Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes Paludosus): Aquarium Care Guide

We’ve been big fans of Ghost Shrimp for a while now, and it goes a little beyond the reasons you’ll hear from other freshwater tank owners.

Sure, these little critters are incredibly useful for aquarists who want great tank cleaners or need live food for other fish. There’s no denying that.

However, we also think they can be great fun pets for the right kind of hobbyist. Their busy nature, unique appearance, and peaceful temperament are great reasons why you should give ghost shrimp a try.

This means that no matter who you are, as long as you have a freshwater tank, you should probably consider buying one.

That’s why we thought it was so important to put together this resource for you. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to ghost shrimp, no matter how you use them!

What are ghost shrimp?

Ghost Shrimp are a unique type of critter to keep in your freshwater aquarium. For many experienced aquarists, these little shrimp are used as live food for much larger creatures. However, others choose to keep them as pets due to their distinctive appearance and surprisingly playful temperament.

These little animals come from the fresh waters and lakes of North America. Additional information about its origin is not as well defined as that of other freshwater aquarium shrimp. These creatures were formally classified in the early 19th century!

As the aquarium community began to form and grow, they quickly became useful and common creatures to include in freshwater tanks.

Ghost Shrimp are incredibly active, good for the health of your tank (due to the algae they eat), and are easy to breed. Therefore, the role that shrimp plays in the world of aquaculture is very important!

appearance and size

The ghost shrimp (palaemonetes paludosus) is also sometimes called the glass shrimp. Whatever you decide to call them, it’s not hard to see why they got those names. All shrimp is transparent.

The reason for this is simple:

Its transparent nature is used as a defense mechanism in the wild. It is very difficult for most of their natural predators to detect them as they scavenge at the bottom of the river bed.

Even in a fish tank, they can sometimes be hard to spot among the decorations and plants.

That said, there are some slight variations in appearance that you can see. Some subspecies have subtle markings on their backs. Usually these will come in the form of colored dots.

Anatomy breakdown

Beyond that, you can always look for his internal organs. Despite the clear exteriors, ghost shrimp have fully visible eyes and digestive tracts.

If you can get close enough to examine your shrimp, you will notice a segmented body. The largest portion, called the shell, is hard. it is meant to protect all the important organs below, such as the heart, brain, and gills.

The tip of the shell is called the rostrum. It is a stiff, beak-shaped section often used for poking through sediment. While they are usually peaceful, this jagged body part can also be used for defense if necessary.

Small, glowing eyes can be found protruding from both sides of the base of the rostrum. Look a little further and you will see two pairs of antennae. One pair is long while the other is short.

The antennae are usually pale like the rest of the body, although you may see pale coloration on some ghost shrimp.

These thin antennae are very important to the well-being of your shrimp.They act as sensory organs that help them navigate the environment and gather crucial information about the chemical composition of the water.

Beneath the shrimp’s head, you’ll find six flexible segments. They are much softer and more flexible than the tougher shell. Look closely, and this section may look very familiar to you.

It looks just like any other shrimp you’ve ever eaten, albeit much smaller. The first five sections are attached to the pleopods, which are limbs used for swimming. The final sixth section holds the tail.

Ghost Shrimp Size

In terms of size, the ghost shrimp does not grow much larger than an inch and a half.The females can be a bit larger than that, but most adult shrimp are around the same average size.

They are also not that wide.

Adult shrimp are typically no wider than an eraser on the tip of a pencil. They are much slimmer than other species of freshwater shrimp, which is one of the many reasons why they are often preferred when it comes to live food.

Ghost Shrimp Care

The best thing about ghost shrimp is that they are very hardy and easy to care for. In most cases, aquarists will have no problem keeping shrimp healthy.

As with all aquatic life, the key is to keep tank conditions healthy.

Ghost Shrimp Shelf Life

Ghost Shrimp have a very short lifespan of only one year. During that year, they will grow rapidly.Once they outgrow their current exoskeleton, they will shed it or shed to develop another.

This can happen many times throughout the year, so don’t be surprised if you find several transparent shells around the tank. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about choosing them.

The shells will quickly become a food source for other shrimp. After moving in, the shrimp are likely to hide for a while. This is because the new shell they get is very thin, which makes them vulnerable.

Potential illness and disease

There are some diseases that can affect the ghost shrimp. They’re rare, but it’s smart to know what they are in case you have to deal with them.

The most common is called Vorticella. It is a protozoan that can make the transparent shell of shrimp look white and moldy. Vorticella comes from algae and other animals.

Due to the scavenging behavior of shrimp, they often contract it by chewing on infected organic matter. Luckily, you can treat it with changes of water and salt.

Another problem you may encounter is a bacterial infection. Infections are fairly easy to spot on ghost shrimp due to their transparent bodies. It will look like a swollen pink spot.

Unfortunately, bacterial infections are almost always fatal. Your best bet would be to remove the affected shrimp and keep an eye on the others. The infection can easily spread to other shrimp.

Ideal Shrimp Tank Conditions

When you walk into a pet store, you’ll likely find the ghost shrimp in a plain, unadorned tank. These are shrimp that have been delegated as feeders.

However, if you plan on keeping your shrimp as pets, you’ll want to provide them with a more pleasant environment to live in.

Tank Configuration

Fine substrate is best for the bottom of the tank. These creatures are bottom feeders, so they will spend most of their time burrowing into the sandy bottoms in their environment. There’s really no good reason why you should consider alternatives to fine sand.

Tanks with large pieces of gravel will not be good for your shrimp.Not only are they impossible for your ghost shrimp to move, but they can also cut into their exoskeletons and cause damage.

To accompany the sand, fill your tank with plenty of live plants. In the wild, ghost shrimp generally feed on algae and small bits of organic matter from local plant life. Introducing live plants to your tanks will give your shrimp something to clean up.

This will also provide them with new places to explore and hide (more on that below). Plants like Java moss and hornwort are best.

lighting needs

Ghost shrimp do not have specific lighting requirements like other fish. They stay near the bottom of the tank and don’t have a clear day/night cycle to worry about.

As a result, all you need is standard aquarium lighting. Just make sure the lighting doesn’t affect temperatures too much if you plan on leaving it on all day.

Minimum tank size

At a minimum, you should have a 5-gallon tank (bigger is better, of course). Because shrimp are so small, they don’t need a lot of room to move around.

For shrimp you want to keep as pets, you should aim for a ratio of three to four ghost shrimp per gallon.

What to include in your habitat

While the clear nature of their bodies is great for keeping them hidden, ghost shrimp still need hiding places that they can access when they feel anxious. If you have other fish in the tank with them, they will need some places to hide if the fish start to get aggressive.

Plants are the best option. ghost shrimp blend effortlessly among the thick leaves and underwater undergrowth. However, you can also introduce other decorative elements.

Rocks, driftwood, and even plastic decorations will work well. Simply spread them all over the bottom of the tank to give your shrimp plenty of places to get comfortable.

Water parameters and quality needs

When it comes to water quality, Ghost Shrimp are pretty easy to please. They are quite hardy and can thrive in most water conditions. However, we strongly recommend following the recommended levels below to ensure they are as healthy as possible.

water temperature

Ghost shrimp prefer warmer waters.Temperatures between 65 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine.Some breeders go beyond that wide temperature range and get away with it, but if you keep them as pets, you should live within these guardrails.

The reason for this is that most farmers use their shrimp as live fish feed. They do not care much about the welfare of the shrimp and cause them stress and health problems by choosing to ignore these water temperature limits.

pH and hardness levels

Ghost shrimp prefer a pH balance between 7.0 and 8.0. The water can also be a bit hard. A hardness rating between 3.72 and 6.75 should work fine.

Pollutants to monitor

In addition to staying on top of pH and hardness levels, you also need to monitor for contaminants. Ghost Shrimp do not have as much biological performance as other aquarium creatures. However, a large population of shrimp in a small tank can throw things off balance pretty quickly.

You need to monitor the amount of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite in the water. Both contaminants have the potential to kill your shrimp. But they are also necessary for the growth of aquatic plants, which are necessary to keep these shrimp healthy.

It’s a good balance that you need to monitor regularly.Ammonia and nitrate levels should be kept between 5 and 10 PPM. You can easily control the levels by performing regular water changes.

Also, you have to be careful with copper. Copper is found in some fish medications. Unfortunately, it is fatal to ghost shrimp.

If you need to medicate other fish in the tank, be sure to read the ingredient label and avoid any copper-based products.

Filtration Requirements

As far as filtration goes, the ghost shrimp doesn’t need much help in this department. They will do a great job contributing to the cleanup process on their own! This means that a standard sponge filter will do.

What do ghost shrimp eat?

As we mentioned earlier, these shrimp are natural scavengers. In the wild, they feed on fish and plant debris. They are so small that they usually cannot eat other creatures!

In a tank environment, these shrimp will do more or less the same thing. They will stick to the bottom of the tank and nibble on anything they can get their hands on. You will often find them feeding on the plants you have in the tank or catching dropped pellets that your other fish did not eat.

If you have a tank that only has ghost shrimp, the feeding process will be a breeze. They will eat any standard flake or pellet food. Granules are best as they can sink to the bottom where they hang.

Remember they are tiny. They don’t need a ton of food to stay healthy. Consider a small pinch of flakes for a group of shrimp.

Note: This is a common mistake made by new homeowners that should be avoided. Sometimes you can see the little shrimp swimming to the top to catch some flakes, which can make it tempting to encourage them to do it again. Be careful though, it is possible to overfeed the Ghost Shrimp and this is one of the fastest ways to do it.

General behavior and temperament

Ghost shrimp are very peaceful creatures. They do not bother other fish and will spend most of their time doing their own thing at the bottom of the tank and looking for things to nibble on.

To stay safe, they may spend a few days hiding in plants, under rocks, or in any other crevice they can find. Due to their pale bodies and shy nature, it can be difficult to locate them in your tank at times!

Good (and bad) tankmates

The best tank mates for ghost shrimp are any other peaceful small fish. Two of the common options are:

  • tetras
  • Picks that are not too big

You can also mix them with other peaceful bottom dwellers like Kuhli Loaches, Freshwater Snails, Cory Catfish, Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp. These tank mates will mind their own business and let your ghost shrimp do its thing undisturbed.

As for tankmates to avoid, you should avoid pairing them with any aggressive fish no matter what.

As a general rule, do not put ghost shrimp in the same tank as larger fish that feed on live foods and are large enough to consume the shrimp. They will immediately go after your precious shrimp, so keep the tank as calm as possible.

Ghost Shrimp and Bettas

One of the most common questions we hear about tank mates is regarding betta fish. This is quite common for almost all of the care guides we put together due to the popularity of the fish.

In this case, ghost shrimp and betta fish tend not to make good tank mates. This is not always the case and the translucent nature of your shrimp can keep them out of trouble if your betta is relatively calm.

However, keeping them separate is the safest step.

ghost shrimp farming

Raising ghost shrimp is very quick and easy. A recommended trick is to set up a separate breeding tank for simplicity later in the process.Males and females look identical until they reach maturity.

As adults, the females will begin to develop bright green eggs. You can of course spot these eggs quite easily due to the transparent body. At this point, the breeding process is ready to begin!

The eggs will be laid on the female’s legs. Females will produce upwards of 30 eggs a week, so be prepared for some juggling on your part.

First, when you see these eggs, be sure to wait a few days.

This provides enough time for the males to fertilize the eggs. Once this has happened, move her to a separate breeder tank so the eggs have time to hatch.Hatching can take up to three weeks.

When they hatch, take the female back to the normal community tank and let the little shrimp grow a bit. Introducing the babies to the community tank too early is not a good idea, as the adults could eat them.

The breeding tank should also have live plants. The babies are too small for the flakes, so they will feed on the plant matter to grow.

That’s it when it comes to breeding! Like everything else when it comes to ghost shrimp, it’s a pretty simple process to learn!

It’s time to pick something up for you!

If you don’t already have some, we hope this guide helped convince you to go out and get some Ghost Shrimp for your tank.

The number of benefits they can offer is immense, and the cost of purchasing them is surprisingly low in comparison.

Not only that, but they are incredibly easy to care for. No matter if you want them as pets, live food, or intend to farm them, ghost shrimp don’t require a lot of extra attention.

These critters continue to prove themselves worthy inclusions in the freshwater tank community, and we don’t see that changing for quite some time.

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