Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis): Aquarium Care Guide

Crystal Red Shrimp are an eye-catching species that appeal to a wide range of aquarists. With their beautiful pattern and bright colors they add a splash of color to almost any tank!

But keeping these shrimp is a bit more complicated than it seems. In order to thrive, they require some specific conditions that are a bit out of the ordinary.

This guide will teach you the basics of caring for Crystal Red Shrimp. It covers water parameters, diet, tank setup, sizing, rearing, and much more.

Species Summary

A product of selective breeding, the red glassy shrimp (Caridina cantonensis) is often considered the crown jewel of all dwarf shrimp species. Because they are not found in the wild, these freshwater shrimp are highly sought after in the pet trade.

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one, you need to work hard to keep them healthy. This shrimp has gone through years of selective breeding. As a result, it is not as hardy as other species.

This unique shrimp is believed to have come from a single mutation of a black bee shrimp! While we can use the Bee Shrimp as a general guide, the Crystal Red Shrimp is a unique species in its own right.

Life expectancy

The typical lifespan of the Crystal Red Shrimp is only around 18 months when kept in captivity. These critters do not live very long in an aquarium.

Author’s Note: This lifespan is only possible if you give them impeccable care. The sensitivity of this shrimp to poor water conditions could lead to premature death if you are not careful.


The Crystal Red Shrimp is a beautiful invertebrate that injects a ton of color into your tank! The species resembles any other type of freshwater shrimp when it comes to body shape. They have a strong tail with swimmers, multiple legs, and several antennae.

But it is the color that distinguishes shrimp.

These shrimp can vary widely in terms of color patterns. However, most will feature shades of vibrant red and bright white. These colors can be arranged in stripes or take on a more organic pattern.

There are so many pattern variations that these shrimp have a classification system. The different grades reflect the amount of white the shrimp have. More white is desirable, which ultimately affects the purchase price.

On the “low” end, you have grade C shrimp. They are mostly covered in red and may have a few white spots here and there. Grades A and S have the most uniform stripes.

At the top of the scale, there are SSS grade shrimp that have the whitest coloration with subtle red streaks or spots.

Males and females look very similar. In fact, the only real way to tell the difference is to look at their size and abdomen. Females are also noticeably larger and have a deeper abdomen and wider tail to care for their young.

Average size

Crystal Red Shrimp are only 1 to 1.5 inches long as adults. This species is considered a dwarf shrimp, and with such a small size it’s easy to see why.

Author’s Note: Due to its length, it is actually quite difficult to tell the difference between a large specimen and a smaller one. That’s why it’s important to discuss breeding methods when buying (you can’t just rely on the eyeball test).

Crystal Red Shrimp Care

Caring for Crystal Red shrimp is actually a pretty big task. This is something that surprises many potential owners at first, but there is a very simple reason why this is the case.

Years of selective breeding have made this species very sensitive to poor water conditions. As a result, they require a carefully managed environment to thrive.

The key is to have a solid understanding of what the shrimp needs as it moves around the property. This will serve as a guiding principle for him when he provides care.

Here are some important guidelines you should follow:

tank size

A large aquarium is not necessary for Crystal Red Shrimp. They do well in small nano-style tanks.

You can keep a modest colony in a tank as small as 5 gallons.

However, we recommend keeping them in a tank that can hold at least 10 gallons. Larger tanks tend to be easier when it comes to stabilizing and maintaining tank conditions. With the sensitivity of this species, you might as well take all the help you can get!

Crystal Red Shrimp Water Parameters

Although Crystal Red Shrimp do not live in the wild, many aquarists use their ancestor as a guide. The bee shrimp comes from mountain river streams in China and Vietnam, where the waters are cooler. The jets are also clean, relatively neutral and of low hardness.

Making living conditions adequate is important. Fortunately, there is some wiggle room for shrimp.

The really important thing is to keep the tank free of ammonia and nitrates. Crystal Red Shrimp have a very low bioload, but tank mates can turn the water sour very quickly. You should monitor conditions regularly and do 30 percent water changes every week to keep things stable.

Aim for the following water parameters to create a healthy environment for your shrimp.

  • Water temperature: 62°F to 78°F (over 70 degrees recommended)
  • pH levels: 5.8 to 7.4
  • Water hardness: 0-4kH

Configuration of the rest of its habitat

The best type of environment for Crystal Red shrimp is one that is modeled after densely planted forest streams.

These shrimp do best when surrounded by natural vegetation. Plants not only act as a food source, but also provide shelter.

This species is a favorite for aquascaping tanks. They live in harmony with plants and feed on the plant detritus and aquarium algae they generate.

Use various species of plants to keep things interesting. Add tall plants to the rear, fine-leaved plants in the middle of the tank, and plenty of shorter ground cover plants. These shrimp don’t need a lot of open space to swim, so get creative with your underwater landscape.

There are no strict requirements in terms of substrate or rocks, but Crystal Red Shrimp tend to do best in sand. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, so it’s always best to have soft sand as a substrate.

Author’s Note: Beyond decorations, you’ll need a sponge filtration system. Sponge filters are safer for shrimp and any babies they may have. Be sure to let the tank cycle with biological filtration before adding shrimp.

The good news is that these shrimp don’t produce a ton of waste. Any standard rated tank filter should work fine.

Possible common diseases

In addition to their ammonia sensitivities, Crystal Red shrimp can experience various illnesses and infections.

Bacterial infections can wreak havoc on a shrimp’s health. Usually caused by poor water conditions, the infection will cause internal bleeding, swelling, and other painful symptoms. The problem with bacterial infections is that they often go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Fungi can also take over your shrimp. There are several types of fungi that harm shrimp. They usually appear as a blurry white film on the body of the shrimp.

Finally, there are parasitic infections. Parasitic nematodes, such as Scutariella Japonica, can grow on the head of shrimp! Once they infiltrate the shrimp’s body, they are able to grow, reproduce and thrive. The same goes for Vorticella, another common parasite that looks like a fungal growth!

Most of these conditions are perfectly treatable, but it’s best to consult a veterinarian if you’re not sure which medications to use. Do not use any medications that contain copper, as the metal is harmful to inverts such as Crystal Red shrimp.

Food and Diet

This little species is a scavenging omnivore that requires very little maintenance when it comes to food. In fact, managing their diet is one of the easiest parts of Crystal Red shrimp care.

They will spend most of the day scouring the tank for algae, plant debris, and microorganisms to eat! They are excellent filter feeders that can catch floating food as they swim.

Despite their scavenging nature, it is important to feed these shrimp daily. Can provide commercial shrimp feed. It usually comes in the form of a powder or granules. Seaweed wafers also work well.

If you want to go the natural route, you can also provide blanched vegetable pieces. Shrimp love zucchini, broccoli, peas, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers.

behavior and temperament

You don’t have to worry about aggression with Crystal Red Shrimp. This is a very peaceful species that will get along with any non-aggressive tank mates. They do well with other shrimp and can even cohabit with fish!

By staying at the bottom of the tank, these shrimp will not pay attention to what is happening higher up in the water column. They will spend their days looking for food. You may see them crawling on the substrate, investigating plants, or grouping with other shrimp.

tank mates

Finding suitable tankmates for this species is not always easy. The biggest challenge you’ll face is finding tankmates that won’t try to eat the shrimp.

Thanks to their small size and bright coloration, they are targeted by larger fish. Avoid any fish that might eat the shrimp. You can try keeping shrimp with other dwarf shrimp, such as Bamboo or Amano shrimp. However, you need to make sure that whatever you invest maintains the same water conditions.

Most aquarists will keep Crystal Red shrimp on their own. This is the safest way to breed shrimp without worrying about compatibility issues (especially if you are interested in breeding).

Crystal Red Shrimp do well in a single species aquarium. As long as you have a sizable group, they’ll be happy.

Author’s Note: One of the most common questions from tank mates is if Crystal Red and Cherry Shrimp are compatible. This is not a problem, although they could end up with less aesthetic offspring if they mate.


The great thing about Crystal Red shrimp is that they are easy to breed in captivity. While they do not have a long lifespan, these shrimp often reproduce without intervention. This keeps your collection replenished without having to purchase new specimens!

These shrimp are most likely to spawn when temperatures hover around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Feed them well and the females should begin to swell with eggs in no time. She will then release pheromones into the water to tell the males that she is ready to breed!

The females will lay eggs and carry them under their abdomen. She will use her swimsuits to constantly fan them.

The eggs take about 30 days to hatch. Be sure to remove any fish and apply a sponge to the filter to increase hatchling survival rates. You can provide powdered shrimp food to feed them. However, they will get good at poking pretty quickly.

Baby Crystal Red shrimp will grow fast. It only takes about four or five weeks to reach adulthood. At that time, they will be able to reproduce.


Caring for Crystal Red shrimp may seem like a challenge at first, but once you get the basics down, it becomes much easier. As long as you’re informed and consistent, you’ll be fine.

We highly recommend giving these shrimp a try. Their beauty is unmatched and the aesthetic effect they have in a freshwater aquarium is something you must see in person!

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