Guide to Keeping Shrimp in a Nano Tank


Guide to Keeping Shrimp in a Nano Tank

Have you noticed the buzz around nano tanks lately? They’re popping up everywhere—from living rooms to office desks—and for a good reason! Compact, yet captivating, they’ve got everyone talking.

N0ow, when most beginners think of an aquarium, fish are usually the first thing to swim into their thoughts. Goldfish, bettas, maybe even a neon tetra.

But hey, our waters are filled with countless other intriguing inhabitants, right?

Enter the world of freshwater shrimp.

No longer just a side note or a background player, shrimp has steadily become one of the hottest items sold for freshwater aquariums.

You might even be surprised just how many aquarists are dedicating their tanks solely to these fascinating nano-invertebrates.

And it’s not just about their beauty—maintaining a freshwater aquarium shrimp comes with its own set of unique rewards and challenges.

Ready to dip your toes into the world of freshwater shrimp? Read on!

This beginner’s guide discusses how to keep these little crustaceans in your very own nano tank.


Why Freshwater Shrimp?

In the extensive world of the aquarium hobby, freshwater shrimp have steadily become both popular attractions and useful partners for many aquarists.

While these tiny crustaceans initially capture attention with their vibrant hues and delicate movements, the very same species will help clean your aquarium, too!

Their penchant for grazing on algae and scavenging for leftover food not only ensures a cleaner tank but also contributes to a balanced and healthier ecosystem.

But before you house them in your nano tank, you must know there are a lot of freshwater shrimp species to choose from. And although they may look similar to you, each species has distinct needs.

To emphasize, different shrimp species require specific water parameters to thrive.

But once you’ve set up the habitat, it’s all pretty much straightforward from there. They are very low maintenance!

Now, how do you choose what shrimp is right for you?

Choosing the Right Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp


With several species available, selecting the right freshwater shrimp for your nano aquarium can be both exhilarating and challenging.

But if you have been actively researching which shrimp to house in your tank, you’ve probably stumbled upon the two genera that many aquarists rave about.

The Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp.

Both the Neocaridina shrimp and Caridina shrimp hail from the Atyidae family, a group well-known for its rich variety of dwarf freshwater shrimp. Beyond these two star players, other genera like Palaemonetes, Atya, and Atyopsis offer diverse choices, each with its distinct charm and care considerations.

Now, while they share a family connection, making them biologically related, Neocaridina and Caridina cannot interbreed.

This is primarily attributed to their distinct reproductive appendages, which are essentially modified swimming legs.

For the Neocaridina species, the end of this reproductive appendage, known as the endopod, presents as round and flat. In contrast, the Caridina species boasts an endopod that is noticeably longer and more slender.

Neocaridina Shrimp

Hailing primarily from the rivers and streams of Taiwan and parts of China, the Neocaridina shrimp, also referred to as Neos, have showcased remarkable adaptability.

Often recognized by popular variants like the red cherry shrimp, yellow fire, and blue dream, Neocaridina shrimp are celebrated for their vibrant hues.

These species are generally known to be hardy in nature, which is why they are able to adapt to a variety of water conditions. Aside from their resilience, they are also voracious algae eaters, which aids in keeping tanks clean.

And so you guessed it—if you are a beginner entering the world of freshwater shrimp, this one’s for you!

Note, however, that even though they can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions, they still thrive best in a tank reigning in high-quality waters and in a diet with high-quality shrimp food.

Appearance & Color Varieties

The natural Neocaridina shrimp exhibits a more transparent or brownish hue.

However, breeding efforts have magnified their aesthetic appeal, resulting in a spectrum of striking colors.

Such colors range from vivid red to deep blue, and even enchanting greens and blacks. These colors have been developed with meticulous care, and thus, it’s recommended not to house different color variations in the same aquarium.

Interbreeding can result in offspring reverting to a less desirable brown or clear coloration.

Caridina Shrimp

Originating from a variety of Asian regions, including Japan, China, and Vietnam, Caridina shrimp are recognized as the sophisticated cousins of the Neocaridina.

Popular variants within the Caridina genus include the Crystal Red Shrimp, the Bee Shrimp, and the Taiwan Bee. With delicate patterns and unique colorations, these species often become the crown jewels of an aquarium.

But while they are indeed beautiful, these shrimp are also more sensitive to water conditions compared to their Neocaridina counterparts.

They prefer soft water with stable parameters. Many aquarists employ RO (reverse osmosis) water mixed with specific shrimp salts to achieve the perfect conditions for these shrimp.

rodi Water Filtration product

Due to their sensitivity, Caridina might not be the best choice for beginners.

But for those ready to invest a bit more time into understanding and tweaking water conditions, the payoff is a breathtaking tank filled with these intricate beauties.

Appearance & Color Varieties

In their natural habitat, Caridina tend to be less colorful, often showcasing transparent or slightly tinted bodies. However, just like Neocaridina, selective breeding has produced an array of captivating variants.

From the white bands of the Crystal Red Shrimp to the deep blues and blacks of the Blue Bolt, there’s a vast palette of Caridina colors.

But it’s essential to exercise caution when keeping different types together as, like the Neocaridina, crossbreeding can result in unpredictable patterns and colors.

5 Freshwater Shrimp For Your Nano Tank

After delving deep into the intriguing world of shrimp genera, you might be eager to pick the perfect companions for your nano tank. To guide you further in this captivating journey, here are five freshwater shrimp recommendations tailored just for your selection process.

1. Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

red-cherry-shrimp Originating from Taiwan, the Red Cherry Shrimp stands out with its vibrant color, making it a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. As part of the Neocaridina genus, these shrimp are not only visually appealing but also hardy, which makes them suitable for beginners in the aquarium hobby. They are also voracious algae eaters, ensuring your shrimp tank remains clean.

2. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

amano-shrimp Named after the famous Japanese aquarist Takashi Amano, the Amano Shrimp is a favorite among many aquarists due to its exceptional skill at algae control. They tend to be larger than the Red Cherry Shrimp and exhibit a translucent body with dotted patterns. Though they can survive in a nano tank, Amano shrimp do best in tanks with plenty of live plants and hiding spots.

3. Green Jade (Neocaridina davidi var. ‘Green’)

green-jade With its lush green hue, the Green Jade is a testament to the meticulous efforts to breed within the shrimp-keeping community. Like their Neocaridina cousins, they are hardy, but be wary of housing them with different colored shrimp, like the Red Cherry, to prevent interbreeding and potentially muted offspring colors.

4. Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes sp.)

ghost-shrimp Often sold for larger fish to eat, Ghost Shrimp, also known as glass or eastern grass shrimp, are not just a food source. Like other species on this list, Ghost Shrimp feed via a filter, and having them in your tank can help maintain water quality by feeding on detritus and algae. Oftentimes, this species is bought by beginners because of its wide availability in the market. So, if you want an easy task, you may opt for a ghost shrimp.

5. Bamboo Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis)

Bamboo Shrimp

 Often dubbed as the “filter-feeding giants,” the Bamboo Shrimp is a sight to behold as they sit in the current of a freshwater aquarium. Their unique fan-like appendages act as filtration tools, capturing minute food particles in the aquarium. Unlike many other species, Bamboo Shrimp are predominantly filter feeders and demand a somewhat different care approach. They thrive in tanks with good water circulation and a steady food source.

    Setting Up a Nano Freshwater Shrimp Tank

    Shrimp live in all sorts of waters around the world. From chilly streams to warm coastal areas, they find a way to thrive. Just like fish, each shrimp has its own likes and dislikes, especially since they’re pretty delicate creatures.

    So, before adding them to your tank, make sure you know what conditions they need. Get this right, and your shrimp will not only survive, but they’ll also be happy and healthy in their aquatic home.

    Water Chemistry

    A fully cycled tank is foundational, ensuring harmful substances like ammonia and nitrites are absent and setting the right environment for your shrimp to thrive.

    When sourcing water, many hobbyists might instinctively reach for tap water.

    However, depending on your region, tap water can sometimes be hard water, packed with minerals, or soft water, which has fewer minerals. Both Caridina and Neocaridina have their own specific requirements, and introducing new water to your aquarium without the right parameters can be detrimental.

    For Neocaridina:

    • pH: 6.5 – 7.5.
    • KH (Carbonate Hardness): It should be within the range of 1 – 4.
    • GH (General Hardness): The ideal range is 6 – 8.
    • Water Temperature: 65 – 73°F (18 – 23°C).

    For Caridina:

    • pH: 6.2 – 6.6.
    • KH: 2 – 6.
    • GH: 4 – 8.
    • Water Temperature: 70 – 73°F (21 – 23°C)

    To maintain an acceptable water parameter, you may perform 20% water exchange every week.

    Remember, consistency in water parameters is as important as the parameters themselves. Regularly testing your tank’s water and making informed adjustments can ensure your shrimp live in an environment conducive to their health and longevity.

    Tank Size

    If you have now decided to venture into the world of freshwater shrimp keeping, picking the right tank size is your first order of business.

    Many hobbyists often gravitate towards nano aquariums due to their compactness and aesthetic appeal.

    But remember, while nano aquariums can provide a picturesque habitat, they might not always be the best choice if you’re planning to breed your shrimp.

    A “nano tank” typically refers to aquariums that are 10 gallons (about 38 liters) or less. The most common sizes for nano aquariums are:

    • 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters)
    • 5 gallons (19 liters)
    • 10 gallons (38 liters)

    The “ideal” size within this range largely depends on the species of shrimp or other inhabitants you plan to keep, as well as how many.

    For instance, for a small group of Neocaridina shrimp like the Red Cherry Shrimp, a 5-gallon tank can be sufficient. However, if you plan on keeping multiple species or want to provide more space for breeding and a larger colony, a 10-gallon tank would be more appropriate.

    And unless it is a heavily planted tank, your best choice is to go for a tank that holds no less than 5 gallons.

    Aquatic Plants

    With limited space, ensuring optimal water quality and overall shrimp comfort becomes a paramount concern. This is where your aquatic plant takes place.

    Being on the lower section of the food chain, freshwater shrimp constantly seek shelter to avoid predators.

    And in your tank? Aquatic plants, like Java moss, Anubias, or Water wisteria, will offer just that—a familiar safe haven.

    But beyond just offering a sanctuary, the plant acts as nature’s lifeline for our delicate shrimp. Given how sensitive shrimp are to water conditions, they serve as nature’s water purifiers, diligently maintaining crystal-clear water conditions by regulating harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrates

    Now, ever seen a shrimp nibble on something invisible in your tank? That’s them feasting on the biofilm and tiny critters that thrive on plants!

    If you’ve got algae-loving Amano shrimp, they’ll treat them like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Java fern, for instance, can be a hotspot for these tiny food sources.

    And if you’re thinking of getting into the shrimp breeding game, these plants’ lush leaves create the perfect hideout for baby shrimp, keeping them safe and sound.


    The stage is set with plant decor, and now it’s time to focus on another foundational aspect of your shrimp haven.

    Many freshwater shrimps, especially those from the Caridina genus like the Crystal Red Shrimp or Bee Shrimp, prefer softer, more acidic water.

    For these types, active substrates, such as ADA Amazonia, Aqueon Plant and Shrimp, or Fluval Stratum, are ideal as they slowly release beneficial substances that acidify the water.


    On the flip side, if you’re housing Neocaridina shrimp, like the popular Red Cherry Shrimp, which tend to be more adaptable to a range of water conditions, you can opt for inert substrates like sand or fine gravel.

    These substrates don’t alter water chemistry, providing a neutral environment for these versatile shrimp.

    Remember, while the substrate might seem like a mere backdrop, it’s a pivotal component in setting up a thriving shrimp aquarium. Make sure to invest time in choosing the right one, and your shrimp will thank you!


    Now, let’s talk about aesthetics combined with function. Driftwood, rocks, and shrimp hides don’t just elevate the tank’s visual appeal; they provide necessary spots and areas to hide and graze.

    Pieces of cholla wood or Indian almond leaves can offer additional benefits. As they decompose, they produce biofilm, a favorite snack for many freshwater shrimps.

    Heater and Filtration

    Freshwater shrimp, whether the vibrant neocaridina or the intriguing bamboo shrimp, have their own preferred temperature ranges.

    While Neocaridinas might thrive in temperatures between 72°F and 78°F, bamboo shrimp may prefer a slightly different bracket.

    So, an adjustable heater can help maintain this ideal range, especially during colder periods.

    For good filtration, sponge filters are a top pick for shrimp enthusiasts. They’re gentle on baby shrimp, and they also serve as feeding grounds since they collect biofilm and microorganisms.

    However, if you have a plant-heavy setup, a canister filter might be better, providing strong filtration while promoting good water circulation. Just ensure any intakes are covered to protect young shrimp.

    Check out our recent article to learn more about filters for nano tanks. 

    Tank Mates for Your Freshwater Shrimp

    Before you purchase your first set of shrimp, take note that they are social species and will do best in large groups, preferably ten or more. However, it is recommended not to keep 5 shrimp per gallon.

    When choosing fish buddies for your shrimp, remember not all tankmates are created equal. Aggressive and larger fish, like barbs, betta fish, and cichlids, may view your shrimp as a snack to eat. If you’re new to the shrimp game, sticking to a shrimp-only tank might be your best bet.

    But if you’re set on a community tank, there’s still hope! Opt for smaller, peaceful fish such as ember tetras, hillstream loaches, pygmy cories, rainbow fish, hatchets, and rasboras. They’re generally respectful neighbors that coexist harmoniously with shrimp, even letting baby shrimplets be.

    And if you’re thinking about snails, go ahead! They’re laid-back, effective cleaners that won’t bother your shrimp one bit.

    Food and Diet

    Dive into the world of shrimp dining, and you’ll quickly discover they have quite diverse palates. Most shrimp are omnivores, which means they feed on a diet that’s a mix of plant matter and tiny creatures.

    Though they mostly eat algae and biofilms, it’s good to introduce variety. This means adding in some fish flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, and frozen foods into their meals, at least 2-3 times a week.

    Some foods you can include in their diet are Spirulina Flakes, Mini Algae Discs, Shrimp King Algae Pops, and blanched vegetables such as spinach, kale, and cucumber.


    Remember, a healthy and varied diet does more than just fill their bellies—it brings out their vibrant colors and keeps your shrimp alive and thriving.


    If you’re aiming to build a thriving shrimp colony, the foundation starts with the aquarium.

    A 20-gallon aquarium is optimal as it provides ample space for the shrimp to breed and live comfortably.

    Once you have both males and females in the aquarium, they should naturally commence the breeding process. A key indicator of a female shrimp’s readiness to breed is the appearance of a saddle-like marking, signaling developing eggs in her ovaries.

    Post-molting, she releases pheromones, attracting males. Upon successful mating, the fertilized eggs are tucked into her swimmerets.

    But while most dwarf freshwater shrimp, like the red cherry shrimp, reproduce readily in captivity, others require specific conditions.

    For instance, crystal and bee shrimp demand more precision in their breeding environment. Amano shrimp are particularly challenging, as they necessitate a brackish water setting.


    Diving into the world of freshwater shrimp is an exhilarating journey, blending care with curiosity. From the ideal aquarium setup to mastering water chemistry, every detail counts in crafting the perfect haven. But it’s not just about the environment; it’s about understanding and catering to the unique needs of your dwarf shrimp. With dedication and passion, you’ll soon have a vibrant underwater world that enchants every onlooker.

    Now, if you’re ready to embark on this captivating journey and want to connect with fellow shrimp or, better yet, aquarium enthusiasts, why not join our Facebook group? With over 330k+ members and growing, it’s the perfect platform to showcase your stunning shrimp setups, exchange insights, and be a part of a community that shares your passion. Let your shrimp take center stage on the virtual red carpet!


    And if you’re eager to dive even deeper into the art of aquarium setup, we’ve got you covered. Explore our additional resources, where you’ll find:

    Aquarium 101: Equipment: Discover the tools that will empower your journey, from filters to heaters, ensuring your shrimp’s habitat is top-notch.

    Aquarium 101: Tanks and Stands: Immerse yourself in the world of tank possibilities and stands, and unveil the perfect foundation for your aquatic masterpiece.

    Happy exploring!


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