Ghost shrimp or Palaemonetes paludosus are tiny translucent enchanting creatures. They are also called glass shrimp and grass shrimp.
They are delightful to watch and make the perfect addition to a tropical community of small, peaceful fish.
The Ghost Shrimp is a freshwater crustacean popular with fish hobbyists of all experience levels since they are low-maintenance and exciting pets. Therefore, this ethereal shrimp adds to the aesthetics of your aquarium.
Being small and delicate, Ghost shrimps may not be suitable for every aquarium. Read on to learn how to create the best environment for your ghost shrimps. Your ghost shrimps can live a happy, healthy life with care.
|Scientific name:||Palaemonetes paludosus|
|Common name:||Ghost Shrimp, Glass Shrimp|
|Min Tank Size:||5 – 10 Gallons; must have a tight-fitting lid|
|Water parameters:||KH 3 – 10; pH 6.5 – 8.0|
|Water temperature:||68 – 80 F;|
|Communities:||Small Peaceful Fish; snails|
The Size, Shape, and Appearance of Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp are small, growing to only around 1.5 inches long. A fully grown Ghost Shrimp is roughly the diameter of a pencil eraser. Males are slightly smaller than females, growing to a maximum length of 1 inch.
Mature, fertile female Ghost Shrimps will also have a crest or saddle on their head segment.
Like other shrimps, the Ghost Shrimp resembles small crayfish. The only difference is that Ghost Shrimps are more petite and have softer shells. Ghost Shrimp also have a slight hump midway down the length of their tail.
You can see right through a Ghost shrimp. It is amusing to watch them swim around after they have eaten. Their stomachs become the color of the flakes or other fish food you have given them, resulting in spots of different colors and beady black eyes swimming around the aquarium.
– The Ghost Shrimp Color Range
Many people describe the Ghost Shrimp as transparent, but its color ranges from a clear hazy grey to a darker grey. Glass shrimps may also have orange rings on their feelers and front legs or tiny green dots sprinkled on their torso.
You can see through the shrimp to its insides. One of the fascinating aspects of a Ghost Shrimp is to observe the internal workings of its body when it is feeding. It’s a fantastic sight.
The Lifespan of Ghost Shrimp
The lifespan of a Ghost Shrimp lifespan can be anywhere from a few days to a year. If you keep a Ghost Shrimp in a good environment, it can live for a little longer than a year, if you’re lucky. But certainly not that much longer than that.
It’s pretty usual for a Ghost Shrimp to die in a day or two, even though you put it in an established tank. Some Ghost Shrimp from the same batch may acclimate well in their new environment, while others lie dead on the bottom of the tank. Some shrimp disappear.
The reason may be the trauma of being brought home from the store or the slight differences in water parameters. Whatever the cause, expect to lose a few shrimp from each batch.
Freshwater Ghost Shrimps are not treated well in stores as they are considered ‘feeders’ for larger fish. Hence, you will often find them in overstocked, under-filtered tanks with poor water conditions. Before purchasing the shrimp, be sure to check whether they are bred as feeder fish or for a home aquarium.
– The Ghost Shrimp Molting Process
Molting is a normal process for Ghost Shrimps. It just means they are healthy and eating well, so they outgrow the old shell.
It’s often challenging to figure out which Ghost Shrimp has molted because they live in groups. You will probably wake up one morning, peer into the tank, and see a couple of empty, transparent shells on the bottom. As long as the shrimps are there, all is well.
Ghost Shrimp are very vulnerable when they molt until their new shell hardens. For this reason, it’s essential to keep Ghost Shrimp in a tank with plenty of hiding places. Live aquarium plants are perfect for this purpose.
Leave the empty shell in the tank. Other shrimp will feed off it. Absorbing the minerals in the old shell helps Ghost Shrimp set up their next molting cycle.
– Ghost Shrimp Behaviour
Ghost Shrimps spend their days swimming and feeding or cleaning all around the aquarium. Ghost Shrimp do well in groups of at least six. Although they are not schooling fish, they do feel safer in numbers.
It is not necessary to keep them in a group, though! A single shrimp will live happily by itself.
Ghost Shrimp makes your job of keeping the tank quite a bit easier. An amazing scavenger, the freshwater Dwarf Shrimp, is always active and busy throughout the day. They will clear away any uneaten food and keep algae levels down too.
Creating the Best Environment for Ghost Shrimps
Given their diminutive size, you can keep Ghost Shrimps in relatively small aquariums. A 5 gallons tank is the bare minimum, but a larger tank is preferable. You can safely house 3 or 4 Freshwater Dwarf Shrimps per gallon, but you need to consider the number of other species you have in the tank.
Freshwater Ghost Shrimps contribute far less waste to the biological load than most fish. Still, it is always wiser to start with fewer shrimp and not risk overstocking the tank. You can always add a few more later.
Ghost Shrimp are most visible when you keep them in tanks with dark or mainly black gravel.
– A Special Note for Aquarium Covers
Your tank needs to have a tight-fitting glass or mesh lid with as few gaps as possible. Ghost Shrimps are excellent jumpers, and you may find them on the floor. It would be best to close up any gaps in your lids as much as you can in case your shrimp decides to climb up or go exploring.
– Water Parameters for Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp are relatively hardy and don’t have any special requirements for water chemistry. You’ll need to make sure the pH, oxygen levels, and water temperature are within healthy ranges. If the water in your tank is as close to their natural environment as possible, then they will acclimatize sooner to the aquarium.
You can set the optimal tank water temperature between 65 F to 75 F. Ghost Shrimp can live in water temperatures up to 80 F. However, higher temperatures can lead to molting problems and increase the possibility of bacterial infection.
The hardness level of the water should be a little strong, between 6.5 and 8.0 pH, and GH from 3 – 10 dGH.
Although Ghost Shrimp can adapt to many different water conditions, like all other invertebrates, they need calcium to form their shells. It is essential to maintain a healthy GH level, so the shrimp always have a source of calcium.
Ghost Shrimps require a sponge filter in the tank as they enjoy being in waters with a gentle current. They are excellent swimmers. A sponge water filter will create a slight movement of water that resembles the water current in their natural habitat.
If you don’t have a filter, you will have to change 30 percent of the tank water every week. Since Ghost shrimp are very sensitive to pollutants in their environment, you should make sure to keep nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia to a minimum.
Tank Care – Preventing Ammonia and Nitrite Poisoning
You may think that providing the appropriate water parameters is sufficient to raise healthy ghost shrimps. But, much more goes into creating the perfect environment where your ghost shrimps can thrive.
A fully cycled tank has sufficient bacteria to convert the ammonia and nitrites released from fish waste into nitrates. Why is it vital to have a fully cycled tank?
If you place your ghost shrimps in an aquarium that you have not cycled correctly, they will die from ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Your Ghost Shrimps should live in a fully-cycled tank with the ammonia and nitrite level at 0 and the nitrate level less than 20 ppm.
It is necessary to understand that copper is toxic to Ghost Shrimp. When adding any medication for fish to the water, check its contents carefully.
– Providing the Right Substrate
The most significant feature of the Ghost Shrimp’s habitat is probably the substrate. Ghost Shrimp are known to burrow and spend a lot of their time on the sediment, being bottom-dwellers.
Since Ghost Shrimps spend a lot of time digging through the substrate searching for food, you need to ensure that it isn’t sharp or rough. Any fine-grained substrate will do the job. The substrate must be gentle to prevent damage to the delicate, long antennas of these shrimps.
It is a good idea to use sand or fine gravel as your aquarium substrate because the tiny particles don’t harm the Ghost Shrimp’s delicate antennae while they dig in and out.
A fine-grain substrate also prevents food from sinking into the sediment, so food crumbs sit on the surface waiting for the scavenging shrimp.
– Tank Plantation
Ghost shrimps love plants. They provide the shrimp with a safe, comfortable place to rest. During the molting process, Ghost shrimps use plants as a hideaway. Plus, plants are a source of food for the shrimps.
An ideal aquarium will have live plants in abundance. You can go for delicate leafed plants such as Cabomba, hornwort, java moss, or milfoil.
Ghost shrimp will eat decaying bits from plants as an additional source of food. Eating plants not only vary their diet, but it also tidies your tank at the same time. However, it is wise to make sure the plants are hardy and can survive shrimps nibbling on them.
Plants also provide places for Ghost Shrimp to hide in, particularly when larger tank mates are bullying them. Being in a bare tank is incredibly stressful for shrimps when they’re molting and are more vulnerable.
Using driftwood, rocks, and other tank decoration will give your Ghost Shrimp places to climb, perch, hide, and explore. If you create a rock cliff or a cave, you can see the shrimp hanging upside down. Ghost Shrimp will stay out more in the open if they feel secure.
If you keep small fish and have a heavily planted aquarium, Ghost Shrimp can settle happily into your community of fishes.
Who Are Suitable Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimp?
Tankmates play a crucial role in forming the aquarium’s environment. Let’s consider the most compatible tankmates for your Ghost Shrimps.
The Ghost Shrimp are gentle, tiny creatures. That makes them an easy target for larger fish who may bully the poor shrimps or swallow them whole. Consequently, you should only add Ghost Shrimp to an aquarium with small, calm community fish that are not aggressive.
Some suitable tank mates for Ghost Shrimps could be:
- Tiny barbs such as the Cherry barb
- Characins like tetras and hatchet fish
- Peaceful loaches, for example, the Zebra and Kuhli loach
- Small catfish, particularly Cory and Otocinclus Catfish
You can also look at other tank mates apart from fish. By and large, most aquarium shrimp share a similar nature. Hence, you can add other species of shrimps as a complement to your Ghost Shrimp.
Shrimps that would make good tank mates for Glass Shrimp include:
- Bamboo Shrimp or Wood Shrimp
- Vampire Shrimp or Viper Shrimp
- Amano Shrimp, if the Amanos are larger
- Red Cherry Shrimp because of their vibrant color
Snails are also excellent for bringing diversity to the tank. Gold Inca Snails, Ivory Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Ramshorn Snails would all make good companions for Ghost Shrimps.
– Some Tankmates to Avoid
There is an extensive range of fish that you should not keep in the same tank as Ghost Shrimp. Unfortunately, these fish are some of the most popular aquarium fish that hobbyists go for.
A general rule is to avoid getting those fish whose mouths are large enough to eat a shrimp.
Fish that are known to be territorial or hostile towards tank mates are also likely to cause the loss of ghost shrimp. Bettas are very popular with fish enthusiasts for home aquariums. Still, it would help if you did not pair them with Ghost Shrimp.
If your community tank has fish such as Crayfish, Goldfish, Oscars, or aquarium pets like frogs and turtles, the Ghost Shrimp will not survive for long.
– Examples of Unsuitable Fish
Cichlids: Apart from dwarf varieties like Blue Rams, Cichlids, on the whole, are curious. They will want to bite the Ghost Shrimps waving antennae and legs. The larger Cichlids, for instance, adult Angelfish, will happily gobble up Ghost Shrimp.
Barbs: Barbs also enjoy pecking at the flowing, exposed parts of their smaller tankmates. Tiny species like Cherry Barbs are exceptions to the rule, but you should avoid medium to large barbs.
Catfish: Most large Catfish, like the Pictus, are opportunistic eaters, and they will swallow any fish small enough to fit into their mouths.
Reproduction Process of Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp start molting once they mature. You may observe that your shrimp get nervous when they shed their old shell because they are most vulnerable to danger. However, Ghost Shrimp are ready to reproduce after their first molting.
Female Ghost Shrimp ovaries get a greenish tinge as they carry their eggs inside them. Male and Female Ghost Shrimps know they are ready to mate when their exoskeletons touch one another. The male shrimp discharges his spermatozoa into the female and then separates from her.
Although Ghost Shrimps are generally peaceful and calm creatures, the male shrimp may become aggressive and fight for territory during the mating season.
– Breeding Ghost Shrimp
While Ghost Shrimp only live about a year, they are generally easy to breed if you keep them in a safe, healthy environment. Consequently, it is super easy to establish a long-term colony! This ease of breeding is one reason why they are so commonly used as feeder fish.
It is just as vital to have Ghost shrimps in the proper gender ratio. If you have more male shrimps in your tank, the females will get stressed with the constant attention from the males.
However, you will need a breeding tank to increase your population. Make sure that there are both males and females in your main tank. Once they’ve matured, you can quickly identify the female Ghost Shrimps because they grow much larger than the males and a green saddle appears beneath their bodies.
Female Ghost Shrimp spawn effortlessly and frequently in the aquarium. They should produce eggs every few weeks. When you notice 20 to 30 pinhead-sized green dots attached to the female’s legs, wait for a few days so that the males can fertilize the eggs.
It’s pretty usual to see a pregnant Ghost Shrimp carrying a mass of eggs between the swimmerets under their tails. The swimmerets paddle to provide oxygen to the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the mother will use her swimmerets to scatter the baby shrimp into the water column.
– Raising Baby Ghost Shrimp
Suppose you want to breed ghost shrimp successfully. You need to set up a heavily planted maternity tank. Transfer the berried female who bears the fertilized eggs to the prepared breeder tank before the eggs hatch. All the other inhabitants will eat the baby shrimp if they remain in the aquarium.
Once the eggs hatch in about three weeks, move the female Ghost Shrimp back to the main tank, or she will eat her own young.
The breeder tank should be similar to the main tank, but you can decorate it more simply. You will only need a thin substrate layer since the baby shrimp will need fewer hiding spaces. You will need to add a few plants since they are a source of food for the fry.
Power filters can be hazardous to young ghost shrimp, so it is best to use only an air-powered sponge filter for circulation. The breeder tank should have a sponge filter so that the baby Ghost Shrimp do not get sucked into the equipment.
– Feeding Baby Ghost Shrimp
The young fry of Ghost Shrimps has different feeding requirements than the adults. While choosing food for young Ghost Shrimp, your primary focus should be to provide sufficient protein to help them thrive.
Raising the babies takes time and effort. Young ghost shrimp first become very tiny larvae. Their legs haven’t developed yet. They have swimmerets on the underside of the tail to help them swim.
It is best to give the larvae tiny amounts of fine food particles, as they have little mouths. Bits of strained egg yolk, powdered fry food, infusoria, rotifers, and microworms are suitable for the fry. They can also eat plant debris and any algae in the tank.
The larvae live in the water column for a few days, eating microscopic plankton before molting and becoming miniature shrimp. Once their legs have grown, they can eat the same food as the adults.
You can move the baby Ghost Shrimp to the main tank when fully developed at five weeks.
What Is a Suitable Diet for Ghost Shrimp?
Feeding a Ghost Shrimp is not a hardship as they are active scavengers and accept all types of foods, including flakes. They even munch on brush algae, which most algae-eating fish leave untouched.
Ghost Shrimp are not bottom feeders either. They climb up plants and decorations for fish tanks in search of food. Since they are good swimmers, they can grab floating foods, too.
It would be best to keep all these factors in mind when planning the ideal diet for Ghost Shrimps in an aquarium. A balanced diet should include the following foods:
- Brine Shrimp
- Fish pellet food
- Algae Wafers
- Flake Food
- Mosquito larvae
- Indian Almond Leaves
- Blanched vegetables such as spinach, romaine, cucumber, or zucchini
Ghost Shrimps are always hungry. You will see them nibbling live plants all day. They are considered one of the best algae-eaters you can have in your aquarium, which means they are effective tank cleaners.
Feeding Ghost Shrimp thrice a day will ensure their well-being. You can feed them two pea-sized portions of boiled vegetables at one time. You will notice your Ghost Shrimp munching on algae and biofilm throughout the day. They don’t have a particular feeding time, so you can plan your schedule when you want to feed them.
The amount of food you give them also depends on the algae population in your tank. The more algae there is in your tank, the less food you need to provide. If your tank doesn’t have algae growth and uses algae wafers, then the recommended portion is one wafer for four Ghost Shrimps on alternate days.
– How to Avoid Overfeeding Ghost Shrimp
It would be best if you feed your Ghost shrimps when they are hungry. If you don’t see your shrimp eat within 10 minutes after putting food in the tank, it shows they aren’t hungry.
Ghost Shrimps that live with other fish in a heavily planted aquarium may not require any feeding at all. Ghost shrimps are omnivores and will fill their tummies with leftover fish food, plants, and algae.
Ghost Shrimps tend to overeat, which can lead to ailments. Since they are such tiny creatures, it is better to feed them in small quantities. Ideally, offer them different types of food in small portions at other times of the day.
Is the Ghost Shrimp suitable for your aquarium? There are many reasons to choose these gentle crustaceans as pets. Let’s put them together to help you decide.
- Ghost Shrimp are excellent starters if you want a dedicated shrimp aquarium
- They are small and inexpensive so that you can have a group in a small tank
- It is interesting to see their insides after they have eaten
- They make fun pets as they are gentle and playful
- They are some of the best cleaners an aquarist can have in their tank
- They are also compatible with other small, peaceful fish and snails
It would be a good idea to consider getting Ghost Shrimp for your aquarium. You will enjoy watching them move tirelessly around the tank. Their unique appearance and peaceful temperament are compelling reasons to give the Ghost Shrimp a shot at living in your aquarium.
Badman’s tropical fish is the largest and most comprehensive aquarium related resource on the web. We focus on making the lives of aquarists and fish keepers easier.