The development of the nano, micro and even pico aquarium systems have spurred an interest in smaller critters that can be housed in the smaller aquarium systems. One of the latest trends is keeping the freshwater shrimp along with live plants. There are several species of freshwater shrimp that can be found in the aquarium hobby, though many are not readily available to hobbyists.
The first experience most hobbyists have will be with one of the genus Palaeomonetes, also called the Ghost Shrimp or Glass Shrimp. Unfortunately for the shrimp, their usual function in the home aquarium is as a food source for the fish! But, this very hardy shrimp can be kept for display and can reach almost 2” in length and have a lifespan of 1 to 1 ½ years. They are known to nibble on the soft algae, but are really more of a general scavenger in the aquarium.
One of the most sought after shrimp are of the genus Caridina, commonly called an Amano shrimp, or even by its specie’s name, Japonica. The hobby was introduced to these shrimp by the groundbreaking planted aquariums by Takasi Amano. He used these shrimp to help control nuisance soft algae, though they will happily scavenge excess fish food. These shrimp are light brown color with a tan stripe down their back. Like most freshwater shrimp, they are very susceptible to higher levels of ammonia or heavy metals in the water. They can reach up to 2” in length and generally live longer than the Ghost shrimp family.
Another of the Caridina genus is the C. serrata with a mostly red body with white stripes from Asia. These prefer soft water with a pH below 7.5, growing to about 1”, though there are also dwarf varieties, the most common called the Bumble Bee shrimp. Recently, hybrids have been developed, like the Crystal Red shrimp. The Bee shrimp are fairly easy to breed if proper conditions are kept and will reproduce monthly. They are primarily scavengers, not known to eat algae.
Many colorful varieties of the Neocardina genus have recently been available to the hobby, including Cherry Red, Yellow Fire and Blueberry. Most of these carried a pretty hefty price tag when they were first available, but their ease of breeding has lead to a significantly lowered cost. New varieties are being found in high mountain streams of China and Korea where the water hardness is below 5 ppm! Whether these can adapt to the aquarium hobby is still yet to be seen.
One last shrimp often found in the hobby is of the Atyopsis genus and goes by the common name of the Flower Shrimp or maybe the Singapore shrimp. The body is tan with twin red stripes around a white stripe running down the back. This shrimp can reach 3” in length and is known to require salt/brackish water to reproduce. This has not been done in the hobby. What makes these shrimp really interesting is the replacement of the fore claws with a webbed, fan-like pilosity (covered in fine hair) they use to filter food out of the current. Most home aquariums are too clean for the Wood shrimp to get enough to eat so their diet will need to be supplemented with ground up Spirulina disks. This shrimp is intolerant of low oxygen levels so the aquarium should had lots of current and be kept cooler than some tropical aquariums.