Top 21 Best Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp

There are so many sensational shrimp for your freshwater aquarium.

Shrimp may not seem like the most exciting pets but they play a very important role in a freshwater ecosystem.

Many species make amazing algae cleaners and others will eat up detritus and other trash at the bottom of the tank.

They are excellent tank mates and will add a spark of activity to an otherwise boring bottom or background too.

This list contains the 21 best freshwater aquarium shrimp for aquariums…

Types of Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp Explained

Most freshwater aquarium shrimp come from the Atyidae family.

There are a handful of other families too.

Freshwater shrimp are usually scavengers that eat whatever they find at the bottom of the tank. This includes everything from algae and detritus to zooplankton and small worms. Fan shrimp or filter shrimp feast on particles swept up in strong currents.

They are anywhere from 1 to 4 inches in size and have a lifespan of about 1 to 3 years.

There are several major categories that most freshwater aquarium shrimp fit into.

  • Neocaridina: Neocaridina is one of the most popular genuses. These species come from lakes and rivers in East Asia, from Japan to Thailand. They are among the most colorful species available in hues from red to yellow to green to blue. They are also excellent algae cleaners (especially when they work together in a group). The Cherry Shrimp, Blue Velvet Shrimp, and Snowball Shrimp are 3 popular examples from the Neocaridina genus.
  • Caridina: Caridina is one of the most diverse genuses in the Atyidae family, with over 300 different species. They are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are kept in aquariums for their bright colors and their algae cleaning ability. The Amano Shrimp, Bee Shrimp, and Cardinal Sulawesi are well known examples from the Caridina genus.
  • Amano: Caridina multidentata is one of the most popular algae eaters of all. It is native to Japan and was made famous by aquascaper Takashi Amano. They are excellent for keepers of every age and skill level and are even included in starter kits.
  • Ghost: The Ghost Shrimp comes from the Palaemonidae family. These tiny crustaceans are only an inch long and are completely transparent. Like the Amano Shrimp they are kept for cleaning algae at the bottom of the tank. They are very difficult to see and a scurry at the bottom of the tank is often the only sign that they are there.
  • Babaulti: Caridina babaulti is a little known species from the Caridina genus. They are also known as the Zebra Shrimp because of their banded pattern. Zebra Shrimp are grey or white in the wild, but come in many colors in captivity, including red, yellow, green, and blue.
  • Sulawesi: Cardinal Sulawesi refers to Caridina dennerli, a Caridina species from Indonesia. The Cardinal Sulawesi is quite new to the hobby and first appeared in 2007. They are one of the most difficult species to keep as you must perfectly replicate the conditions of their native lake system.

21 Best Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp

1. Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus)

Ghost Shrimp

The Ghost Shrimp is an algae eating Shrimp native to coastal estuaries in the United States.

They are transparent and you can even see their internal organs!

Ghost Shrimp are very good algae eaters and can clear away even the most problematic algae with little effort.

They should be introduced to a tank that already has a layer of algae growing over the rocks, substrate, and glass.

This invertebrate is excellent for cold water community tanks, but their small size makes it a little difficult to find safe tank mates. However, they can live with Mountain Minnows, Neon Tetras, and Guppies.

  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

2. Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp are one of the most famous freshwater shrimp around.

They come in a beautiful bright red color with shades ranging from pink to red velvet.

Cherry Shrimp are loved for their bright colors, active nature, and ability to fit into just about any community tank. You should keep your Cherry Shrimp in a group of 6 or more other Neocaridina davidi shrimp. They can live with Rasboras, Guppies, Tetras, and any other fish that are too small to eat them.

All Cherry Shrimp are beginner friendly and very resilient in terms of tank conditions and disease resistance.

  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

3. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

Amano Shrimp

The Amano Shrimp is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium shrimp for beginners.

They munch on just about every kind of algae there is and can even combat difficult black beard algae. In addition to algae they will also eat detritus and particles.

Amano Shrimp have a translucent body with a scattering of brown dots and marks. They are considered one of the larger Dwarf Shrimp and grow up to 3 inches long.

This super-efficient algae cleaner fits into both temperate and tropical setups and can withstand water temperatures down to 65°F.

We recommend keeping a group of at least 5 Amano Shrimp to keep them from becoming too anxious. They are community friendly and will fit in with peaceful Nano fish.

  • Size: 2-3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

4. Bamboo Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis)

Bamboo Shrimp

The Bamboo Shrimp is an interesting little filter feeder from Southeast Asia.

They look just like bamboo wood!

You can find them in many different colors, including brown, red, yellow, and green. Their color may shift slightly as they age and just before molting.

Their chelipeds are covered in tiny, fibrous fans called setae. They will open up their setae to catch any particles that may be drifting by.

Because they only feed on particles you will need to crush all of their food into powder. You can feed them crushed algae wafers, flakes, and tiny zooplankton.

  • Size: 2-3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

5. Vampire Shrimp (Atya gabonensis)

Close Up Vampire Shrimp

Despite their scary name the Vampire Shrimp is not carnivorous or predatory.

Just like the Bamboo Shrimp they eat particles that drift along in the current.

One of the most exciting things about this Shrimp is their ability to change color. Their base color is white or translucent grey, but they can shift to yellow, red, green, blue, brown, or even pink. Their color is based on the surrounding environment, the quality of their diet, and their age.

Older specimens tend to stay a reddish brown color.

You will not see your Vampire Shrimp very often during the day. They are very anxious and can be startled by sudden movements and loud noises. At night you can spot them perching on a rock, log, or plant, waiting patiently for particles to eat.

  • Size: 2-3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

6. Blue Velvet Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

Blue Velvet Shrimp

The Blue Velvet Shrimp is a beautiful blue variation of Neocaridina davidi.

They are also known as the Blue Cherry or Dream Blue Shrimp.

Their blue and black colors come in several different grades. Low grade specimens have more black than blue and lots of the spots across their carapace are translucent. The highest and most desirable grades have a solid deep blue with hardly any black spots at all.

Blue Velvets eat the microbial biofilm that grows over plants and algae. Along with biofilm, they eat small amounts of algae and detritus.

They are very social and can live with any peaceful Nano fish, including Tetras, Rasboras, Cory Catfish, and Kuhli Loaches.

  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

7. Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes spp)

Grass Shrimp

Grass Shrimp refers to any brackish water shrimp in the Palaemonetes genus.

The Ghost Shrimp is the most famous but there are other species as well.

They are usually sold as cheap feeders for your fish but you can keep them as algae eaters and detritus cleaners.

These Shrimp are active scavengers that scuttle quickly across the substrate. They find most of their food on their own and only need to be fed outside food a few times a week.

If you have kept Ghost Shrimp before then you will be able to care for any other Grass Shrimp. They need a minimum tank size of 5 gallons, a hardness over 12 dGH, and a temperature between 60 and 75°F. They can live with any fish that are too small to fit them in their mouths, including Guppies, Bumblebee Gobies, Endlers, and Tetras.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

8. Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)

Crystal Red Shrimp On Plant

The Crystal Red Shrimp is a red and white Caridina cantonensis color morph.

Their colors are graded based on intensity.

  • The highest grade, SSS, is 75% white and 25% red.
  • An SS grade specimen is half red and half white, and the red color occurs in the center of the body.
  • S+ grades are white with red on the dorsal side of the carapace.
  • S grade specimens are completely red with white along the abdomen only.
  • The lowest grade, A, is 75% red and 25% white.

Crystal Reds are primarily kept as live decorations for moss-covered aquascapes. They tend to congregate in large numbers in moss at the bottom of the tank.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

9. Bee Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)

Crystal Red Bee Shrimp

The Bee Shrimp is one of the most diverse species of freshwater shrimp.

There are over 50 different color morphs available!

The Tiger Bee, Crystal Red, Crystal Black, and Blue Bolt Shrimp are all popular varieties.

Each color morph has their own grading system which is based upon the intensity of colors and the presence of additional markings on the carapace. The grades vary depending on which morph you have.

While they may be very appealing they are unfortunately not the best choice for a first time keeper. Generations of crossbreeding and inbreeding has made them sensitive to their environment.

As a result, they are very delicate and cannot handle shifts in water quality. They must have very specific conditions in order to survive and thrive. To keep these shrimp happy you will need at least a 10 gallon tank with a water temperature between 70 and 75°F. The pH should be near neutral, from 6.0 to 7.0.

If your water parameters shift, your temperature drops, or waste products build up, your Bee Shrimp are likely to get sick or die.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

10. Blue Bolt Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)

Blue Bolt Shrimp

The Blue Bolt is a color morph of Caridina cantonensis.

Their cyber blue color makes them look almost alien.

In addition to being beautiful they are very active and lively during the day.

You can keep them in a 10 gallon tank with a water temperature of about 72°F and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The tank must be fully cycled with no detectable amount of ammonia or nitrates.

Just remember they are difficult to breed and more expensive than other Bee color morphs. You should expect to pay at least $20 for this blue beauty.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

11. Whisker Shrimp (Macrobrachium lamarrei)

The Whisker Shrimp is native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

They need warm and soft water with temperatures of 72-85°F and salinities below 14 dGH.

Unfortunately, they are one of the most aggressive freshwater invertebrates.

Because of this they should only be kept in a community with other invertebrates as they enjoy attacking fish. They do have a nasty habit of attacking smaller and weaker shrimp too, so they must be the only shrimp in the tank.

  • Size: 3-4 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

12. Bumblebee Shrimp (Caridina breviata)

The Bumblebee Shrimp is not to be confused with the Bee Shrimp.

Bumblebee Shrimp come in a very deep black color alongside bright white. Lower grade shrimp are very pale black or brown.

They can live in temperate or tropical water temperatures, down to 65°F. They can handle slight shifts in acidity and salinity, although they do not handle the presence of waste products very well.

If you are not ready for the demands of the Bee Shrimp then the Bumblebee is certainly something to look into. They are less sensitive to water conditions and make a better choice for beginners.

  • Size: 1-2 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

13. Snowball Shrimp (Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis)

Snowball Shrimp

The Snowball or White Pearl Shrimp is a wild variety of Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis.

Their natural color is a pearly white with a brown spot on top of their head.

They thrive in water temperatures of 60-77°F which makes them excellent for cold and warm water tanks.

In a tank with a fine layer of algal growth, they will scavenge for algae and biofilm at the bottom. They also enjoy blanched and chopped vegetables as a treat.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

14. Zebra Shrimp (Caridina babaulti)

Zebra Shrimp

The Zebra Shrimp is a rare species that comes from freshwater habitats in India.

Their zebra stripe pattern is white and black in the wild, but comes in many different colors in captivity. You can find them in red, yellow, blue, green, or brown.

Although they are difficult to get hold of, they are easy to care for once you do.

These Shrimp spend most of the daylight hours hiding and come out at night to forage. You must provide plenty of shelters, logs, rocks, and low lying plants for them to shelter under.

  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

15. Rili Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

Rili Shrimp

The Rili Shrimp is a popular variety of Neocaridina davidi.

They are a beginner friendly alternative to the Crystal Red or Crystal Black Shrimp.

Rili Shrimp are a pale red, orange, black, or yellow color paired with translucent white.

Just like other Neocaridina davidi their colors are graded by intensity. Low grade specimens have the color appear over their abdomen and tail, while the rest of their body is white. On a high grade specimen, the color is bright and intense and appears on most of their body.

They are a bit more sensitive to water quality than other variants, but they can fit into the same communities and have the same tank requirements as any other Cherry Shrimp.

  • Size: 1-1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

16. Cardinal Shrimp (Caridina dennerli)

Sulawesi Cardinal Shrimp

The Cardinal Shrimp is one of the most beautiful invertebrates that you can keep in your aquarium.

Unfortunately they are also one of the most difficult to care for.

Cardinal Shrimp come in bright red with bright blue spots. Their front walking legs are white, giving them the nickname White Glove Shrimp.

This species is only suitable for experienced invertebrate keepers who are able to maintain very specific water parameters. The water temperature must be above 77°F, with 83°F as the ideal. Once your tank reaches this temperature it must stay there at all times.

If you are new to this species then it is better to raise them in a single species tank.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

17. Tangerine Tiger Shrimp (Caridina serrata)

Tangerine Tiger Shrimp

The Tangerine Tiger Shrimp is a rather unique member of the Caridina genus.

They are a beautiful bright orange color and are endemic to Hong Kong.

In addition to the typical orange, this species can come in a starry blue color known as Blue Aura or Blue Tupfel.

These Tiger Shrimps make an excellent beginner alternative to the Tiger Bee. They are quite hardy and can be kept with any fish that is too small to eat them.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

18. Blue Pearl Shrimp (Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis)

The Blue Pearl Shrimp is a brilliant blue variety of Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis.

You can find them in a powder blue color with an iridescent sheen and a white spot on the top of the head.

They are excellent for eating algae and cleaning up tank trash.

Groups of 6 or more will congregate in a particularly good feeding spot and will share their food among the group. They can get along with other invertebrates and small, non-predatory Nano fish.

  • Size: 1-2 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

19. Pinto Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)

Pinto Shrimp

The Pinto Shrimp is a painted version of Caridina cantonensis.

You can find them in black or red.

To tell the difference between a Pinto and a Crystal Red or Black, take a look at the intensity of the color. A Pinto has darker more intense colors and less white on their body.

Since they are the result of crossbreeding across many generations they are genetically fragile and very sensitive to their environment. They are recommended for experienced keepers only.

The Pinto is considered a luxury breed and can cost over $50 per specimen.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

20. Green Lace Shrimp (Atyopsis pilipes)

The Green Lace Shrimp is one of the smallest filter feeding fan shrimp.

Just like Bamboo and Vampire Shrimp they feed by catching tiny particles in their setae. They are much smaller than other species and only grow to a maximum of 2 inches.

Although the most popular color is green you can also find them in red, yellow, brown, and tan as well.

In an aquarium with a moderate to high flow these Shrimp will congregate in areas where the current is the strongest. You will see them climbing up on rocks, logs, driftwood, and plants to feed.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

21. Tiger Bee Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)

Tiger Bee Shrimp

The Tiger Bee Shrimp is a tiger striped variant of Caridina cantonensis.

You can find them in blue, orange, red, yellow, green, white, grey, and many more colors.

If the water parameters do shift for any reason, this shrimp will be able to handle it much better than other Bee Shrimps. These Shrimp can handle a wide temperature range from 72-80°F, but prefers around 75-77°F. The tank should run a neutral pH of 7.0 to 7.5, and should be fully cycled and free of waste products.

Their hardiness makes them ideal for community setups.

They can live with other Bee Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Tetras, Rasboras, and Cory Cats.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

Summary

You might not think that a shrimp would be exciting to look at but you could not be any more wrong. These colorful crustaceans come in bright red, yellow, orange, green, black, and even blue.

They are some of the most fun custodians around and will keep algae and detritus from becoming too problematic.

Even those that do not eat algae have their own special purpose. The most colorful varieties can add life to your bottom levels and bring excitement to your freshwater community.

Now that you are familiar with some of the amazing aquarium shrimp out there you can decide on the best one for your freshwater community.

What is your favorite type of freshwater 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.