Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Algae? If Not Then What Do They Eat?

In addition to other fishes and shrimp, ghost shrimp are a perfect addition to your fish tank.

A lot of fish keepers think it is hard to meet the dietary needs of something other than fish, however, they are actually not that much different in terms of what food the shrimps require.

Algae grow prolifically on just about any type of surface, it is the scourge of the aquarium world that can grow over other plants and sometimes even fish and can obscure light sources! 

Unchecked algae might suck up nutrients in the aquarium that other fish or plants require.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to control algae. As the first line of defense, always keep your aquarium clean, even though the cleanest aquariums can have algae growth. It is the point where ghost shrimp come in.

Personally, I added a few of these little ghost shrimp to my aquarium while I found myself fighting an infestation of hair algae, and I was impressed at how quickly they cleaned the tank up!

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Algae?

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Algae
Image: mobile_gnome – Flickr

Yes, ghost shrimp eat algae. 

Ghost shrimps are omnivores. Therefore, they will consume animal matter or dead plants or waste, and the majority of bush-type or string algae (though they don’t help much with any film algae or black beard algae).

In this article, we’re going to discuss what these ghost shrimp eat in the wild environment, and the best way to replicate that in any fish tank.

If you are looking for additional information on ghost shrimp, read our complete ghost shrimp care guide.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Algae to Keep Aquariums Clean?

Ghost shrimp are very excellent tank cleaners since they are omnivores and have voracious appetites. 

In a wild environment, the diet of a ghost shrimp consists mostly of algae.  Although they prefer hair algae, they will consume any algae they can get into their mouths. 

Basically, these shrimps like to stay on the substrate and are bottom feeders. Therefore any slime algae which is floating on the surface or growing on the aquarium’s walls won’t be reduced by ghost shrimp. 

Again, these creatures tend not to like black beard algae. It is common for most bottom feeders and shrimp.

Do ghost shrimp eat algae exclusively in the wild and in aquariums? No, in reality, ghost shrimp eat any animal matter or plant they can. 

Primarily they are scavengers. It means ghost shrimp prefers decaying and dead food like any fish and bits of plants that may have died and sunk to the bottom of your aquarium. 

This process makes them excellent cleaners, as they will eliminate all kinds of junk and waste you don’t want in your aquarium apart from clearing out the algae.

If ghost shrimp gets hungry enough, they will consume living things too. This includes occasionally fish and plants which are very small and get close enough to the bottom of your aquarium. 

Any damage to your plants is a sign that you have to drop some supplemental food into your aquarium to keep your shrimp happy. Usually, this method will keep the shrimp from attacking the living occupants of the aquarium.

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat in the Wild Environment?

Ghost Shrimp’s natural habitat would be lakes and freshwater rivers in North America. A lot of features that make this an ideal habitat for the ghost shrimp. 

In order to make it more hospitable for other species, ghost shrimp interact with the environment.

Firstly, there are slow-moving water currents. Since ghost shrimp spend most of their time in the lower levels of the water, they are less affected by the slow-moving currents.

The sandy substrate in your aquarium is essential because any food which sinks from above sits on the surface of the tank. Later it is to be scavenged by a passing ghost shrimp. You will also find plants, logs, and rocks. These provide protection from predators and a safe home to rest in.

In the wild, plants are used for food. Usually, it would be in the detritus form (Pieces of the dead plant).

The ghost shrimp in your tank might start nibbling at live plants if they were unable to find food. Unless there was a large number of ghost shrimp at work, it wouldn’t result in much damage.

The primary bulk of their diet is algae. Algae grow on hard surfaces and it is found and collected as your shrimp move on by.

The remaining diet can be quite different since they will consume whatever they come across that is too small to fit into the shrimp’s mouths. It is one of the advantages of being an omnivore. Some common examples are eggs/larvae, small insects, and dead organic matter.

What Can Ghost Shrimp Eat in an Aquarium?

In order to feed properly, your shrimp requires to be comfortable in the environment they are living in. So, it’s essential to set up your aquarium as close to its natural habitat. This will prevent a hunger strike.

The tank’s substrate plays one of the most crucial roles to replicate because it’s the place where your shrimp spend their maximum time.

Make sure that the substrate is grained properly. ghost shrimp have sensitive, long antennae that might get damaged if the shrimps rub against rough surfaces regularly.

You can read more about this here.

Once the tank is set up the next step is to plan the diet of your shrimp. By planning about their nutritional needs, you should find out which foods would be good for keeping the ghost shrimp healthy.

Offering a variety of diets will provide them a range of quality nutrients.

Naturally, Shrimps are high in fats and oils, therefore they can easily digest fatty foods. Most of the foods bought from stores will contain fats to some extent, like frozen/live options. A lot of store-bought foods are highly fattier than other foods. Therefore check the label before purchasing such foods.

When shrimps are in the growing stage proteins are particularly important. But proteins become less of a focus when your shrimps achieve adulthood (though it shouldn’t be completely removed from the diet). Algae is the best source of protein, as well as frozen/live foods for your ghost shrimp.

I provide calcium supplements to my ghost shrimps. It helps shrimp form a strong shell. You can purchase calcium supplements for your shrimps. They require calcium to protect themselves from harsh conditions in their environment and other fish.

What Are The Food To Feed Your Ghost Shrimp?

  • Algae Wafers
  • Algae
  • Aquarium Plants
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Baby Shrimp Food
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Fish Pellet Foods
  • Frozen Foods
  • Flake Foods
  • Small Live Foods
  • Green Vegetables
  • Homemade Fish Foods
  • Squid
  • Shrimp Pellet Foods
  • Daphnia
  • Insects
  • Fruit
  • Dead Fish

What Do Baby Ghost Shrimp Eat?

If you’ve decided to breed shrimp, it’s important to consider that the larvae are going to feed in a different way to the adults’ shrimps

The larvae start off very small because they hatch from eggs. It means they can consume foods smaller than their little mouths.

Baby ghost shrimp can eat small bits of plant debris and algae without additional help from you, it’s the amount of food you add to your aquarium that will require little adjusting. 

Usually, it means breaking foods down to an optimum size that can fit easily in their tiny mouths, like crumbling down large sized flakes of

Some foods will be difficult for them to consume. Live foods are especially hard to eat because they can escape easily. You have to save these foods for them when they are older.

You can purchase baby shrimp food. These foods are particularly designed to eliminate the gap between hatching and maturity. Baby shrimp food comes as a powder. You can sprinkle into the aquarium when required.

It should not be difficult to cater for the small size of your shrimp, and once the shrimps have grown legs they should be capable enough to consume the exact foods as the adult shrimps. They will be fully mature after five weeks.

What Do Adult Ghost Shrimp Eat?

Adult ghost shrimp are very well practiced at feeding; they spend almost all their time feeding.

These shrimps should be able to find algae in the aquarium easily. A lot of people think that they have a high amount of algae in their tank rather than too little, it’s the main reason why the ghost shrimp might have been purchased in the first place.

It’s not so difficult to find foods to add to your aquarium as your shrimps will eat pretty much anything as their diet. A few of the easiest are pellet foods and store-bought flakes.

Pellet foods are more likely to float past fish and they might not have reacted quickly. These foods sink to the bottom of the aquarium quickly.

Store-bought flake foods stay on the surface of your tank for a longer period, many times the shrimp swim upside down at the surface of the aquarium water in order to feed on them.

Most of the stores sell algae wafers that give the exact nutrients if you think that there are not many algae growing in your aquarium.

As live foods are not so effective predators, these foods are hard for your shrimp to catch. You should ensure any live foods that you do add to the tank are small, such as brine shrimp. 

If there is fish in your aquarium too, then the live foods you offered to your shrimps will eventually be consumed anyway.

Frozen food equivalents are full of nutrients and high quality, so they are very good options. These could be bloodworms, brine shrimp, or even mosquito larvae.

To ensure that your shrimps get a range of sufficient nutrients and keep things interesting, it would be best to mix up their diet. Some of the foods mentioned above might not be available for one reason or another, but still, there are things you can arrange and use around your house.

Raw green vegetables supply fiber that helps food flow through the body of your shrimp smoothly. They will appreciate it.

Avoid adding things that contain copper to the aquarium since all shrimp are very sensitive to copper and as a result, they may die. As most of the metals are toxic in large concentrations, therefore metals should be kept low too.

When and How Often Do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

There are tons of foods that the ghost shrimp can eat, however, they can’t be fed all of the foods at once. These shrimps only require very little amounts of food to survive.

If you’re keeping ghost shrimp in a tank along with fish, then the shrimps will eat the leftovers of the food that was offered to fish. If you’re keeping just shrimp in an aquarium, then they’ll want their own food added to the aquarium.

If all the shrimps depend on how much algae is growing inside the aquarium; more algae means that you will feed them less food.

An average aquarium with a family of four ghost shrimp will require feeding 1 algae wafer every next day.

On the other hand, you can also substitute out the algae wafers for various foods of your preference, giving shrimps access to different nutrients. 

As scavengers, ghost shrimps don’t require a strict routine for feeding. Until they come across the food added to the tank, they’ll wander around the aquarium. 

For ghost shrimp, it’s always feeding time because they are always feeding on algae.

Final Thoughts

So, do ghost shrimp eat algae? Yes, they can eat algae and quite effectively too! 

Ghost shrimp will eat most kinds of algae as well as bits of fish droppings, dead fish, and even dead plants. Ghost shrimp are great tank cleaners. 

These creatures will be a great addition to your aquarium and they will help to maintain the tank clean for as long as you can keep the colony going effectively!

They’re very easy to look after. Your ghost shrimp will consume almost anything you offer them.

If you’re placing them in an aquarium that already has some fish in then it would be easier; they barely require feeding.

One thing to look out particularly is whether your ghost shrimp will be physically able to eat the foods you provide them. Some foods are just bigger in size than their tiny mouths, especially when shrimps are juveniles.

It’s just a matter of providing them all the necessary nutrients they want to stay fit and healthy. 

The majority of the store-bought foods contain this themselves, however, you can help them by adding calcium supplements for their shell’s growth.

If they are kept strong and healthy, you have a peculiar and unique tank mate that does most of the cleaning to save you time.

What food do you provide to your ghost shrimp? Let us know in the comments section below…

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