Ghost Shrimp: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

ghost shrimp in an aquarium

Ghost Shrimp is a Decapod crustacean freshwater shrimp that fish keepers of all levels can keep in their aquariums. You can add these shrimps to any tropical community aquarium as long as their tank mates are non-aggressive.

In this guide, we will cover all there is to know about Ghost Shrimp care, including their diet, breeding, tank parameters, and much more!

So read till the end to learn how to take care of your Ghost Shrimp.

Species Overview

Ghost Shrimp are also called glass shrimp as they are transparent and have an appealing look. These shrimps originate from North America and were first documented in 1850.

Ghost Shrimps have a short life expectancy–only one year, so they are not for sentimental keeping.

You can use these shrimps as feeders for larger fish. These shrimps are feeder prawns commonly sold and fed as live prey to aggressive fishes.

Ghost Shrimps are always active, and you will find them swimming around the tank, feeding on the algae. Hence, they make the perfect tank cleaners in community tanks.

Ghost Shrimp have different species, including freshwater shrimps belonging to the Palaemonetes family.

CategoryRating
TemperamentPeaceful
Size1.5 inches
DietOmnivore
CompatibilitySmall peaceful fish
Minimum Tank Size5-10 gallons
ColorClear
Lifespan1 year
FamilyPalaemonidae
Tank SetupTropical freshwater Caves and Plants
Care LevelEasy

Lifespan

Ghost Shrimps have relatively smaller life spans and usually live for a year, but it depends on the conditions that they live in.

Most people use these Ghost Shrimps as feeders because they are easy to keep and cheap to buy.

Usually kept in high densities with poor filtration, most Ghost Shrimps die during transport. Some shrimps can die in a few days even if the tank is clean.

Also, aquarists keep these scavenger shrimps in tanks to clear up leftover food and keep algae levels down.

While Ghost Shrimps’ life is short, they molt regularly as they eat and grow.

Appearance

Ghost Shrimp are transparent and have evolved over time. This physical characteristic acts as a defense mechanism against other predator fishes.

You can easily view the internal bodily functions of these shrimps as they process food since they are transparent.

The clear color and the unique view into their inner workings make these Ghost Shrimps an interesting and active addition to your aquarium.

So make sure to add these shrimps to your small water fish tank.

While most of these shrimps have transparent bodies, you may still find spots on some specimens from this family.

The shrimps have two pairs of antennas, which are not of the same size. These antennas act as a sensor for these shrimps.

Ghost Shrimps can identify chemical and tactic information using these antennas – for instance, food and toxin in the tank. It helps Ghost Shrimps to protect themselves from potential harm.

The antenna also helps the shrimps in pairing and competitive acts and other social uses, but most people do not understand this aspect.

Glass Shrimps have a rostrum, an extension between their eyes in front of their carapace, which is a protective shield for the softer parts of their bodies.

You will find six abdominal segments behind the carapace that have pairs of pleopods that are like limbs for the shrimps. Ghost Shrimp can use these limbs to move inside the aquarium.

The shrimp’s tail is connected to the sixth abdominal segment through the telson in the middle.

The telson is the final segment of the Glass Shrimp’s body, and there are four segments under the telson that make the tail fan.

Types of Ghost Shrimp

We use the term Ghost Shrimp for at least three different variations of the same species, which are as follows:

Feeder shrimp (Glass Shrimp): Palaemonetes that people usually buy and sell as feeders for bigger aggressive fish in community aquariums.

Caprellidae: have slender bodies, and we call them skeleton shrimps.

Thalassinidea: live in deep burrows, usually in the intertidal zones underwater.

While these shrimps have their different characteristics, they essentially belong to the same family.

Size

Ghost Shrimps are smaller in size, which makes them the perfect pick for feeders for bigger fish in the water tank. Their size usually ranges between 0.5-inch and 1.5-inch, depending on the conditions they live in.

These shrimps are thinner compared to other shrimp varieties that you will come across. They also have small shells and resemble small clay fish.

However, their size and pliability make them stand out from the other species similar to the Glass Shrimp.

Although these shrimps have small sizes, they can grow rapidly if they have the right diet and water conditions. They become too large for their previous shell as they molt regularly.

During their molting stage, Ghost Shrimps are vulnerable until they develop a new shell. But that’s nothing to worry about if they do not have violent tank mates.

Besides, you must have live plants and crevices in your tank so molting shrimp can hide and protect themselves from boisterous fish.

You might mistake a molted shell for a dead shrimp, but don’t panic. Ensure taking a look at the hollow interior of the husk, and you will know your shrimp is alive.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Caring for Ghost Shrimp plays a vital part in their well-being and lifespan. Fortunately, these shrimp are low maintenance and grow well in moderately controlled conditions.

People of all expertise levels can keep them as pets or feeds for their aquarium and learn to make changes to their environment with time.

However, these Glass Shrimps usually live in lakes or rivers where they have flowing water and a few crevices to hide in when needed (molting).

Take a look at the tank requirements and water parameters to fully understand the ideal conditions for your Ghost Shrimp.

Tank Size

Ghost Shrimps are easier to keep as they can survive easily in a 5-10 gallon tank. However, try not to overstock the aquarium with these shrimps if you have a smaller one.

These shrimps add to the biological load in your aquarium despite being small in size. So, ensure adding three to four shrimps per gallon.

You may have to deal with water quality and other problems if you overstock the water tank with these shrimps.

Bear in mind that they can die in a few days if kept in high-densities with poor filtration, so follow the typical rules for stocking fish here.

Also, keep in mind that these shrimps can cope with most conditions, but rapid changes could kill them.

Water Parameters

Ghost Shrimps can deal with most conditions as compared to other shrimp species. You can easily care for these shrimp if you fulfill their water parameters requirements properly.

Temperature

The right temperature to keep Ghost Shrimp ranges between 65F and 85F as they can only tolerate temperatures as low as 65F. The ideal temperature to keep them is 75F if you have a subtropical aquarium community.

They grow faster in higher temperatures, and you will also notice an increase in their reproduction rates.

However, make sure to reduce stocking if you increase the temperature because the dissolved oxygen in the water reduces at higher temperatures.

Ghost Shrimps have a higher chance of developing diseases at a lower temperature. So, be careful and keep the temperature consistent.

pH

The ideal water pH levels for the Ghost Shrimps range between 6.5-8.0 and maintaining it at a neutral point, i.e. 7, brings the best results.

You can add neutral tap water when you need to recycle or change the tank water without harming water conditions.

Nitrite and Ammonia

Always make sure to keep the nitrite and ammonia levels for the water at 0 after cycling the water. You can use a testing kit to keep these levels in check as they are toxic to fish.

Water Change Percentage

You need to change at least 30% water from the tank and maintain the right water temperatures if you want your Ghost Shrimps to survive.

What to Put In Their Tank?

Adding the right decorations to the water tank is essential to your shrimp’s growth. Keep in mind that these shrimps aren’t aggressive and need proper shelter to hide when molting.

So, start by adding plantations like algae that act as a roof and cover for these shrimps from predators. You can also add caves, fine sediment, and leaves to the tank for these freshwater shrimp.

Make sure not to add copper to the water tank if you have Ghost Shrimp because it is toxic for them. Many medications have copper, so check the ingredients when adding them to the water tank.

Common Diseases

Following are some of the most common Ghost Shrimp diseases.

  • Chitinolytic Bacterial Diseases – The infection is visible on the exoskeleton of the shrimp and you will see a black to dark brown pigmentation. It destroys the tissue cells and causes other secondary infections.
  • Muscular necrosis – White colouration caused due to changes in pH levels.
  • Scutariella Japonica – It’s a parasite that lives on the body of the shrimp. You can find 1-2mm white appendages around the shrimp’s head and rostrum area.
  • Bacterial infection – Changes the colour of the inner organs of the shrimp. A shrimp with a bacterial infection can die in two to four days of showing the symptoms. The shrimp can also lose parts of its body (such as legs or antenna).

While Ghost Shrimps can develop a few diseases, owners and aquarists can avoid them by maintaining suitable water conditions and parameters.

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

Feeding Ghost Shrimps is easy as they are low maintenance and will eat almost anything you give to them, including cereals and pellets, etc. You can also add algae wafers to the aquarium.

These shrimps are also the best tank cleaners as they eat any excess algae or food leftover in the tank. We suggest feeding them pellets if you have a tall water tank.

The sinking pellets make it easier for the shrimps to grab the food before mid-water fish eat all of it. It is advisable to add only one algae pellet to a tank with many shrimps and avoid overfeeding.

Experts also suggest adding calcium supplements to the tank to ensure the shrimp forms a stronger shell.

Behaviour & Temperament

The Ghost Shrimp typically has a non-violent and easy-going temperament. It doesn’t get aggressive and get along with most other species.

Glass Shrimp usually find it difficult to protect themselves against predators, but their hard shell helps protect them against most threats.

These shrimps have a simple lifestyle, but they are vulnerable to aggressive behavior from other tank mates. Have a look at this video to see Ghost Shrimp in their habitat:

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Although Ghost Shrimp are peaceful, you must choose their tank mates carefully.

You wouldn’t want your Ghost Shrimp to become the food of other aggressive members of the water tank.

Some good tank mates for your Ghost Shrimp include:

  • Danios
  • Cherry Barb or other barb fishes
  • Zebra and kuhli loaches as they are peaceful loaches
  • Corydoras genus and other small catfish
  • Tetras or hatchet fish

There are several species that you should keep away from your Ghost Shrimps. Generally, larger fish who feed on these shrimps should not be inside the water tank.

For example, if you add aggressive fish like the Betta fish to your tank, your Glass Shrimp will become their prey.

Keep in mind that these shrimp easily get along with similar species, so add other shrimps to the tank, and you will have no problem with their survival.

You can add other vibrant shrimp species, like the Cherry Shrimp are a good fit, as they make the water tank more appealing too.

Vampire and Bamboo Shrimp are also a good addition to your tank if you want to add more diversity to it.

Breeding

Keeping your Ghost Shrimps in the right conditions with no predators helps with the breeding process. However, they are not easy to breed as their eggs hatch as free-floating larvae.

You should have males and females in the main tank. The females are easy to spot as they grow much larger than males when they mature and develop a green saddle underneath their bodies.

Females produce eggs every few weeks, so move the berried female to the breeder tank before the eggs hatch.

Glass Shrimps do not metamorphose into miniature versions of adult shrimps until at least a week.

When the eggs hatch, they need good powdered algae, like Spirulina. Keep them in a separate tank until they start looking like adult shrimps. Otherwise, the baby shrimp will become the food source of other fish in the tank.

Final Thoughts

Ghost Shrimp are a perfect addition to your aquarium as they are small in size and easy to care for.

Their prices range between $1 and $3, depending on their size. Ghost Shrimp are excellent tank cleaners and eat all excess algae, leftover food, etc.

They have an active lifestyle and are always busy. However, don’t keep them in tanks with big, aggressive fish.

We suggest you follow the tips in this ultimate Ghost Shrimp guide, and you will not have a problem with keeping them!

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