Ghost Shrimp 101: Best Detailed Care Guide (September 2022)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: February 3, 2022

Ghost shrimp are tiny creatures that look like small versions of tiger shrimp. They have a transparent body with pink bands that fade into yellow, which gives them their name.

There are several different species of ghost shrimp, but the most common one is Caridina multidentata. These creatures can adapt to almost any environment, so they are very popular with shrimp enthusiasts.

Thanks to their affordability and ease of care, they can now be found in many tropical fish stores. The common name "ghost" comes from their translucent appearance, which makes them appear like little white spirits floating through the water.

They are not reef safe, as ghost shrimp will readily eat coral, snails, and small fish once they reach adulthood. Ghost shrimp originate from slow-moving streams or rice patties where their translucent nature gives them the ability to blend in with the background allowing them to escape predators more easily.

Since they are used to this environment, ghost shrimp also need heavily planted aquariums with some driftwood or rocks, as well as a slow current to shelter them from their enemies.

Facts And Characteristics Of Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp, are small filter feeders that come from parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Japan.

Ghost Shrimp Colors

Ghost shrimp are almost always transparent except for black dots on their body. They have long antennae, which they use to filter food from the water.

Ghost Shrimp Care

What is unique about these minute filter feeders is that they will eat anything in the aquarium that has even a slight nutritional value, including flake or pelleted foods.

However, there are also some foods that ghost shrimp cannot process, and these will need to be removed from the water before they break down.

How Do Ghost Shrimp Look Like?

Ghost shrimp can come in all sorts of colors. They are almost always transparent, but some color variations include green, blue, white, yellow, and even orange.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Their natural habitat is usually dirty rice patties or slow-moving streams where the water becomes highly polluted with decaying plants and food, so this may contribute to their colorful appearances. They look like little glass snails and can get up to an inch in length.

Their body is almost entirely transparent except for black dots on their bodies. They have long antennae, which they use to filter food from the water.

Males are usually smaller than females and have a different coloration as well. Mature males will have coloration much like a female's; however, their body is almost entirely clear except for dark red dots around their stomach and the base of their antennae.

Their fins are of transparent color. Their eyes sit on top of their heads, but they have poor vision and rely mostly on their long antennae for feeling out their surroundings.

Why Do Ghost Shrimp Have Transparent Bodies?

They have a clear body color because they live in habitats that are heavily polluted with decaying organic matter, which makes it easier for them to hide from predators when they bury themselves into the substrate.

So if you want to add a few ghost shrimp to your aquarium, remember, don't clean the tank too often, provide them with hiding places, and give them a variety of foods to eat.

They are very cheap to buy, and you won't have any problems with their care because they are low-maintenance pets that can survive in almost any freshwater aquarium.

I know it is hard for some people to believe, but it is one of the easiest freshwater invertebrates to care for. They are perfect for beginners, and they can live in almost any freshwater tank with plants or without plants.

Read: Red Empress Cichlid 101: Best Care Guide

Temperament Of Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp are usually very peaceful, but at feeding time, males have been known to be a little aggressive towards one another.

Ghost Shrimp Care

The males will fight for food, and the female may intervene by attacking the male or chasing him away from the food. They can coexist peacefully with many other types of fish as long as they are not small enough to fall prey to these shrimp.

As for their relationship with other invertebrates, they will eat snails and can even prey on young fish if they are small enough.

Despite their tiny size, ghost shrimp are very active and like to move about the tank during the day. They love any type of plant life as it gives them places to hide from predators.

If there is not enough plant life in the aquarium, you may want to consider silk or artificial plants because ghost shrimp are sensitive to water conditions and do not fair well if there is a lack of shelter.

Ghost shrimp are very active during the day, but they will begin to slow down at night as most nocturnal creatures do. They move about the tank eating any type of organic matter that might be in the tank, including leftover fish food and decaying plant matter.

Ghost Shrimp Breeding

Ghost shrimp are very easy to breed, which is why they are usually the first choice among novice fish keepers. The main requirement for breeding ghost shrimp is water temperature.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Ghost shrimp will only reproduce in waters where the temperature is between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (22-28 Celsius.)

The breeding process starts with a male ghost shrimp building a nest under a piece of driftwood or rock with some algae growth.

After he has constructed the nest, he will then try to attract a female by waving his front legs. If the female is interested, she will approach the male and deposit her eggs in the mesh created by his legs.

He will fertilize the eggs and then carry them for a few days until they hatch. He will continue to protect the fry by fanning them with his antennae.

Once the fry has grown up, the male ghost shrimp will start feeding on them, so it is best to separate him from the young at this point if you want to keep more of them alive.

The female will usually carry around 200-300 eggs at a time in her swimmerets until they hatch. It is hard to determine the sex of ghost shrimp when they are young, so it can be difficult to know which ones are females and which are males.

The males' bodies become more colorful when they reach maturity, but this occurs in females, too. Because ghost shrimp are so small in size, it is very easy to have a breeding population of them in one tank.

This can be problematic because they can quickly overtake your aquarium without you knowing it. If you notice that there are suddenly many more ghost shrimp than usual in the tank, this may be an indication that they are breeding.

Ghost Shrimp Growth And Lifespan

The lifespan of ghost shrimp is very tiny, which is why they are usually used as feeders. However, under optimal conditions, these shrimp can live up to two years which makes them an ideal pet for those who want something low maintenance and easy to care for.

Ghost Shrimp Care

They grow up to 7-8 mm and weigh about 0.3 grams. Their natural color is gray with white spots on each side of their head, but they have been seen in beige, pink, blue, and red phenotypes as well.

Ghost shrimp are very resilient creatures. If they are not eaten by other fish, they could live 4 to 5 years which makes them one of the longest living freshwater invertebrates in the hobby.

Ghost Shrimp Habitat

Ghost shrimp like to live in planted aquariums, but the plants mustn't be poisonous because ghost shrimp will readily eat them, and you do not want them eating anything toxic.

Ghost Shrimp Care

If your plants have any type of fertilizer or nutrients added to the water, this will encourage algae growth which the ghost shrimp will eat.

However, if the algae growth is too high, it can cause problems for your fish because they like to hide in the plants, and now there are no places for them to go.

Ghost shrimp are extremely efficient little filter feeders that will eat almost anything in an aquarium. They are not picky at all; they will eat dead fish and plants, as well as old flake food and algae on the rocks.

They do not require a lot of space because ghost shrimp are rarely seen swimming around in the open. Instead, they will stay hidden until feeding time when they all come out to grab the bits of food you give them.

Ghost Shrimp Care Guide

Given below is the detailed care guide of Ghost Shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp Feeding

Ghost shrimp are very easy to feed and should be fed sinking pelleted foods which sink at a rate where they can easily catch it.

Ghost Shrimp Care

They will also eat most vegetables, frozen foods (including brine shrimp), flake foods, and algae wafers. Ghost shrimp are not picky eaters; they will gladly accept everything you give them as long as it's nutritious enough to sustain their little bodies.

Their diet consists of algae and decaying plant matter. They will also feed on loose fish food or small insects that were sucked up by their tube-shaped mouth.

To keep a good balance in the tank, they should be fed algae tablets as well as blanched vegetables once or twice a week. Ghost shrimp are tiny scavengers and will eat almost anything in the aquarium that has any nutritional value to it.

They can catch very small prey like newly hatched baby brine shrimp and even mosquito larvae with their long antennae. Once ghost shrimp grow larger, they will readily devour any type of pelleted or flake food that drops to the substrate or that you give them as a treat.

However, there are some foods that ghost shrimp cannot process, and these will need to be removed from the water before they break down, like freeze-dried krill plankton and algae wafers.

Tank Requirments

Ghost shrimp requires a tank that is at least 2 gallons to provide enough space for the ghost shrimp and the plants. In a smaller tank, it will become difficult for them to find places to hide from stronger-swimming fish.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Ghost shrimp are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment, so do not change anything in the water or substrate if you see your ghost shrimp are still alive. Slow, gradual changes are best for keeping your ghost shrimp healthy and happy.

The tank should be big enough to provide hiding places for your ghost shrimp because even small fish will be able to eat them.

Ghost shrimp also like to eat things that fall into the substrate, so you should not use any type of gravel or sand in their tank.

Instead, use aquarium-safe rocks and other decorations that do not pose a problem if your ghost shrimp try to munch on them.

Water Condition and Lighting

The water should be on the acidic side and can handle a variety of temperatures as long as it is not extreme.

Ghost Shrimp Care

A water conditioner will be needed if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. They also require low lighting so that they won't be spooked by any sudden movements or shadows of anyone walking by the tank.

The ideal pH range for ghost shrimp is 5 to 7, which means their water should be acidic. Water hardness should not exceed 8 dGH because any higher will be too alkaline and harmful for your ghost shrimp.

The ideal temperature for ghost shrimp is 70 to 77 F (21 to 25 C), but they can survive in temperatures up to 86 F (30 C).

Do they need any special lighting? There's nothing special about the type of light needed for these little ones.

Ghost shrimp prefer a peat moss substrate with a dark substrate and a cover of floating plants at the surface. Ghost shrimp need low lighting conditions to recreate their natural environment, but they can adapt to almost any type of lighting.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

The Ghost Shrimp are always welcome to hang out with African Dwarf Frogs, Snails, Cory Catfish, Red Cherry Shrimp, and all types of live plants.

Ghost Shrimp Care

I would not recommend housing them with fish that are known to be aggressive toward shrimp or are otherwise incompatible with invertebrates in general.

Common Possible Diseases And Cure

A lot of times, if a ghost shrimp dies, then it's because the owner didn't do enough research on what type of conditions were best for them or how to care for them in general.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Since they are pretty sensitive to their environment and take a while to adjust when you first add them to your tank, they will rarely lose their battle for survival if you do your research on keeping them.

The common diseases that threaten ghost shrimp are dropsy, red leg, and white spot. Sometimes a ghost shrimp will lose its ability to grip onto perimeters of the tank with its claws and fall onto the substrate, where it will dry out and die if not taken care of quickly enough.

This happens if water parameters are off or there isn't enough oxygen in the water.

It is important to keep a very close eye on water parameters and make sure all of the equipment you have for your tank is working properly.

It's also a good idea to quarantine any new additions that you get before placing them into your main tank, just in case there's something wrong with them which can be easily cured by placing them by themselves for a couple of weeks.

How To Clean The Tank?

You should use an aquarium vacuum cleaner to suck up any uneaten food or waste that has accumulated on the bottom of the tank and replace 1/3 of water which is about 30% weekly. Lastly, wash out your filter once a week.

Do Ghost Shrimp Need Salt In Their Water?

No, while some people think it's a good idea to add a little bit of aquarium salt to the water for brackish species of shrimp, this is not necessary for freshwater shrimp.

Adding too much salt can have detrimental effects on many freshwater invertebrates, including ghost shrimp.

Ghost shrimp come from habitats where the water is more polluted than fresh (in areas like rice paddies), so adding salt to their environment will only make them sick.

Also, if there are any aquatic plants in your tank, they probably won't survive long with the addition of aquarium salt.

Can ghost shrimp jump out of the tank?

A common myth is that ghost shrimp can jump out of your aquarium, but this isn't true because they don't have any swim bladders to help them float or propel themselves anywhere. They are not able to jump high enough to make it out of the tank.

Are they hurt plants?

Ghost shrimp will sometimes eat plants, but if their tank is well planted and you give them enough food, then it's not a problem.

If there aren't many plants left in the aquarium and your ghost shrimp still seem hungry, try to cut back on how much food you're giving them and replace some of the plants that they ate with healthier options.

Do they get along with other species?

Since ghost shrimp are very peaceful creatures, they will get along with almost any species of fish and invertebrates as long as they're not aggressive or territorial.

Ghost shrimp should be kept in a school of at least five (five is the minimum because it's difficult to sex these guys), and if there are too few shrimp in the tank, they will become lonely and stressed, which can lead to health issues such as shortened life spans or sickness.

Do they bite?

Ghost shrimp are not aggressive towards other tank inhabitants, but some fish will see them as food while others might attack them out of territorial aggression.

Although they have a hard exoskeleton, their pincers are too small to hurt anything but very small fish. So if your ghost shrimp feel endangered, the best way to protect themselves is by digging into the substrate and using their transparent body as camouflage.

Sometimes if the water flow in your tank is too strong, they will burrow themselves so deep into the substrate that you will have a very hard time finding them.

What's good about them?

Ghost shrimp are great for beginner fish keepers because they require very little care and can survive tremendous changes in water quality. They are also scavengers so that they will clean up leftover food in the tank.

What's not so good about them?

Ghost shrimp can be quite annoying to keep because they are often confused with young fish or young snails.

It is very difficult to tell their age when they are still small, which is why it is common for the fish keeper to accidentally kill many of the young shrimp by assuming they are some kind of pest.

They can also be quite difficult to breed because water temperature plays such an integral part in their reproductive cycle.

Conclusion

Ghost shrimp are an excellent addition to your freshwater fish tank and will bring a lot of fun and joy to your fish-keeping experience.

They're not for everyone, but if you're willing to dedicate the time and effort it takes to keep them, then you'll find that they can be quite rewarding.

I hope this article has helped answer some questions about ghost shrimp.

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