The Ultimate Guide to the Bamboo Shrimp (Breeding, Size, Care)

If you enjoy aquatic invertebrates, the Bamboo Shrimp is definitely one to consider adding to your community.

Not only are they very nice to look at but they make an excellent cleanup crew for your aquarium.

Shrimp can be very entertaining to watch as they scuttle around your aquarium and this shrimp has the added bonus of being able to change their color.

They can live peacefully alongside lots of freshwater fish too!

Are you considering adding Bamboo Shrimp to your aquarium?

Then keep reading to learn all of the best information on these delightful decapods…

Bamboo Shrimp Substrate

Bamboo Shrimp
Other Common Names: Flower Shrimp, Fan Shrimp, Wood Shrimp, Singapore Shrimp
Scientific Name: Atyopsis moluccensis
Family Name: Atyidae
Distribution: Southeast Asia
Size: 2-3 inches
Color: Brown, red, yellow, green, grey, blue
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 1-2 years
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Minimum Tank Temperature: 75-82°F
Tank Mate Compatibility: Peaceful fish and other small shrimp

About Bamboo Shrimp

Bamboo Shrimp Eating Leaf

The Bamboo Shrimp is a medium sized shrimp from the family Atyidae.

They are also known as the Flower Shrimp, Singapore Shrimp, Fan Shrimp, Wood Shrimp or scientifically as Atyopsis moluccensis.

Bamboo Shrimp are easy to care and are one of the most popular shrimp species around.

You should expect to pay anywhere from $10-$20 per shrimp.

They are not predatory and get along well with other aquarium shrimp and peaceful medium sized fish.

You are most likely to find your shrimp near the filter intakes and other high flow areas of your tank, using the fans on their front legs to scavenge for food particles.

Pros

  • Helps keep your tank clean.
  • Gets along with most invertebrates.
  • Comes in different colors to match your aquascape.
  • Good at feeding itself.
Cons

  • Very sensitive to water conditions.
  • Hard to acclimate to new tanks.
  • Very difficult to breed.

Bamboo Shrimp Appearance

Bamboo Shrimp In Plant

Bamboo Shrimp come in so many different colors, but woody brown and red are the most common.

This shrimp’s body has a pattern of colored streaks up against a white or grey background. They look like driftwood, tree bark, or bamboo (which is where their name comes from).

These color patterns let them camouflage against the plants in your tank – they will hide in the areas that most closely resemble their own colors.

Bamboo Shrimp grow up to 3 inches long and are one of the largest freshwater aquarium shrimp around.

They are decapods, so they have five pairs of legs and 10 legs in total. Their appendages are highly specialized, just like with other arthropods. The four front legs are called the chelipeds and are used for gathering food. This is where the filtering fans, or setae, are located. They have 10 legs for walking and additional legs for swimming. The 10 periopods (or walking legs) are backed up by a set of swimming legs (pleopods).

The telson (or tail) allows the shrimp to swim forward. It is backed up by two uropods for swimming backwards when it needs to get away from a bad situation.

This shrimp has two beady black eyes positioned on two small stalks and flanked by a long antenna on both sides. Beneath the antennae are two smaller antennules, which detect motion and vibration in the water.

To tell the males and the females apart you need to look at their chelipeds (claws). The male’s chelipeds will be longer than all of its other walking legs. Males are also slimmer and have smaller abdomens than females

Bamboo Shrimp Color Shifts

These shrimp also have the fascinating ability of color shifting.

Sometimes this is done for protection and other times because of molting. In the wild, changing color lets them hide from predators. Whereas in an aquarium most color changes are related to molting.

When a shrimp molts they shed their old exoskeleton and grow a new one.

The new exoskeleton will be a lighter color than the old one. It will then get darker over time.

However, in some cases there is no particular reason why your shrimp changed color. You should not be alarmed if your shrimp is a different shade every so often.

Color Varieties

This colorful shrimp comes in lots of different color forms.

  • Brown: This is the most common color form. Woody brown streaks against a grey or white body.
  • Red: This is the second most common color form and includes reddish brown to orange streaks against a white body.
  • Blue: Dark, bluish grey streaks against a white body. This color form looks similar to the Vampire Shrimp.
  • Yellow: A yellow base color against a brown or grey body.
  • Green: A grassy green color against a yellow or brown body.
  • Grey: A silver colored base against a white or light grey body.

Breeding Bamboo Shrimp

Bamboo Shrimp Close Up

Unfortunately most freshwater shrimp can be very difficult to breed in captivity and the Bamboo Shrimp is no exception.

In the wild their larvae migrate to brackish waters to live out this stage of their life cycle. They will return to freshwater once they reach maturity.

Obviously it is very difficult to re-create this critical period of the shrimp’s life cycle in captivity.

Unfortunately you cannot simply move the eggs or the female into a brackish water tank. The adult female will not be able to survive in brackish waters.

You will have to mate them in a freshwater tank and move the larvae to a nursery tank when the time is correct.

When breeding the male shrimp will climb on top of the female to engage in copulation. After spawning you will see the female carrying as many as 2000 tiny eggs. In about a month the eggs will be ready to hatch and must be gently removed from the female. When they start to turn brown it means that they are about to hatch.

The nursery tank should have a salinity between 14-20 dGH, along with a sponge filter that generates low currents.

Once the eggs hatch you can feed them with crushed spirillum pellets.

This will be the larvae’s main food source until they reach maturity.

Larvae go through several instars and molts before they reach maturity. They will mature in approximately 3 or 4 months – at this time they must be moved to freshwater as soon as possible. Mature shrimp must be acclimated to your freshwater tank by using the drip method. Never leave an adult shrimp in brackish water for too long.

Natural Habitat and Tank Set Up

Bamboo Shrimp Apperance

In the wild these shrimp live in warm freshwater streams that flow from the mountains.

They spend most of the time in the highest flow areas because there are always plenty of particles to eat.

Unlike most other crustaceans, they will stay in the water and do not come out onto the banks or shores. However, they will shelter under rocks and logs and blend in with the environment around them by changing color.

You will want to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible in your aquarium.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure you have a strong current. If the water flow is too light then your shrimp will not be able to feed as efficiently. You will notice they spend most of their time near the intake of a high power internal filter or HOB filter.

You should also use an air pump to add more currents to your tank. This will also oxygenate your water and improve the water quality.

The water temperatures will need to be kept between 75-82°F so you will need to use a tropical aquarium heater.

pH levels should be a solid 7.0 and reach a maximum of about 7.5.

Hardness should be between 3 and 12 dGH.

Finally, you will need to keep a moderate light intensity and make sure that the light can reach the bottom levels of the tank.

Any crustacean tank should be heavily decorated.

So for the substrate you should lay large cobbles over a foundation of smaller pebbles and grains. These larger rocks and boulders make great hiding places for your shrimp. In addition to natural logs and driftwood, you can also buy wooden or ceramic shelters.

When it comes to plants, floating and wide leaved plants are your best option. Anubias is one of the very best plants to include in a Bamboo Shrimp tank. You can also try Water Wisteria, Cryptocoryne and Java Fern. If you want to create an authentic river biotope then you can also add either Hornwort, Duckweed or Anacharis to the surface of your tank.

Java Moss is a great carpet plant to use if you need to add a bit of extra shelter to the bottom of your tank.

Quick Set Up:

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons.
  • Tank Type: Freshwater.
  • Temperature: 75-82°F.
  • pH: 7.0-7.5.
  • Hardness: 3-12 dGH.
  • Flow: Heavy.
  • Substrate: Pebbles and cobbles.

What Size Aquarium Do Bamboo Shrimp Need?

You will need at least a 20 gallon tank to keep a single Bamboo Shrimp. For every Bamboo Shrimp you will need to add a further 20 gallons.

100 gallon tanks work very well with this shrimp.

Tank Mate Ideas

Bamboo Shrimp Looking For Food

In the wild these shrimp can be found with other tropical freshwater shrimp like Cherry and Amano Shrimp. They are also known to cohabitate with Danios, Gouramis, Loaches, Catfish and even freshwater sharks.

Inside your aquarium you can keep these shrimp with small to medium sized peaceful fish.

Good Bamboo Shrimp tank mates include Zebra and Pearl Danios, Sparkling and Pearl Gouramis, and Oto and Cory Catfish. Yoyo and Kuhli Loaches make good tank mates for them as well. The Betta is also a surprisingly good choice.

Barbs can be very rambunctious but they will not go after your shrimp. Cherry and Tiger Barbs are very familiar with the kind of habitat that this shrimp calls home.

When looking for other invertebrates to add to your Bamboo Habitat you should focus on other peaceful shrimp that thrive in a high flow environment. Vampire Shrimp are one of the best tank mates for this shrimp. Amano Shrimp and Cherry Shrimp are good choices too.

Pretty much every common aquarium snail is safe in a Bamboo Shrimp tank. Nerite, Ramshorn and Assassin Snails will get along just fine.

You should avoid adding any aggressive fish species.

This includes Cichlids, Clown Loaches, Dojo Loach, Freshwater sharks and larger crustaceans (such as crabs and crayfish).

We are commonly asked “Can bamboo shrimp live with goldfish?”

While these shrimp can live with many different kinds of fish, goldfish are definitely not one of them.

The tank conditions that goldfish need are very different from the ones that Bamboo Shrimp need. Goldfish are temperate fish that can handle a maximum temperature of only 70°F. They also prefer gentle currents and slower moving water.

Goldfish also love to snack on shrimp, so it is not recommended to keep a goldfish with this shrimp.

Can You Keep Bamboo Shrimp Together?

Bamboo Shrimp can be kept together and they are very entertaining in large groups.

They often scavenge in pairs and may congregate in high flow areas to feed in a group. You can also find them grouping together on and under leaves. 2 or 3 shrimp at a time may choose the same area to shelter in. They will share the area willingly and are good at sharing resources.

Bamboo Shrimp Care Guide

Bamboo Shrimp In Aquarium

This shrimp is easy to care for.

In fact this shrimp is very good at taking care of itself (especially when it comes to finding food).

The most important thing to remember is to avoid introducing heavy metals to your water column. Your shrimp can die when they are exposed to even small amounts of copper or zinc. You can sometimes find copper in certain fertilizers, so make sure you check the fertilizer before feeding your aquarium plants.

These shrimp live for up to 2 years but unfortunately they have a difficult time acclimating to new tanks. Failure to acclimate is the most common cause of death.

They are very sensitive to sudden shifts in temperature and water quality.

You can safely acclimate your shrimp by using the drip method.

Place the shrimp in a container and use a tube or siphon to drip water from your tank to the container. Once your shrimp is completely submerged, check the water parameters in the tank and the container to make sure they match. After monitoring your shrimp’s reaction to the water for a few moments you can add them to your tank.

Never just add a new shrimp to your tank without acclimating them first.

Behavior

These shrimp are at their most active when they are looking for food, which they do at all hours of the day.

They will generally stay at the bottom of the tank however they will climb up on your plants when they are searching for good currents.

If you have a large group of shrimp then you will watch them come out in packs when you redecorate your tank. Moving decorations can kick up the substrate and release tasty food particles into the water.

Your shrimp may look as if they are playing with or chasing each other from time to time. They are probably following each other to a particularly good feeding spot.

The other common behavior you will see if molting.

When they are ready to shed their skin they will become very skittish and reclusive. Disrupting a molt can be fatal, so you should not do this. Make sure that they cannot be disturbed by the other animals in your aquarium as well.

A Bamboo Shrimp

Feeding

These filter feeders will eat anything they can find in particulate form.

They use their fans to catch the tiny particles and scoop them into their mouths.

In a tank your shrimp will spend a lot of time near the filter intakes and other high flow areas with their fans extended. They are self-sufficient feeders but you must provide them with the right things to eat. If they are scavenging near the bottom of the tank this means there is not enough food available in your water column.

Your tank should be heavily planted so that detritus can form naturally. Plants can also attract algae, which your shrimp can eat when it breaks down into a particulate form.

Anything that you feed your shrimp must be crushed into a fine powder and scattered throughout your water column so that they can filter it out. Powdered algae flakes are the best and most nutritious food that you can provide your shrimp. You can also crush up green spirulina pellets and sprinkle it in.

Daphnia, moina and larval brine shrimp can also be added to your tank in order to satisfy this shrimp’s craving for zooplankton.

You will find they feed at any time of day and they do not need a feeding schedule. They will also filter out any leftover particles from your fish food so you can expect to see them after fish feeding time.

Do Bamboo Shrimp eat algae?

Once the algae in your tank breaks down into tiny particles these shrimp can gobble them up. They also enjoy powdered algae flakes and algae pellets that are crushed into powder. However they will not scavenge for full sized algae unless there is not enough food available in your water column.

Do Bamboo Shrimp eat other shrimp?

Bamboo Shrimp are detritivores, not predators. They only consume food in the form of particles in the water column. While they may occasionally eat their own molts they do not go after other shrimp or any live prey at all.

What Food Can They Eat?

Bamboo Shrimp cannot eat as many different types of foods as other shrimp. The foods that they can eat include:

  • All particulate organic matter
  • Daphnia
  • Moina
  • Larval brine shrimp
  • Algae flakes (powdered)
  • Spirulina (powdered)
  • Detritus
  • Crushed snail and clam shells
  • Microbes
  • Algae particles

Vampire Shrimp vs Bamboo Shrimp

The Vampire Shrimp (Atya gabonensis) is another similar freshwater shrimp.

They actually make very good tank mates for the Bamboo Shrimp.

Both of these shrimp are filter feeders that live in tropical environments and are known for changing and shifting their colors. Even though these two species are very alike, there are several differences between them.

The Vampire Shrimp comes from Africa rather than Southeast Asia, but they still thrive in the same tank conditions as the Bamboo Shrimp.

Vampire Shrimp have wider and bulkier bodies and a thicker telson. They are a solid color without a streaked pattern and their exoskeleton is made of thick plates that look like armor.

They also have a longer lifespan than the Bamboo Shrimp and can live for 4-5 years.

However, the most significant difference between these two shrimp are their personalities. Vampire Shrimp are much more skittish and spend most of their time out of sight – they are only really active at night. If you have these two shrimp in the same tank you are more likely to spot your Bamboo Shrimp.

Species History

Just like many other aquarium fish there is not much known about the Bamboo Shrimp’s history.

The earliest known report of the species occurred in 1849, by De Haan.

Over time it has gone through several different taxonomies and has been sighted in open water streams from India to Indonesia. Their previous scientific names are Atya armata, Atya gustavi, and Atya lineolata.

Back in the early 1980s and 1990s they were raised as feeders for farm raised fish.

However in the early 2000s this species was introduced to aquariums.

Their useful qualities and attractive appearance meant that they quickly gained popularity.

They are now one of the most popular freshwater shrimp.

Because they get along so well with other shrimp, they are a staple in freshwater invertebrate tanks.

Catching these shrimp from fast moving open waters can be very dangerous, so most Bamboo Shrimp in aquariums are bred in captivity.

Other Shrimp To Consider (Summary)

Freshwater invertebrate and crustacean keeping is a whole hobby on its own. Many keepers enjoy raising tanks full of shrimp or crabs rather than fish.

If you are thinking about keeping a freshwater shrimp tank there are many different shrimp to consider.

Bamboo Shrimp are very difficult to breed so if you do want to try shrimp breeding then the Cherry Shrimp is your best option. Not only are they the most easily bred, but they are one of the most attractive little shrimp that you can keep.

The Vampire Shrimp is another good choice if you need another filter feeder to help keep your tank clean.

Amano Shrimp are good to have around if you have an algae problem. Algae is one of their very favorite foods. These shrimp are peaceful enough to live in harmony with your other fish and invertebrates. You can even keep them all together in the same tank.

However, overall the Bamboo Shrimp will make a great choice for most freshwater tanks.

Thanks to their color changing these adorable critters fit into any aquascape. They provide the perfect complement to many of the most attractive fish.

They are also very compatible and can live alongside peaceful medium sized freshwater fish. They will help to keep your tank clean and will use their legs to catch particles in the water column for them to eat.

Watching Bamboo Shrimp use their fans to feed is quite a sight to behold. In the high currents of your aquarium they will catch and eat everything that they can get their fans on. You might think that a shrimp is not the most interesting thing to watch, but you never really know what this critter will get up to next.

What is the funniest thing you have ever seen your Bamboo Shrimp do? Let us know in the comments below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

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