Top 5 Exotic and Hardy Aquarium Shrimp

Top 5 Exotic and Hardy Aquarium Shrimp pinterest

Once you have decided to start your own shrimp tank, choosing your starting shrimp can be equally exciting as it is frightening. There are so many different species that it can easily confuse you!

But what if you do not want to keep the most popular shrimp species? What if you are looking for unconventional shrimp that will be also hardy? So, if you are reading this article, you are already off on the right foot by researching.

Since the moment when I wrote the article “3 Most Hardy Dwarf Shrimp For Beginners” I have got lots of messages where people asked me what else can they keep besides the most popular species on the market such as Red cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, and Ghost shrimp.

Therefore, in this article, I have included some species that are not very popular but also very hardy and, in some cases, they are absolutely the hardiest of all because you do not even need to feed them!

So, what are my top 5 easy-going, exotic shrimp species that will not make a fuss even if you make some mistakes?

Without further ado let’s start. 

1. Opae Ula Shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

Opae Ula Shrimp (Hawaiian red shrimp)Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let me introduce the champions of low no maintenance pets – Opae Ula shrimp. Opae Ula shrimp (also called Supershrimp) are endemic to Hawaii Islands where they can be found in anchialine pools.

These shrimp are amazing! You do not have to feed them (almost), you do not have to clean them, you do have to do anything with them. Opae Ula Shrimp can live in the smallest tanks, they do not need filtration, aeration, heater, or light.

Halocaridina rubra are so hardy that they can withstand a wide range of salinity levels and temperatures. Opae Ula Shrimp are often sold in tiny ecospheres as a self-sustaining ecosystem that does not require any maintenance.

Note: Personally, I do not encourage anybody to buy these ecospheres. They are essentially death traps for the shrimp in the long run.

Important: The only problem with these Opae Ula shrimp is that they require brackish water. They cannot live in a fully freshwater or saltwater tank. They are unique even here. Do not trust the Internet if you read that it is possible to acclimate them to freshwater tanks!

Quick Stats:

  • Care Level: The Easiest
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Optimal tank Size: 5 – 10 gallons (20 – 40 liters)
  • Approx. Size: 1.5 cm (0.5 inches)
  • Optimal pH: 8.0 – 8.5
  • Optimal Temperature: 20 – 27°C (~68°F – 80°F)
  • Hardness: 0 – 12 GH
Opae Ula Shrimp
(Halocaridina rubra)
Very beautiful and decorative. Need brackish water
Easy to care for and maintain. Breed very slowly
Do not require filtration  
Do not require aeration  
Minimum feeding  
Can be kept in tiny tanks  
Can live 10+ years  

For more information, read the article “Opae Ula Shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”. 

2. Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp (Caridina pareparensis, Caridina parvidentata)

Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp (Caridina pareparensis parvidentata)
foto Werner Klotz

Sulawesi Malawa shrimp are one of the hardest freshwater aquarium shrimp available for beginners. Because of their hardiness, they can stand up to a wide range of water conditions. It makes them the perfect shrimp for people who do not have much experience with setting up a tank.

Unlike many other species, Malawa shrimp do not afraid to be in the open even in small numbers. Their outgoing behavior will be perfect for a peaceful community tank.

Malawa shrimp are also amazing scavengers and will also provide you with a top cleaning service. They will constantly sweep the bottom of your tank eating up any debris, algae, biofilm, and leftover food that could decay at the bottom of your tank.

Because of the small size (1.5 cm or 1 inch) they can be kept in a 5-gallon (20 liters) tank. In addition, their semi-transparent body can be a really good replacement for bigger Amano shrimp in aquascaping.

Quick Stats:

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Optimal tank Size: 10 gallons (40 liters)
  • Approx. Size: 1″ (3 cm)
  • Optimal pH: 7.0 – 8.5
  • Optimal Temperature: 24 – 27 °C (75 – 80 °F)
  • Hardness: 4 – 15 GH
Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp
(Caridina pareparensis, Caridina parvidentata)
Very hardy. Not very decorative
Easy to care for and maintain.  
Great clean up crew  
Can be kept in small tanks  
Good for aquascaping  
Very fast breeders  
Very beautiful and decorative.  

For more information, read the article “Malawa Shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

3. Caridina cf. Babaulti shrimp

Caridina cf. babaultiIf you are looking for something a little different, a Caridina cf. babaulti might be the perfect freshwater aquarium shrimp for you. They are very docile creatures and can make good companions for other peaceful tank-dwellers.

Caridina cf. babaulti are small and high-energy shrimp known for their variety of rich colors, including deep green, brown, red, yellow, blue, color patterns (like Zebra), and ability to change color when they are agitated or startled!

Since Caridina cf. babaulti often max out at around 1 inch (2.5 – 3 cm), a good size colony can be kept even in a small tank.

They can survive in a variety of different water conditions in a mature tank (well-established tank). The only problem with this species is that the demand for Caridina cf. babaulti is met by wild-caught. It means that they spend a lot of time under constant stress and underfed that makes them fragile upon import.

If you are looking to set up a natural aquarium, Caridina cf. babaulti shrimp can be a perfect choice.

Quick Stats:

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Optimal tank Size: 10 gallons (40 liters)
  • Approx. Size: 1″ (3 cm)
  • Optimal pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Optimal Temperature: 24 – 28°C (~75°F – 82°F)
  • Hardness: 3 – 8 GH
Caridina cf. babaulti
Very beautiful and decorative. Fragile upon import
Easy to care for and maintain.  
Great clean up crew.  
Can be kept in small tanks  
Good for aquascaping  
Can change color  

For more information, read my article “Caridina cf. Babaulti shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

4. Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis)

Bamboo shrimp - Atyopsis moluccensisBamboo shrimp, often referred to as Filter shrimp or Wood shrimp, is one of the most interesting and unique shrimp in the aquarium hobby.

Not only they are relatively easy to keep and extremely adaptable, but Bamboo shrimp also make excellent “centerpieces” for any aquarium due to their unique feeding technic and calm behavior.

Another great thing about them is that these shrimp are just as content by themselves as they are in community tanks with other fish or shrimp species. They do not care about anything or anybody but the flow in the tank.

Despite their big size, they can grow up to 10 cm (4 inches), Bamboo shrimp are absolutely peaceful and will not harm anybody in the tank. They simply do not have any tools for that, instead of claws they have fans which they use to collect drifting detrital particles in the water column.

Note: Do not keep Bamboo shrimp with aggressive and nippy fish. Their size will not save them. In addition, nippy fish can damage their fans.

Although it is possible to keep them even in a 10 Gallons (~40 liters) tank, ideally, you need at least 15 or 20-gallon (60 – 80 liters) tanks to create an optimal environment with proper flow.

Therefore, if you are able to provide them with the appropriate space and food, in this case, taking care of them will be a piece of cake.

Quick Stats:

  • Care Level: Easy-Medium
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Optimal tank Size: 20 gallons (80 liters)
  • Approx. Size: 4″ (10 cm)
  • Optimal pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Optimal Temperature: 22 – 28°C (~70°F – 88°F)
  • Hardness: 6 – 8 GH
Bamboo shrimp
(Atyopsis moluccensis)
Very beautiful and decorative. Require a bigger tank
Hardy. Need flow in the tank
Easy to care for and maintain. Very hard to breed
They are big.  
Clean water column  
Interesting behavior  
Long lifespan (up to 6 years)  

For more information, read my article “Bamboo shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

5. Chinese grass shrimp (Palaemonetes sinensis)

Chinese grass shrimp (Palaemonetes sinensis)Chinese grass shrimp is a true rarity in the aquarium hobby. They inhabit the fresh waters of southeastern Siberia, Sakhalin, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Japan.

Beyond their semi-transparent bodies, Chinese grass shrimp can be identified with black to brown stripes that run across their body vertically and lots of tiny tiny dots across the whole body. In addition, the color may vary depending on soil and nutrition.

Females grow slightly larger than males and tend to be around 2 inches (4 – 6 cm).

These shrimp are pretty hardy they will thrive in soft or hard water. In nature, they live in an environment where the water temperature can fluctuate from 11C (52F) in January to 29C (84F) in August.

Generally peaceful, it is not advisable to keep them in very small tanks. They do not like heavy overstocking. For example, you should not put more than 10 Palaemonetes sinensis shrimp in a 20-gallon (80 liter) tank. Otherwise, it can cause aggression and they will ‘regulate’ their number in their own way.

Note: In big tanks with lots of plants, it is possible to keep Chinese grass shrimp even with smaller shrimp species! However, I would still NOT advise doing so. Unless you do not care about losing shrimp from time to time.

Important: Be very careful, it is very easy to confuse them with Machrobrachium species (for example, Machrobrachium Lanchesteri (Whisker shrimp)), those are predators and will hunt down other dwarf shrimp including small fish.

Chinese grass shrimp are hyperactive, fearless, and super bold shrimp. Without any hesitation, they will try to rob fish and take away their food. Do not let them starve, it can cause aggression.

Some hobbyists reported that these shrimp had eliminated all bladder snails in their tanks.

Although each female can carry many eggs, the survival rate of the hatchlings is very low (only 5 – 10 per batch). A planted aquarium is also recommended as this will allow them to feel safer as they hide amongst the plants.

Quick Stats:

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful (with caution)
  • Optimal tank Size: 20 gallons (80 liters)
  • Approx. Size: 2″ (5 – 6 cm)
  • Optimal pH: 6.5 – 8.0
  • Optimal Temperature: 20 – 25°C (~68°F – 77°F)
  • Hardness: 4 – 8 GH
Chinese grass shrimp
(Palaemonetes sinensis)
Hardy Require bigger tank
Easy to care for and maintain. Can be a little bit aggressive when overstock
They are big Low survival rate of shrimplets
Do not crossbreed  
Hyperactive and fearless  

In Conclusion

This is my top 5 exotic and hardy aquarium shrimp. You can pick any of the above, they are all excellent choices even for a beginner hobbyist.

However, if you want to enjoy them for years to come, you need to always read up on their requirements and provide them with exactly what they need. In this case, keeping dwarf shrimp can be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable hobby.

The last thing, do not forget that before adding any shrimp to the tank, it should be cycled and safe for them. If you need more information you can always read the guide on shrimp keeping or contact me.

Good luck and happy shrimp keeping!

Top 5 Exotic and Hardy Aquarium Shrimp pinterest

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