Crystal Red Shrimp Complete Care Guide, Breeding and More…

Crystal Red Shrimp are a beautiful Variety of Bee Shrimp.

Their defining feature is their stunning red and white banded pattern.

They also happen to make wonderful algae cleaners!

However, caring for this critter comes with a few challenges.

If you have been captivated by the Crystal Red Shrimp then keep reading to learn everything you need to know about them…

Crystal Red Shrimp

Crystal Red Shrimp
Other Common Names: Bee Shrimp
Scientific Name: Caridina cantonensis
Family Name: Atyidae
Distribution: Captivity
Size: 1-1.5 inches
Color: Red and white
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 1-2 years
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Nano fish and small invertebrates

What is a Crystal Red Shrimp?

Caridina cantonensis

The Crystal Red Shrimp is a color morph of the Bee Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis).

They come from the Atyidae family and this particular color can only be found in aquariums and shrimp farms.

Crystal Red Shrimp can only be produced by crossbreeding certain grades of red Bee Shrimp. Due to their highly specialized breeding process this color morph is rather hard to find. Interestingly they are often confused with Cherry Shrimp. This can be dangerous because Crystal Reds have sensitivities that Cherry Shrimp do not.

This dwarf shrimp only grows just over an inch long and has a very short lifespan of up to 2 years.

They are usually sold in groups of 5 or 6 and the price depends on the color grade – $6-$10 is the typical average price per shrimp.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Invertebrate keeping
  • Nicknames: Bee Shrimp
  • Color Forms: Red and White
  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10+ gallons
  • Tank Temperature: 71-75°F

Crystal Red Shrimp Appearance

Crystal Red Shrimp Close Up

A Bee Shrimp must be red and white to be considered Crystal Red.

Red can appear in speckles, bands, or very light spots against the white base. Some shrimp are more red than white, while others are more white than red.

Crystal Red Shrimp are approximately 1 inch long, with some larger specimens just barely reaching 1.5 inches.

All shrimp are decapods with five pairs of walking legs attached to their cephalothorax, and five pairs of swimming legs attached to the abdomen.

Each abdominal segment hosts a pair of legs.

The first two walking legs are called chelipeds. They end in tiny claws that are used for digging and holding food. The segmented abdomen ends in a telson or tail, complete with a fan-shaped appendage called a uropod. The uropod allows the shrimp to swim backwards.

Their cephalothorax is protected by a thick shell called the carapace, which holds the walking legs and all of the appendages of the head.

Two beady red eyes protrude outward from the head, flanked on both sides by filamentous antennae and thicker antennules.

The mouth has a mandible with specialized appendages called maxillipeds. These function almost like a tongue and guide food into the shrimp’s mouth.

It is very easy to tell the difference between the males and the females.

Males are small, thin, and rather dull in color. Female shrimp are much larger and rounder and are also much brighter in color.

Grades

You can only find Crystal Red Shrimp in red and white.

The different grades are as follows:

  • SSS-grade: A shrimp must be at least 75% white to be considered SSS-grade. Red only appears in small spots on the abdomen and carapace.
  • SS-grade: The head and tail are both completely white with with red bands or spots along the abdomen and the lower part of the carapace.
  • S+ grade: The carapace of an S+ grade individual is completely red. Translucent white stripes appear along a white or faded red abdomen.
  • S grade: An S grade specimen features a red carapace and a white abdomen, with red bands along the side of the body. It is considered the beginner grade since it is one of the easiest to obtain.
  • A grade: An A grade shrimp is at least 75% red, with very thin white bands or spots.

Crystal Red Shrimp Care Guide

Crystal Red Shrimp On Plant

Caring for Crystal Red Shrimp is a little different than caring for other Shrimp.

Their sensitivity to water parameters makes them more of a challenge for beginners.

While other shrimp may be able to handle a bit of dirt in the tank, these Shrimp cannot. They have very little tolerance for common beginner mistakes and are also more difficult to acclimate to a new tank.

If you have had prior experience with other varieties of Bee Shrimp then you will have an easier time caring for this one.

These Shrimp need a pristine and well oxygenated tank with no fluctuations in temperature or other parameters. The tank must be completely cycled and free of extra nitrogen before you introduce your shrimp.

Keep a sharp eye on your dissolved oxygen, as a low DO can be fatal. You can buy oxygen monitoring tools and kits from an aquarium supplier. A sharp rise in temperature can deoxygenate the water, as can algae overgrowth and too much CO2.

In addition to that your tank must be completely free of copper and zinc. If you use fertilizer for your plants then it must be free of both copper and additional CO2.

New shrimp should be quarantined for at least a week before you add them to your tank. You should also quarantine any new fish as they could carry harmful bacteria and parasites.

Tank Requirements

Crystal Red Shrimp will need at least a 10 gallon aquarium.

You should keep the water temperature between 70-75°F, but most importantly the water must be well oxygenated.

Water hardness should be between 4-6 dGH, and pH should range from 6.5-7.0.

While you can use an air pump, these tend to generate currents that may create unsafe conditions. Air stones are a much safer way to oxygenate your water, along with large leafy plants.

A hang on back filter also adds extra oxygen in the form of bubbles created by the filter.

The flow in your tank should be kept to a bare minimum.

You should use at least a moderate light intensity to motivate algae production in your tank. However, do not use so much light that the algae grows out of control.

Because your shrimp will spend most of their time on the substrate, you should use soft and fine gravel that cannot cut or injure them.

You can also add some underwater plants to help with algae growth.

Java Moss is one of the best for this type of tank.

Marimo Balls serve as extra food for algae loving shrimp. They can also be used to climb on or hide behind.

Add a bit of Water Wisteria, Hygrophila, or other large leaved plants to provide a bit of extra oxygen to your water column.

Tank Parameter Requirement
Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
Tank Type: Freshwater planted
Temperature: 71-75°F
pH: 6.5-7.0
Hardness: 4-6 dGH
Flow: None
Substrate: Soft gravel

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Crystal Red Shrimp will need to be kept in at least a 10 gallon aquarium.

This size aquarium will be ideal for 5 shrimp.

A 20 gallon tank can keep up to 10 shrimp.

Diet and Feeding

Crystal Red Shrimp are omnivores but the vast majority of their diet comes from algae and green bacteria. They will also eat biofilm, particulate matter and tiny live prey.

When kept in an aquarium most of the time they will find their own food.

All aquariums have some concentration of algae and microbes which your shrimp will scavenge for at the bottom. They will also pick bits of microscopic prey out of moss and other plants.

The most important thing with this Shrimp is to not overfeed them.

They need outside food much less than you might think.

If your tank is low on naturally generated microbes then you can purchase bacterial cultures for your shrimp. You can also buy daphnia, larval brine shrimp and other small live prey.

Microworms are a great source of protein and also give the shrimp an opportunity to hunt for live prey.

Algae flakes and commercial shrimp foods should be given in very small amounts in crushed powder – one half of an algae tab should be given each time.

Only provide outside food once every 3 days. The rest of the time you should let your shrimp find their own food.

Tank Mates For Crystal Red Shrimps

Crystal Red Shrimp Tank Mates

The biggest challenge with tank mates is finding fish that will not snack on Crystal Red Shrimps.

You can safely keep them with their own kind and other small invertebrates. However, there are ways to safely incorporate them into a fish tank too.

Only include fish that are too small to fit the shrimp in their mouths.

Zebra Danios, Harlequin or Chili Rasboras, and Cardinal or Neon Tetras.

Guppies are another good option since they are so tiny. A few colorful Guppies alongside your shrimp will create a beautiful tank.

If you want to include other bottom dwellers then go for Oto or Cory Catfish.

Just remember though that these shrimp are always breeding and even Nano fish will eat the fry. This is why most keepers avoid pairing them with any kind of fish.

The best tank mates are other invertebrates that are similar in size. These include other dwarf shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, and Cherry Shrimp.

Nerite and Assassin Snails are also safe.

Keeping Crystal Red Shrimp With Red Cherry Shrimp

You can keep Crystal Red Shrimp and Red Cherry Shrimp in the same tank.

The two species have a similar diet so they will often choose the same spots to feed. Together, they can be very helpful in cleaning your tank and curbing algae overgrowth.

Their colors also complement each other quite nicely (especially if you select bright red Cherry Shrimp).

Just keep in mind that Cherry Shrimp are much hardier so you will need to design your tank around the Crystal Red’s sensitivities.

Keeping Them Together?

Crystal Red Shrimp do very well in groups.

When living together they will engage in communal feeding and scavenging. One group may also share the same hiding spot or the same sheet of moss.

If you keep them in a mixed gender group then you should expect to see more of them pop up over time.

Crystal Red Shrimp Breeding and Eggs

Crystal Red Shrimp Breeding

If you have a mixed group of males and females then your shrimp will breed easily on their own.

However, this can be risky if you run a community tank as the fish will prey on the fry.

For safe breeding you should use a spawning and nursery tank lined with Java Moss or Hairgrass. The temperature should remain at 75°F until spawning occurs.

Male shrimp will climb underneath the female to copulate.

Once the eggs are produced the female will carry them in her rearmost pair of swimming legs. You should lower the temperature below 74°F once she has spawned.

Females can carry between 30 and 50 eggs at a time but unfortunately only a few of these will survive.

After about a month the eggs will hatch into tiny versions of their parents. At this point the parents should be removed.

Juvenile shrimp find food on their own and do not generally need anything else. But if you want to give them a little extra then you can crush shrimp flakes into a fine powder.

The juveniles will undergo several molts before they reach maturity. After each molt their colors will look brighter and more solid. It takes about 4 months for the shrimp to mature, after which they can be accurately graded.

How Often Do They Breed?

These shrimp do not have a defined breeding season.

They tend to breed in 5-6 week cycles.

Crystal Red Shrimp will spawn every month and it takes another month for the eggs to hatch.

If you are not prepared then you can end up with a lot more than you bargained for.

To avoid overcrowding your aquarium you should make sure that all of the shrimp in your group are the same gender. If you do intend to breed your shrimp then you must always have a separate tank ready to rear the juveniles. Expect a new group of up to 30 shrimp every month.

Typical Behavior

These little guys are always found at the bottom levels of the tank and they cannot climb any higher. Like most small invertebrates they are usually active from dusk to dawn.

Unfortunately, you may not get to see them much throughout the day. They spend most of their time hiding and only really come out to eat.

When they do come out though they are surprisingly social little shrimp.

They get along very well in groups and will engage in communal feeding and scavenging.

If a particular spot in your tank is filled with good food to snack on then expect all of your Crystal Red Shrimp to be in that one spot.

You can expect them to shed around once a month. During this time they will want to be out of sight as much as possible.

Pros and Cons

  • Wonderful algae cleaner
  • Friendly in Nano tanks
  • Breeds quickly and easily
  • Eye catching colors
  • Gets along well with other invertebrates
  • Needs very specific tank conditions
  • Can quickly overpopulate a tank
  • More susceptible to illness than other shrimp

Species History

The Crystal Red Shrimp is a manmade variant of the Bee Shrimp (a freshwater shrimp from China and Taiwan).

Bee Shrimp were first discovered in the 1930s.

Around 20-30 years later people starting breeding them for ornamental purposes.

However it was not until the 1990s before the very first Crystal Reds were bred.

Hisayasu Suzuki in Japan was the first to breed them and they were the results of accidental crossbreeding between different variations of red Bee Shrimp.

Years of careful selective breeding produced a marketable population by 1999. By the early 2000s the morph had become established in freshwater aquariums around the world.

Other breeders began to pair existing Crystal Reds to create the different color grades and this created even more variations.

This is how the species became one of the most popular additions to the invertebrate keeping hobby.

Should You Get Crystal Red Shrimps? (Summary)

It is hard not to love the Crystal Red Shrimp.

This peaceful critter works as well in a community as it does among their own kind.

The helpful little tank cleaner nips algae in the bud before it gets a chance to take over the tank.

Although they are tiny they are extraordinarily eye catching. When clustered in groups they will draw immediate attention to your bottom levels.

If you can learn to breed them by grade then you can even turn a small profit by selling them.

Have you ever managed to breed high grade Crystal Red Shrimp? Let us know in the comments section 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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