How to Breed Ghost Shrimp: The Complete Care Guide

Ghost Shrimp A to Z Care Guide

Ghost shrimp belongs to a freshwater crustacean. It is also known as glass shrimp and is very popular with fish keepers of all levels of expertise.

They are very easy to care for and a good addition to a tropical community tank containing non-aggressive and small fish.

The lifespan of Ghost Shrimp is just one year, so they are not for the sentimental fish keepers; however, it makes them more affordable.

Typically they perform two roles, as an efficient tank cleaner or as feeders to larger fish.

Here we will cover everything you require to know about ghost shrimp, including diet, compatibility, care, and a lot more.

Ghost Shrimp
Image Source:Adam EDMOND
Care Level:Very Easy
Temperament:Peaceful Nature
Color Form:Clear
Lifespan:Maximum 1 Year
Minimum Tank Size:5 to 10 Gallons
Tank Set-Up:Tropical Freshwater: Plants and Caves
Compatibility:Peaceful Small Fish

Overview of Ghost Shrimp

Originally Ghost shrimp are from the North American region and have been very popular in home aquariums since it is being described in the year 1850.

The name ‘Ghost shrimp’ is used for some various species of shrimp and the most popular of which is the “Ghost Shrimp” freshwater genus. It belongs to the Palaemonetes family.

Here in this article, we will particularly focus on the freshwater Ghost Shrimp.

There are various ghost shrimp species belonging to the Palaemonetes genus. A lot of fish stores only use the common name ‘Ghost Shrimp’.

In these days they could be found all over the world, although a lot of populations are reared in farms to deliver home aquariums or as feeder fish.

Being used as bait by some fishermen, for the fishing industry, the wild populations could be problematic. It is because they work as pests in the aquaculture.

Ghost shrimp make your life a little bit easier in a fish tank. Being a prominent scavenger, they can clean up any unconsumed food and also keeping the level of algae down. The cleaning process will keep the aquarium looking clean. The shrimp do this activity throughout the day and are always busy and active.

The Ghost shrimp’s behavior ranges from cleaning/feeding and free-swimming all around the aquarium.

A group is not important though, an individual shrimp can perform happily in its own way.

At the time of getting your shrimp make sure to check whether they are bred for a home aquarium or as feeder fish. Feeder fish are treated in a poor manner and are unlikely to live as long.

The Appearance of Ghost Shrimp

As the name “ghost shrimp” suggests, in order to evade predators they are mostly clear in color.

It permits the inner-functioning of their body to be viewed as its food is processed, a big reason as to why these shrimps are an attractive addition to a fish tank.

Various specimens of shrimp can have various colored dots on their backs. They can grow up to roughly 1.5 inches in length, however, the females can become relatively bigger than the males.

The Ghost shrimp possess two types of antenna, one is long and the other is short. These antennae act as sensory organs that help to detect chemical information or tactile such as food or toxins in the water. Also, the antennae have social uses, however, it is less understood.

They have a beak-like extension called a rostrum. The rostrum is between their eyes and in front of the carapace.

But what is carapace? The carapace is a protective hard shell which encases the softer organs of shrimp for defense purpose.

There are six numbers of flexible abdominal segments behind the carapace that house a couple of pleopods “swimming limbs”. The 6th abdominal segment connects to their tail, in the center of which is the telson. It is the final segment.

There are four other segments under the telson that embody the uropod. It is forming the iconic tail fan.

Ghost Shrimp Lifespan and Molting

As mentioned above, ghost shrimp can survive for around one year, however, it may change depending on the place of origin and the species.

Since they are easy to breed and so cheap, these shrimp are often used in the home aquarium as feeder fish for the bigger species. As a result, they are often kept with poor filtration and in high densities.

This causes them more likely to die while transporting and increases the rate of mortality. For some shrimps, it is common to die within a few days into life in their new aquarium, even though the aquarium is healthy.

Although they have a very short life, the specimens can molt on a regular basis as they grow and eat, becoming very big for their previous shell.

These all depend on how fast they grow and how much they eat and this becomes fairly frequent.

While their old shell is shaded, they will be especially vulnerable until the shrimp’s new shell hardens. While this must not be a reason to worry, don’t be surprised if your ghost shrimp is damaged by the rough behavior from some boisterous fish.

Make sure that your aquarium has plants or crevices for the molting shrimp to hide in.

If you notice a molted shell which is sitting on the sediment its normal to panic and assume this is a dead shrimp, however, with close monitoring, their hollow interior could clearly detect this as a discarded exterior.

When the shell of a shrimp is shed you don’t require to separate it from your fish tank immediately, the reason is they typically become food for another shrimp in your aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp Care and Tank Requirements

A freshwater shrimp usually likes to live in lakes or rivers where there is fine sediment, crevices to hide in, and flowing water. When designing your aquarium, it is necessary to consider this fact.

In comparatively small atmosphere, the little size ghost shrimp could be kept, given 5 gallons tank shall be treated as a bare minimum but it is preferably larger in size. Around 3 to 4 ghost shrimp per gallon could be kept safely, although remember the number of other species you have in your aquarium.

To the biological load Shrimp has contributed a lot, however, it is far less than most other fish. It’s always good to begin with fewer if you are not sure, so that you minimize the risk of overstocking the aquarium, you can then increase the quantity lately.

An abundance of live plants is contained by an ideal aquarium. A few examples are java moss, cabomba, and hornwort.

As an additional source of food Ghost shrimp can use debris from plants, tidying your tank and varying their diet at the same time. But, ensure that your plants are hardy so that it can survive any type of nibbling from the stray shrimp.

Again, plants also give rooms for the shrimp to hide in, specifically when molting and also when they are being harassed.

Rocks and decorations could also be used to diversify their available hiding spots.

Ghost shrimp can spend much of their time on the sediment, and as bottom-dwellers they are known to burrow.

Fine gravel and sand decreases the possibility of injury to your shrimp, and also to their sensitive antennae. The fine grain stops fish food from sinking into the sediment as well, which means this sits on the surface and waiting for scavenging shrimp.

While the water parameters is considered in your aquarium, the ghost shrimp aren’t fussy. They easily suit minimum standard tropical tank environment. Water temperatures can range from 65 to 82ºF. Many people claim these boundaries could be widely stretched, however it can stress the animals and decrease the activity of shrimp.

Tank water is required to be slightly hard and kept between a pH range of 7.0 and 8.0.

A light flow of water is enjoyed by the ghost shrimp which can easily be created by an air pump or the filter outlet.

Typically the shrimp are able to cope with most situations, provided that they always remain consistent.

The levels of Nitrite, Ammonia, and nitrate are required to be smartly monitored, along with any other potential pollutants. Dirty filters, overstocking, and overfeeding are likely causes for levels to increase.

Nitrite and ammonia are toxic to fish and it must be kept as minimum as possible. Nitrate should be maintained around 5 to 10 ppm. They are used by plants for growth and is less toxic. Regular changes of watercan help to regulate these chemical levels.

If the ghost shrimp is kept as feeder fish then their aquariums can be more simplistic, with a same kind of setup to a breeding aquarium. You just ensure that the tank water is kept moving and clean.

Ghost Shrimp Feeding and Diet

It is easy to feed Ghost shrimp as they will greedily eat everything you provide them with. This contains most shop bought foods like algae wafers, flakes, and pellets.

They are the excellent tank cleaners because of their broad diets as they will eat excess plant detritus, algae, and any food unconsumed by fish.

It’s particularly entertaining to watch a shrimp rise to the surface to grab a flake, however if you own a tall tank then sinking pellets would make it easier for your shrimp to eat some food before all of the mid-water fish grab it.

A single algae pellet can fuel a tank very easily containing a lot of shrimp, and you bear the risk of overfeeding.

To maintain a healthy shrimp the food mentioned should be enough, but it is also necessary to add calcium supplements to make sure a very strong shell is formed.

It is necessary to keep in mind that copper is very toxic to shrimp. Therefore coper should not be placed into your tank. Be sure to check its contents while adding medication into your aquarium water, as it may contain copper.

Compatibility with other Fish

Ghost shrimp are very peaceful creatures, however this cannot be said about all tropical fish.

The small size and gentle nature of a shrimp makes them prone to being eaten by other bigger tank mates. Consequently you are advised to add ghost shrimp to a non-aggressive small fish community.

Some decent tank mates are:

  • Characins like hatchetfish and tetras
  • Tiny barbs such as cherry barb
  • Danios
  • Peaceful loaches such as kuhli loaches and zebra
  • Tiny catfish like the Corydoras genus

There is an extensive list of fish that you should avoid. Follow this general rule of thumb: stay away from those fish that have a large enough mouth to eat a small shrimp.

Fish with the behavior of being territorial or hostile are likely causes for the loss of ghost shrimp. Good examples of aggressive fish are Bettas which are popular in the household aquariums. They should not be paired with the ghost shrimp.

Fish are not only the available option as tank mates. You can add another species to complement the ghost shrimp, since most shrimp share a same temperament in aquarium.

Cherry shrimp pair specifically good because of their vibrant color, however some other species work well too (example- vampire shrimp, bamboo shrimp, or amano shrimp). Again snails are also a good option of diversifying your tank.

Ghost Shrimp Breeding

If you keep ghost shrimp in a healthy atmosphere with limited stress and zero predators then they are usually simple to breed. This is the reason why they are used as feeder fish.

But, a breeding tank is required with a view to grow their population. Ensure that there are both males and females in the main tank setup. The females can be identified once they have attained maturity. Because they tend to develop a green saddle underneath their body. They relatively grow much bigger than the males.

Females should produce eggs in every few weeks. It is around 20 to 30 green dots attached to the legs of the females. When you notice this, wait some days so that the males have got the opportunity to fertilize the eggs.

Before the eggs hatch, shift the berried female (individual females bearing eggs) to the breeder aquarium, otherwise the young ones can become a food source for any other creatures living there.

As and when the eggs hatch in the breeder aquarium, place the female back to your main aquarium, otherwise she would be tempted to eat her own young ones. This process takes about 21 days.

Always Use a sponge filter in the breeder tank to prevent the young from get sucked into the equipment.

The rest of the tank must be similar to the main aquarium, however it could be more minimalist.

There should have a thin layer of sediment down and less hiding rooms are required. Some plants are very useful since they perform as a source of food for the young tiny shrimp.

Along with algae and plant debris in your aquarium you have to feed the larvae very little volume of fine particle food, as they have very small mouths.

Once their legs are grown you can feed the shrimps the exact food as the adults. They should be fully grown after five weeks and ready to be shifted to the main tank if required.

Summary: Is the Ghost Shrimp Right For Your Aquarium?

There are a lot of reasons to select ghost shrimp for your fish tank.

Their ease to breed and tiny size makes them a cheap addition to your aquarium. Ghost shrimp prices differ from around $1 to $3 per shrimp so you should be able to buy some without any issue.

As a result, for only a small effort to look after your shrimp, you will place some of the best cleaners to your aquarium.

Their coloration and body shape varies the aesthetic of your aquarium and their active and busy lifestyle makes sure that there is something to notice at.

Though it is not recommended for an aquarium with big fish, ghost shrimp makes the best additions to a tropical community of tiny non-aggressive fish.

Do you keep shrimp in your aquarium? Let us know in the comments section below…


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.