Caresheets Invertebrates

Palaemonetes | Ghost shrimp care & info

April 12, 2019
Ghost shrimp care & info

When it comes to keeping shrimp, most aquarists lean toward dwarf shrimp, or maybe the diligent Amano shrimp. Ghost shrimp, which are often sold in aquarium stores at a low price as feeders, are often overlooked.

If you’re looking for an invertebrate to add to your aquarium cleaning crew or want to add some life to a nano tank, consider ghost shrimp! They’re just as fun to keep as other aquarium shrimp and entirely beginner-proof.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about ghost shrimp care in the aquarium!


Minimum tank size5 gal/19L
TemperamentMedium
DietOmnivore
Temperature72-82 °F/22-27.5 °C
pH7-8
dH3-15 °

Ghost shrimp natural habitat

When trying to determine where ghost shrimp originate from, sources vary and offer little to no concrete details. A few sources state that they originate from freshwater bodies in North America, usually in southern USA. Others claim they’re from Southwest Asia or India.

In fact, it becomes even more confusing when you learn that most people can’t even agree on what the shrimp’s Latin name is! That being said, it’s generally referred to as Palaemonetes, at least in the aquarium hobby. The most common freshwater ghost shrimp is said to be Palaemonetes paludosus.

Ghost shrimp appearance

Ghost shrimp, or glass shrimp, lend their name from their color (or actually, lack thereof). They tend to be mostly clear with some muted shades of yellow, orange, grey, and brown. Their small amount of color doesn’t prevent you from being able to view their inner workings, which is always fascinating when a shrimp has just eaten.

Males can grow up to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in length, with females hitting the 2-inch (5 cm ) mark. The females also often show a green saddle, and are especially easy to tell apart from the males once you see ghost shrimp with eggs.

Ghost shrimp care & info

Ghost shrimp care requirements

Given their size, and the potential to be aggressive (which will be discussed further below), it’s recommended to have a tank of at least 5 gallons (19 L). If you have the space available, 10 gallons (38 L) would be ideal.

Ghost shrimp are known to become aggressive and territorial if there are too many other shrimp and fish in a confined space. Despite this, stocking recommendations vary among keepers and there isn’t really any agreement on the best way to go. While some people may only recommend one ghost shrimp per gallon (3.8 L), others recommend 3-4 up to 10 per gallon.

Whatever the numbers, these shrimp do well in heavily planted setups that allow them to get away from larger, more aggressive fish and shrimp. They enjoy grazing along driftwood and leaves, feeding off the biofilm. As such, and because they offer cover, it’s a good idea to add plenty of this natural décor to your tank. Some wood or even something like a shrimp hide will be greatly appreciated.

As for the water parameters, ghost shrimp tend to do best at tropical temperatures (72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit) with a pH between 7.0 and 8.0. When it comes to filtration, sponge filters are your best bet since they help keep the water oxygenated and give the shrimp an extra place to graze. Unlike some other filter types, a sponge filter can’t suck in even a very small shrimp, which explains why it’s the preferred choice for most shrimp enthusiasts.

They're often used as live food but actually make fun aquarium pets as well. Find out everything you need to know about ghost shrimp! #aquariums
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Ghost shrimp tankmates

Ghost shrimp get along best with small, peaceful community fish. As long as the shrimp have plenty of plants and hides to keep themselves safe, they will usually thrive. They are especially vulnerable during molting, when their new shells are the weakest.

Although ghost shrimp are considered by most to be peaceful, there are reported cases of ghost shrimp harassing and attacking fish and other shrimp as well. With this in mind, no matter what tankmates you choose, you’ll want to monitor their interactions carefully.

For example, ghost shrimp and Betta splendens setups are popular, but have mixed results. Although Bettas may snack on a small shrimp or two, they may have their fins attacked in return, especially long-finned varieties. So if you keep ghost shrimp and Bettas together, just have another setup handy in case things go south. This list contains a few more risk-free tankmate options for Betta fish, in case that’s what you came here looking for.

Ghost shrimp diet

The best thing about ghost shrimp is that they’re not fussy when it comes to what’s on the menu. They’ll eat everything from algae to frozen foods. They are excellent at cleaning up uneaten food from other fish, making them a valuable addition to your tank’s cleaning crew. That being said, you should still introduce food specifically for the shrimp as well to prevent them from going hungry.

Sinking wafers and pellets will give the shrimp a chance to snag the food and scuttle off before other inhabitants gorge themselves. Go for a high-quality staple like GlasGarten (review here) to make sure the shrimp have access to all the nutrients they need to molt successfully. Given the chance, they will also scavenge the remains of deceased tankmates, as well as their own molts, for extra protein and calcium.

glass shrimp

Ghost shrimp behavior

Ghost shrimp are a joy to watch. Whether they are free-swimming or grazing, they are full of life. Sadly, the average ghost shrimp lifespan is only a year, so be sure to enjoy their energetic antics while you can. Depending on how old the shrimp are when you purchase them, you may have even less time with them.

If you optimize your ghost shrimp care, you’ll at least give them a chance to shine for however long they’re with you. Alternatively, you could consider trying your hand at breeding your ghost shrimp and get a stable population going!

Breeding ghost shrimp

Most people consider ghost shrimp easy to breed and they’ll often reproduce in your aquarium without any interference. That being said, if your goal is to purposely breed them to build up your colony or as feeder foods, you will want a separate breeding tank. If pregnant ghost shrimp are normally kept in a community setting, the young may not survive due to predation from tankmates.

There are various different methods of breeding depending on personal preferences and breeding goals. For example, some people wait until they see ghost shrimp with eggs before moving them into a separate tank to let the eggs hatch. Once the eggs have hatched a week or two later, breeders then take out the females to avoid having them eat their own young.

Buying ghost shrimp

When buying ghost shrimp, if your goal is for them to breed, you will want to have at least a group of 10 individuals (although more is better, when possible). They tend to range from $1 to $3 per individual, so they’re great for beginners since you won’t break the bank if your ghost shrimp care needs some fine-tuning.

You can buy your starter colony of ghost shrimp online here!


If you have any more questions about ghost shrimp care or want to share your own experiences with these fascinating aquarium shrimp, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Cover photo: Ghost Shrimp by Freddie Alequin

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