. Therefore, they are not picky eaters. They will eat just about any food they manage to find on the bottom.
In a well-established aquarium, they usually can find enough supply of food (algae and biofilm) by themselves. Actually, Red Nose shrimp are one of the best algae eaters, they often eat algae other shrimp species do not touch.
However, in order to keep Red Nose shrimp healthy, it will be a good idea to supplement them with common shrimp foods 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.
They will also appreciate a varied diet of algae wafers, blanched zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, and spinach. Red Nose shrimp are also good at eating mosquito larvae. They are very adaptable when it comes to feeding.
Important: As a general rule, it is very easy to feed shrimp and even easier to overfeed them. 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.
You can feed Red Nose 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 messing up the water quality and potential parasite contamination.
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.
|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”.
Are Red Nose Shrimp Plant Safe?
Although Red Nose shrimp are usually compatible with a planted tank, they are still not completely plant safe. There are some reports that they can start eating plants if there is not enough food in the tank. Not even Java fern can be hard enough for them once they decide to go rogue.
Caring and Keeping Red Nose Shrimp
As I have said in the beginning, keeping Red Nose shrimp in a tank is a little bit more complicated if you already do not have some experience.
That is why this species is usually not recommended for beginners, particularly because their difficult care requirements mean that there is little room for mistakes.
Red Nose shrimp need to be in a well-established tank with sufficient size and water volume to support their need.
Taking into account their size and that you need to keep at least 5 – 6 of them, I would say that 5 gallons (~20 liters) is the absolute minimum tank size you can keep Caridina gracilirostris. Anything smaller and you will have more problems with keeping your water parameters stable.
Therefore, people who wish to keep Red Nose shrimp should plan on housing them in a tank of at least 10-gallons (~40 liters), especially, I will repeat, if they are new to this hobby.
Red Nose Shrimp: Brackish or Freshwater
There is a lot of confusion and incomplete information regarding this question. Some aquarists say that Caridina gracilirostris are not freshwater species and require brackish water. Others claim that adult shrimp can live in freshwater without any problem.
So, who is right here?
First of all, I do not completely agree that they are fully brackish species. For most of the Atyidae species, all life stages live in freshwater. For example, in one of the study, scientists found them in a freshwater lake Laguna de Bay Philippines. According to another study, after hatching and metamorphose, they start showing tolerance to freshwater after 2 months (read below).
In nature, Red Nose shrimp can live either in brackish or freshwater. But it does not mean that they can tolerate a wide range of water parameters.
For example, once they adapted to live in brackish water as juveniles or adults it may be hard to acclimate them to freshwater (and vise versa) without adverse effects (like decreased lifespan, extra sensitivity).
In my opinion, this is the main reason why people fail to keep Red Nose shrimp in freshwater tanks. When we keep shrimp, we try to replicate their natural environment. The problem, though, is that most of these shrimp are wild-caught and we have no idea what were their natural habitat in each case.
Was it freshwater? Was it brackish? We will never know.
Temperature: Red Nose shrimp can live in a range of 20 – 32 C (68 – 89 F). However, the optimal temperature should be in the range of 24 – 28 °C (75 – 82 °F). They do thrive in warmer temperatures.
pH: Optimal water pH should be provided for this species in the range of 7.0 – 8.0.
Hardness: Red Nose shrimp will appreciate optimal KH 1 – 10 and GH between 4 – 15 GH.
Specific gravity: 1.0113 or 15% ppt is optimal if you want to breed Caridina gracilirostris.
Note: This is a delicate specie and extreme water parameters should be avoided. Even if they survive they will not live long.
Important: Check your water parameters and do small 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
Red Nose shrimp need a good quality type of water (RO/DI). Tap water will be absolutely the last choice with them.
A reverse osmosis system is an efficient, economical way to produce high-purity water. But this water does not have any minerals, so we have to define all water parameters (pH, KH, GH, and TDS) manually.
Luckily it is easy to do with shrimp re-mineralizers. Nowadays, there are many good products on the market, for example, Salty shrimp products (GH/KH+, read more about it).
Unlike many other Caridina species, Red Nose shrimp do not need active (buffered) substrate. Actually, they prefer the inert substrate. For example, sand or gravel can be a good choice.
Note: In case you do not know, the inert substrate is a substrate, which does not change water chemistry (pH).
Red Nose shrimp are sensitive to bad water quality and do not tolerate poor water conditions. So, you need to have a filter.
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.
Considering the fact that Red Nose shrimp species live in streams and rivulets, aeration is also highly recommended.
Light is not important for the Red Nose shrimp. Lighting should be adapted to the needs of plants in your tank.
This is not necessary but your shrimp will appreciate all types of leaves, rocks, woods, PVC pipes, etc. in your tank. It will give them some places to hide. In addition, they provide a lot of surface area for the algae and biofilm.
You can read more about it in my articles:
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 Red Nose Shrimp
There are few indicators that give away the sex of the Red Nose shrimp.
- The larger shrimp are females. Males are smaller.
- 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.
- Females have longer pleopods since they have to carry the eggs.
- The presence of the saddle or the eggs.
- Sometime you may find on the Internet that adult Red Nose shrimp males have the most marked colors (exhibiting a bold red line on the body). Well, this is a very questionable indicator because some females can also have a red line.
Breeding Red Nose Shrimp
According to some studies, it takes about 6 months for the Red Nose shrimp to reach sexual maturity (20 mm or 0.8 inches). Females become berried and usually have a new clutch of eggs spawned and attached to the pleopods in about 10 days after mating.
The fecundity in berried Caridina gracilirostris increases with the body length of the species and can range from 130 to 718 larvae per hatching.
Embryonic development of the Red Nose shrimp depends on the temperature. For example, it usually lasts 12 days under 27C (80F) and 17 days under a temperature of 24C (75F).
Important: Red Nose shrimp larvae cannot survive in freshwater. It must be transferred to the brackish water where metamorphosis can be completed. The settled shrimp must migrate back to freshwater.
Researchers distinguish several stages of embryonic development of Caridina gracilirostris:
- Fertilized Egg (Day 1)
- Gastrulation with depression (5 days)
- Early Nauplius (7 days)
- Mid-Nauplius (Day 8-9)
- Late Nauplius with Eye pigmentation (10 days)
- Eye Condensation (10-11 days)
- Pre-hatch embryo (12 days)
The eggs of Red Nose shrimp are oblong and slightly greenish in color during early fertilization. They turn into yellow-green and yellowish in the late stage until it hatched and attached through pleopods. All these changes of the stages occur day by day and synchronous in development but not uniform in size.
Red Nose shrimp do not have direct development. When the tiny eggs hatch, the first stage is not just tiny bottom-dwelling baby shrimps but instead pelagic larvae.
These larvae need to pass an additional 5 – 6 stages before metamorphosing into an adult copy of the Red Nose shrimp. Unfortunately, these steps prevent easy breeding.
Breeding facts about Red Nose shrimp:
- It takes 12 – 14 days for the larvae to pass all stages and metamorphose into postlarvae.
- Salinity and temperature: The optimal salinity and temperature combination was found to be 15 ppt (SG = 1.0113) and 27 C, in terms of both survivorship and development rate. The average survivorship of the larvae was 90%.
Note: The lowest survivorship occurred at 10 ppt, regardless of the temperature.
- Feeding: Larvae fed on phytoplankton. Phycopure (link to check the price on Amazon) had significantly higher survivorship to postlarvae than those fed on Chaetoceros and Nanochloris.
- Density: Optimal density for Red Nose larvae is 25/L (or 100 per gallon). Experiments showed significantly higher mortality in the higher density treatments (50/L or 200 per gallon).
Transitions from Brackish Water to Freshwater
Do not do any sudden transitions from brackish water to freshwater. Red Nose shrimp can acclimate to freshwater once they reach approximately 69 days post-hatch. Some post-larvae began showing tolerance to freshwater between 63 and 66 days post-hatch.
- Fill half of the container with brackish water from your breeding tank and put your baby Red Nose shrimp in it.
- Slowly add a bit of freshwater from the tank you are going to put them in. Basically, it replicates the acclimation.
- Wait until the amount of freshwater will double the amount of the brackish water from the breeding tank.
- Let Red Nose shrimp accustom a little bit to the new water conditions. Leave the container for 24 hours (aerated).
- Put them into a freshwater tank.
Red Nose Shrimp and Suitable Tankmates
The ideal situation for the Red Nose shrimp is a species tank, but they can be kept with other fish in a community tank 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 Red Nose shrimp are kept together with tank mates that are equally quiet, peaceful and can share the same water parameters with them.
Red Nose shrimp are compatible with:
- Shrimp (Cherry shrimp, Snowball shrimp, Caridina cf. Babaulti, Ghost shrimp, Amano shrimp, Blue tiger shrimp, Blue Velvet Shrimp, Blue Bolt shrimp, Vampire shrimp, Crystal shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, Cardinal Shrimp, etc.
Note: Do not worry, Red Nose shrimp do not crossbreed with other Caridina species.
- Freshwater snails (for example, Japanese trapdoor snails, Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Black Devil Snails, Asolene spixi, Rabbit Snails, etc.).
- Small and peaceful fish (for example, Pygmy Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish).
Caridina gracilirostris is a truly amazing and fascinating species. They are different and unique in so many aspects that will not leave you indifferent!
Nonetheless, they are not easy to care for. Red Nose shrimp are not beginner shrimp and, depending on the origin, require some specific water parameters. In addition, you must be very careful with Red Nose shrimp if you are planning to add them in the planted tanks.
- Cai Y, Ng PKL. 2007. A revision of the Caridina gracilirostris De Man, 1892, species group, 916 with descriptions of two new taxa (Decapoda; Caridea; Atyidae). J. Nat. Hist. 41(25–917 28): 1585–1602.
- Heerbrandt TC, Lin J. 2006. Larviculture of red front shrimp, Caridina gracilirostris 977 (Atyidae, Decapoda). J. World Aquacult. Soc. 37(2): 186–190.
- Morphometry, Embryonic Development and Fecundity of Freshwater Shrimp Caridina gracilirostris De Man, 1892 from Laguna de Bay, Laguna, Philippines. Kuroshio Science 12-1, 27-31, 2018.
- Richard, J., and M. R. Chandran. 1994. A systematic report on the freshwater prawns of the Atyid genus Caridina H. Milne-Edwards, 1837 from Madras (Tamil Nadu, India). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 91(2):241-259.
- Needlenose Caridina (Caridina gracilirostris). Ecological Risk Screening Summary. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, July 2017.