Crustaceans became part of community tanks due to the eternal human quest to domesticate newer varieties of aquatic life.

The thoughtful detailing in their structures, features, and abilities they display is beyond imagination.

The Bamboo Shrimp is gaining popularity in community tanks due to its relatively larger size (which makes it visible in the tank) and peculiar feeding style.

It is appropriate for a small tank, peaceful, easy to care for, and available in most online/offline stores, making it a desirable addition to home aquariums.

The subsequent sections cover everything you need to know about Bamboo Shrimp care.

Did you know? Wood shrimp are a delicacy in seafood cuisine and are traded globally.

Generic Facts Overview

Quick Species Facts (Bamboo Shrimp)
Scientific Name Atyopsis Moluccensis
Other popular names Wood Shrimp, Asian Filter Shrimp, Singapore Shrimp, Flower Shrimp, Marble Shrimp, Mountain Shrimp
Family Atyidae
Origin Southeast Asia
Life Span Up to 2 years
Adult Size 2 to 3 inches
Type Freshwater
Note: Many refer to the Bamboo Shrimp as “FanShrimp” interchangeably. Fan Shrimp is a different species.

Habitat and Origin

Originating from Southeast Asia, the Wood Shrimp thrive along the rivers and streams in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.

These invertebrate crustaceans live in fast-flowing waters.

They cling onto rocks, plant roots, or other porous surfaces or hide in plants /caves in the bottom-level waters.

They form a part of the aquarium trade in the United States of America, Europe, and Asia.

Physical Attributes

Did you know? Like snakes and snails, Bamboo shrimp discard their exoskeleton (external skeleton) every two months. This process is known as “molting”.

Generally, Singapore Shrimp are brownish to reddish-brown.

They have small random creamish lines covering the sides of their bodies.

A flat bold white stripe running through the top of their entire body (from the nose to the tail) sets them apart from other shrimps.

Few may have a dark-tanned color stripe covering their upper bodies instead of a white line.

Some believe that the flat white line on their top is not always visible but appears when they are happy.

Others believe that the white line is visible in juvenile shrimp but fades out as they mature.

They can grow up to 5 inches long and live beyond two years with proper care.

Image credit: Wikipidia

Did you know? The first two pairs of claws of the Flower Shrimp open like flowers / fans in front of its mouth and act like filters to trap microorganisms and edible matter from the flowing water to eat. Hence, they are called Flower Shrimp and Asian Filter Shrimp.

Color Changes

In the wild, they seem to acquire colors depending on their place of origin and natural habitat.

It helps them camouflage and protect themselves from predators.

Many hobbyists have reported that their Bamboo Shrimp changed their color randomly to light brown, orange, yellow, green, blue, and even black.

Some suggest that they change colors with moods/surroundings.

It will be a delight to see them changing colors randomly in the community tank.

Their colors invariably change to light brown after every molt.

If their color fades too much, it indicates they are stressed.

Anatomy

Let us understand the basic anatomy of shrimps.

The below image depicts their detailed body structure, followed by the functions/descriptions of each part.

Image credit: Wikipidia
Major body parts of a Shrimp
Body Parts Description/Function
Scaphocerite Like their jaw
Rostrum It is like their nose
Chela(e) It has a pair of Chela or 4 palm-like Chelae. These are used to trap food from the water column, substrate/river beds
Eyes Two eyes, one on each side of the body
Carapace Hardshell to protect the delicate internal organs
Antennas It has two long antennae curving backward and short antennas (also called antennules) between the jaws. These are sensory organs to feel
Pereopods Five pairs of legs are used to walk (walking legs), below the front portion of their body till the Carapace
Abdominal Segments Their abdomen after the Carapace till the start of the tail
Pleopods Right under the abdomen, they support the abdomen (when it is filled with eggs) and are used to swim. Also called Swimmerets
Telson and Uropods The Upper pointed section is called Telson. The two wing-like parts underneath are called Uropods. They act like propellers   Together they form the tail section to give the direction and thrust (necessary to swim in speed)
Note: They belong to the scientific Order called Decapod (meaning 10-legged animal in Latin).

Male Vs. Female

As shown in the following image, the first pair of walking legs (pereopods) is thin in a female Bamboo Shrimp (left side), whereas it is thicker in the male counterpart. Each of his forelegs resembles a boxing glove at the end.

Image credit: Wikipidia

Besides, the female shrimp has a fuller lower abdomen to carry eggs, while it is slimmer in the male shrimp.

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Typical Behavior Patterns

Did you know? The Bamboo Shrimp are jumpers. If they feel stressed in the aquarium, they will move out in search of a new pond. Hence the tank lid should be closed.

  • They are nocturnal bottom dwellers but are active during the day too.
  • Initially, they may be shy with new tank mates but slowly normalize.
  • They keep to themselves. If you add more than one shrimp, it will move into groups of two to three.
  • They can change colors.
  • They eat microorganisms and floating matter in the water.
  • They are filter feeders since they trap/filter their food with their fan-like palms called chelae.
  • They cling onto rocks or plant roots near the water column. Open their chelae in front of the flowing water to trap food.
  • Once sufficient food is trapped in any chela, they take it to their mouths to eat and then swiftly place it back against the water current.
  • In the process, they seem to be dancing with their claws (moving up and down), making an enticing view.
  • They prefer to remain in a convenient feeding spot near the water column for days, often in the same position.
  • At times algae start growing on their static-positioned bodies, which can worry hobbyists. But it is not harmful to them.
  • They also scavenge the bottom substrate/river beds with their chelae for food.
  • As they grow, they molt every two months.
  • After every molt, they are most vulnerable, as their protective, hard exterior skeleton is lost.
  • During this phase, they remain hidden in plants and caves till a new hard shell grows back.
  • They molt during spawning to release sperm/hatched eggs.

How to Select

Wood Shrimp are available in shops online/offline. Their price varies according to the size (small, medium, large), availability, and offers.

Always buy from a reliable source and follow their instructions thoroughly to avail of the after-sale service.

Avoid buying from newly arrived stock as it has not yet survived the aquarium environment sufficiently.

Similarly, small-sized shrimp might display unknown issues as they grow.

Use the correct name while purchasing. Fan Shrimp and Bamboo Shrimp are two different species.

Now that you can differentiate them from the rest, ensure you order/take home the correct species.

When buying from an offline shop, check the shrimp for various parts (no missing body parts), color, swimming, feeding, etc.

In case it is shipped to you, examine it thoroughly before acclimating. Contact the vendor for any irregularity observed.

Improper handling and transportation can cause them stress.

Care Guide

Bamboo Shrimp Care Overview
Care Level Easy
Diet Detritivore (feeds on dead/decomposing matter), Omnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Breeding Difficult to breed in captivity, Egg laying
Social Non-aggressive, Keep to themselves
Tank Level Bottom-dwellers

Food/Diet

In their natural habitat, the Bamboo Shrimp eat edible floating foods (like algae, decaying organic matter, fallen leaves, etc.) from the water current after trapping them in their chelae.

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Hence, they are called detritivores.

Initially, they may feel shy, unsafe, and hide. Do not worry. Allow them some time to adjust.

Being nocturnal, they will venture out in the dark for food.

Once they feel safe, they will move freely during the day too. Observe them closely for some time.

How and What to Feed

Did you know? Singapore Shrimp are toxic to copper.

A well-planted aquarium with a moderate water current will help the Wood Shrimp filter-feed themselves. There is nothing special you need to do.

You can feed some finely grounded fish pellets, algae-based food, readymade food tablets, planktons, etc. They will trap these floating in the water and feed themselves.

Add some oak and almond leaves to the tank to enhance the tank water quality, which in turn helps their molting.

You can also feed Bamboo Shrimp food supplements from the market. Add the paste to the filter. They will trap it in the water current to eat.

Ensure everything you feed is high quality (bacteria/parasite-free).

Clean the leftovers before they start deteriorating the tank water quality.

Red Flags

They should grow and gain color gradually if they are healthy and happy in the tank.

 If you find theBamboo Shrimp hiding most of the time, check if they have molted.

You might find the discarded exoskeleton (shell) in the tank water (if it is recent).

If they hide without any evident reason

  • Look out for intimidating/interfering tank mates.
  • Check tank environment parameters to ensure they are suitable for them.

Avoid excessive leftovers in the tank. At the same time, maintain floating edible matter to feed them. Balance the two.

Occasionally, they might scavenge the tank substrate for food, trying to join other bottom-dweller tank mates (if any), or if they cannot find sufficient food from the water current.

But if you notice this behavior frequently, adjust your feeding method and water current to promote optimal filter feeding.

Breeding

The Bamboo Shrimp have not been successfully spawned in captivity.

Understanding how they spawn in the wild will help identify challenges in captive breeding.

Spawning in the Wild

  • The Bamboo Shrimp generally spawn after molting.
  • The Female Shrimp is laden with eggs when she is ready to spawn.
  • Once they mate, the female shrimp becomes pregnant (berried).
  • She releases eggs after some time.
  • The eggs stick to plants, rocks, leaves, etc.
  • Once they develop into larvae, water currents take them to brackish waters, where they metamorphose into frys.
  • The frys swim back to their freshwater habitat.

Challenges in Captive Breeding

  • Their mating period and frequency are unknown, unlike other shrimps.
  • If you manage to spawn them in the freshwater tank, moving the egg larvae into a brackish tank at the right stage is vital.
  • The exact parameters of the brackish waters and other requirements till they become a fry are unidentified.
  • Hence, keeping the egg larvae alive during their metamorphosis is challenging.
  • Transferring the frys to a freshwater tank at the earliest is equally important as they cannot survive in brackish water.
  • Various experiments to breed them in captivity have failed at different stages of mating/larvae to fry development for unknown reasons.

Disease

Flower Shrimp are hardy. But there are some basic requirements you must fulfill.

As discussed earlier, Bamboo Shrimp are challenging to breed in captivity. Hence, most of the new additions available for sale are wild-caught and captivated.

They have a high mortality rate after addition to a community tank.

It is because they are sensitive to water changes. Hence, acclimate them gradually before adding them to the main tank.

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Anything that enters the aquarium (medication, plant fertilizers, chemical filters, etc.) must be 100 percent copper-free/shrimp-safe.

If unsure, separate the shrimp in a temporary tank before using them.

Chemicals like chlorine and bleach are harmful to them. They are used to clean tanks and plants in the aquarium.

Rinse everything thoroughly to eliminate chemical traces and odor. It is advisable to use alternative cleaning methods/substances. Better safe than sorry.

They have zero tolerance for Ammonia. Keep the tank ammonia free.

Indicators of ill health are

  • Lethargic/less active.
  • Hide/remain inactive all the time (even when not molting).
  • Do not filter-feed.
  • Do not molt every two months.
  • Too much pale color most of the time.

The below table describes the common diseases they are prone to, their symptoms, and the basic steps in treatment.

We recommend that you consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment at the earliest if you notice these symptoms.

Diseases (Wood Shrimp)
Name Cause Symptoms Treatment
Ellipsoid Dinoflagellate Epibionts; All three are different diseases Parasites that enter and thrive in the tank due to Poor tank management Environmental stress Infected food, parasite, plant of any equipment, etc., added to the tank Green fungus-like growth underneath the body, between the legs Lazy/inactive Isolate the shrimp to reduce stress and for close observation Fix both the tank water parameters and maintain them consistently Consult a vet Use shrimp-safe over-the-counter anti-bacterial medication Observe other tank mates for infection
Vorticella Protozoa (parasite) that feed on the bacteria Poor tank management Environmental stress Infected food, parasite, plant of any equipment, etc., added to the tank Semi-transparent fungus-like growth anywhere on the body The fungus could also be yellowish or transparent Weird swimming Loss of appetite
Pale color
Bacterial Infections Bacteria thrive in the fish tank due to poor tank management They manage to enter their bodies through food, water, etc. Environmental stress Not easy to detect Can show any or all of the signs of ill-health listed before this table
Scutariella Japonica Nematode (flatworms) Opaque white small thread-like growth around the head, eyes, shell, or rostrum area Unlike vorticella, it does not grow on any other body part and is always opaque white White dots (eggs of the worm) laid around the head

Acclimating

Bamboo shrimp are sensitive to water changes and often die after adding to the community tank.

If you have used chemical filtration, medication, or fertilizers in the main tank before purchasing them, clean the tank and entire decor thoroughly to remove copper traces.

Quarantine the shrimp for two weeks and de-worm (shrimp-safe) before acclimating. It will remove unknown external bacteria/parasites.

Acclimate them gradually before adding them to the main tank.

4. Tank Recommendations

Tank Requirements Overview
Minimum Tank Size 20 Gallons (per shrimp)/ 76 Liters
Water Temperature 70 to 88 degrees F (22 to 28 degrees C)
PH Level 6.5 to 7.5
Water Hardness 3 to 10 dKH

Tank Size

Many consider even a 10-gallon tank apt for a Bamboo Shrimp.

It is not advisable to house it in a tank smaller than 20 gallons.

An overcrowded/small tank can stress the tank-dwellers easily, leading to further complications.

You will need a 20-gallon tank per Bamboo Shrimp. Get a larger tank if you wish to add more than one.

Adding a single shrimp is alright, as it can survive alone with other compatible tank mates.

The tank should be long and not tall so that:

  • The water current can reach the bottom quickly to churn the edible matter from the substrate and keep it afloat for them to feed.
  • They can move freely.

Tank Setup

Tank setup is vital to replicate their natural habitat. It makes them feel safe, healthy, and happy.

Ensure everything is copper-free, sterilized, and well-rinsed to eliminate all chemical traces/odor.

Substrate

They use their pereopods to walk and chelae to scavenge the substrate for food (at times).

Hence a soft, fine rounded gravel substrate is apt for their safety.

Choose a dark-colored substrate to match their natural surroundings.

Lighting

They hail from tropical freshwaters. Bright, plant-grade lighting for at least 8 hours a day is best for shrimp tanks.

A dim light at night will help them move around in the dark. You also can observe their activities to ensure they are healthy.

Plants

Natural plants add oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrates in the aquarium water.

They also provide hiding places, algae, and fallen leaves (to eat).

You can add Driftwood, Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias, Christmas Moss, Aquatic Wisteria, Hornwort, etc.

Decor

Provide enough rocks, caves, and porous surfaces to hide and latch on.

You can add a readymade Bamboo Shrimp Hotel. They have many holes like hotel rooms to stay in/hide.

Be creative with colors and materials (clay, ceramic, wood, etc.).

Ensure everything has rounded corners/edges and enough space to swim through them.

Keep some space between thedecor so they can swim between them.

It will also be easy to clean.

Oxygen and Filtration

Use biological and mechanical filters.

Wood shrimp cling to porous surfaces. Hence a sponge filter is most suitable.

Chemical filters (need-based) should be shrimp-safe/copper-free.

Visit here for more details about Oxygen and Filtration.

Tank Mates

Wood shrimp keep to themselves and are concerned only about the water current.

They are peaceful with other non-interfering tank mates.

The tank mates should not be

  • Very small to be eaten by them
  • Aggressive, territorial, or interfering
  • Shrimp-eating, or else they would devour them

Ideal tank mates are

  • Other Shrimps (Vampire, Amano, Ghost, Mystery. Red Cherry, etc.).
  • Snails (like Japanese Trapdoor, Assassin, Mystery, Ivory, Nerite, Ramshorn, etc.).
  • Small Fishes (like Corydoras, Dwarf Gouramis, Tetras, etc.).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

All your queries must be resolved now, except the ones listed below.

Bettas are aggressive and used for fish fights. They are carnivorous.

Some hobbyists have successfully kept them in the same tank. It depends on many factors like

  • The Betta is already used to living with smaller species in the same tank.
  • It is well-fed. Unless it is hungry, it will not eat the Bamboo Shrimp.
  • The size of the shrimp is not too small to fall prey to the Betta.
  • Betta has enough hiding spaces to reduce its stress, and the Bamboo Shrimp has enough space to distance itself from Betta, creating zero chances to interact.

However, all these factors cannot be guaranteed. Keep them in separate tanks for your peace of mind and their safety.

Can I add Bamboo Shrimp to my tank having Goldfish?

No.

Conclusion

A Bamboo Shrimp will steal the show in your aquarium with its daily filter-feeding dance.

It would keep you, your family, and guests glued to the community tank to watch them dance, catch them molt, or change colors randomly.

Flaunting those videos/pictures and throwing a word or two about your expert knowledge from this article would earn you the respect of a fish expert in your community!

So, when are you adding a Flower Shrimp to your collection? If you already have one, we wish you a fulfilling shrimping time.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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