Ghost Shrimp Care: Food, Lifespan, Breeding, & Tank Mates

  • by Millie Sheppard
  • Updated: November 25, 2022

We’ve been a big fan of ghost shrimp for a while now, and it goes a little further than the reasons you’ll hear from other freshwater tank owners.

Sure, these little critters are incredibly useful for aquarists who want great tank cleaners or need live feed for other fish. There’s no denying that.

However, we also think they can make very fun pets for the right kind of hobbyist. Their busy nature, unique appearance, and peaceful temperament are all great reasons why you should give ghost shrimp a shot.

This means no matter who you are, as long as you have a freshwater tank you should probably consider getting some.

That’s why we thought it was so important to put together this resource for you. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to ghost shrimp, no matter how you’ll be using them!

Table of Contents

What are ghost shrimp, no spam, subscribe for cool fish stuff, anatomy breakdown, ghost shrimp size, ghost shrimp lifespan, potential illness and disease, ideal shrimp tank conditions, lighting needs, minimum tank size, what to include in their habitat, water temperature, ph & hardness levels, pollutants to keep an eye on, filtration requirements, what do ghost shrimp eat, general behavior & temperament, ghost shrimp and bettas, ghost shrimp breeding, it’s time to pick some up for yourself.

Ghost shrimp are a unique type of critter to keep in your freshwater aquarium. For many seasoned aquarists, these small shrimp are used as live feed for much larger creatures. However, others choose to keep them as pets due to their distinct looks and surprisingly playful temperament.

Ghost shrimp

These little animals hail from the fresh waters and lakes in North America. Additional information about their origin is not as well-defined as some other freshwater aquarium shrimp . These critters were formally classified all the way back in the early 1800s!

As the aquarium community started to form and grow, they quickly became useful and common creatures to include in freshwater tanks.

Ghost shrimp are incredibly active, good for the health of your tank (because of the algae they eat ), and are easy to breed. Thus, the role that the shrimp play in the world of aquaculture is a big one!

Appearance & Size

Ghost shrimp (palaemonetes paludosus) are sometimes also called Glass Shrimp. Whatever you decide to call them, it’s not hard to see why they received those names. The entire shrimp is transparent.

The reason for this is simple:

Their transparent nature is used as a defense mechanism in the wild. It’s very difficult for most of their natural predators to spot them as they scavenge the bottom of the riverbed.

Even in a fish tank, they can sometimes be hard to spot among decor and plants.

With that being said, there are some slight variations in appearance that you can see. Some subspecies have subtle markings on their backs. These will typically come in the form of colorful dots.

Beyond that, you can always look for their internal organs. Despite the clear exteriors, ghost shrimp have fully visible eyes and digestive tracts.

If you can get close enough to examine your shrimp, you’ll notice a segmented body. The largest portion, called the carapace, is tough. it’s meant to protect all of the important organs underneath, such as the heart, brain, gills.

The tip of the carapace is called the rostrum. It’s a rigid beak-like section that’s often used for rummaging through the sediment. While they’re usually peaceful, this jagged body part can also be used for defense if it’s needed.

Beady little eyes can be found poking out from either side of the rostrum base. Look a little further, and you’ll see two pairs of antennae. One pair is long while the other is short.

The antennae are usually clear like the rest of the body, though you might see some light coloration on a few ghost shrimp.

These thin antennae are very important for your shrimp’s well-being. They act as sensory organs that help them navigate the environment and gather some crucial information about the chemical composition of the water.

Below the shrimp’s head, you’ll find six flexible segments. They’re much softer and more flexible than the tougher carapace. Look closely, and this section may look very familiar to you.

It looks like any other shrimp that you might have eaten, albeit much smaller. The first five sections are attached to the pleopods, which are limbs used for swimming. The final sixth section holds the tail.

In terms of size, ghost shrimp don’t get much larger than one and a half inches. Females might get a bit bigger than that, but most adult shrimp hover around the same average size. 

They’re not that wide either.

Adult shrimp are usually no wider than an eraser on the end of a pencil. They’re much thinner than other freshwater shrimp species, which is one of the many reasons why they’re often the go-to when it comes to live feed.

Ghost Shrimp Care

The great thing about ghost shrimp is that they’re very hardy and easy to care for. In most instances, aquarists won’t have any issues keeping the shrimp healthy.

As with all aquatic life, the key is to keep tank conditions healthy.

Ghost shrimp have a very short lifespan of only one year. During that year, they’ll grow rapidly. Once they outgrow their current exoskeleton, they’ll shed/molt it to grow another one.

This can happen a lot throughout the year, so don’t be surprised if you find several transparent shells around the tank. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about picking them out.

The shells will quickly become a food source for other shrimp. After shedding, your shrimp will probably hide for a bit. This is because the new shell they get is very thin, making them vulnerable.

There are a few diseases that can affect ghost shrimp. They’re rare, but it’s smart to know what they are in case you have to deal with them.

The most common is called Vorticella. It’s a protozoan that can cause your shrimp’s otherwise clear shell to look white and moldy. Vorticella comes from algae and other animals.

Because of the shrimp’s scavenging behavior, they often get it from munching on infected organic matter. Luckily, you can treat it with water changes and salt.

Another issue you might encounter is a bacterial infection. Infections are pretty easy to spot on ghost shrimp because of their clear bodies. It will look like a pinkish swollen spot.

Unfortunately, bacterial infections are almost always fatal. Your best bet would be to remove the affected shrimp and keep an eye on others. The infection can easily be spread to other shrimp.

When you walk into a pet shop, you’ll probably find the ghost shrimp in a simple bare tank with no decorations in it at all. These are shrimp that have been delegated as feeders.

However, if you plan on keeping your shrimp as pets you’re going to want to provide them with a nicer environment to live in.

Fine substrate is best for the bottom of the tank. These creatures are bottom feeders, so they will spend most of their time digging through the sandy bottoms of their environment. There really isn’t a good reason why you should consider alternatives to fine sand.

Tanks with large chunks of gravel are not going to be good for your shrimp. Not only are they impossible for your ghost shrimp to move, but they can actually cut through their exoskeletons and cause harm.

To accompany the sand, fill your tank with plenty of live plants. In the wild, ghost shrimp usually feed on algae and tiny bits of organic matter from the local plant life. Introducing live plants into your tanks will give your shrimp something to clean.

This will also provide them with new places to explore and hide (more on that below). Plants like Java moss and hornwort are best.

Ghost shrimp don’t have any specific lighting requirements like other fish. They stay close to the bottom of the tank and don’t have a clear day/night cycle that you have to worry about.

As a result, standard aquarium lighting is all you need. Just make sure that the lighting doesn’t affect temperatures too much if you plan on leaving it on throughout the day.

At the very least, you should have a 5 gallon tank (larger is better of course). Because the shrimp are so small, they don’t need a ton of room to roam.

For shrimp you want to keep as pets you should aim for a ratio of three to four ghost shrimp per gallon.

While the clear nature of their bodies is great for keeping them hidden, ghost shrimp still need hiding places they can access whenever they’re feeling anxious. If you have other fish in the tank with them, they will need some spots to hide if the fish start to get aggressive.

Plants are the best option. ghost shrimp blend in effortlessly among thick leaves and underwater brush. However, you can also introduce other decorative items.

Rocks, driftwood, and even plastic decorations will do good. Just spread them throughout the bottom of the tank to give your shrimp plenty of places to feel comfortable.

Water Parameters & Quality Needs

When it comes to water quality, ghost shrimp are pretty easy to please. They’re quite hardy and can thrive in most water conditions. Although, we highly recommend sticking with the recommended levels below to ensure that they’re as healthy as possible.

Ghost shrimp prefer warmer waters. Temperatures between 65 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit should do just fine. Some breeders go beyond that wide temperature range and get away with it, but if you’re keeping them as a pet you should live withing these guardrails.

The reason for this is that most breeders are using their shrimp as live fish food. They don’t care much about the well-being of the shrimp and are causing them stress and health issues by choosing to ignore these water temperature limits.

Ghost shrimp prefer a pH balance between 7.0 and 8.0 . The water can also be slightly hard. A hardness rating between 3.72 and 6.75 should do just fine.

In addition to staying on top of pH and hardness levels, you should also monitor pollutants. Ghost shrimp don’t have as much biological output as other aquarium creatures. However, a large population of shrimp in a small tank can throw things off balance pretty quickly.

You need to monitor the amount of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite that’s in your water. Both pollutants have the potential to kill your shrimp. But, they’re also necessary for the growth of aquatic plants, which are needed to keep these shrimp healthy.

It’s a fine balance that you need to monitor regularly. Ammonia and nitrate levels should be kept between 5-10 PPM . You can easily control the levels by performing water changes regularly.

Also, you need to be wary of copper. Copper is found in some fish medications. Unfortunately, it’s fatal to ghost shrimp.

If you need to medicate other fish in the tank, make sure to read the ingredient’s label and steer clear of any copper-based products.

As for filtration, ghost shrimp don’t need much help in this department. They will do a great job contributing to the cleaning process on their own! This means a standard sponge filter will do. 

As we mentioned earlier, these shrimp are natural scavengers. In the wild, they feed on fish and plant waste. They’re so tiny that they usually aren’t able to eat other creatures!

In a tank environment, these shrimp will do pretty much the same thing. They’ll stick to the bottom of the tank and nibble on anything they can get. You’ll often find them feeding off of the plants you have in the tank or catching fallen pellets that your other fish didn’t eat.

If you have a tank that only has ghost shrimp, the feeding process will be a breeze. They’ll eat any standard flake or pellet food. Pellets are best, as they can sink down to the bottom where they hang out.

Remember, they are tiny. They don’t need a ton of food to keep them healthy. Consider a tiny pinch of flakes for a group of shrimp.

Note: Here’s a common new owner mistake to avoid. You can sometimes see the little shrimp swimming up to the top to nab some flakes, which can make it tempting to encourage them to do it again. Be careful though, it’s possible to overfeed ghost shrimp and this is one of the fastest ways to do it.

Ghost shrimp are very peaceful creatures. They don’t bother other fish and will spend most of their time doing their own thing at the bottom of the tank and looking for things to snack on.

To stay safe, they may spend a few days hiding out in the plants, under rocks, or in any other crevice they can find. Because of their clear bodies and shy nature, it can sometimes be hard to locate them in your tank!

Good (And Bad) Tank Mates

The best tank mates for ghost shrimp are any other peaceful small fish. Two of the common choices are:

  • Barbs that aren’t too large

You can also pair them with other peaceful bottom dwellers like Kuhli loaches , freshwater snails , Cory catfish , Cherry Shrimp , and Amano shrimp . These tank mates will mind their own business and let your ghost shrimp do their thing undisturbed.

As for tank mates to avoid, you should avoid pairing them with any aggressive fish no matter what.

As a good rule of thumb, don’t put ghost shrimp in the same tank as larger fish that feed off live food and are big enough to consume the shrimp. They’ll immediately go after your precious shrimp, so keep the tank as peaceful as possible.

One of the most common tank mate questions we hear is in regards to betta fish . This is quite common for almost all the care guides we put together due to the popularity of the fish.

In this case, ghost shrimp and betta fish tend to not good tank mates. This isn’t always the case and the translucent nature of your shrimp might keep them out of trouble if your betta is relatively calm.

However, keeping them apart is the safest move to make.

Breeding ghost shrimp is very quick and easy. One recommended trick is to set up a separate breeding tank for the sake of simplicity later on in the process. Males and females look identical until they reach maturity .

When they are adults, females will start to develop bright green eggs. Of course, you can spot these eggs pretty easily because of the clear body. At this point, the breeding process is ready to start!

The eggs will be laid on the female’s legs. Females will produce upwards of 30 eggs a week, so be prepared for a bit of juggling on your end.

First, when you see these eggs make sure to wait a few days.

This provides ample time for the males to fertilize the eggs. Once this has happened, move her to a separate breeder tank to give the eggs time to hatch. Hatching can take as long as three weeks .

When they’re hatched, move the female back to the regular community tank and let the little baby shrimp grow up a bit. Introducing the babies into the community tank too soon is not a good idea since they might get eaten by the adults.

The breeder tank should have live plants in it as well. The babies are too small for flakes, so they’ll feed off of the plant matter in order to grow.

That’s pretty much it when it comes to breeding! Like everything else when it comes to ghost shrimp, it’s a pretty simple process to learn!         

If you don’t have some already, we hope this guide has helped convince you to go out and get some ghost shrimp for your tank.

The number of benefits they can offer is immense, and the cost of buying them is shockingly low by comparison.

Not only that, but they’re unbelievably easy to take care of. It doesn’t matter if you want them as pets, live feed, or intend on breeding them, ghost shrimp don’t require a lot of extra attention.

These critters are continuing to prove that they’re worthy inclusions in the freshwater tank community, and we don’t see that changing for quite a while.

Millie Sheppard

Millie Sheppard

As an avid Aquarist, Marine Biologist, and PADI Diver, Millie is dedicated to exploring and preserving the wonders of our oceans. She is looking forward to create a career in the field of aquatic ecosystems based on a deep-rooted love for marine life and a commitment to environmental conservation. She is always eager to connect with fellow marine enthusiasts, scientists, conservationists, and publications seeking engaging marine-related content. Feel free to reach out to Millie to: [email protected]

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Ghost Shrimp Care Guide (All You Need to Know)

Ghost Shrimp Care

Ghost shrimp ( Palaemonetes paludosus ) are a great addition to home aquariums for fishkeeping enthusiasts and experts alike.

These crustaceans are omnivores that work overtime to keep your tank clean and have a unique appearance, given that they are almost completely transparent!

While ghost shrimp are relatively easy to care for, you may have a few questions if you’re a beginner. 

You may be wondering what you feed them or who can even be in the same tank as them. To find out how to raise happy, healthy shrimp, keep reading. 

What is a Ghost Shrimp?

About Ghost Shrimp

The ghost shrimp is a dwarf species of freshwater shrimp. They are native to the southeast area of the United States. Another name for ghost shrimp is glass shrimp. 

The names ghost shrimp and glass shrimp come from the fact that these ocean-dwelling invertebrates are almost entirely transparent.

This can make them very hard to spot in certain environments and lighting. However, they can be hauntingly beautiful when you can see them. 

Ghost shrimp can act as ornamental shrimp for your aquarium or as live bait for larger aquarium breeds. 

While they are usually almost completely clear, most ghost fish have slightly greenish or light brown spots.

As a dwarf species, they are very small, only reaching a maximum of 2 inches. On average, most ghost shrimp are usually only about 1.5 inches, with the females often being smaller than the males. 

Compared to other fish species, ghost shrimp have a very short lifespan. On average, they tend to only live for about a year. 

Ghost Shrimp raised for feeding larger tank mates usually don’t live nearly that long because their carnivorous tank mates will eat them before that and because aquarists don’t typically raise them with longevity in mind. 

Ghost Shrimp Molting

Like all shrimp, ghost shrimp go through a molting process when their old carapace gets too small for their growing body. When a shrimp is still young, it will molt about once a week.

Older shrimp will molt about once a month. When your shrimp is ready to shed, the ordinarily transparent body will become slightly more opaque as a new shell builds up beneath the old one.

When your shrimp is ready to molt, it will curl up, and the old shell will split at the joining of the tail and cephalothorax. The shrimp will then pull the front of its body out first before pulling out the rear. 

It can be hard to see which shrimps are molting when they live in larger groups. Because ghost shrimp have a transparent body, a molted shell can look like a ghost shrimp, so much so that you may think that your shrimp is dead if all you see is the old shell.

This is more likely when you consider that newly molted shrimp like to hide for the first couple of days as they are very vulnerable. 

It is easy to tell the difference between a dead shrimp and a leftover shell. An old exoskeleton will be transparent, much like a live ghost shrimp. Meanwhile, a dead ghost shrimp will turn a whitish pink. 

Tank Size For Ghost Shrimp?

Tank size for ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp are very small, they don’t need much room. If you only keep a single ghost shrimp, you can use something as small as 2 gallons.

If you own a few shrimp, you can use something as small as a 5-gallon tank. In the case of all tanks, it is easier to maintain good water quality with a larger tank.

Also, shrimp are bottom feeders, so they will help keep the tank clean by eating the old food and droppings from other fish. They will even eat their old shell after molting. 

Shrimp are a hardy species that don’t require specialized or hypervigilant filtration. 

A standard filter appropriate for the size of your tank will be enough. Try not to get a filter rated for a larger tank, as these small shrimp are likely to be pulled into the intake filter.

If you want to avoid your shrimp getting stuck in the filter, your best option is to use a sponge intake filter or a sponge insert in a standard canister filter. If you have a sponge filter, you will likely see your shrimp on the filter eating the bits of debris that get trapped there. 

Cycling Your Fish Tank

When setting up a new tank for your shrimp, remember to ensure that you have properly cycled it first. 

Cycling your tank encourages beneficial bacteria to grow in your tank so that it can remove harmful ammonia and nitrites. 

The simplest explanation of how this is done is simply adding a few fish flakes to the tank every 12 hours. 

As the fish food breaks down, the process will add ammonia to the water. One kind of bacteria will emerge that turns the ammonia into nitrites. After a little more waiting, the second form of bacteria that turns nitrites into nitrates will appear. Nitrates are not harmless to fish in small doses. 

With this method, the entire cycling process can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. However, if you want to speed up the process, you can either introduce plants, algae wafers, or gravel or a filter from an already established tank. 

Before taking anything from an established tank, ensure that there are no diseases in that tank to avoid cross-contamination. 

Aquarium Lid

One additional factor you should consider for your tank is a lid. Shrimp are excellent jumpers, and they can and will leap out of the tank. If you don’t want to find shrimp on the floor, your best bet is to get a tight-fitting lid with few gaps. 

Ghost shrimp don’t require any specific lighting. They are fine under bright lights or no light at all. Remember that bright lights will severely limit their visibility, thanks to their transparent bodies. 

Hiding Places

To have happy shrimp, however, ensure that you have plenty of places for them to hide, either in decorations or plants. If you are using live plants, choose lighting that is best for your plants rather than worrying about the shrimp. 

Is Sand Substrate Needed

Is Substrate needed for ghost shrimp

No, you do not need sand substrate to keep ghost shrimp, despite it being the floor covering in their natural habitat.

Since ghost shrimp are a hardy species, they don’t need any particular substrate. They will generally be reasonably happy, whether sand, gravel, or anything in between. 

When picking a substrate for your shrimp tank, instead focus on the needs of your other inhabitants. If your plants or tank mates need a particular substrate to flourish, prioritize their needs.

However, one thing you might want to consider for ghost shrimp is the color of the substrate. As ghost shrimp are transparent, they are most challenging to see with light substrates. 

Opt for something dark like black sand or pebbles if you want the most visible tiny shrimps.

Best Food For Ghost Shrimp?

Ghost shrimp are not picky eaters. They will eat just about anything that lands at the bottom of their tank. When a ghost shrimp is feeding, you will often see it sifting through the sand or gravel at the bottom of that tank. 

The very best food for a ghost shrimp is fish flakes, algae, shrimp food, blanched vegetables like romaine or zucchini, blood worms, spirulina, or leaves. 

When feeding a ghost shrimp, you may want to use a glass feeding dish. Since they feed on algae, waste, detritus, plant matter, and microorganisms at the bottom of the tank, their food can get lost in the substrate. 

You should also know that ghost shrimp eat very aggressively. If you are keeping a group of them, it would be good to have a large feeding dish so that all the tiny shrimp have enough room to eat without any fights breaking out. 

Feeding Schedule

Ghost shrimp don’t need to be fed very often. This is particularly true if they are in a tank with other fish. They will simply eat whatever drifts to the bottom of the tank.

As a general rule of thumb, when they are in a tank on their own, they can be fed every 1 to 2 days.

You should see them going after the food right away when you feed them. If they don’t, they are likely not hungry, and you can wait another day. Also, remember to remove any uneaten food in about four hours.

If you have a tank with plenty of plants, you could even go a little longer without feeding them as they will graze on the plants. 


When keeping ghost shrimp as a food source for your larger fish, you still need to pay attention to their nutrition. Feeder fish typically are not treated very well, and as such, do not make a nutritious snack for your larger fish. 

As you prepare your ghost shrimp for another fish to eat, gut loading is your best practice. In this, you keep the ghost shrimp in a separate tank for a few weeks and feed them highly nutritious food. 

You will want to tailor the actual nutrients to what fish will be eating them rather than what is best for the shrimp itself. After those few weeks are up, you will have a healthy shrimp and, more importantly, a nutrient-packed meal for your larger fish. 

Another concern you may have in raising ghost shrimp as feeder fish is parasites. The only parasites that ghost shrimp are known to carry are nematodes. 

Luckily, the nematodes carried by ghost shrimp are harmless to larger fish, making them a safe and fun bottom-feeding tank mate. 

Ghost Shrimp Diseases

Often Ghost Shrimp Diseases

There aren’t many diseases that will affect ghost shrimp. 

For the most part, there are only two main diseases that you should keep an eye out for. Thanks to their transparent bodies, these illnesses are very easy to spot. 

This is the most common illness that you can expect to see in ghost shrimp. It is a protozoan that your ghost shrimp can pick up from algae or other fish. 

If one of your ghost shrimp has vorticella, you’ll notice their usually clear body turning white and moldy. Thankfully vorticella is very easy to treat. All it takes is frequent water changes and salt. No medication is needed. 

Bacterial Infection

Like all living things, shrimp can occasionally pick up an infection from harmful bacteria. The condition will look like a small pink spot on their body. 

When you notice a bacterial spot, you should remove that particular shrimp from the tank. Hopefully, doing so will stop the spread of the infection to other shrimp in the tank. 

It is so important to remove the infected shrimp as soon as possible because a bacterial infection is fatal. If the rest of your shrimp get it, there is a chance that you will lose all of your shrimp to the disease. 

Good And Bad Tank Mates

best ghost shrimp tank mates

Ghost shrimp do best with any peaceful, small fish or fellow bottom feeders. 

Some common fish that you often see at companions are barbs, goldfish, and tetras. If you want to try fellow bottom feeders, you can add other species like red cherry shrimp and Amano shrimp. You can also add freshwater snails, Kuhli loaches, and cory catfish. 

Bad tank mates would include any aggressive fish. This is a wide-ranging list, ranging from the notoriously aggressive cichlids to the territorial Oscar.

As a general rule of thumb, do not pair your ghost shrimp with any fish that would like to eat them. If you do this, you may find that you don’t have ghost shrimp for very long. 

Ghost shrimp and betta fish can sometimes be tank mates. If your betta is big and your shrimp are small, there is a good chance that the betta will try to eat them. 

If, however, you have a smaller betta fish, there is a chance it could work out for them. If you test out compatibility between your ghost shrimp and betta, we recommend introducing just a few at first. Otherwise, you risk losing more than you bargained for. 

Can You Breed Ghost Shrimp in Aquariums?

Breeding Ghost Shrimp

You can breed ghost shrimp, but it’s not for beginners. 

First off, you will need a separate breeding tank for them. Young shrimp are very vulnerable, especially to other fish. The tank can be pretty simple with just a basic sponge filter. A sponge filter will keep the small shrimp from being sucked into the water purification system. 

We highly encourage putting live plants in your tank for the best environment for baby shrimp. Not only do they make a lovely addition to any tank, but they also provide a source of food and a hiding place for your hatchlings. 

If you’d prefer not to deal with live plants, driftwood is another natural option.

Breeding Ghost Shrimp

When a female ghost shrimp is ready to start breeding, it will become berried. This is the process in which the shrimp forms a small collection of eggs on the underside of her tail. The eggs will be green and look something like a collection of berries. Hence the name berried. 

Once the eggs are ready to be fertilized, the female will release pheromones into the water, attracting males to her. The males will then come and fertilize the eggs. 

When trying to breed ghost shrimp, keep an eye out for berried females in your main tank. Once you spot them, leave them in the community tank for a few days. This will ensure that the males have plenty of time to swim over and fertilize those eggs. 

After those few days are up, transfer the berried female into the breeding tank, as this will keep her safe while you’re waiting for those eggs to hatch. 

Caring for Larvae

It may take about a month for the eggs to finally hatch. You’ll know when it’s time because the small green eggs fall off your shrimp’s tail. 

The moment that the eggs hatch, it is highly recommended to transfer the female back to the main tank. 

This is because shrimp are scavengers, and they are not picky about what they eat. Yes, that even means their own larvae. 

As the shrimp larvae grow, they do well with a diet of spirulina or infusoria. As mentioned above, they will feed on any live plants, like java moss, as well. 

The shrimp will remain as larvae for about a week. After this point, they will change into shrimplets. The shrimplets can eat the same diet as adult shrimp, though be sure to adjust the amounts of food you are giving them to account for their smaller size. 

You should keep the shrimplets in the breeding tank for about five weeks. After this point, they are large enough to join the rest of the shrimp population. 

As you can see, the ghost shrimp species are super easy to care for, making them a great addition to your tank of other small peaceful fish.

The main takeaways are to keep them away from larger fish that may eat them and invest in a filter that won’t suck them up. 

Screenshot 2023 11 27 at 14.21.55 1

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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Ghost shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding

Ghost shrimp - Palaemonetes paludosus

Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) also have alternative names such as Glass shrimp, Grass Shrimp, and American Freshwater Glass Shrimp. Initially, they were found in North America. Nowadays, besides its popularity in shrimp breeding hobby, they are also sold as cheap food for larger fish species.

Ghost shrimp will be an excellent addition to the aquarium. They are amazingly hardy and can survive under conditions significantly better, compared to most other types of shrimp.

In addition, they are not shy. You will see them crawling around the entire aquarium in search of food, not hiding in the daytime, like most other shrimp. All in all, Ghost shrimp is one of the best options if you just want to get into this hobby.

Ghost shrimp . Lookalikes

Frankly saying, it is hard to find much reliable info on “Ghost shrimp” because many different species seem to come to be commonly referred to as “Ghost” shrimp, mistakenly or not. There is a lot of confusion around the name of this shrimp.

The point is that Ghost shrimp is a collective name. It includes lots of other shrimp species in the Palaemonetes genus. As a result, we have chaos in names.

Also, to make it even more confusing, there are sub-genuses like Palaemonetes sinensis (Far Eastern Freshwater Shrimp), Palaemonetes Varians (Atlantic Ditch shrimp), Palaemonetes Argentines (Argentinean shrimp), Palaemonetes Antennarius (Popcorn shrimp), Palaemonetes kadiakensis (the Mississippi grass shrimp). All of them look very similar to ghost shrimp.

In addition, it can be hard to distinguish Macrobrachium and Palaemonidae family. For example, instead of American Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes) you can get other types like Macrobrachium ehemals (Indian Ghost shrimp) , Macrobrachium Lanchesteri (Whisker shrimp) , Freshwater river shrimp, and even some brackish water variations.

The problem with all these shrimp is that they can also look the same to the untrained eye. That is why, consider yourself lucky, if you get by mistake, let’s say, a rather peaceful version of Ghost shrimp (Macrobrachium ehemals).

Because, for example , Macrobrachium Lanchesteri are much more aggressive than other species. They can easily hunt down dwarf shrimp (like adult Red cherry shrimp ), small fish, and snails.

Quick Notes about  Ghost shrimp

Note : Some time ago biologists believed that Ghost shrimp belonged to the Caridina species. At some point, they revised it. Now as you can see they do not even share the same family.

Family dwarf shrimp tree

Description and Appearance of Ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp received its name because they have a semi-transparent body. Depending on the diet, the shrimp may become yellow, orange, beige, or light brown.

The pigment granules in the body give Ghost shrimp the additional ability to camouflage against its background and blend in with the environment. Sometimes it can be hard to see them (although they could be right in front of your eyes) until they start moving.

They have a well-developed “horn” (rostrum) with small teeth along the dorsal and ventral surfaces, with no claws on the third pair of walking legs.  The tail of the shrimp has small specks. On the first 4 pairs of legs, there are tiny claws that help to collect food from the soil.  They are rarely larger than 2″ in size.

Difference Machrobrachium Ghost shrimp vs Palaemonidae Ghost shrimp

Machro means “long”, and brachium means “arm”.

High Death Rate of Ghost Shrimp

It may sound strange, especially after my words that they are hardy and can be hard to kill once established. Let me explain it.

The main reason why the death rate can be high is because of poor care when these shrimp were captured and brought to the big brand pet stores. The thing is that they are usually considered as fish food. So, nobody sees any reason to care for “gonners”.

As a result, these shrimp live under constant stress and without proper food. That stress over time is what is going to kill them. Yes, you can start taking good care of them but (because of that stress from a while back) the damage is already done.

Tip: If you are about to buy Ghost shrimp, pay attention to their color and activity.  Healthy shrimp are almost transparent and hyperdynamic. If they have milky color and lethargic behavior, it means that the water conditions and (or) transportation were unsuitable and very stressful to them. So, if you decide to buy them, be ready for possible quick die-off for some of them if not all.

Practice shows that if you buy 10-20 of them, you will have at least 4-10 of them survive. Actually, this is a surprising number considering the treatment. You need to acclimate any shrimp before putting them in the tank .

Algae and Ghost shrimp

There was a study about Palaemonetes paludosus. The biologists opened up around 300 stomachs of the ghost shrimp and calculated their diet. I quote “Food of grass shrimp consisted primarily of algae, vascular plants, detritus, and aquatic insects. Algae was the major food item comprising 47% of total food ingested and occurring in 83% of the stomachs.

Insects contributed least to the diet, comprising 15,2% of food ingested and occurring in only 36.2% of the stomachs”. (*Life History and Ecology of the Freshwater Caridean Shrimp, Palaemonetes paludosus (Gibbes). J. Thomas Beck and Bruce C. Cowell/ The American Midland Naturalist   Vol. 96, No. 1 (Jul., 1976), pp. 52-65 (14 pages)


As we can see, the results of the experiment are completely different. Of course, they are no match to Amano shrimp . Nonetheless, Ghost shrimp do eat algae. Unfortunately, biologists did not mention what kind of algae is their prime food source.

The Behavior and Aggression of Ghost shrimp

In the wild, Ghost shrimp live mostly in freshwater. Although, sometimes they can be found even in slightly brackish water. By nature, because of predators, they prefer a nocturnal lifestyle .

At the same time, in the absence of big predatory fish, they do not remain hidden among the vegetation and you can see them everywhere anytime. Even compared to Amano shrimp they are bolder and completely ignore fish of their size.

Many articles about ghost shrimp say that the American Ghost Shrimp are usually non-aggressive. However, there have been systematic reports that some of them can become a bit aggressive.

First of all, they are very opportunistic and can eat baby shrimp of any species or even fish fry.  In addition, they are hyper-aggressive to each other during feeding. They wildly try to get all the food for themselves and there is definite violence with their appendages.

Sometimes ghost shrimp can be territorial and fight everybody on their way if the tank is too small and there are too many of them. Note: It is very interesting, ghost shrimp can fight over food between themselves. They can tear apart a worm but I have never seen them damage each other.

Gender difference of Ghost shrimp

When they are young it is hard to determine. The adults of the female and male sex are easier to distinguish.

1.   The females of the ghost shrimp have a greenish saddle on the back that runs along the underside of their belly while males do not. The eggs underbellies also look like glowing green dots. 2.   They differ according to the convexity of the back. The females have a pronounced curved arc along the top end of the tail. 3.   The size of the shrimp. The females are much larger and thicker in the abdomen than the males. The length of the adult female is usually 5 cm, while the males are less than 4 cm. Note: according to the study, I quote “Females greatly outnumbered males in the larger size classes, and males comprised only 6.7% of the shrimp larger than 30mm”.

Unfortunately, ghost shrimp usually do not have any body markings, like Amano shrimp. Thereby, common methods of distinguishing shrimp gender (read more in my article) work only up to some point with ghost shrimp.

Life Span  of Ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp are meant to be kept as feeder fish (“Those who are about to die salute you, Caesar!”). That is why they do not live very long. Due to conditions, they are in when they arrive at the store. Under good conditions, they can live up to 3 years in the aquarium.

Keeping Ghost Shrimp

A set up similar to a cherry shrimp tank should do fine for them.

Actually, it is quite easy to keep Ghost Shrimp. They prefer water at a temperature of 20 – 27 ° C, with parameters kH 3 – 12 and pH 6.5 – 8. However, they will also feel great in water with parameters that are different from optimal.

Provide them with basic shelter, plants and they will be doing OK.  They are excellent to be kept in both soft and hard water. Apparently, it does not matter much to them.

The only problem is the size of the aquarium. Females can sometimes grow up to 60 mm. Therefore, small aquariums (less than 5 gallons – 20 liters) are not suitable for them.  Growth to maturity (20 mm) takes about 2-3 months when water temperature exceeded 26C (and 4-5 months when the temperature is lower).

In nature, their food menu consisted primarily of algae, vascular plants, detritus, and aquatic insects, in decreasing order of importance.

Tip: Keep in mind and remember that stability of water parameters can play an even more important role in shrimp breeding (keeping) hobby than making them optimal.

Sex Ratio of Ghost Shrimp

According to the study, the sex ratio of 24854 specimens collected between May and April was one female to 0,78 male (P<0.05). Females were abundant in all months of the year. This is especially evident in the summer. Unlike other shrimp, the ideal ratio for ghost shrimp is 1:1.

Read more about it in my article “Male to Female Ratio in Shrimp Tanks”.

Breeding Ghost shrimp

Brackish water confusion.

There is a common misunderstanding that the Ghost shrimp need brackish water in order to breed. I would like to start off by saying that Ghost shrimp do not require brackish water in order to breed.  It is predominantly a freshwater species. In the laboratory experiments , Adult Ghost shrimp could survive at a salinity of 30 ppt (parts per 1000).

Percentage survival of adults Gost shrimp in salinity

Also, there was conclusive evidence that egg hatching and larvae development proceed similarly in 5ppt and 0ppt.

After that (salinity of 10-20 ppt), the survival rate of the eggs drops significantly. The Eggs of ghost shrimp may not have the same osmoregulatory mechanisms as later forms in which tissues are more differentiated.

At the same time, results of the test on larvae indicated that short-term salinity tolerance was as high as that of adults, and that larva could even metamorphose in salinity up to 30ppt. Unlike the closely related freshwater Palaemonetes kadiakensis.

The shorter larval duration may enable Palaemonetes paludosus to reach metamorphosis in higher salinities before dangerous effects are experienced by larvae.

The Mating Process of Ghost Shrimp

Basically, the breeding process is almost the same as with any dwarf shrimp. When the female is ready to breed, she molts . After that, her pheromones make the males start searching for her. They will fertilize the eggs outside of the body. After that, the semen will be held under her abdomen on her ovaries where the eggs will begin to develop.

You do not need any special conditions for breeding Ghost shrimp. It is absolutely possible to breed them in one aquarium.

Note: I will repeat once again that adult ghost shrimp can eat larvae or small shrimplets. That is why the second tank is advisable.

Tip: If you do not want to mess with the second tank but want to breed ghost shrimp, it is crucial to provide lots of plants and other small hiding places in the aquarium for the shrimplets. It will increase their survival chances.

Nonetheless, if you want to be a successful Ghost shrimp breeder, then the females with caviar should be placed in a separate tank.

Preparing Larvae Rearing Tank for Ghost Shrimp

The good thing about the breeding tank is that it can be without any filtration at all if you have a lot of plants there. There is almost zero bioloads from the larvae.

A very slow-running air stone would assist to distribute greenwater in the aquarium. The water movement should not be too strong. Otherwise, larvae will get blown around, so keep it very low and gentle.

What is different?

Their eggs hatch as free-floating larvae, not miniature versions of the ghost shrimp. At this stage, they are too small to catch. That is why it is better to move the female while she is still carrying the eggs.

After the appearance of the young, for the safety sake, put the females back to the main tank.

Ghost shrimp larvae are a little more difficult to raise because of the food requirements. Otherwise, the larvae will apparently starve and die if not properly fed.

How many Eggs do Ghost Shrimp usually have?

Ghost shrimp females’ fecundity ranges from 8-85 eggs and increases with the length of the female. The incubation period in the laboratory conditions was 12-14 days at 26-28C.

Average brood size – 35.9 eggs.

Maturity Size of the Ghost Shrimp

Biologists noticed that all immature females – 12-19 mm long. No females under 20mm carried eggs.

There are two stages of pre-hatching development: 1.   An early-stage where eye pigment was absent 2.   Later stages where eye pigment was present (5 days after the eggs were laid)

Many females carrying eggs also had ripe ovaries. Tip: If you see that the eggs are nearly at the bottom of the swimmeret, they are going to fall off anytime soon.

Hatching of Ghost shrimp larvae

Once hatched they hang under the surface for a few days as they cannot control their movements right away.

In the larval stage, they will require powdered food (Spirulina is a great alga for this), infusoria, Artemia, and zooplankton. Mix the powdered food thoroughly with water and then feed it like the cultured kind. Thus, having an abundance of water born algae would likely be highly beneficial for their survival.

Tip: Feed them twice a day ~50-100 ml. Use a syringe, it is very convenient.

The larvae will metamorphosis into miniature versions of the adults in about 5-10 days depending on temperatures. Big black eyes and sharply bent backs are the most obvious features at this stage.

Once the larvae have reached metamorphosis, they start swimming and act just like adults. After that, they will require no further special care. They will molt frequently. You can do small water changes 5-10% every 10-14 days. Do not forget to cover intake.

Tip : if you have a filter in a rearing tank, cover your filter’s water intake with a sponge or a piece of nylon stocking if you have not done it already. Most filters suck the water in to clean it. They can easily suck in larvae or tiny shrimp and kill them.

Interesting fact: According to another research*. The larvae were reared at room temperatures which varied from 15-31C (59-88F) during the course of the study. The tolerance level is amazing! (*The Larval Development of Palaemonetes paludosus (Gibbes, 1850) (Decapoda, Palaemonidae), Reared in the Laboratory. Sheldon Dobki. Crustaceana. Vol. 6, No. 1 (Aug., 1963), pp. 41-61 (21 pages)

Metamorphosis stages of Ghost shrimp larvae

Ghost shrimp larva stage

The size of the larvae 3.7-3.9 mm. The rostrum is straight with dorsal hump near its base, and usually lacks spines. The carapace and abdomen lack spines. The abdomen has six segments; the last is fused with telson (tail). The eyes are sessile.  The larvae have a yellowish ground color and numerous orange-red pigments mainly at the base of the appendages. The antennule is uniramous. Uniramous pleopod is non-functional.  The first zoea generally molted within 24 hours of being hatched.

2.              Second Zoea Stage

The size of the larvae 3.8-4.1 mm. The main difference between the 1 st and 2 nd stages is the separation of the eyes from the carapace and the appearance of the last 3 pairs of pereiopods. In addition, the rostrum has a single dorsal spine. The second zoea generally molted after being in that stage for 2 days.

3.              Third Zoea Stage

The size of the larvae 3.8-4.4 mm. The main difference of this stage is the appearance of uropods. In addition, the rostrum has acquired a second dorsal spine.  The duration of the 3 rd stage was 1 to 4 days depending on the temperature. However, molting occurred most frequently after 2 days.

Some frequently asked questions about Ghost shrimp.

What substrate do ghost shrimp need.

They can live everywhere. However, sand, small gravel, etc can make them happier. In nature, these shrimp can even build burrows to feed. They use the claws of the first and second legs to dig with and legs to draw the sandy mud backward. However, these burrows are not permanent and they do not stay close to them all the time.

Do Ghost shrimp need Brackish Water?

No, they do not need brackish water to live and breed. They can survive in brackish water, but it is not the same. The eggs of Ghost shrimp cannot develop in 10-20ppt salinity.

Ghost Shrimp becomes Whitish (or Pink)

There are two explanations here: 1.   Good one. They change color when molting. When they are about to molt they will turn opaque but it will not be white. 2.   Bad one. –      If they turn opaque and do not move. The molting was unsuccessful. The shrimp stuck in its exoskeleton. –      If they are white/pink for some time, most likely, they are sick and usually die. –      It is a reaction to stress. Check your water parameters and look for possible predators like dragonfly nymphs .

Do Ghost Shrimp eat Cherry shrimp?

It is a very controversial subject. Many shrimp breeders saw Ghost shrimp attack and eat other shrimp. I am not talking about aggressive species like Macrobrachium Lanchesteri. Some people claim that even Palaemontes paludosus are capable to do that. Palaemontes paludosus has very small claws that are not meant for hunting down prey. Nonetheless, it does not mean that they cannot catch a sick or dying animal and eat it.

Do Ghost Shrimp eat Snails?

I have already answered this question here (just scroll down to the bottom). However, considering the fact that Ghost shrimp are bigger than most dwarf shrimp and more aggressive, I would say that it is possible. They can eat including snails that cannot seal themselves in their shells. Sometimes even trapdoors are not enough to stop the ghost shrimp.

Are Ghost Shrimp Plants Safe?

Ghost shrimp are plants safe. However, if they start picking live plants, it indicates that the ghost shrimp do not have enough food. They will not eat plants unless they are really hungry.

That is the main reason why people report that they actually saw them eating the tips of leaves. It usually shows how hungry they are. In the wild, they can eat a small amount of live vascular plants from time to time. In general, the most part would usually be in the form of detritus (dead plant pieces) anyway.

How many ghost shrimp per gallon?

Practice shows us that 1-3 ghost shrimp per gallon is an optimal number. if you do not have anything else in your aquarium. Do not overstock the tank. It stresses shrimp (fish) and makes them aggressive.

Are Ghost shrimp nocturnal?

Yes, Like most crustaceans, Ghost shrimp   tend to be nocturnal scavengers.  For more information, check my article “ Are Shrimp Nocturnal? “.

12 thoughts on “ Ghost shrimp – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding ”


Hi TERI HAYNES, Are you sure that they are not whitish? You know, sometimes dirt and light can play a trick. In this case, it is a sign that the shrimp is ready to molt. In other cases, it can be genetics. Best regards, Michael

So I was wondering where on the chart the Australian Glass shrimp are? Their scientific name is Paratya Australiensis. Is that an atyidae or a palaemonidae or a completely different type?

What about Australatya striolata, the australian riffle shrimp?

Are ghost shrimp more popular than Cherry shrimp

Hi Jefferson lawrence, No, they don’t. Best regards, Michael

Hi Michael,

Thank you for a really well informed article. It is good to read about these shrimp from someone who knows them.

Our Glass Shrimp is currently living the life of a batchelor as he has outlived his tank mates by some margin. He is now 7 years old and has lived his own for around 5 years since his weather loach friend died.

He is still going strong and seems content with life.

God bless you,

Hi Tilly Taylor, Thank you! 7 years… just Wow! He is a true fighter 🙂 Best regards, Michael

Hi Michael, I really liked all the information you shared. I am planning to have a small aquarium (10 gallons) with some shrimp, so I wonder if I can get your email. I would like to contact you directly.

Hi Ivan, Sure, I have sent you the message. Check your email. Best regards, Michael

why are ghost shrimp so hard to find in pet stores right now? I am looking for “feeder shrimp”. Is there anything else I can use?

Hi Sheila, Hello, it’s hard to say, perhaps it’s just normal fluctuations – there might be few now and then more later. Are you referring to live food ? If so, it may depend on the size and species of the fish you’re buying them for. Best regards, Michael

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Ghost Shrimp: Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size and Disease

Adam Edmond Image

  • By Adam Edmond

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Like the name of this invertebrate suggests, ghost shrimps are clear or transparent in color. The primary reason behind this is to evade the chase of predators who live in the natural habitats and the home tanks.

However, these shrimps’ clear appearance also contributes to a fascinating view of how their body works and how they process food. If you are an aquarist interested in learning more about the morphology and physiology of aquatic life, these shrimps are hands down the best way to start.

Besides their transparent body, the ghost shrimp anatomy includes two antennas fitted to the top of their head – both of varying sizes. However, their antenna has significant sensory functions and helps detect chemical changes in the water body and even food.

Another unique sight in their appearance is the rostrum, a beak-like extension situated just between the eyes and the shrimp’s carapace. The primary function of the carapace is to provide a protective outer covering to the shrimp while they are swimming around.

Just behind the carapace is where you will find the infamous swimming limps, otherwise known as pleopods, that connect directly to the tail. They also have a tail fan embodying the exterior of the uropod, giving them their characteristic look and appearance.

Lifespan of Ghost Shrimp

The typical lifespan of a ghost shrimp is between 8 months to a year. However, this isn’t a standard time frame because some of them can live less or more, depending on the environments they are kept in and their feeding in the tank.

Besides being kept as a part of the tank, some aquarists even add a bunch of ghost shrimp as feeder fish for the other larger fish. In such cases, their care isn’t the aquarist’s priority, and they are thus kept in poor living conditions, leading to premature death in the tank.

Another part of their lifecycle worth mentioning is the regular molting process that they undergo. The molting frequency depends on the quantity of food the shrimps are eating and how quickly they switch from their standard size. Generally, they molt when they become larger than their shell.

Ghost Shrimp Size

The typical size of a mature ghost shrimp is not more than 1.5 inches. The male ones are comparatively shorter than the adult female shrimps.

However, despite their length, they aren’t very wide in appearance, which is why they appear sleek and thinner than some of the other shrimp species, especially the peppermint shrimp . These shrimps’ smaller and intangible size is also why they are often offered as a live feed to the larger fish species.

Natural Habitat and Origin

Ghost shrimps are popular freshwater crustaceans that are found in several lakes in North America. Although aquarists know that they hail from freshwater regions, their origin is not that clear. However, they were first officially classified in the early 1800s, which is a few centuries ago.

Although they were fascinating to look at during the initial days of their discovery, their existence became very common as the days passed. They are rarely kept as an addition to the community tanks and are mostly used as a live feed.

If you are wondering about their nature, ghost shrimps are timid about their surroundings. However, they are an active species and are often categorized as aquarium cleaners because of the algae they feed on. So, they are a significant part of aquaculture.

Ghost Shrimp Care and Tank Set-up

Contrary to what many think, ghost shrimps are extremely vulnerable in their natural habitat, especially in the rivers and lakes containing many larger fish species. So, when setting up a tank for them, mimicking a similar backdrop and set-up is crucial to adapt to the surroundings easily.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Size and Specifications

Given the small size of these shrimps, you will often find that they fit right in the smaller tanks and with the bare minimum in them. For your convenience as a beginner, we will discuss everything related to the tank setup that you need to know about.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Size and Specifications

It doesn’t matter whether you keep the ghost shrimp alone or in groups, make sure that you fill the tank with enough crevices and hiding spots so the ghost shrimps don’t feel in danger all the time. This is one of the leading causes of stress and premature death in these small crustaceans.

Following are some of the crucial details about tank set-up that you need to be mindful of:

Optimum tank size for Ghost Shrimp

The minimum tank size recommendation for ghost shrimp is 5 gallons. You can house 3-4 shrimps per gallon of water, which means that a 5-gallon variant can easily house 10-15 of these small invertebrates in them.

However, if you are keeping them in a community tank, you need to be extra careful of the other fish species that you pair them with.

Filter Type

When it comes to water filtration, you need to integrate a light flow filter that won’t generate heavy water current.

A water filter should always be available in the aquarium, even though ghost shrimp like to do all the cleaning. An internal sponge filter is the best option, especially if you have a small tank (about 5-gallons), as it will also provide an extra food source.

For large tanks, external filters are a better option, as they help change foul water and larger debris.

Ghost shrimp, like many other shrimp species kept in the home tanks, are bottom feeders . So, you will often find them navigating down to the bottom of the tank in search of food or a hiding spot from their predators.

Ghost Shrimp on Substrate

So, make sure that you fill the bottom with the fine but dark-colored substrate so you can spot the transparent colored ghost shrimps in the tank. Fine sand works the best as a substrate for the tank since these shrimps have a habit of digging into the substrate for food. Any kind of rough-edged substrate will end up causing injuries or even make it harder for them to find food to eat.

Water Parameters for Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps babies and adults are very adaptable to the water conditions you place them in. This is why you don’t have to go overboard with the water parameters and maintain the favorable conditions to their lifestyle.

When setting up the tank for ghost shrimps, you need to be mindful of three things: temperature, pH, and water hardness.

Water temperature

The ideal water temperature for ghost shrimp is between 65 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that these small invertebrates prefer living in warm water conditions, so you need to pair them with fish species that favor warm water. Higher temperatures can accelerate growth and reproduction rates, while lower temperatures lower the shrimp’s immunity and disease.

A heater should be placed in the aquarium if kept in a colder room or if you live in a colder climate.

The perfect water pH level for ghost shrimp is between 7.0 to 8.0 , which indicates that they prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water conditions, which is very easy to recreate in the home aquariums.

Be very careful when treating water or other fish in the aquarium with medication. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates should always be monitored and, most of all, avoid copper accumulating in the water, as it is fatal to the shrimp.

Nitrites and ammonia should be 0, while nitrates should never be higher than 20ppm.

Water Hardness

The only standout factor with the water parameters is the water hardness because they rely on soft water conditions with a scale between 3.72 and 6.75 .

Ghost Shrimp Tank Landscape

Ghost Shrimp Tank Landscape

Ghost shrimp like to live with many live plants in an environment of moderately moving water. They can even tell a live plant from a fake one; live aquarium plants provide shed-matter shrimp like to eat, leading to a cleaner aquarium.

Also, plants, along with decorations and rocks, provide ideal hiding places for the little crustaceans and make them feel more at home.

When you generally go to buy ghost shrimps for your home aquarium, you will often notice some of them chucked into a plain transparent tank with no hideouts or decorations. Those are the live feeds. If you want to house a ghost shrimp, that is the last thing you want to do.

Setting up the inside of the tank for a ghost shrimp does require some important pointers and reminders that we will discuss now.

Best Plants for Ghost Shrimp Tank

As we mentioned before, fine sand and gravel make the best substrate for the ghost shrimp tank. These are easy to dig through and don’t inflict any kind of pain or injury to the shrimp while they are down at the bottom looking for food.

However, simply relying on the substrate will only get you so far. Instead, you need to fill up the tank with different aquatic live plants to replicate their natural living conditions in the lakes and rivers.

Plants like java moss and hornwort make up for the two best options for live plants. Utricularia Graminifolia is also good for them. Besides being a good spot for hiding, keeping live plants in the tank also generates algae that the shrimps feed on now and then.

Lighting for Ghost Shrimp Tank

Besides the live plants, an aquarist also needs to be mindful of the lighting conditions in the tank. If you are extremely critical about the lighting, let us ease your mind by saying that the ghost shrimps don’t necessarily care about it.

They are bottom dwellers and bottom feeders, so they won’t have a specific day or night cycle for active or hiding out. So, if you want, a plain LED aquarium light on the top will get the job done just fine.

Feeding Ghost Shrimp

It’s very easy to feed your ghost shrimp, as it will eat almost anything found in the aquarium. Their diet consists of algae, dead plant matter, or uneaten bits of food. Also, boiled soft vegetables can be an inexpensive solution while providing the shrimp with many nutrients.

Of course, processed foods can also be fed to the ghost shrimp, such as pellets designed for small fish or shrimp, fish flakes, or wafers. Mostly anything that can easily be broken into small bits will be acceptable.

Red Colored Ghost Shrimp

As the ghost shrimp has clear bodies, food can be seen while passing through the digestive system. Ghost shrimp should be fed twice a day and given the amount of food eaten in about 1-3 minutes.

Their broad spectrum of eating habits makes them perfect aquarium cleaners because they will gobble down the food from the bottom, clear out algae deposition and ensure that the tank doesn’t have unnecessary food remnants in it. They also feed off of plant debris in case a plant has died in the tank.

What kind of food you feed your ghost shrimp depends on the height of the tank. If the tank is too tall, the chances of these shrimps coming up to the surface to feed off the flakes is very low. In such cases, you can rely on sinking pellets to feed them.

A few other feeding factors worth considering is that these small ghost shrimps need a good calcium supplement now and then. Since they molt quite frequently, the calcium helps build a stronger shell. Also, try to avoid any kinds of food sources containing copper because that is highly toxic and fatal for the shrimps.

Ghost Shrimp Behavior and Temperament

Ghost shrimps, like the other shrimp species, are very peaceful and like to keep to themselves. You will find them spending the majority of their day on the bottom of the tank, either digging for food or hiding from the predators.

During and after their molting, you will find these shrimps hiding away in the crevices and caves to protect them from the predators in the tank. They will do so until their shell reforms and hardens on the exterior.

Besides their general nature, they aren’t very societal in larger community tanks with different fish species and like to keep to themselves most of the time. You will find them swimming around in the tank now and then, but it is very easy to lose them out of sight due to their clear body.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Ghost shrimp do best in a one-species aquarium or other small shrimp species, like the Red Cherry or the Crystal Red Shrimp . They are pretty social creatures and interact well with their kind.

If you plan to keep your ghost shrimp on their own, keep in mind that too many can get aggressive against each other.

Ghost shrimp can be placed with other small snails or fish, such as the Betta Splendens , but it always depends on the Betta, as their moods are prone to sudden changes. Some aquarists observed Bettas would constantly chase the shrimp or start hunting it suddenly after a long while it didn’t care about it.

The best option when placing shrimp and fish together is to start with a well-established shrimp population, as safety in numbers will decrease the chance of ghost shrimp being eaten.

Ghost Shrimp eating Cherry Shrimp

Keep in mind that larger fish are very likely to eat or harass the shrimp, so consider placing it only with smaller fish. Young glass shrimp should only be kept with other shrimp, as they are even more vulnerable than the adults.

Breeding Ghost Shrimp

If you are housing ghost shrimps with an intent to breed them, you won’t have to go out of your way to do anything in excess. Just ensure that they are kept in a tank with the same species and with no predators in sight.

When there are no predators and no external stress, it becomes easier and natural for these shrimps to breed.

However, if you have the ghost shrimps stationed in the community tank and you want to breed them, setting up a breeding tank is important.

Transfer the female and male ghost shrimp into the breeding tank and wait for them to produce eggs around their leg region. They can produce 20-30 at a time. The male ones then approach the female shrimps and fertilize the eggs.

Make sure you keep a close eye during that process and remove the male ghost shrimps once the fertilization is done. The pregnant ghost shrimp will stay alone in the breeding tank until the eggs hatch.

Once the eggs hatch successfully, transfer the female ghost shrimp into the community tank because they don’t show maternal instincts and can eat their fry. Ensure that you fit a good-quality sponge filter into the breeder tank to keep a steady water flow without the small shrimps getting sucked into the machine by mistake.

Since the newly hatched shrimps have a very tiny body and mouth, you want to feed them the littlest amount of food and supplement to nurture them and help them grow to become stronger and mature. Once they have grown into full-sized adults, you can feed them the standard foods that you would with a larger adult ghost shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp Common Diseases and Treatment

Like any other invertebrate in the tank, even ghost shrimps are susceptible to a few water-borne diseases that aquarists should be aware of.

One of the most common diseases that affect the ghost shrimp is Vorticella. The disease comes from algae that the shrimps feed on, making their body and the clear shell look white and moldy in nature and texture.

Besides Vorticella, a bacterial infection is another common issue that most ghost shrimps suffer from. If you find the shrimp extremely fatigued or showcasing bright pink spots on the shell with swelling, it is a sign of bacterial infection caused by poor water conditions.

The best way to treat both diseases is to have a clean tank with reduced levels and ammonia and nitrate in them. If you aren’t cleaning the tank or treating it with salt every week or every two weeks, these diseases will affect the shrimps and other inhabitants in the tank.

If the ghost shrimp is infected with a bacterial infection, you need to immediately separate it from the main tank to prevent the others from getting an infection. 9/10 times, the bacterial infection leads to the premature death of the shrimp.

Are Ghost Shrimp Right for You?

From the small size to the ease of care, ghost shrimps are ideal for beginners who want to introduce invertebrates into their tanks. They are extremely cheap, which means that you can buy a bunch without paying a hefty amount like with other fish species.

Ghost Shrimp in Beautiful Lighting

All you have to do is put in a little effort to take care of them and be fascinated by their beautiful nature and appearance. Besides the unique appearance, these small shrimps are quite active when they want to, which again keeps the aquarists amused from time to time.

Do ghost shrimps molt?

Yes, ghost shrimps molt every few days, especially when they have eaten a lot more than they generally would. If their body becomes larger and can’t fit into the shell anymore, they molt and shed the shell. During that time, they undergo regeneration and hideaway in the crevices in the tank.

Do ghost shrimp eat fish poop?

Ghost shrimps do nibble on fish poop now and then. However, they don’t necessarily feed on the poop altogether and will just inspect and nibble on it.

Why do my ghost shrimp keep dying?

One of the most common reasons behind premature death is due to poor water and living conditions. Also, if the shrimp is paired with other larger fish species that they feel threatened to, it can put them under stress and result in death.

Do ghost shrimp clean tanks?

To an extent, ghost shrimps clean up tanks by eating algae, plant debris, and other food remnants in the bottom. However, don’t expect to rely on them solely for cleaning the tank. You need to do it manually as well.

Do ghost shrimp eat moss balls?

While the ghost shrimps don’t eat moss balls , the addition to the tank helps the shrimp graze on it and hide away in their crevices. Only the amono shrimp have a habit of nibbling and tearing apart the moss balls in the tank.

Should I remove death ghost shrimp?

If the ghost shrimp have died of natural causes, you don’t have to worry about removing them because larger fishes will eat them. However, if they died due to an illness, especially a bacterial infection, you must remove them immediately without any questions.

Do ghost shrimps jump out of tank?

Ghost shrimps are bottom dwellers, so you won’t find them swimming up to the surface of the tank. This means there are little to no risks of them jumping out of the tank.

Can ghost shrimp live with bettas?

Yes, ghost shrimps and bettas can live together. However, we’d recommend that you put enough hiding spots in the tank so the shrimps can protect themselves instead of becoming a feast. Read more on this in detail on our guide ghost shrimp compatibility with bettas .

Ghost shrimp are pretty little creatures and inexpensive in bulk quantities, and very easy to keep. They make an interesting addition to small aquariums or can form a colony of their own.

Glass shrimp are also useful in reducing nitrates and algae while having a very low biological footprint, but you should always watch a tank containing fish and shrimp together. With a little monitoring of the tank, they can live up to two years.

If all these sound appealing to you and you don’t want the extra hassle of taking care of complex fish species, ghost shrimp babies are the perfect addition to your tanks. We hope this guide gives you all the inputs you need to know if there is anything else you need information on, leave us a question in the comments.

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Ghost Shrimp Care, Food, Lifespan, Habitat – Video

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Ghost Shrimp, also known as Glass Shrimp, are relatively easy freshwater aquarium shrimp to keep. Ghost Shrimp are almost always available for sale at local pet stores as well as at the larger chain stores. At the pet shop, they are frequently kept in a small tank with other shrimp of their kind. The small tank often has a sponge filter or air stone pumping bubbles. On display, the Ghost Shrimp tank often does not look like something other than a tank of murky water with tons of bubbles.

Ghost Shrimp are relatively inexpensive and are often purchased as “feeders” for larger more aggressive fish. Some Cichlids can eat Ghost Shrimp all day long. But Ghost Shrimp are more than a tasty snack. They are great aquarium cleaners and can be a lot of fun to watch. Many new hobbyists don’t give Ghost Shrimp a second look, but they really can be an interesting invertebrate to keep in their own right.

Ghost Shrimp look good when kept in a tank with black aquarium gravel or substrate. It’s also good to keep them in a tank with a black background. When the shrimp is up against the black gravel or background it makes them easier to see.

Ghost Shrimp Behavior, Upclose: 30 Second Video

More Ghost Shrimp Videos:

Glass Shrimp Eating A Dead Amano Shrimp

Glass Shrimp Feeding Closeup In A Freshwater Tank

Shrimp Tank Mates Are Very Important

Shrimp Eating, And Food Gets Stolen

Ghost Shrimp Pictures Gallery

Water Sprite And Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp care is relatively easy. They are very active and busy invertebrates tirelessly scouring the tank for food to eat. Always on the go, these shrimp are in their element when kept in an established tank that is not “too clean”. As scavengers, they search the gravel or substrate for little bits of edible material that is otherwise uneaten. To that extent, Ghost Shrimp are decent aquarium cleaners, almost in the same league as Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snails. Ghost Shrimp are small so they may not eat as much as larger invertebrates, but they are constantly picking away at nearly everything they are near.

Tank Size For Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp can be kept in small tanks like 5 or 10 gallon aquariums and larger. With small aquariums, be mindful of the limitations of the tank in terms of low water volume and limited surface area. So be sure to not accidentally overstock the tank. Ghost Shrimp are small creatures but they contribute to the bio-load of a tank just like other living organisms. Overstocking a small tank with lots of shrimp will cause water quality issues and can create an unhealthy environment. So follow the typical fish stocking rules for community tanks and things should work out fine.

With small tanks like a 10 gallon, try not to add too many Ghost Shrimp. They may get aggressive and nasty toward each other if there are too many living together in a small space.

Ghost Shrimp Habitat & Water Parameters

Ghost Shrimp seem to enjoy establish planted aquariums with a moderate current of continuously moving water . An appropriately sized HOB power filter should do the trick and keep the water circulating properly. Additionally, an air pump with a fine air stone will create a wall of tiny bubbles to help keep water moving as well. With the bubbles, it’s fun to watch the shrimp get drawn up into the current and have to move their hind legs ferociously to swim out of it. Ghost Shrimp are great swimmers.

Ghost Shrimp Like Live Aquarium Plants

Keeping Ghost Shrimp in a tank with hardy live plants can also be a good idea. Aquariums with lots of live plants are never “too clean” as the plants constantly shed plant matter into the water column. Ghost Shrimp seem to enjoy picking through the messiness and feasting on the parts they can eat. Keeping aquarium plants is also a good idea because they provide little places to explore and hide especially near the bottom of the tank. Other hiding places can be created with decorations or rocks built into caves and caverns. Either way, it’s important that Ghost Shrimp have places to sneak away to from time to time.

Water Parameters

As far as water parameters go, Ghost Shrimp seem to be comfortable in the tropical community tank range. Water temperature can be 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with some suggesting that a slightly wider temperature range is also acceptable. Aquarium pH should be fine anywhere between 7.0 and 8.0 provided there are no sudden shifts, and the water should also be on the hard side. Standard aquarium lighting will do. And as with all freshwater aquarium shrimp, be very careful when treating the tank with medicines. Keep Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates in check. And most importantly, avoid copper as copper can be fatal to aquarium shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp Food, Size & Color Range

Ghost Shrimp food is broad as they will eat almost anything. They are great pickers and will eat like machines. Ghost Shrimp food can include some forms of algae, dead plant latter and detritus. These shrimp love fish or shrimp pellets, fish flakes, algae wafers or bits otherwise uneaten food. And its a good idea to find food supplements with Calcium, as Calcium is necessary for healthy shell growth. Ghost Shrimp food may also include their fallen tank mates, as they will even feed off dead fish or dead shrimp. Of course, it’s important to take dead inhabitants out of the water quickly otherwise there can be an ammonia spike in the tank. It’s fun to watch Ghost Shrimp swim up and pluck bits of food out of the water. And there is a pecking order with feeding as well. Bigger shrimp eat first.

Ghost Shrimp Size, Shape & Appearance

Ghost Shrimp size varies by age, but generally they grow to be about 1 1/2 inches in length. In terms of width, Ghost Shrimp size is generally about the diameter of a pencil eraser when fully grown. Ghost Shrimp tend to be thinner and more streamline as compared to Amano Shrimp. Ghost Shrimp have a little hump midway down the length of their tail. And like other shrimp, they resemble small crayfish. But there are some differences. One big difference is the size of the creature and the pliability of their shell. Glass Shrimp have much softer shells than crayfish.

Ghost Shrimp Antenna

A Ghost Shrimp has a pair of long antenna and a pair of short antenna. Their rostrum is on the top of their head right between their eyes. Behind the rostrum is a carapace area. Its in this carapace area where many of the inner workings of this shrimp can be seen, especially when feeding. The shrimp’s front legs are attached to the underside of the carapace. The legs are long, slender and clear. When the shrimp is feeding on the tank bottom or on hard surfaces, its primary method of movement is to walk with its legs.

Behind the carapace, they have six abdominal segments that form a flexible covering. The area between the third and fourth abdominal segments comes together to form what appears to be a slight pointed area that juts up slightly higher than the other segments. Little clear swimmerets are tucked under the abdominal segments. These swimmerets can be seen fluttering back and forth as the shrimp moves up and down through the water column. And female shrimp keep their eggs safely tucked under the abdominal segments closest to the carapace.

Abdominal Segments

The sixth abdominal segment connects to the tail. The tail is also made up of flexible, moving segments. But these segments are thin and flat. In the middle of the tail is the telson. Under the telson are the four segments of soft shell that make up the uropod. The uropod can expand and contrast slightly to make the tail more broad or more narrow as need be. And on the edges of the uropod segments, the shrimp has very fine filament-like “fringe”. Similar looking “fringe” filaments also appear on the edges of the swimmerets.

When the shrimp needs to move very quickly, in case of danger, it can be seen becoming very streamline and quickly flapping its uropod under its abdomen. This causes the shrimp to propel itself backwards at very high speeds. Often, one quick thrust backward is sufficient to get out of dangerous situations like conflicts over a piece of food. But it’s not uncommon for them to pump their uropod a couple times in a row to put some real distance between themselves and danger. When this happens, the shrimp can end up retreating to other side of the tank in an instant.

Color Range

Many people describe Ghost Shrimp color as a transparent shrimp, but I think they are more on the translucent side. Their bodies are generally clear with a hint of hazy grey, or sprinkled with green dots. Ghost Shrimp color ranges from translucent light grey to a translucent darker grey, but in either case one can see almost see through the shrimp, and certainly can see inside the shrimp. And that is one of the most fascinating aspects of a Ghost Shrimp: One can see the internal workings of its body when it feeds. It’s really amazing to watch close up. They may also have little green dots on their torso, and orange rings on their feelers and front legs.

Ghost Shrimp Lifespan & Molting

Ghost Shrimp lifespan can be anywhere from a couple of days to 1 year. In some cases under good conditions and with a little luck, a Ghost Shrimp lifespan can be a little longer than a year. But usually not that much more that that.

Ghost Shrimp are at risk of dying soon after they are added to a tank. It’s not uncommon for Ghost Shrimp to die within a day or two of being introduced to an established tank with healthy and stable water. Some will appear dead on the bottom of the tank and others will simply “disappear”. At the same time, other Ghost Shrimp from the same batch acclimate well and thrive in their new environment. Maybe its the stress of being brought home from the store, or maybe they experience stress due to very slight differences in water parameters, but whatever the reason be prepared to lose a few shrimp with each batch.

Another consideration is that because these shrimp are considered “feeders” they may not be treated very well when transported to the store. They are often kept in overstocked, under-filtered tanks with poor water conditions. That may be why some are prone to dying when transported to a home aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp Molting Process

Ghost Shrimp are often kept in groups. It’s difficult to say how often Ghost Shrimp molt because its hard to figure out which of the group has lost its shell. Most commonly a hobbyist will wake up one morning, check out the tank and see a couple of clear white empty shells on the bottom. As long as they shrimp are there, all is good. The important thing to know is that Ghost Shrimp molt as they eat and grow. So as long they are actively feeding and moving about, it’s normal for them to molt often. Molting just means they are healthy and growing larger.

When Ghost Shrimp molt they are very vulnerable until they get acclimated in their new shell. That’s why its important to keep them in a tank with lots of small hiding places. Live aquarium plants are good for this purpose.

After molting occurs, leave the empty shed shell in the tank for a few days. Other shrimp may take turns feeding off it. Re-ingesting the minerals in the old shell helps set up their next molting cycle.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Ghost Shrimp tank mates can be small non-aggressive community tank fish that are not large enough to eat them. They are not going to last long (meaning a matter of seconds) with Goldfish, Oscars and other cichlids, Frogs, Turtles, crayfish or other aggressive roughens.

Good tank mates for Glass Shrimp can include others of their kind, as well as:  Bamboo Shrimp (aka Wood Shrimp), Vampire Shrimp (aka Viper Shrimp), Amano Shrimp , provided the Amanos are larger, Red Cherry Shrimp , Nerite Snails , Mystery Snails , Malaysian Trumpet Snails , Gold Inca Snails , Ivory Snails , and Ramshorn Snails . Ghost Shrimp can also be tank mates with some calm and peaceful community tank fish especially Cory Catfish and Otocinclus Catfish . As always, check with the clerk at the pet store about potential compatibility issues before purchasing Ghost Shrimp and adding them to a tank.

Berried Ghost Shrimp:  Reproduction

Ghost Shrimp breeding is challenging. I have kept Ghost Shrimp berried, or with eggs, but I have never been successful reaching the stage where I’ve seen live babies. This may be due to the fact that the shrimp have always been in busy tanks with tank mates that could be interested in eating the offspring. That said, they can reproduce in fresh water and can be purchased carrying eggs. So have some fine sponge filters handy to cover power filter intakes in case you see larvae. And it may be a good idea to move the berried shrimp to a separate tank so the baby shrimp do not get eaten by hungry predators when they are first born.

Keeping Glass Shrimp As Feeders:

If Glass Shrimp are going to be used as feeders, its not necessary for to keep them in an elaborate tank. Just about any size tank will do for this purpose. Gravel and live plants are not necessary either. Although some floating Anacharis may be useful in keeping the tank water somewhat healthy. One thing that should be present is a constant flow of air bubbles. Tiny air bubbles are necessary to keep the water moving and the surface area agitated. So a small air stone, a few feet of tubing and a small air pump are needed.

If Glass Shrimp are going to be kept for any length of time, a small sponge filter would also be a good idea. Unfiltered feeder tank water has a tendency to get dingy, cloudy and yellow-looking pretty quickly. A sponge filter will act as a mechanical and biological filter, and the bubbles will keep the water moving. A corner sponge filter with a weighted bottom will work well. A small net should also be on the accessories list. Finally, its probably not necessary to keep the feeder tank heated or covered. But a hood or clear cover may be a good idea to limit splashing from the bubbles aerating the tank.

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Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes Paludosus): Ultimate Care Guide

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Ghost Shrimp Facts

  • Ghost Shrimp can be found in North America, more specifically, the waters of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Ghost Shrimp are described as true omnivores. This means that they will eat whatever they can get, however, they spend most of their time grazing on algae.

What Are the Benefits of Ghost Shrimp?

Ghost Shrimp are not just interesting to look at, they can also be beneficial to the home aquarium for several reasons. Ghost Shrimp are often called true scavengers who will not only eat algae that can grow in your tank, but they will also eat leftover food bits that can accumulate and rot in your tank causing poor water quality. Ghost Shrimp are a popular choice for the home aquarium due to their ability to eat lots of algae and successfully keep the algae levels low in your tank. They can be found continuously grazing and snacking on algae. Their algae busting ability and their minimal requirements to keep them healthy make them a popular choice for home aquariums.

Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes Paludosus)

Ghost Shrimp Care

Ghost Shrimp are considered easy to care for, and are even recommended for beginners. Their low requirements combined with their tireless efforts to rid your tank of algae and other unwanted waste make them a popularly chosen addition to the home aquarium.

Food & Diet

Ghost Shrimp are not picky eaters at all. In fact, they can and will eat whatever you are feeding the other inhabitants of your aquarium. They will even act as an efficient clean up crew for your tank. Ghost Shrimp love to graze on algae. They can be found grazing on algae, or cleaning up leftover food at all times of the day.

Tank Size & Requirements

Ghost Shrimp do not require much to make them happy, and this is why they are great for a beginner to the fish keeping hobby. Ghost Shrimp are small and don’t require much space to keep a small group of them. You can keep a single Ghost Shrimp in a Tank as small as 2 gallons, but it is recommended to keep them in a small group of at least 15. You could keep 15 to 20 Ghost Shrimp comfortably in a 5 gallon. Ghost Shrimp prefer their water at around 65F to 75F. They can even tolerate a wide range of water parameters, preferring their pH to stay somewhere in the range of 6.5 to 8.4.

How Many Ghost Shrimp Per Gallon?

Ghost Shrimp can be kept together with about roughly 3 Ghost Shrimp per gallon. However, if you have more room to offer them, the better. More room means more Ghost Shrimp, and that can be a good thing!

How Many Ghost Shrimp in a 10 Gallon Tank?

You could keep anywhere from 25 to 30 Ghost Shrimp in a 10 gallon tank.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for Ghost Shrimp then you will be happy to know that they are easy to keep happy. Ghost Shrimp do not have a preference when it comes to substrate, and they will be happy with anything that you choose for them. It is best to choose a substrate that will better benefit your plants, but choosing a darker substrate will make it so that the Ghost Shrimp will be more easily visible. There are many plants that will work well, and provide many places for Ghost Shrimp to hide. The most important thing for a Ghost Shrimp tank is to provide them with many places to hide. If they are in an empty tank, they will stress quickly.

Identification and Markings

Ghost Shrimp are small and transparent. They get their name from their ghost-like appearance, and they even swim as though they are floating along. Ghost Shrimp have the same body structure as the shrimp that humans eat, they are just smaller. They are raised most often as food for other fish, but are popular for their algae eating abilities. There is not much difference in coloration, but if you look closely you will be able to see tiny specks on their bodies. These speckles do have a color range, and can be shades of green or brown.

Ghost Shrimp Size & Lifespan

When fully grown, Ghost Shrimp can be up to 1.5 inches in length. Ghost Shrimp have an average lifespan of up to 1 year. It is possible that they can live slightly longer if properly cared for, but unfortunately not that much longer even in the best conditions.

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

Ghost Shrimp are described as true omnivores, and are often chosen for the home aquarium for their low maintenance, and ability to help with algae control. They can survive off of anything that you want to feed them, but keep in mind that they are happiest when grazing for algae and other foods. They can be a beneficial addition to the home aquarium not only for the algae control, but because they will also eat the leftover bits of food that other fish won’t eat. This will help with your water quality.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Algae?

Ghost Shrimp are perhaps one of the best algae eaters. They can be found grazing on and munching on algae at any time of day or night. They are a great way to help keep algae down in your tank.

Ghost Shrimp Breeding

If they are being cared for properly, Ghost Shrimp will reproduce often in the home aquarium. You can identify female Ghost Shrimp quite easily when they are carrying eggs. If the female has a clutch of eggs, you will be able to visibly see the little eggs they carry attached to their legs.

Ghost Shrimp Eggs

Female Ghost Shrimp carry their eggs attached to their legs, and they are visible if you know where to look for them. Female Ghost Shrimp carry their eggs beneath their tails while their other legs act as fans to wave oxygen to their clutch of eggs. The female Ghost Shrimp will do this, and carry her eggs for around 3 weeks before they are ready to hatch.

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eggs Look Like?

Ghost Shrimp eggs are tiny little white specs, but they can still be seen if you know where to look. Female Ghost Shrimp carry their eggs underneath their tails. They use their other, smaller legs to fan oxygen to the egg clutch until they hatch. If the eggs the female Ghost Shrimp is carrying are fertilized, they will turn white and there will be black specs visible. These black specs are the eyes and stomach of the Ghost Shrimp fry.

How Long Do Ghost Shrimp Eggs Take to Hatch?

Ghost Shrimp eggs hatch in about 3 weeks.

Newborn Ghost Shrimp

To ensure the survival of the newly hatched Ghost Shrimp fry, you will want to house them in a separate tank from other adult Ghost Shrimp as they will cannibalize their young if given the chance. They are very small, and in the earlier stages of their development, they are similar in appearance to mosquito larvae.

How Do You Raise Ghost Shrimp Fry?

It does not take long for Ghost Shrimp fry to reach maturity. After roughly 5 weeks, they can be removed from the breeding tank and placed into the community tank as they will be roughly the same size as the parent shrimp. When they are in their developmental stages, they need to be fed every 3 hours, 24 hours a day.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Ghost Shrimp?

It is easy to identify female Ghost Shrimp from males due to their transparent coloration. Female Ghost Shrimp will have a greenish coloration that runs along her underbelly. This is sometimes called a saddle, but it indicates that the shrimp you are looking at is female. The saddle is the ovaries of the female Ghost Shrimp. Female Ghost Shrimp also have larger bellies than the males do, this is to help them carry their eggs.

Ghost Shrimp Disease

Ghost Shrimp are prone to catching a few illnesses. These ailments are usually caused by improper water conditions, but Ghost Shrimp can catch disease from other fish or decor that is introduced to your aquarium from an outside source. It is recommended that you quarantine your new tank additions to help prevent introducing sickness into your tank.

Ghost Shrimp can also be affected by parasites, a common fungal parasite known as vorticella can affect Ghost Shrimp by covering their bodies, and turning them white.

Why is My Ghost Shrimp Turning White?

Most likely, if you notice that your Ghost Shrimp is turning white, it is probably infected with a fungal parasite called vorticella. This fungus starts out at the tip of the nose of the shrimp and spreads itself over the whole body of the shrimp. If your Ghost Shrimp has this parasite, you can expect them to have less energy and appetite.

How Do You Tell if Your Ghost Shrimp is Molting or Dead?

When Ghost Shrimp have died, they gain a pinkish coloration similar to that of cooked shrimp. If you see your shrimp has begun to molt, but their white carcass has turned this pink shade, then they are dead.

How Often Do Ghost Shrimp Molt?

When Ghost Shrimp are in their larval stages, they will molt quite often, about once a day. As they continue to grow, they molt less often, but even adult shrimp will still molt roughly once a month to help them regenerate lost limbs. Ghost Shrimp are most vulnerable during this process, and they will require places to hide so that they can molt without experiencing stress.

Why Did My Ghost Shrimp Die?

There are many reasons that your Ghost Shrimp could have died. They have a short lifespan of around 1 year, and they are prone to stress and some ailments. Most often though, the cause of death to Ghost Shrimp is simply shock. Ghost Shrimp need time to acclimate, and if you do not give them enough time to acclimate, they will die rather quickly.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

It is not a good idea to keep Ghost Shrimp with other tank mates that could potentially see them as food. Any fish larger than they are, will be tempted to go after your Ghost Shrimp. Loaches, snails, cory catfish, and other shrimp all make for great tank mates for Ghost Shrimp.

Are Ghost Shrimp Aggressive?

Ghost Shrimp are not aggressive unless their needs are not being met in their habitat. Sometimes, Whisker Shrimp are sold on accident as Ghost Shrimp, and they are to blame for the aggression some shrimp owners were not expecting.

How Many Ghost Shrimp Should Be Kept Together?

Ghost Shrimp prefer to live in large groups of at least 15. They do better in much larger groups, just make sure you have enough room for all of them.

Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp can be kept with a few, peaceful species of fish such as some Corydoras, or loaches. It is not recommended that Ghost Shrimp be kept with any fish that are larger than they are, as they could be seen as a potential meal.

Ghost Shrimp and Goldfish

It is possible to keep Ghost Shrimp with Goldfish if you have the appropriate setup. Goldfish could potentially see your Ghost Shrimp as food, and if given the opportunity, they will eat your shrimp. It is important to give your Ghost Shrimp plenty of places to hide, and a large enough tank so that they can get away from a hungry goldfish if they are threatened.

Ghost Shrimp and Betta

Ghost Shrimp and Betta Fish can live together, but you are still putting your Ghost Shrimp at risk of being a meal for a hungry Betta.

Ghost Shrimp and Tetras

Ghost Shrimp can be housed with Tetra only under the right conditions. Tetras will definitely go after Ghost Shrimp if given the chance. It is important to provide Ghost Shrimp with many places to hide.

Ghost Shrimp and Guppies

Ghost Shrimp and Guppies both enjoy roughly the same tank requirements, and as long as the Ghost Shrimp are not too small, they can be housed safely with Guppies. It is important for Ghost Shrimp to have plenty of places to hide, and get away from any hungry fish.

Ghost Shrimp and Axolotl

Ghost Shrimp are great tank mates for Axolotl as they will typically not disturb one another, and Ghost Shrimp are a great cleanup crew for any bits of food left behind.

Ghost Shrimp and African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs will go after Ghost Shrimp every chance they get, so it is not a good idea to keep the two species together.

Ghost Shrimp and Turtles

Ghost Shrimp and Turtles enjoy roughly the same water parameters, but they should not be kept with Turtles unless you are ok with them eventually becoming Turtle food. Hungry Turtles will go after Ghost Shrimp every chance they get until they eventually get them.

Ghost Shrimp and Snails

Ghost Shrimp and Snails make for great tank mates. They are both peaceful and will not go after one another.

Where Can I Find Ghost Shrimp for Sale?

If you are looking to purchase Ghost Shrimp for your home aquarium, you will be happy to know that they are easily found at most local pet stores and online. They are fairly inexpensive at less than a dollar per shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp VS Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp are similar in their requirements and behavior, but Amano Shrimp tend to be larger than Ghost Shrimp. Ghost Shrimp can live in colder temperatures than Amano Shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp VS Cherry Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp can grow larger than Cherry Shrimp. Cherry Shrimp come out during the day and night, whereas Ghost Shrimp can mostly be seen at night.

Ghost Shrimp VS Whisker Shrimp

Due to their similar appearance, the Ghost Shrimp is often blamed for the aggression of the Whisker Shrimp. Whisker Shrimp are slightly larger with longer antennae than the Ghost Shrimp. If you look at the two species side by side, you will be able to see the distinctive orange banding around the antennae of the Ghost Shrimp.

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Ghost Shrimp Care: Full Guide (with Setup, Tank Mates & Diet)

Are you ready to add some ethereal elegance to your aquarium? Look no further than the ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp.

These captivating creatures are not only visually striking, but they also offer a valuable service to your tank by keeping it clean.

Freshwater Ghost Shrimp or Glass Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) isolated on black background

Despite their transparency, they are impossible to overlook in the aquarium due to their unique appearance and behavior.

So why not add a touch of otherworldly charm to your aquatic habitat with these fascinating creatures?

At a glance

Appearance & temperament.

As their name indicates, the body of the ghost shrimp ( Palaemonetes sp. ) is transparent. Usually, only an orange or yellow spot in the center of the tail breaks this distinctive coloration.

However, some varieties have colored dots along the entirety of their back.

Ghost shrimp in a planted aquarium

Because of its transparency, you’ll also be able to see colors from inside the shrimp, such as the colors of eggs and digesting food.

Their bodies are segmented and have five sets of legs.

The first two sets also have claws, which help it feed. Other sets also have specific purposes, such as swimming, grooming, and bracing while the shrimp burrows.

They have a large fan tail, another distinct characteristic, in addition to two pairs of antennae and a beak-like growth between their eyes.

Ghost shrimp will only grow to approximately 2 inches (5 cm) .

Ghost shrimp on a moss in freshwater aquarium

There are no prominent differences between males and females, though females may grow slightly larger .

Still, you’ll be able to clearly see which shrimp are females after they breed, as the green eggs will be visible.

Unfortunately, ghost shrimp only live roughly 1 year before dying. Some aquarists have reported longer lifespans with meticulous care, but only by a few months at most.

Their lifespans are significantly shortened by stress. This most often comes in the form of being transferred to a new tank, dealing with predatory tank mates, and poor water quality.

These shrimp are peaceful and have an easygoing temperament. They are content to simply eat and breed and are not territorial or aggressive.

Origin and Natural Habitat

These are freshwater shrimp and were originally found in the clear waters of North America .

They easily breed and spread. They also don’t need saltwater to breed, and so can even be found in landlocked water. Because of this, it’s hard to pinpoint a more specific point of origin.

Their pervasive presence across the continent also means they’re often considered an invasive species in the wild .

Though they aren’t environmentally destructive, and despite their small size, they can out-compete other bottom dwellers and scavenging species.

Their coloration also makes it harder for predators to find them. This clever evolutionary trait may be fascinating in the aquarium but makes it especially difficult to remove them from wild habitat.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Setup: What You’ll Need

Ghost Shrimp ( Palaemonetes Paludosus) in freshwater aquarium

Ghost shrimp need a minimum of 10 gallons for stable water conditions. Depending on the size of the population you want to keep, this may need to be adjusted.

If you want to keep ghost shrimp in a community aquarium , base the gallon size off the needs of the other fish and add an extra 10 gallons for shrimp .

Live plants are the most important component of a shrimp aquarium or a community aquarium with shrimp in it. They provide a food source and a hiding place for shrimp.

Without live plants, your shrimp will not thrive . Because of this, you’ll also need plant-grade substrate and lighting .

With these in the tank, your shrimp are sure to thrive.

Plants and substrate also have the additional benefit of being appreciated by almost every other type of fish, as well.

Adjustments to Aquarium Equipment

Because of their delicacy, some adjustments are necessary to aquarium equipment:

  • Filter: In order to avoid sucking your shrimp into filter intakes and outtakes, it’s preferable to use a sponge filter . Barring this, you can also add sponges, screens, and other guards to your filter valves. Shrimp prefer low to moderate water movement , so this modification also has the benefit of keeping the currents at a tolerable level.
  • Heater: Since ghost shrimp regularly molt , they often look for protected or hidden spots to shed their skin. Behind the heater is often a favored spot, but can also cause ghost shrimp to get stuck. Either block off the heater, such as in an internal filtration compartment or make sure to regularly check it for guests.
  • Tank Lid: Shrimp love exploring , so they’re also master escape artists. They’re avid swimmers and climbers. If your lid isn’t secure or there are large holes around equipment, it’s likely the ghost shrimp will end up outside of your aquarium. Make sure your tank lid is secure and has as few permanent openings as possible.

If you make these easy equipment adjustments and modifications, your aquarium is officially shrimp-ready !

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Water Parameters

Shrimp, in general, are less hardy than many fish , and ghost shrimp are no exception. However, they can tolerate a wider range of water parameters than many other types. All of the following ranges below are acceptable:

  • pH Range : Ghost shrimp prefer a neutral or basic pH , ranging from 6.5 – 8.4
  • Temperature : Warmer water is necessary, heated anywhere from 65 – 85°F
  • Hardness : These shrimp can handle water hardness in the range of 3 – 10 KH .

Shrimp are especially susceptible to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. For this reason, weekly water changes are absolutely necessary .

Even levels of 2 ppm can be detrimental, so it’s important to try and keep them as close to 0 ppm as possible.

Besides these, ghost shrimp can also be negatively affected by the chemicals in plant fertilizers and aquatic medications. Specifically, copper has been known to cause widespread death in shrimp populations, even in small quantities.

Ghost shrimp on a plant in an aquarium

The ghost shrimp has a very peaceful temperament and would get along with almost any fish in a community environment.

However, in these scenarios, it’s not the ghost shrimp that’s the problem, but rather the other inhabitants.

It can be difficult to find suitable tank mates since many fish will see ghost shrimp as food rather than a fellow inhabitant .

To avoid this, there are a few prerequisites for any other fish you place with ghost shrimp.

They must be similarly peaceful and small enough that the ghost shrimp wouldn’t fit in their mouth. Some compatible tank mates that aquarists have had success with include:

  • Other shrimp, such as amano and cherry shrimp
  • Loaches , such as the zebra loach and kuhli loach
  • Non-aggressive catfish and algae eaters
  • Schooling fish, such as danios, cherry barbs , tetra , and hatchet fish

Many aquarists keep shrimp-specific tanks , in which case there is no threat to the shrimp.

However, ghost shrimp also make excellent (if delicate) community additions.

To create a thriving community tank, more care must be taken when choosing the inhabitants. However, there are still plenty of exciting and varied choices.

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Feeding Shrimp and Shrimp as Food

Ghost shrimp are omnivores that will eat almost anything they can get their claws on. This includes food produced specifically for them and food leftover from other tank inhabitants’ feedings.

Some of their favorite foods are:

  • Plant detritus
  • Leftover food
  • Flakes and pellets
  • Sinking wafers

Since these shrimp are avid foragers, they often don’t need supplemental food.

Palaemonetes or ghost shrimp

However, if your aquarium is well-maintained and doesn’t have a lot of algae or plant matter, it’s a good idea to provide extra meals.

You can use food that all inhabitants will eat , such as flakes, or food specifically for shrimp, such as sinking wafers or pellets.

You can also use ghost shrimp as part of another fish’s diet. Both freshwater fish and saltwater fish will readily consume ghost shrimp .

This is a problem when housing shrimp in community aquariums, but a benefit if you have any picky eaters.

Even fish that are notoriously reluctant to take food in captivity, such as seahorses , lionfish, freshwater sharks will usually gladly eat ghost shrimp.

unique appearance of Ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp are easily bred in captivity .

They do not require any specialized preparation to induce them to breed. There are only two main requirements which must be met (both of which are present in any healthy aquarium):

  • First: the tank must be large enough to support a healthy population of breeding shrimp, in addition to the future offspring. Small groups are much less likely to breed than established populations. Since these shrimp are so small, this usually isn’t a problem.
  • Second: the tank conditions must be conducive rather than aversive to breeding. This means that the water parameters should be right, the tank should be clean, shrimp should have plenty of hiding places and food, and there are little to no predators.

If a female is pregnant , you’ll be able to see the green eggs just under her tail . Because of the size, they’ll probably look more like tiny dots, though.

Move pregnant females to a breeding tank and ensure the water quality is perfect. You can also give them supplemental meals to ensure they’re eating enough.

Once the eggs hatch , move the females back to the main aquarium.

You can feed the baby shrimp infusoria, hatched brine shrimp , rotifers , and other liquid foods. Once they are matured, move them to the main tank.

Aquarists should be careful to keep an eye on the size of the population. Though these shrimp are small, they still have an effect on the tank’s bioload.

It can be easy to accidentally overstock the tank if you let ghost shrimp breed as much as they want.

Featuring Ghost Shrimp in Your Aquarium

Ghost shrimp are peculiarly transfixing aquarium specimens.

Their peaceful temperament and determined cleaning make them an excellent addition to almost any tank .

It’s because of these same characteristics that both beginner and experienced aquarists enjoy setting up tanks just with ghost shrimp.

Though they don’t live long, they are a delight to watch and care for.

They may be transparent, but ghost shrimp shine bright as any aquarium.

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Triops: Facts about the three-eyed 'dinosaur shrimp'

Triops belong to an ancient group of crustaceans.

A photo of two Triops intertwined underwater.

Are Triops dinosaurs?

  • Triops range
  • Triops size
  • Triops breeding
  • Triops diet
  • Conservation status

Additional resources

Triops are a group of freshwater crustaceans commonly called tadpole shrimp or dinosaur shrimp. They look like ancient armored tadpoles, a look they've rocked for hundreds of millions of years. The word " Triops " means "three eyes" in Greek, and the group is so named because they have two main compound eyes and a third simple organ called an ocellus eye that helps them detect light. 

The animals are not shrimp, which is a name usually reserved for marine crustaceans in the order Decapoda ( Triops are in the order Notostraca). But like shrimp, Triops — one of two genera in its own family and order — live in water. In fact, Triops have adapted to an extreme life in temporary freshwater or slightly salty pools that may only last a few weeks before drying out.

Triops ' appearance hasn't changed much since the group first emerged in the Devonian period (419 million to 359 million years ago), according to Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. This ancient and morphologically consistent lineage led some people to call the creatures "living fossils," a term that's also commonly used to describe deep-sea fish called coelacanths (SEE'-lah-kanths) and horseshoe crabs — another animal that looks a bit like Triops . 

Scientists used to consider one Triops species, Triops cancriformis , as being the same animal seen in 250 million-year-old fossils. That would mean Triops cancriformis had survived to the present day from the Triassic period (about 252 million to 201 million years ago) when dinosaurs first emerged — hence the name "dinosaur shrimp." However, a 2013 study of Triops DNA published in the journal PeerJ found that the current species evolved within the last 25 million years. 

"Living fossils evolve like any other organism, they just happen to have a good body plan that has survived the test of time," study lead author Africa Gómez, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Hull in England, said in a statement at the time. "A good analogy could be made with cars. For example, the Mini has an old design that is still selling, but newly made Minis have electronic windows, GPS and airbags: in that sense, they are still 'evolving', they are not unchanged but most of the change has been 'under the hood' rather than external."

Related: This 'ancient' monster fish may live for 100 years

Where do Triops live?

The Triops group is found on every continent except for Antarctica . The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) recognizes 13 different species in the Triops genus, including the Australian tadpole shrimp ( Triops australiensis ) in Australia, Triops emeritensis in Europe and northern Asia, and Triops maximus in Africa. The U.S. has two native species: Newberry tadpole shrimp ( Triops newberryi ) and summer tadpole shrimp ( Triops longicaudatus ). 

Summer tadpole shrimp have the widest distribution of all the Triops species and are found throughout the U.S. (except for Alaska), Canada, the Caribbean, Japan and some Pacific Islands, though humans likely introduced them to Japan and the Pacific Islands, according to the University of Michigan's BioKids website. 

How big do Triops get?

Triops usually grow to be no more than a few inches in length. For example, summer tadpole shrimps reach about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) long, and this is still considered quite large for Triops , according to BioKids. Australian tadpole shrimp are larger and max out at about 3.5 inches (9 cm) long, according to the Western Australian Museum .  

How do Triops breed?

Because Triops' water habitats are only temporary, they mature quickly and go from eggs to breeding adults in two to three weeks, according to Buglife , an invertebrate conservation charity in the U.K. Triops are hermaphrodites, which means each individual has both sexual organs, but they can also reproduce sexually and even produce offspring from unfertilized eggs. This flexibility when it comes to reproducing helps each generation of Triops give rise to another in extreme environments, including deserts. 

Triops' eggs may enter "diapause," which is a state of dormancy in which the eggs stop developing and dry out. Diapause allows the eggs, and the Triops inside, to survive when their watery pools evaporate in arid conditions. The eggs may stay in diapause for up to 27 years, waiting for water to return so they can hatch, according to Buglife. 

Related: 100 million-year-old fairy shrimp reproduced without sex, rare fossils reveal

When conditions are favorable, these animals can suddenly hatch in large numbers. For example, hundreds of Triops emerged in an ordinarily dry ceremonial ball court — a circular walled structure — at Wupatki National Monument in northern Arizona in 2021, Live Science previously reported. 

— 10 coolest non-dinosaur fossils unearthed in 2021

— Photos: Ancient shrimp-like critter was tiny but fierce

— 10 species that are in so much danger they'll be featured on limited-edition shirts  

"We knew that there was water in the ball court, but we weren't expecting anything living in it," Lauren Carter, lead interpretation ranger at Wupatki National Monument, told Live Science at the time. "Then a visitor came up and said, 'Hey, you have tadpoles down in your ballcourt.'" 

The "tadpoles" were Triops that hatched after a monsoon created a temporary lake in the ball court. After they've hatched, Triops live up to 70 days in the wild and 90 days in captivity, according to BioKids. 

What do Triops eat

Triops are very adaptable and have a varied diet that includes scavenging floating organic material in their pools and hunting things like zooplankton and insect larvae. When food is scarce, they may even eat each other. Summer tadpole shrimps are a pest in rice fields because they eat young crops and make crop water muddier so less light reaches the plants, according to Central Michigan University.

Birds, especially waterfowl, eat Triops . The threat of predation is so great for Triops that they tend to be solitary, because potential predators are more likely to see and eat a group of them, according to BioKids. 

Are Triops endangered?

Four species of Triops face extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): Triops gadensis, Triops baeticus and Triops vicentinus are endangered and Triops emeritensis is critically endangered. All four species live on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain and Portugal, and are threatened by human activities such as development and agriculture. 

The IUCN hasn't assessed either of the species found in the U.S. However, Newberry tadpole shrimps are classified as "secure" — not at risk of extinction — according to NatureServe , a non-profit based in Virginia that collects data on North American wildlife.  

To view a map of where Triops is found across the world, check out the Encyclopedia of Life website. To learn more about how Triops longicaudatus survive in the U.S., watch this short YouTube video by Zion National Park . For more information about Triops , check out " Timeless Triops: A Prehistoric Creature " (Lori Adams Photo, 2014).

Originally published on Live Science.

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Patrick Pester

Patrick Pester is a freelance writer and previously a staff writer at Live Science. His background is in wildlife conservation and he has worked with endangered species around the world. Patrick holds a master's degree in international journalism from Cardiff University in the U.K.

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What do Ghost Shrimps Eat? The Complete Care Guide to Their Dietary Plan

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Eating Habits of a Ghost Shrimp in the Wild

Eating habits of a ghost shrimp in an aquarium, how often & how much do ghost shrimps eat, eating habits of a baby ghost shrimp, eating habits of an adult ghost shrimp.

One of the most ethereal-looking species that you can host in your aquarium, Ghost Shrimps are a delight to watch. They are counted amongst the most popular options for freshwater crustaceans that can be petted. These tropical angels are extremely easy to care for and provide multiple benefits, including cleaning your tank and serving as food options for your other aquatic pets. But what do they eat? What are their preferences? When and how often do you need to feed them? We uncover the answers to everything that you need to know regarding what do Ghost Shrimps eat in this article. So, let’s find out.

Ghost Shrimps are crustaceans that belong to the Palaemonetes family . These freshwater mythical-looking creatures have originated from North America, and are often used by fishkeepers as bait for catching fish.

An out-and-out scavenger by nature, they finish up any leftover food in your tank as well as keep the population of algae in check.  In essence, they serve as a tank cleaner. Their transparent bodies make for an ethereal presence in your tank.

Peaceful by nature, they have an omnivorous diet. They have a short lifespan, with most of them living up to only just a year. Extremely small in size, they grow up to 1.5” (3.8 cm).

Many fishkeepers keep a separate tank in their household to host Ghost Shrimp and use them to feed the fish in their main tank.

First of all, let’s try to understand what do Ghost Shrimps eat in the wild. Native to North America, Ghost Shrimp are found in rivers, lakes, and streams. You can find them in slow-moving water at the bottom of these water bodies.

They Live at the bottom of the water, near the substrate out of necessity. Any food matter that sinks to these water bodies from the surface ultimately rests on the substrate, which serves as perfect scavenging grounds for these shrimps. Their habitat is also filled with logs, rocks, and a lot of vegetation that act as hiding spots, protecting them from predators.

In the wild, their diet is pre-dominantly herbivorous due to the abundance of plant matter in the form of detritus. In a situation, when there is a dearth of detritus, Ghost Shrimp are seen nibbling at live plants. This, however, doesn’t pose any serious threat to the plants due to the tiny size of these creatures. A large group of them nibbling together a plant is another story altogether.

Algae also dominate their diet and they are regarded as one of the most prolific algae-eaters out there. When it comes to eating Hair Algae , none can be as efficient as our ghosts here.

Similar to any other omnivore, the options available for Ghost Shrimps are pretty huge. They also feed on small insects, eggs or larvae, or any other organic matter.

First of all, let us tell you that Ghost Shrimps can go on a period of not eating during the initial days of getting introduced to a captive environment. This is mainly due to the fact that they require time to adjust themselves to the new environment.

Building a Safe Home

If you replicate your tank as close to their natural environment, then the process of them acclimatizing to the aquarium accelerates.

This is why you need to set the temperature of the tank water between 65-85° F (18-29° C) with 75° F (23° C) serving as the optimal temperature. The pH level of the water should be 6.5-8.0 and the hardness of the water should be slightly strong. Speaking of mineral content, the level of ammonia and nitrite should be 0 (zero), while the level of nitrate should be less than 20 ppm. Keep them in a species-only 5-gallon tank. Each gallon can suffice for 3-4 shrimps.

Probably, the most significant aspect of their habitat is the substrate. Since Ghost Shrimps spend a considerable amount of time sifting through the substrate in search of food, you need to ensure that there aren’t any sharp objects. Any finely-grained substrate will get the job done. The substrate must be gentle to the delicate, long antennas of these shrimps.

With the tank requirement set, it would be easy for you to feed them. The basic idea should be diversifying their diet. Therefore, feel free to include a bit of everything in their diet – frozen, live, flake, pellets, etc. They can tolerate fat-based food because shrimps are naturally high in fats and oils.

Feeding them calcium supplements will help in hardening their shells. Their shell protects them from the attacks of other fish and the harsh environment in general.

Food to be Fed Ghost Shrimps in an Aquarium

Keeping all these in mind, the ideal diet for a Ghost Shrimp in a captive environment, such as an aquarium, should consist of the following items.

  • Algae Wafer
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Fish Pellet Food
  • Blanched vegetables such as cucumber, spinach, zucchini, or romaine
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Indian Almond Leaves

Ghost Shrimps tend to overeat, which can lead to ailments in them. Therefore, you need to keep a close watch on them. Since they are tiny creatures, it is advised to feed them in small quantities. Ideally, different types of food should be fed at different times of the day in small portions.

If you are hosting your shrimps with other fish, then they will consume and finish off the leftover food from the substrate. However, if you are hosting them in a species-only tank, then obviously they would need their own food.

The amount of food that you have to provide them will also be dictated by the population of algae in your tank. The more algae in your tank, the less food you need to provide them. If your tank doesn’t have an algae growth and you are dependent on algae wafers, then the recommended portion is one algae wafer for a group of four Ghost Shrimps every other day.

Feeding them thrice a day will ensure their good health. As far as the quantity is concerned, two pea-sized portions of boiled vegetables can be fed in a single go. Throughout the day, you will notice your Ghost Shrimp grazing on biofilm and algae, which means they don’t have a particular feeding time. You just need to plan your schedule as to when you want to feed them.

The main focus while fixing the food for young Ghost Shrimp should be to provide protein to help them grow healthily. You need to understand that young fires of Ghost Shrimps have to be fed differently than their adult counterparts.


To understand what do Ghost Shrimps eat in their primal stage, first of all, you need to bear in mind the circumstances that are needed for the successful breeding of these creatures. Now, it may happen that your Ghost Shrimps have bred accidentally without any assistance from your end. After all, it’s a natural process! In such a case too, the fries have to be provided with a different set of food. But first, let us explain the requirements you need to fulfill for breeding them.

You need to ensure that there are both male and female Ghost Shrimps in your breeding tank. When it comes to sexual dimorphism, you will see females are larger and have a green saddle underneath their bodies.

The females produce 20-30 green-dot like looking eggs every week that are attached to their legs. Males then proceed to fertilize these eggs.

If you don’t use a breeder tank, the fries will be vulnerable to other species in your main tank. Use a sponge filter in the tank so that the fries don’t get sucked into the equipment. 

After the eggs hatch, which might take around 3-4 weeks, you need to transfer the female back to the main tank, or else they might eat them.

Foods to be Fed a Baby Brine Shrimp

You may keep some aquatic plants such as Java Moss or Hornwort that will serve as food sources for them. Having algae in the breeding tank also helps them satiate their hunger.

The fries will eat the algae and plant debris on their own without any assistance from your end. But the food that you add to the tank has to be adjusted to their requirements. Make sure the food that you provide these fries are tiny in size because of their small mouths. To put it simply, you need to crumble down the flake foods into a size that will fit their mouths.

Avoid live foods for them since it will be difficult for the fries to catch the live foods as they continuously escape.

Another food source for them is Baby Shrimp Food . This is extremely beneficial to them since it will serve as the perfect gateway between their childhood and maturity. It comes in powder form that needs to be sprinkled onto the tank water.

As soon as the legs of the fires have fully developed, you can feed them the same food as that of an adult Ghost Shrimp. This should take around five weeks. After this, you may transfer them to the main tank.

Next up in our ‘What do Ghost Shrimps eat’ article, we discuss their adulthood. Remember us mentioning about Ghost Shrimps overeating? Well, you are going to see examples of it when the fries reach their adulthood since these shrimps spend almost their entire time grazing for food.

They are prolific at finding algae in your tank from every nook and corner. In fact, apart from using as feeds for your fish, the next biggest reason people host Ghost Shrimps in their aquarium is to get rid of algae naturally. If your tank doesn’t have an abundance of algae, then you can provide Algae Wafers to them.

They also nibble on live plants, if you have any in your tank. It is said that if you have a densely planted tank, then you need to provide additional food to them every other day.

Other than algae, pellets are recommended for these creatures since they sink to the bottom of the tank and rest on the substrate, from where they are consumed.  Pellets are more useful if your shrimps are residing in a community tank since the sinking pellets may float past your fish’s attention.

Flake foods mostly float on the water surface. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t feed them to your shrimps since they can readily swim to the surface of the water to consume them.

Watching Ghost Shrimps climb to the surface of the water to eat flake foods is quite a spectacle, but if you have a tall tank, then the recommended food for them is pellets.

You may feed them live as well as frozen food. Make sure that there is a right balance of nutrients in their diet. Feeding them vegetables supply the much-needed fiber to them.

Foods to be Fed an Adult Brine Shrimp

An ideal diet for an adult Ghost Shrimp should consist of the following items:

  • Algae/ Algae-Wafer
  • Brine Shrimp (live and frozen)
  • Bloodworm (live and frozen)
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Blanched vegetables
  • Soft fruits
  • Flake foods
  • Sinking pellets
  • Plant matter

Ghost Shrimps are always hungry and can be seen nibbling live plants and algae all day. In fact, they are regarded as one of the best algae-eaters that one can host in their tank, which also means they are effective tank-cleaners.

They have a tendency to overeat, which is why it is recommended to feed them every other day if you have a heavily planted aquarium since they would anyways nibble on those plants all day. In addition, they prefer pellets, although they are open to flake, live, and frozen foods as well. You may also feed them blanched vegetables and fruits.

Feed them different types of food in small quantities. Ideally, they should be fed three small meals every day. We hope this article has answered every query that you had regarding ‘what do Ghost Shrimps eat?’. At the end of the day, you have to remember that they are not mere feeders for your pet fish or tank cleaners only. You need to pay attention to their diet so that they grow healthily.

Point of Interest

Take a look at the following articles that might interest you.

  • What do Tadpoles Eat? – For all those frog lovers, get to know what to feed them in their juvenile, i.e. Tadpole stage from here.
  • Bloodworms as Fish Food – A highly sought-after food for your aquatic pets, learn about what makes them so delicious and high in demand from here.
  • What do Crayfish Eat? – Want to pet Crayfish in your tank? Well, get yourself updated with their dietary needs beforehand then.

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Tadpole Shrimp (Triops) – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding


These water bodies are typically 30-60 feet long and four feet deep. When the rain pours again, it brings new life, and the shrimp lays eggs before the next wave of drought.

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

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Tadpole shrimps are also called triops since they have a pair of compound eyes with the third eye between them. Their bodies also resemble tadpoles with shields, and thus some people refer to them as shield shrimp.

Thankfully, they are very hardy species and make ideal choices for those looking for pets with low-level maintenance needs.

Here is a guide on the different things that will prove crucial when rearing tadpole shrimp in your fish tank.

Tadpole Shrimp Appearance

There are several species of tadpole shrimps. The common ones for hobby aquarists include t riops longicaudatus,  triops  canncriformis, tr iops  newberryi , and triops  granarius .

The most common species is the triops longicaudatus . This is relatively large, with adult lengths of 10-40mm and widths of 3-8mm. Its body is grayish-yellow or brown and segmented into an abdomen, head, and thorax.

The tadpole shrimp has about sixty hair-like appendages on its abdomen’s proximal side that will beat rhythmically to direct food towards the fish’s mouth.

Male fish have slightly larger carapace lengths compared to the females. They also have a secondary antenna used as calipers when reproducing. Its egg sac primarily distinguishes the female tadpole shrimp.

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Tadpole Shrimp Tank Requirements

A glass or plastic aquarium will suffice for your tadpole shrimp so that the fish are exposed to maximum light. This container should have no soap residue in it since soap is toxic to the fish.

Your aquarium should be at least one gallon. The ideal size will depend on your tadpole shrimp population so that each fish gets 2-4 water liters to remain comfortable.

Tadpole shrimps are primarily benthic dwellers meaning they will spend a large portion of their time at the tank’s bottom. You can include sand or small pebbles as the substrates for your tank to support this habit.

The ideal sand options are coral and aquarium sand since builders and beach sand generally contain toxins.

Tadpole Shrimp Water Conditions

Your aquarium should have fresh de-chlorinated water for tadpole shrimps to thrive. You can opt for rainwater or use tap water that has been left to settle for at least 48 hours to get rid of chlorine or treated with a commercial de-chlorinating agent. PH levels should be maintained at 7.0-.90 more so when breeding tadpole shrimps.

Experts recommend keeping water temperatures at 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Owing to this wide temperature variation, you might not need a cooling or heating solution when raising your tadpole shrimp. A partial water change of 25% weekly is essential to guarantee a clean environment for your fish.

Tadpole Shrimp Diet and Feeding

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Tadpole shrimp is omnivorous. It feeds on aquatic crustaceans, insects, algae, roots, and tubers in the wild. In general, the fish eats anything smaller than it is and might even eat its siblings when starved.

It would help if you thus fed the fish periodically to avoid the eventuality of turning on its tankmates. Even so, be careful not to overfeed tadpole shrimp as this often kills them.

In your fish tank, you can feed the fish on commercial sinking, or floating pellets and flake feeds. You can also include bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimps as well as vegetables like boiled potatoes, and carrots in the diet.

Different shrimp populations have varying feeding habits and needs. You can understand yours by adding different food amounts into the tank at least twice daily and seeing what remains.

Here is a short video of triops feeding on boiled carrots, it is a lot of fun to watch them:

Tadpole Shrimp Tank Mates

Picking tank mates for your triops requires vigilance to keep the fish from eating each other. Moreover, the fish is generally a gentle species and should thus be kept with fish with a similar temperament.

The most popular tank mate for this fish is the goldfish. This is because other than similar temperaments and sizes, goldfish thrive in the same water conditions as the tadpole shrimp.

To guarantee your fish a chance at life when in the same tank as goldfish, hatch them separately. It would help if you then allowed them to grow to lengths of approximately an inch before transferring them into the aquarium with goldfish.

This way, they can compete with the predatory and fast-moving goldfish.

Tadpole Shrimp Breeding

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

Tadpole shrimps have a relatively short lifespan of 40-70 days in the wild and 70-90 in captivity. Thankfully, breeding them is easy, and you can get a new batch within a short time.

Tadpole shrimps will reproduce through one of three options. Hermaphrodites do it through selfing, where they fertilize their eggs.

Parthenogenesis is the most common reproduction method for triops. Here, females will not mate but rather get offspring from unfertilized eggs.

In rare cases, male and female triops reproduce sexually. When breeding, include about 5-6 tadpole shrimps in your group to increase the odds of having males, females, and hermaphrodites.

Ensure your fish tank has ideal PH, temperature, and lighting conditions to encourage breeding. Your eggs will hatch within 2-4 days when hydrated. If you do not want them to hatch at the same time, remove some and dry them out for rehydration in the future.

Wrapping Up

With the above information above, you are adequately prepared to keep tadpole shrimps in your fish tank. Most pet owners are concerned when they wake up to the skins of the fish floating in their aquariums.

This is just molted skin, and there is nothing that should concern you since it is a normal process in tadpole shrimps.

In the same way, you should not be as concerned if you do not come across molted skin in your fish tank. This is because triops will, at times, eat their molted skins to preserve nutrients.

This might happen through the day when you are out at school or work and thus leave your fish tank free of molted skin.

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

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Tadpoles in Shrimp Tank

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IncogPollywog said: I'm not too concerned with diseases since I've seen people keep them in their paludariums Click to expand...


Encyclia said: I would worry more about the cannibalism, myself. My terribilis tadpoles are great roommates (unless there is a big difference in their size), but I have had issues with cohabitating other kinds of tads. YMMV, Mark Click to expand...


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Urban Fishkeeping

Can You Eat Ghost Shrimps? Easy Ghost Shrimp Recipe Or A Fad?

By Author Rohit

Posted on Last updated: June 27, 2021

Categories Shrimp

Can You Eat Ghost Shrimps? Easy Ghost Shrimp Recipe Or A Fad?

If you are a lover of seafood like me, I’m sure you’ve wondered how the ghostly-looking tiny shrimps lurking in your tank taste. Yes, I am talking about ghost shrimps! 

Has this thought ever crossed your mind? Don’t worry – this is a judgment-free space.

If you’ve ever pondered can you eat ghost shrimp, you’re in luck today! 

Keep reading to find answers to all of your queries. 

Can You Eat Ghost Shrimps? 

Yes, you can definitely eat ghost shrimps. They’re perfectly safe and edible to eat. However, ghost shrimp isn’t a staple seafood, and you’ll seldom find people who’ve tasted these transparent creatures. 

Are Ghost Shrimps Healthy? 

Like any other shrimp, ghost shrimps are rich in fat, protein, and calcium. They also contain traces of vitamin B &E, magnesium, and antioxidants. However, the amount of nutrients found in ghost shrimps are negligible given an average person’s body weight. 

Thus, at best, ghost shrimps make baits and feeder food for bigger fishes. 

If you’re still curious, here’s a sneak peek into their taste profile!

Keep Reading!

What to Feed Baby Ghost Shrimp?

Are Ghost Shrimp Nocturnal? The Secret Dark Knight

Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish? Are They Scavengers Or Predators?

What Does Ghost Shrimp Taste Like?

Ghost shrimp in a tank

Cooked ghost shrimps turn red. And reportedly, they taste somewhere between crawdads and marine shrimp. The juicy, gooey center is an explosion of flavor, which might be a turnoff for some people. 

Guys from Outdoor Chef Life sauteed some ghost shrimps in butter and tried them for the first time. 

They describe it as “shrimp without much meat.” 

Some people in the video liked ghost shrimp’s taste and described it as briny and like shrimp chips.

On the other hand, others thought it was sandy, salty and said they wouldn’t recommend it to anyone!

Watch for yourself. 

Ghost Shrimp Recipe For Humans 

If you’re enticed to try it, here’s a ghost shrimp recipe that I found on the internet and improvised on! 


  • Ghost shrimps 
  • Flour 
  • Cajun spice
  • Lemon 

As for the amount of ingredients, just ballpark it! 

  • First, par-boil the ghost shrimps so they won’t squirm in the pan. 
  • Next, add them in a bowl, followed by eggs, flour, pepper, salt, lemon, cajun spice, and mix!
  • Fry in the hot oil. 

You may want to fry ghost shrimps for a little longer than usual due to their cartilaginous shells! If you don’t mind the crunch, you shorten the cooking time! 

3 Things To Consider When Eating Ghost Shrimps 

People in coastal countries eat all kinds of creatures, but ghost shrimp isn’t one of them! I didn’t find any demographic group that consumed ghost shrimp as a staple diet during my research. 

So, that’s why here are 3 things to consider before making up your mind to eat!

Could Carry Parasites 

You never know where your ghost shrimps are from and under what kinds of conditions they were bred. So, we cannot 100% say that all ghost shrimps are safe to eat. You never know what kind of diseases they’re carrying and how they’d affect humans. 

They Eat Fish Poop

As bottom dwellers, ghost shrimps regularly feed on fish waste. It might not be an issue for some, but if you’re finicky like me, I’m sure you’d be concerned about the meal that your to-be meal has consumed. 

Not As Gratifying 

Several accounts of ghost shrimp-eating experiences that I read said that they wouldn’t recommend eating it. Many found the gooey consistency and the weird aftertaste to be deal-breakers. So, maybe ghost shrimps don’t make it to the dinner table for a reason!

Other Alternatives To Eating Ghost Shrimps! 

Sorry if the title was misleading, but this is not about other aquarium shrimps you could eat! 

I’d instead leave aquarium shrimps for our fish and move on to meatier, tastier options! But you do you – go ahead if you want to try! 

Ghost shrimps make one handy species! Read on to find their more useful needs! 

Ghost Shrimps As Tank Cleaner

By now, you already know ghost shrimps have quite a reputation for being tank cleaners. They’re good old, trusted creatures to eat up algae, debris, leftover food, and even fish poop! 

So, your tank can definitely benefit from a couple of ghost shrimps. Just make sure there’s plenty of plants and hiding spaces for them to take refuge. 

Ghost Shrimp As Feeder Fish

Ghost shrimps pack good nutrition value for fishes. It’s rich in protein, calcium, and antioxidants – thus, making it an excellent choice for feeder fish. However, make sure that you buy ghost shrimps from reputable buyers to not bring any sort of worm or parasite infestation into the tank. 

You can either give live ghost shrimps or prepare them in a food processor with other ingredients to make super-rich fish food. 

How To Grow Ghost Shrimp For Fish?

ghost shrimp on a leaf

Well, you may not have an appetite for ghost shrimps, for your fish sure do! They’ll absolutely love it. 

So, here’s a short guide on how to grow ghost shrimp as food for your fish! 

Maternity Tank Setup

Get a 10-gallon tank and add a layer of gravel for the substrate. Add a sponge filter with a small air pump that won’t suck in ghost shrimp fry. As for water temperature, it should be maintained around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Add a lot of plants like duckweed, hornwort, and anacharis that will serve as both food and hideout. 

Light Setup 

Ghost shrimp fry tends to swim towards the light source – often running into the tank’s wall. So, you can stop this by keeping lights turned on over the tank 24 hours a day.

Next, cover all four tank walls with black construction paper or cloth to block ambient light. 

Choosing Female For Maternity Tank

It’s pretty easy to differentiate a female ghost shrimp from a male. They usually have larger bodies and ridge along the top of the tail. As for selecting the pregnant female, it’s even easier. She’ll have greenish shades in her belly. 

Those green bits are actually eggs. Quite fascinating, right? 

A ghost shrimp will have many pairs of legs called swimmerets under the rear part of the body.

A gravid ghost shrimp usually carries 20-30 eggs attached to her swimmerets. 

The Fry Stage 

The eggs will hatch after around 3 weeks of hatching, but the hatchlings will not leave the mother’s swimmerets for one more week. Ghost shrimp fry look quite similar to mosquito larvae. 

Plus, ghost shrimp fry are super hard to see until they are 6 to 8 weeks of age. 

Raising The Fry 

Once the fry leave their moms’ swimmerets, remove moms from the maternity tank. 

Raising the fry is quite tricky if you’re new to it. Don’t vacuum the fry tank. Also, you need to feed them once every 2 to 3 hours. You can give daphnia, brine shrimp, or liquid fry food. 

Your fry will molt every few months. As they grow, you can include flake food, algae wafers, and tiny fish in their diet. 

Feeding Ghost Shrimps To Your Fish

At around 1-3 inches, your ghost shrimps will be ready. 

You can now give them to your fish! You can either cut it in half or give the whole shrimp.

These shrimps are rich in essential fats and protein that fish require. On top of that, your fish will absolutely love snacking on some live food for a change. 

Final Words: Can You Eat Ghost Shrimp?

Yes, you can eat ghost shrimp, but it turns out it’s not as tasty as you think. Some describe that it tastes like shrimp chips or somewhat like the flavor between marine shrimp and crawfish. 

But at the same time, it can have a sandy taste and a gooey bit to it, which many don’t like.

If you’re interested in eating ghost shrimps, there’s a recipe above! Do let us know how it goes! 

Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Fry? Are They Cannibals?

How Many Ghost Shrimp Per Gallon?

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish Poop? Do They Like It?

  • Getting Started

A simple guide to what to feed tadpoles in your aquarium

A list of everything you should and shouldn't give baby frogs.

Rebekkah Adams

Whether you’re taking in rescue tadpoles or planning to keep frogs as pets , you’ll have to adapt continually to their changing bodies. These amphibians undergo a metamorphosis and live as tadpoles for up to 14 weeks, though the last stage of the transition happens in just 24 hours.

What should you look into first

How to care for tadpoles, what to feed tadpoles, what not to feed tadpoles.

You’ll put them to bed as a kid and come back to a teenager. Also, tadpoles are vegetarians, but frogs are carnivorous, so you should prepare for their diet to evolve as they do over the course of a few months. Here’s what to feed tadpoles.

Be mindful that there are laws regulating amphibian ownership. You may need a permit to house these guys in your home in their child stage, adult stage, or both. Do your research fully to ensure you’re complying with local and state laws plus any regulations for your apartment or HOA.

Lastly, confirm with yourself and your family that you intend to commit for the long haul. Some frogs can live a decade, and you would have to keep them the whole time, plus the next generation, if you wind up with males and females.

Right off the bat, you need to make a couple of big decisions. Are you rescuing and releasing? Will your tadpoles live outdoors in a pond? Or do you intend to keep your animals when they become frogs ?

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While many tadpoles can live together when they hatch, an indoor tank will quickly become overcrowded with adult frogs. You’ll also need to update your tank’s decor as they morph. To start, tadpoles live entirely underwater and have gills like fish. In fact, most frog moms lay the eggs beneath the surface, so the entirety of the baby’s early life is spent submerged in your pool or tank.

As they begin the transition, everything about tadpole care changes. The key here is to look for those little back legs because that tells you the process has started and it’s time to think about making adjustments. Your froglet, an in-between stage in which they have both front and back legs but still have their tail, needs to spend some time out of water.

After the back legs have appeared, begin to add sticks and rocks or a small platform in anticipation of their lungs. Of course, their diet will need to adapt substantially as well. It can feel like every day they want something different to eat. Prepare for this by doing some meal prep as frog puberty sets in.

If you bring home eggs, you’ll be able to watch the entire frog-rearing cycle. Tiny tadpoles will hatch, and they’ll be extremely hungry. Luckily, their first food source is right there in the tank. They’ll eat their own eggs to start, which contain some vital nutrients that their little growing bodies need. Next, they will want to munch on veggies and pond plants. If you’re feeding them anything from the kitchen, make sure to boil it. We recommend you give them dinner every day or every other day.

As the tadpoles develop into adults, they become carnivorous and suddenly want to eat meat, mostly insects. When they’re about 6 weeks old, introduce a few bugs into mealtimes and see what happens. When you see fully formed front legs, it’s time to pause the feeding. It seems weird, but your blossoming frogs will actually eat their own tails (a little gross, but it works). When they finally emerge transformed, you’ll move entirely into frog foods. So, what can you feed your animals? Stick with these items.

Food for tadpoles:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumber (no seeds)
  • Commercial tadpole food

Food for frogs:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Brine shrimp
  • Commercial fish or frog food

The smaller the tadpole, the more they need to rely on leafy greens and algae . As they develop, follow their cues to determine which snacks they’re ready for. However, you should stay away from some foods entirely because tadpoles can’t digest them.

  • Never feed these amphibians commercial pet food made for another animal.  Dog, cat, and even turtle kibble can be deadly for them.
  • You also want to avoid sugary snacks like fruit or pumpkin , and always take out the seeds from any other squash you might give (small amounts of zucchini, for example, are OK). Unless it’s in the veggie drawer, it’s probably off-limits. Make sure all vegetables are fresh, too (no preservatives or butter allowed).
  • Once they get to the bug-consuming stage, stick with feeder insects from the pet store.  You don’t want to bring in any diseases from the backyard.
  • Lastly, if your tadpoles don’t get enough calories, they may start to eat one another.  You can separate them temporarily to get back to a healthy feeding schedule.

There are a few more things to keep in mind about your new tadpoles. First, mosquitoes love still aquariums and may use the water as a place to breed. If you keep your pets indoors, be mindful of insects. Change the water frequently to prevent pests and maintain your little guys’ health. After every feeding, remove any excess bits of lettuce or wafers (some ponds and tanks can handle growing algae, so leave that alone). Old food will rot and contaminate the enclosure. Check with a vet or specialist if you notice anything wrong with your new pets, like signs of disease or alarming digestive issues, especially after a change in sustenance.

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Rebekkah Adams

If you've ever tossed and turned all night, you know it's frustrating. Finally, finding the perfect sleeping position feels oh-so-good. Both humans and their furry friends can appreciate the bliss of discovering a comfy spot beneath the blankets, though it might not seem as normal for your pup’s sleeping routine. So, why do dogs sleep under the covers? The reasons behind this adorable behavior may not surprise you, and they’re just as cute as you’d expect. Be careful while you read, though, or you may convince yourself to share your bed more often. Your dog will certainly get behind the idea of sharing a bed, but you might have to get used to having a lot less space while you sleep.

Why do dogs sleep under the covers? Here's what experts say You like to believe that your fur baby gets under the blankets just to get closer to you … and you may be partially right. Because dogs are pack animals, feeling the touch of a family member while sleeping can be the ultimate form of comfort and warmth. Your presence lets them know they’re protected and part of the pack, even if they only snuggle up when they feel anxious. This may feel especially comforting for pups who grew up with their siblings — just think about puppy piles. Snuggling under the covers has instinctual roots, too. Not long ago, dogs and wolves were born, raised, and sheltered in dens or caves, so it’s easy to see why your pup might feel cozy in a small space of their own. Canine behaviorist Clarissa Fallis explains that certain breeds might be even more likely to burrow. Small hunting breeds like dachshunds and beagles "tend to mimic their innate behavior of flushing out small animals from tunnels by burrowing." She goes on to explain, "Larger burrowers, like huskies, live in extreme temperatures that make the instinct to burrow under the snow crucial for staying warm." Whether your fur baby is actually cold, anxious, or just used to a routine of denning behavior, burrowing is generally not a cause for concern. Of course, there are a few safety precautions you can take to make it the best experience possible.

Any pet can brighten your day and improve your mood, and cats are no exception. They're our best friends, our constant companions, and our furry, purring lap warmers. Whether they're making you laugh at their silly antics or warming your heart (and lap), there's no doubt that cats are great to have around.

What you might not have known is that cats can also improve your health! It's true -- and these are the top three cat health benefits. We'll explain why sharing your home with a feline companion is one of the best things you can do for yourself. In case we convince you, we'll also recommend some of our favorite beginner-friendly cat breeds. Let's jump in!

It’s hard not to love watching your puppy sleep. In fact, they might somehow manage to get cuter as they snooze. They look so content and peaceful, especially if they're snuggled up to you. Though experts frequently recommend giving your pet their own sleep space, like a crate, it’s ultimately up to you. Regardless of where and when your puppy is sleeping, you want them to be comfortable and safe. If you notice your puppy breathing fast while sleeping, you may get worried. Should you be? It depends. Here’s what experts want you to know about labored breathing during sleep and when to call a vet.

Different puppy sleeping patterns Before we get into breathing patterns, it could help to have some knowledge of puppy sleeping patterns. They're similar to ours, though puppies cycle through them more quickly than humans. A puppy may experience 20 sleep cycles nightly. Humans typically go through about four or five cycles. These are the phases.

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Ghost shrimp eat detritus worms?

I know they eat tadpoles because the short time I had them in my tank I didn't see any tadpoles. Does anybody know if they'll eat the tiny detritus worms?

I'm working on getting my tank cleaned up. I added live plants about one to two weeks ago and now I'm seeing these things. They're nasty, but not a big deal. I was just hoping that if i put in a couple of ghost shrimp they'll eat them.

jlk avatar

I have seen mine eat bloodworms before so I dont see why they wouldnt eat these guys. Fish will eat them too.

jephil0 avatar

I put some platy fry in a tank with planaria worms, and they have grown HUGE. Much faster than the ones getting Hikari First Bites and other fish food.

I would imagine if fry can eat the worms (and they love them!), that shrimp would too!

njnolan1 avatar

Cool, thanks.

I've noticed that my frogs have been snapping aimlessly in the gravel but now I'm thinking they're probably trying to eat these things too.

Well, once the water quality is better I'm going to toss one or two ghost shrimp in there and see what happens.

I think the snail may actually eat the worms too. It eats the frog eggs so I don't see why it wouldn't. There's definitely been a drop in the number of these worms.

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will tadpoles cause harm to my fish/shrimp on my aquarium and how do I get rid of the

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How to Care for and Feed Tadpoles in Your Aquarium

Jessie Sanders, DVM, DABVP (Fish Practice), is an accomplished aquatic veterinary medicine expert with nearly two decades of experience working with private patients and aquaculture facilities. She owns Aquatic Veterinary Services and specilaizes in fish surgery. Dr. Sanders was one of the first Certified Aquatic Veterinarians through the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association.

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

ian35mm / Getty Images  

Frog husbandry is a combination of a terrestrial and aquatic care. Depending on the species you keep, a frog may only need a little water, or live only in water. If you are just getting started in the amphibian hobby, make sure you do your research so you understand how you desired species needs to be kept.

Breeding frogs comes with its own unique challenges. Once you have a male and female of the same species, you can start along the path to reproduction. All frogs hatch from eggs, but the number produced during one spawning will differ between species, as will the size, color, and shape of the eggs.

As they grow into frogs, tadpoles undergo metamorphosis through multiple stages. Successful reproduction and rearing of young frogs relies heavily on how well you care for the tadpole life stages.

Tadpole Stages

The tadpole stage begins when the tadpole leaves their egg and assume a straight body position. This stage persists until the tail has been absorbed in the body. Tadpoles can be classified by hind and forelimb emergence.

As your tadpoles age, they can be separated by metamorphosis stage, based on which sets of legs have emerged. Their feeding will change based upon these stages.

Tadpole Environment

Tadpoles should be separated from their parents and can be kept in individual containers. You can move the tadpoles once they emerge using a baster or small cup. Depending on the species, you may only have a few tadpoles or dozens.

Tadpoles do best with reverse osmosis water, commonly called "RO water." You can purchase it by the bottle or buy a reverse osmosis filter . Depending on the species, you may need to manipulate the pH and temperature. Some species, such as dart frogs, can benefit from tannin-rich, low pH water from the addition of different leaves.

As with all other amphibians, water quality is key. It is best if you use a low-flow filter to keep from blowing the tadpoles about. A simple sponge filter is best for this stage. Some very small tadpoles may be too small to keep with any filter, so they will rely on you doing water changes. Keep an eye on your water quality and perform regular water changes. If you notice an odd odor, it's definitely time for a water change!

Tadpole Feeding

Please keep in mind that the timing of these stages are only vague guidelines. Your species may not follow the exact timeline below.

Newly Hatched (first few days)

Your newly hatched tadpoles will be very hands-off at this stage. They are too young to receive any food.

One Week to One Month

During this stage, feed your tadpole one tadpole pellet daily. There are a few commercial diets available and are the best choice for your tadpole. Boiling lettuce does not produce suitable nutrition for a developing frog. You can coat the pellet in a vitamin/mineral mix for amphibians if desired.

One month: Frog

After your hardy tadpoles celebrate their one month birthday and legs start to emerge, they can graduate to only receiving two to three pellets per week. Keep them on the same frog/tadpole pellet and continue the vitamin/mineral topcoat if desired.

Once your tadpoles have achieved full metamorphosis into a frog, where no tail is apparent, they will need to switch to an appropriate frog diet .

Tadpole Treats

What pet doesn't like the occasional treat? Keep in mind that all treats are supplemental and should not replace their complete pelleted diet. At most, feed treats once a week.

Here are some tasty tadpole treat options:

  • Brine shrimp [flake]
  • Soilent green

Species-Specific Tips

Dwarf Frog : These all-aquatic frogs don't need any haul-outs or dry spots. You do not need to transition them to a terrestrial environment.

African Clawed Frog : Like the Dwarf Frog, these frogs are all-aquatic and do not need any terrestrial space in their environment.

Oriental Fire Bellied Toads : Despite their name, these frogs require a semi-terrestrial environment. You will need to provide a transitional stage where the almost-frog can escape their watery home. If able, set their aquatic hatching pool at a 45-degree angle to give them an easy slope to climb.

White's Tree Frog : After their aquatic tadpole stage, these frogs would rather live in a moist, tree-loving environment. As with the species above, make sure the tadpole stage can start expanding their terrestrial time.

American Green Tree Frog : Like their other tree frog friends, this species will need to transition to a terrestrial environment.

Pacman Frog : Although they do not need a lot of water, you need to provide a shallow bowl of warm RO water. If your tank environment is not humid enough, your frog will let you know by sitting in their pool.

Any frog species taken out of the wild cannot be kept with captive animals. If you are raising wild tadpoles, such as bullfrog tadpoles, they need to be returned to the exact same spot they were found after developing into frogs. It is not recommended to keep any wild frogs as pets.

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Resources » Aquarium Pets » What Do Tadpoles Eat

What do Tadpoles Eat: In the Wild and as Pets

What do Tadpoles Eat In the Wild and as Pets Banner

We’re taught as kids the basics behind the life cycle of a frog. If you’ve ever kept them as pets you’ll know that it’s much more difficult than it looks to raise tadpoles.

Before a frog is fully developed it spends many weeks growing. It’s a tadpole’s job to search for food to get enough energy to grow.

Over time, their appearance will change and their diet will also change. This can make looking after them particularly difficult as you need to keep up with their changing needs. They are best kept by people who are familiar with fish keeping, to avoid any beginner mistakes .

It’s important to feed them the right foods at the right time, different nutrients become important as they grow through various stages.

Starting life as a herbivore, their diet is quite simple, but as they grow and develop into omnivores things get more complicated. By the time they become a frog their diet will be almost completely carnivorous.


What do tadpoles eat, what can you feed tadpoles in an aquarium, when and how often do tadpoles eat, lifecycle of a tadpole to frog.

Check Out Our Recommended Tadpole Food Here

Tadpole in the Wild

Most tadpoles are fully aquatic, but there are some that are semiterrestrial ( such as the Indirana beddomii ).

They are most commonly found in ponds and lakes that are surrounded by algae and plants which offer them protection from predators.

Different species prefer slightly different environments. Colder species are found in waters ranging from 40-75°F. Keeping water at the higher end of this range will increase their growth rate, but if the temperature is too high then it can be harmful.

Tadpoles, like many other freshwater animals, are omnivores throughout most of their life. The most common foods they’ll come across are vegetation, dead insects, water striders, and sometimes small fish. Their diet changes again as they develop into frogs/toads, and they become almost exclusively carnivorous.

The range of food available means that we still don’t know everything that tadpoles eat in the wild.

However, they do not start life as omnivores. While hatching, they feed on their egg’s yolk sack which is high in protein to help them grow quickly. When the yolk is finished they need to find food themselves.

Newly hatched babies are small; it’s hard to find other animals that are small enough to eat so they eat algae. When they’re young, they have a long coiled intestine which is specifically designed for digesting vegetation and extracting proteins and calcium.

As they grow they can move onto plant leaves/stems and later on they can manage small insects. Once they are mature tadpoles, they will eat almost anything they can fit into their mouths. This helps them to find as much food as possible so that there’s more energy available for faster growth.

Tadpole in an Aquarium

In order to keep tadpoles healthy and ensure that they feed regularly, their aquarium needs to resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible.

Luckily they can survive in various water parameters, but a pH of 6-8 is ideal along with slightly hard water. As with any tank, keep nitrates as low as possible.

You don’t need a strong current because the ponds they live in are usually still . It’s easier for algae and pollutants to build up in the water when there’s no movement, so keep your tank clean and do water changes weekly to keep the tank healthy and remove nitrates.

It’s important to add plants to the aquarium as they perform a variety of useful roles . They keep the water clean, act as a secondary food source and also give the tadpoles a safe area to hide.

When they have somewhere they can hide they become more comfortable in the tank and less likely to refuse food.

They will feed on your tank’s plants so be prepared for them to take some damage. Hardy, fast-growing plants, (such as hornwort ) will be more likely to survive.

Keep an area of the tank above the water’s surface so that they can climb out of the water when they grow legs and start showing semiterrestrial behaviors.

You can use large rocks or an area of substrate reaching above the surface of the water, like a shoreline. If you use rocks, make sure they are secure and unlikely to move when they move on and off.

As frogs they obviously jump, so you might want to keep the water level low and use a deep tank.

The food you feed them depends on their maturity. Babies will be happy with store-bought fish foods, especially flake foods because they’re easy to break up. Some stores sell foods made specifically for tadpoles.

While getting food from stores is convenient, there’s plenty you can use to feed them within your home. You can find many recipes online for homemade fish foods , or simply adding uncooked vegetables into the tank will be popular.

As they get older, the size of the food can increase, so you can start introducing larvae and dead insects to their diet. If these new foods go uneaten then they might not be ready, just try again the following week.

Start introducing these foods when they’re around 3 or 4 weeks old. They can vary in size depending on the species, so it’s better to use age to judge when changing their diet. Regularly switching up their food keeps feeding times interesting, while giving them all of the nutrients they need.

Protein is an important resource for growth , so it is particularly important for tadpoles because they are growing throughout their lifespan; from hatching to metamorphosis (turning into a frog/toad).

Feeding them animal matter will give them the protein they need. Easy ways to do this are through bloodworms and aphids, but any small insects will do. Don’t add any meats into the tank that they wouldn’t come across naturally (such as farm animals) because it will be hard for them to digest.

Protein is most important while they develop legs (5-9 weeks). During this time, gradually add more animal matter to their diet to ease them into the carnivorous frog lifestyle.

One hour after feeding them, check the tank again to see if all the food has been eaten. If not, scoop the leftovers out to prevent it from decaying and polluting the water.

Below is a list of foods that you can feed your tadpoles:

  • Algae Wafers
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Fish Food Flakes
  • Fish Food Pellets
  • Frozen Foods
  • Fruit Flies
  • Green Vegetables
  • Homemade Fish Food
  • Insect Larvae

Your tadpoles will need to be fed regularly. Since they’re growing they’ll always be searching for food; one feed session every day will keep them healthy.

Some people suggest that you should feed them every other day, but in larger amounts. This is not great advice because they won’t be able to eat all of the food and the excess will just sit on the bottom of the tank and decay.

If any food is left in the tank an hour after feeding, then you are probably over-feeding them. Remove the excess food to keep the water clean.

There is no set amount of food to feed them, as different people use different foods. One pinch of flake food is enough to keep them happy, use this to judge the amounts of other foods. Watch how much they each and adjust the amount you feed them accordingly.

A regular routine isn’t essential. Their main purpose in life is to eat so that they can grow. This means that they will always be on the lookout for food regardless of when you add it to the tank.

Once they have sprouted arms you can hold off on the feeding for a while. They will start to absorb their tail for nutrients , you will notice it begin to shrink. Start feeding them again when the tail has nearly disappeared.

You can continue to feed them fish flakes, live and frozen foods, or any of the foods on the list above.

Development of a Tadpole

A tadpole isn’t a permanent form; it is just a stepping stone from egg to adulthood in the lifecycle of a frog.

Food and hormones are the main drivers for tadpole development . There is some degree of consistency between development times, but species, water quality, and nutrition all play a big part. A frog begins to develop through the process of metamorphose , but how does this happen?

As time goes on, they change. An easy way to understand this is by thinking of them undergoing their own small lifecycle, before reaching frog status.

They usually start to hatch in the spring , but the biggest populations will be found in summer. A newly hatched tadpole will latch onto plants (where it’s safe) and eat any leftover yolk from their egg.

At this age, they are very vulnerable to the elements and predators, to an extent where many of them will die.

Those that reach ten days old will begin swimming around, looking for more food now that the yolk has run out. Their diet will be strictly herbivorous, and they won’t swim far from the safety of the plants.

By three or four weeks old they will start to lose their gills and grow small teeth. These teeth now allow them to eat bigger and harder foods.

Through weeks five to nine, they will start eating insects alongside the plants. Their organs will have grown longer, providing a bigger area to digest nutrients.

It’s around this time that little limbs start emerging while their head and body grow to accommodate them. They now look like frogs, but they’re smaller and have a tail trailing behind them.

At week twelve they are much bigger. The tail is now gone, it has been digested for nutrients. They can leave the water and start hopping about on land (or the rocks in your tank or pond). This is the final stage of their life cycle.

From week thirteen onwards they are now frogs. It’s now their job to go and lay eggs in the water themselves, completing the life cycle of a frog.

Frog Spawn

By now you should know that the foods you give to your tadpoles will change based on their age.

Plants and algae are ideal for newly hatched babies, while older species can enjoy animal matter such as worms and insects.

Though their dietary needs can seem intimidating, they eat similar foods to fish , and lots of the food can be found in your home.

It can be a lot of work to raise healthy tadpoles due to the regular changes to their diet, but once they have grown into healthy frogs you’ll realize that all of the work was worth it.

What do you feed your tadpoles? Let us know in the comments section below…

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We have left the plastic black cover on our large swimming pool this year. Of course it is filled with rainwater and natural debris. The hordes of frogs around our area have gifted us with a swarm of tadpoles. It can get very hot out there during the day and I’m wondering if the water heats up too much for them. There are pretty deep spots (maybe 3 feet) and some shallower spots. I have added a bit of hose water to maybe cool it a bit but not sure if this matters. I also threw in some lettuce and grass and some various leafy stems to eat, give shade or hide under. Never thought I’d be tending a tadpole farm but here I am 🙂 Any advice would be appreciated.

Be careful with water from the hose. It is chlorinated and can kill the tadpoles. I made this mistake in my fountain :-/ My tadpole loved the figs dropping in the the nearby tree! If it sits for a day in a container I think its safer.

We found tadpoles growing in our large wheel narrow. I have been crushing medicated goat pellets and chicken laying crumbles (alternating the two) and that is what I have been feeding the tadpoles. There are several that now have both front and back legs. It has been awesome watching them grow!

Just like Linda I too have a tadpole farm in my pool and am loving every minute of it but there’s been no rain and the pool water is getting hot. Can I add any water in it? I know u said not to use the hose. I found 2 dead tadpoles out of 100s that I have but I’m really upset and want to prevent anymore.

Hi Jessica, if you make sure all the parameters are exactly the same before adding the water, it should be fine. Thanks, Robert

As a small boy in the sixties I found that a weed called chickweed was sufficient to see them through to adulthood. We had a change of neighbours recently and the new owners have destroyed their pond which has been used by frogs for 40+ years. Yesterday three frogs turned up in my garden, so I quickly formed a small basin with rainwater and this morning I have brand new tadpole spawn.

We found some tadpole eggs at a pond and brought 3 home so our daughter can watch their development {We have had fish tanks in the past}. It has been awesome watching them grow. we feed them celery leaves right now and will be feeding them frog food soon after their 3-4 weeks. They have feeding fringes then quiet days of growing then eat and eat again, is the pattern they are showing. they are helping us through the COVID-19 isolation.

My tree frog friends sing their hearts out every spring for me then lay eggs in nearly all my rain barrels. I end up with hundreds if not thousands of them. So that they don’t end up as fertilizer when I water I fish net them out and then add them to a large pond I have next to the barrels. That’s their home and they seem quite happy there under the partial shade of a wild mulberry tree sprout. Some tiny wild water plants grow in the pond which contributes to that ecosystem along with some snails and water bugs. I feed them fish flakes now and then and they seem to love it. Skimming the surface for the flake bits. Their mouths are tiny so I grind the flakes into even smaller bits. I love my little tadpole / frog oasis!

I have about 1,000 tadpoles in a small wading pool. I do not have an aerator for it. I am a bit concerned about the amount. Do tadpoles usually do well in a crowded space without aeration? Thanks.

I found tadpoles in a nearby stormwater runoff. I collected about 12 and put them into my uninhabited pond.(no fish but plenty of mosquito larvae) My husband wants me to put them back because he doesn’t want frogs in the swimming pool. What are the chances that frogs will suicide into the saltwater pool?

I’m just now trying to harvest some tadpoles from a large tub that collects rainwatrd, leaves rocks and omg algae. The tadpoles are dying as they have their legs and tiny tales left. Why? I’ve been able to save only one so far and put it into aquarium with rocks, soon to add plants and algae disks, is this the right thing to do?

A low spot in my driveway turned into a small “pond.” When I noticed we had tadpoles, I got some out for my boys to watch. I’ve noticed the tadpoles in the pond are all gone now. We have found several tiny frogs so I’m assuming they completed their metamorphosis. However, the tadpoles in the tank are just now starting to grow legs and not even all of them are doing that. Is it because of the difference in environment? I fed them algae at first. Then I had some blood worms and now I’m feeding them the crumbs at the bottom of my container of crickets or fish food pellets. I also throw an algae wafer or two in since they seem to like those or I take a net and get some algae from the pond. I used rocks from the driveway and transplanted a plant that had grown up in our pond for them. I use rainwater for their water changes and I only do about a 3/4 water change. My boys are homeschooled and this is a project for them. One of the questions they are trying to answer is why the frogs in the tank are developing more slowly. Thank you in advance for your help.

I have over a hundred tadpoles in various sizes that I saved from puddles drying up after the flooding rains here..They eat boiled cabbage and I am not sure what to do with them.There are no ponds around just the ocean and they cannot live in salt water..They have already eaten 2 heads of cabbage in 2 weeks..and they need something else to eat..

Green tree frogs spawned in my cleaned out spa which was filled with water from our local Barron Gorge , so no chemicals were in the water as my pool man had a Xmas party to go to and still hasn’t come back !! So I have a few clutches of green tree tadpoles and they are very happy to eat organic spinach which I eat every day , whether you boil it or freeze it , or put in in raw I’ve had great success, no dead tadpoles and once they are 5 weeks ish old I feed every other day some protein like hard boiled egg yolk and I mix it with the spinach chopped finely for their little froglet mouths to eat !! I love watching and listening to them munch up their dinner , I’m in the tropics and feed twice a day the youngest and once they grow their back legs I move them to another container with live plants, coral, river rocks and a few crystals and they grow up and hop away !!! Then hang in my garden as it’s a great ecosystem! If frogs have spawned in your garden then you have a magical ecosystem that has allowed them to thrive so well done !! Enjoy ?

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Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp

will ghost shrimp eat tadpoles

The vernal pool tadpole shrimp is a small, freshwater crustacean that is found in vernal pools in California. They have a hard shell that is large, flattened and arched like a shield over its back. This structure structure Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head. Learn more about structure gives the tadpole shrimp its unique, tadpole-like appearance which easily distinguishes it from the fairy shrimp. Vernal pool tadpole shrimp have 30 to 35 pairs of swimming legs that also function as gills. They have a segmented abdomen, two tail-like appendages and fused eyes. They are known as living fossils because they have changed little in appearance during roughly the last 2 million years and resemble species found in the fossil record.

Vernal pool tadpole shrimp are uncommon even where vernal pool habitats occur. Vernal pool tadpole shrimp are found only in ephemeral freshwater habitats, including alkaline pools, clay flats, vernal lakes, vernal pools, vernal swales and other seasonal wetlands in California. Their range encompasses the Central Valley, Delta and eastern San Francisco Bay areas. Sacramento County represents important habitat for the vernal pool tadpole shrimp by providing large, nearly contiguous areas of relatively undisturbed, high-quality vernal pool habitat. The vernal pool tadpole shrimp was listed as endangered on September 19, 1994.  

The largest threats to the species include:

  • Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation from development and agriculture
  • Predation by nonnative bullfrogs and mosquito fish
  • Non-native plants and grasses 
  • Climate change and drought

Scientific Name

Location in taxonomic tree, identification numbers, characteristics.

Vernal pool tadpole shrimp are uncommon even where vernal pool habitats occur. The vernal pool tadpole shrimp has a patchy distribution across the Central Valley of California, from Shasta County southward to northwestern Tulare County, with isolated occurrences in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The California Natural Diversity Database currently reports 226 occurrences of vernal pool tadpole shrimp in the following 20 counties, including Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Kings, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba counties. 

Sacramento County represents important habitat for the vernal pool tadpole shrimp by providing large, nearly contiguous areas of relatively undisturbed, high-quality vernal pool habitat. The county contains 28%, the greatest amount, of the known occurrences.

The species’ range today is much smaller than its historical distribution due to degradation and fragmentation of vernal pool habitat.  

Land on which the natural dominant plant forms are grasses and forbs.

Environments influenced by humans in a less substantial way than cities. This can include agriculture, silvaculture, aquaculture, etc.

Areas such as marshes or swamps that are covered often intermittently with shallow water or have soil saturated with moisture.

Female vernal pool tadpole shrimp produce up to six clutches of eggs containing 32 to 61 eggs per clutch each wet season. They carry fertilized eggs in a sac on the underside of their body. The eggs are either dropped to the pool bottom or remain in the brood sac until the mother dies and sinks to the bottom of the pool. 

When the pool dries out, so do the eggs. Resting tadpole shrimp eggs are known as cysts. Cysts may remain viable for multiple years due to their protective coverings that help them withstand extreme environmental conditions and even digestion by predators. The cysts remain in the dry pool bed until hatching begins in response to rains and the return of water in the vernal pools.

The life span of the vernal pool tadpole shrimp is about 144 days on average. Vernal pool tadpole shrimp can be found in vernal pools starting in November most years and complete their entire life cycle by early May. On average, vernal pool tadpole shrimp take 38 days to mature after hatching and 51 days to reproduce. Multiple cohorts of eggs may hatch in a single vernal pool throughout the wet season given the right conditions. Vernal pool tadpole shrimp disappear before the vernal pools dry. 

Vernal pool tadpole shrimp are non-migratory and have little ability to disperse on their own. Aquatic birds are the most likely agents of dispersal of vernal pool tadpole shrimp. Large mammals are also known to act as distributors by wallowing in dirt, getting cysts caught in their fur and transporting the cysts to another wallow. Additionally, cysts can be ingested, passed through the digestive tract and then deposited in new habitats when the animal urinates.

Physical Characteristics

The vernal pool tadpole shrimp is a small, freshwater crustacean that is found in vernal pools in California. They have a hard shell that is large, flattened and arched like a shield over its back. This structure structure Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head. Learn more about structure gives the tadpole shrimp its unique, tadpole-like appearance, which easily distinguishes it from the fairy shrimp. Vernal pool tadpole shrimp have 30 to 35 pairs of swimming legs that also function as gills. They have a segmented abdomen, two tail-like appendages and fused eyes.

Measurements Length: 0.6 to 3.3 in (15 to 86 mm)  

Vernal pool tadpole shrimp are opportunistic filter feeders. They eat small plants, waste from other vernal pool species and aquatic invertebrates, including fairy shrimp. They face competition from fairy shrimp species.

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Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp

Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp have a shield-like cover called a carapace.  They can be mottled olive-green, brown or gray.  Their abdomen sticks out behind the carapace and ends in two long, thin tails.  The endangered Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp has a short paddle between the tails.  It’s more common relative Triops does not.

Fossilized Tadpole Shrimp that lived millions of years ago look almost exactly like the ones we see today. The shrimp lived on Earth before there were fish and they never evolved defenses against fish predators. So, like Fairy Shrimp, Tadpole Shrimp now can live only where fish do not – in temporary pools.

The eggs of Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp are drought-tolerant cysts. When winter rains fill vernal pools and swales, some of the cysts will hatch. Others may not hatch for many years. As the Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp grows and sheds its carapace whenever it gets too small. Tadpole Shrimp are large (about the size of a half-dollar coin). It takes them weeks to mature, so they tend to live in deeper vernal pools, which last longer.

Female Tadpole Shrimp produce hundreds of encysted eggs which are deposited in the mud of the pool bottom. The cysts will rest there as the vernal pool evaporates and the bottom becomes hot and dry. The cysts can last for more than 10 years, until conditions are right to hatch.

Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp are one of the largest invertebrate morsels an animal can find for dinner in a vernal pool. They are eaten by wading birds such as egrets and herons and migratory waterfowl, including ducks. Frogs eat them too. Bullfrogs (a non-native frog) can come from their breeding areas in nearby permanent water (streams, lakes, and wetlands) to eat the Tadpole Shrimp.

Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp burrow or creep along the muddy bottom of the vernal pools. They eat (and swim) by beating their leaf-like feet in a wavelike motion from front to back. They catch food with their feet. Their feet then move food up a groove that runs up the middle of their underside, toward their mouth. They are very aggressive omnivores. They eat algae, bacteria, protozoa, rotifers, aquatic earthworms, insects, Fairy Shrimp, frog eggs and tadpoles.

The Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp is listed as an endangered species. It is restricted to the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay area and is found only in certain vernal pools. Due to its very limited range and the continuing loss of vernal pools due to new development and agriculture, Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp are Endangered. A species is listed as endangered when protection is needed to prevent the species from becoming extinct in the near future.

Most vernal pools do not have Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp living in them. What are some of the characteristics of vernal pools where you find Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp? Can you think of any reasons why the Lepidurus packardi would prefer such pools?

Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp

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Tadpole Shrimp Are Coming For Your Rice

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Tadpole shrimp are neither tadpoles nor shrimp. They’re time-traveling crustaceans called triops. Their eggs can spend years – even decades – frozen in time, waiting to hatch. When California rice growers flood their fields, they create the perfect conditions for hordes of these ravenous creatures to awaken.

This tadpole shrimp is coming for your rice.

Hungry hordes of them find their way into the rice fields of California’s Central Valley and go to town munching on the young seedlings.

But where did they come from, with the ocean so far away?

A couple of weeks ago, this was just a dry dusty field.

Turns out they were here all along.

They’re time travelers waiting for months, years, even decades in the sun-baked soil.

Each spring, when rice farmers flood their fields and scatter their seeds they inadvertently create the perfect conditions for billions of tadpole shrimp to awaken.

The eggs’ rugged outer shell, called the chorion, cracks open and the larva wiggles its way out of a translucent sac.

Tadpole shrimp aren’t really tadpoles, they aren’t even shrimp, though they are crustaceans whose ancestors evolved in the sea.

The tiny larvae forage through the mud incessantly for any food they can dig up.

They’re not picky.

But as they grow, they really acquire a taste for rice plants.

They chomp away at the first tender roots and leaves just when the seedlings need them most.

Without roots to hold them down, the young plants just float away.

And if it loses its first leaves, a seedling can’t get enough energy to grow.

As if that’s not enough, the throngs of tadpole shrimp stir up the mud, blocking out the sun.

But the rice plants that do manage to break the water’s surface are safe.

Their roots and stems are thick and tough enough that the tadpole shrimp leave them alone.

At that point, tadpole shrimp are actually kind of helpful.

They turn their appetites to any weeds that make their way into the rice field.

They even eat the larvae of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus when they grow up.

Once the tadpole shrimp mature, they lay their eggs in the mud and then they’re done.

Adult tadpole shrimp only live for about a month.

The secret to these armored arthropods’ survival is their eggs.

At the end of the growing season, farmers drain their fields so they can harvest the rice on dry ground.

No water? No problem.

The eggs can survive being completely dehydrated for years.

Their tough outer shell protects them from scorching heat, freezing cold, even time itself.

The embryos inside just stop developing.

They enter a suspended state called diapause.

That’s what keeps them from hatching in a dry field.

When the water returns, and conditions are right again, they’ll be ready to hatch.

That’s because tadpole shrimp evolved to live in temporary freshwater ponds, created by seasonal rains throughout North and South America.

It’s how they endure having their ponds dry up each year.

They’ve been living this way for hundreds of millions of years — since before the dinosaurs — waiting out droughts, changing climates, even global catastrophes.

In a world where the future is unpredictable, tadpole shrimp are the ultimate survivors.

Hey, It’s Laura.

Arthropods in farmers’ fields aren’t always unwelcome.

Like persimilis mites.

They drop from drones by the thousands — to protect the strawberry harvest.

And alfalfa leafcutter bees taking a punch to the face by spring-loaded flowers, just as they pollinate the crop.

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  11. Triops: Facts about the three-eyed 'dinosaur shrimp'

    Additional resources. Triops are a group of freshwater crustaceans commonly called tadpole shrimp or dinosaur shrimp. They look like ancient armored tadpoles, a look they've rocked for hundreds of ...

  12. What do Ghost Shrimps eat? Breaking down their Dietary Needs

    The Complete Care Guide to Their Dietary Plan By Garrison Hickles Updated March 26, 2022 IN THE ARTICLE Eating Habits of a Ghost Shrimp in the Wild Eating Habits of a Ghost Shrimp in an Aquarium How Often & How Much Do Ghost Shrimps Eat? Eating Habits of a Baby Ghost Shrimp Eating Habits of an Adult Ghost Shrimp Summary

  13. Tadpole Shrimp (Triops)

    The tadpole shrimp has about sixty hair-like appendages on its abdomen's proximal side that will beat rhythmically to direct food towards the fish's mouth. Male fish have slightly larger carapace lengths compared to the females. They also have a secondary antenna used as calipers when reproducing.

  14. Tadpoles in Shrimp Tank

    Reply Save I IncogPollywog Discussion starter · #3 · Oct 12, 2017 Woodswalker said: Beware the lemmings. To clarify the guppies and shrimp I have are not random specimens from some chain store. Both groups were bought from a reputable local breeder and were quarantined and treated separately for a little over a month.

  15. Can You Eat Ghost Shrimps? Easy Ghost Shrimp Recipe Or A Fad?

    The Secret Dark Knight Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish? Are They Scavengers Or Predators? What Does Ghost Shrimp Taste Like? Cooked ghost shrimps turn red. And reportedly, they taste somewhere between crawdads and marine shrimp. The juicy, gooey center is an explosion of flavor, which might be a turnoff for some people.

  16. Here's What You Can (and Cannot) Feed Tadpoles and Frogs

    Getting Started A simple guide to what to feed tadpoles in your aquarium A list of everything you should and shouldn't give baby frogs By Rebekkah Adams August 5, 2023 Austin Santaniello/Unsplash Whether you're taking in rescue tadpoles or planning to keep frogs as pets, you'll have to adapt continually to their changing bodies.

  17. Ghost Shrimp Eat Detritus Worms?

    njnolan1 11 years ago Cool, thanks. I've noticed that my frogs have been snapping aimlessly in the gravel but now I'm thinking they're probably trying to eat these things too. Well, once the water quality is better I'm going to toss one or two ghost shrimp in there and see what happens. reply #5 njnolan1 11 years ago

  18. will tadpoles cause harm to my fish/shrimp on my

    The tad pole could be doing the damage you see (hard to say ),I'm not real sure what they eat.That being said once it turns into a frog I will guess the frog will make short work of the rest of your stock if it doesn't just escape.

  19. What to Feed Your Aquarium Tadpoles

    One Week to One Month. During this stage, feed your tadpole one tadpole pellet daily. There are a few commercial diets available and are the best choice for your tadpole. Boiling lettuce does not produce suitable nutrition for a developing frog. You can coat the pellet in a vitamin/mineral mix for amphibians if desired.

  20. What do Tadpoles Eat: In the Wild and as Pets

    Tadpoles, like many other freshwater animals, are omnivores throughout most of their life. The most common foods they'll come across are vegetation, dead insects, water striders, and sometimes small fish. Their diet changes again as they develop into frogs/toads, and they become almost exclusively carnivorous.

  21. Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp

    The vernal pool tadpole shrimp is a small, freshwater crustacean that is found in vernal pools in California. They have a hard shell that is large, flattened and arched like a shield over its back. This structure. gives the tadpole shrimp its unique, tadpole-like appearance which easily distinguishes it from the fairy shrimp.

  22. Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp

    Frogs eat them too. Bullfrogs (a non-native frog) can come from their breeding areas in nearby permanent water (streams, lakes, and wetlands) to eat the Tadpole Shrimp. Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp burrow or creep along the muddy bottom of the vernal pools. They eat (and swim) by beating their leaf-like feet in a wavelike motion from front to back.

  23. Tadpole Shrimp Are Coming For Your Rice

    Tadpole shrimp aren't really tadpoles, they aren't even shrimp, though they are crustaceans whose ancestors evolved in the sea. The tiny larvae forage through the mud incessantly for any food they can dig up. They're not picky. But as they grow, they really acquire a taste for rice plants. They chomp away at the first tender roots and ...