Ghost Shrimps are tiny, unique, and peaceful freshwater creatures. Many aquarists often keep them for tank cleaning purposes as they are scavengers. Fish keepers of any experience level can keep them as they are low maintenance.

They are a great addition to any aquarium because they are non-aggressive and friendly. One of the easiest freshwater species to keep as pets is Ghost Shrimps, often known as glass shrimps. This name was given due to its transparent and glass-like appearance.

It is an inexpensive shrimp to buy, and it can live for one year, sometimes even longer. They make an excellent live feeder for larger predatory fish because of their low price. If you wish to add unique freshwater species to your aquarium, read more about ghost shrimp.

All About the Species

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name  Palaemonetes Paludosus
Other Common Names Glass Shrimp, Eastern Grass Shrimp, Palaemonetes, & Feeder Shrimp,
Family Palaemonidae
Origin North America
Lifespan  Up to 1 year
Size  1.5 inches
Type  Freshwater
Freshwater Ghost Shrimp Origin
Image Credit: Map data ©2022 Google.INGI

Summary

You can keep these invertebrates in just about any tank, and they will thrive. Water fluctuation isn’t a problem for them, but they are still sensitive. Make sure to check the nitrate level in the aquarium before keeping ghost shrimp. The ideal nitrate level for them is 0, and they are highly sensitive to nitrate.

Keeping ghost shrimp in your freshwater aquarium is a unique experience. Some aquarists use these small creatures as feed for much bigger fishes. Their striking looks and surprisingly playful behavior make them popular pets among some people.

Glass Shrimp is a genus of Caridean Shrimp and has its origin in North America. They are dwarf freshwater species that remain around 1.5 inches long. If you have a freshwater aquarium and are looking for an effortless yet stunning creature, these resilient creatures are an excellent choice.

Appearance

Ghost Shrimp have a clear, transparent color, and a few might have different color spots on their body. They have a distinctive appearance that feels appealing to the eyes. It has a couple of long and short antennas.

Their rostrum sits between their eyes right on top of their heads. They have a carapace behind their rostrum. Many inner activities are visible inside the carapace, especially when feeding. They are so transparent that you can see through them easily. Sometimes, they are harder to spot in a crowded fish tank due to their appearance.

Author’s Note – If it is looking cloudy, white, or milky in appearance, you should take it out of the tank and keep it in a separate place. Ghost Shrimp can change color based on the substrate and terrain of their aquarium as they grow. For example, a brown or black surface could cause them to darken.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Size – How Big Do They Get?

Ghost Shrimp might be the tiniest creature in your aquarium as they are only 1.5 inches in size. It’s impossible to see baby ghost shrimp when they hatch because their bodies are small. Their small size makes them a wrong fit for some fish aquariums. They are quickly attacked because they are small and delicate.

If kept in a favorable environment, pet shrimps can live longer than one year. They are not wider in size either, and also, they are thick as a rubber attached at the end of a pencil.

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Life Span – How Long Do They Live?

Ghost Shrimps Care Guide
Ghost Shrimps Care Guide

The lifespan of a ghost shrimp is not more than a year. They are short-lived creatures and sometimes live only a couple of days. However, a few have lived more than two years. They grow rapidly throughout their life.

They may not last long if you buy them for feeding large fish. Since most of them are wild-caught, they’re tough to transport. It is not uncommon for feedlot animals to be mistreated and housed, unlike pets.

A large group of them is a good idea if you plan to keep and raise them. Hopefully, you will get some that are tough enough to survive and reproduce.

Gender Identification – Male vs. Female

There are many other ways in which these invertebrates can be sexed. Males do not have a saddle, but female ghost shrimps have a green saddle on their belly. However, there is no prominent color difference between male and female ghost shrimp. A very distinct ridge runs from the top end of the tail to the base of the tail on females, making them appear larger than males.

Male have longer antennae compared to females. Baby ghost shrimps look similar, and it becomes impossible to distinguish whether they are male or female. When they reach maturity, they begin to differ from each other. Identifying males and females requires waiting at least three weeks.

Ghost Shrimp Care

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Easy
Social Temperament Interactive
Diet Omnivores
Breeding Easy to breed

Diet and Food

Ghost shrimps are not fussy eaters, so feeding them is effortless. Their picking skills are excellent, and they eat like machines. Some forms of algae, dead plant material, and detritus may be included in their food. Fish pellets, flakes, algae wafers, or other food left uneaten by other species are their favorites.

They often feed on eggs, larvae, small insects, and decaying organic matter as omnivorous creatures. They can also consume tiny amounts of plant matter. Although these omnivorous species are tiny, they feed on nearly everything they can get their hands on.

In fact, they don’t require a lot of feeding since they constantly graze on things in the tank. You can feed any flakes of food that sink to the bottom of the tank to your fish. Feeding ghost species every day is fine if you have a large colony.

Temperament & Social Behavior

Ghost Shrimp Behavior

These creatures have a peaceful and social temperament, making them a perfect pet. They can be introduced to any aquarium with not-so-large fishes, and they will thrive. They are vulnerable to being eaten by larger fish species because of their size. These invertebrates are constantly searching for food in the tank and are very active.

You may come across quite a few behaviors when watching your little buddy roaming around in the aquarium. The creatures can swim around aimlessly, burrow through intersecting channels, or clear the tank. They become aggressive when feeding and try to grab as much food as possible from the water. Though, they are not bothersome or troublesome to other fish.

They devote most of their time eating and hiding in the tank. Observing your tiny water buddy molting is nothing to worry about. As they grow and eat, their shells fall off.

Breeding, Eggs, Pregnancy Stages

Breeding ghost shrimps is not daunting, and their breeding cycle is quite similar to other dwarf shrimps. You will observe 20 – 30 dots in the tank every few weeks as females lay eggs every two to three weeks. When cared for properly, your female shrimps should produce eggs every couple of weeks. The female lays tiny green-grey eggs on her legs.

It takes one to two weeks for them to develop all their legs and grow into miniature versions of the adults. The fish will be fully grown after five weeks. At that point, they can be moved to the other tank. After 3 to 4 weeks, remove the larger ghost shrimp from the breeding tank if you have a younger batch of eggs or larvae.

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It will take about three weeks to see the ghost shrimp fry. Even if there is no activity, it is crucial to continue feeding. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you do not foul the water by adding too much food. Keep track of if they are eating food and add more as per requirement.

Common Diseases

An unhealthy environment and dirty water are the leading causes of diseases in them. They are prone to many diseases, including bacterial and fungal infections, internal parasites, muscular necrosis, and chitinolytic bacterial diseases.

It is challenging to treat diseases in miniature shrimp. If still, you want to treat them, antibiotics or a saltwater bath might help. Unfortunately, an invertebrate that stops eating due to infection is more likely to die.

Infections are pretty easy to spot in these species as they have transparent bodies. So, if they have a bacterial infection, they are likely to have a swollen pinkish spot.

Tank Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Size (Individual) 5 to 10 Gallons
Water Temperature 72°F – 82°F/22°C – 27°C
Water Hardness 100—200 ppm
pH Level 7.0 – 8.0

Aquarium Size

Small aquariums, such as 5 to 10 gallons and larger, are ideal for keeping these freshwater species. If you plan to keep them in groups, try to buy a bigger tank than 5-gallons. In that case, a 20 gallons tank can house a large group of shrimps and other water species comfortably.

Quick Tip: When considering a small aquarium, be aware of the tank’s limited water volume and surface area. Therefore, do not overcrowd the tank.

There is very little waste they produce, and they help reduce nitrates. For this reason, you can keep ten shrimp per gallon. It is imperative to pay attention to the temperature and water conditions in highly stocked tanks. As temperatures rise, the dissolved oxygen content of water will decrease, increasing reproduction rates. Also, water quality is easier to regulate in a larger tank.

Tank Setup, Décor, and Plants

Any community aquarium or shrimp’s aquarium is incomplete without live plants. These tiny creatures can use the plants for food and hide from predators. Live plants are necessary for your little water friend to thrive. Consequently, your substrate and lighting will also need to be plant-grade. This should ensure the shrimp’s health.

Ghost shrimps are hardy and can survive in harsh conditions too. Therefore, you don’t need to go too far in terms of filtration. You install a standard filter that is enough for the tank.

Make sure the tank has enough hiding spots and crevices for these shrimps so they don’t always feel threatened. Stress and premature death are two of the most common causes for these crustaceans.

Lighting Requirement

In reality, fish and shrimp don’t require much light. Lightning is installed as a source of illumination, so we can see what’s inside the tank. Quite a few species prefer to retreat into shady areas. It relieves their stress.

If you are planting live plants in your tank, lighting needs to be everywhere, from dim to bright. Plants within the aquarium will determine your aquarium’s lighting mainly. Several plants require more lighting than Hornwort and Anubias, such as Amazon Swords and Vallisneria.

Ghost Shrimp will be comfortable in bright lighting as long as they have enough hiding places. These crustaceans retreat to caves and dense plants for shelter and security.

Ghost Shrimps Tank Parameters
Ghost Shrimps Tank Parameters

Water Parameters

The ideal water temperature for these tiny species is between 22 degrees and 27 degrees Celsius. Therefore, you should pair them with fish species that prefer warm water conditions to maintain their health. Shrimps’ growth and reproduction rate can be accelerated by higher temperatures, whereas colder temperatures can lower their immunity and resistance to disease.

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Ghost shrimps are very adaptable to different water parameters. Therefore, it is essential not to overdo the water parameters and maintain the conditions that allow them to live well. The temperature, pH, and water hardness are important factors to consider when setting up a tank for them.

Pollutants

Pollution such as pesticides, fertilizers, and algae blooms can affect these water species’ habitats and them too when consumed. These pollutants can impact the life cycle of Ghost Shrimps that live in shallow waters.

You should change tank water every week if you don’t have a filter. Keeping nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia levels low in their environment is crucial, as they are very sensitive to pollutants.

Compatible Tankmates

Providing the aquarium with a stable environment is the role of aquarists. Putting the right mates in their tank is one of the closest things they can do to make their aquarium’s babies comfortable. A few tank mates that your Ghost Shrimps are compatible with include tetras, hatchet fish, Danios, small catfish, and kuhli loach.

A large range of water species should not be kept together with these invertebrates, including crayfish, frogs, turtles, Goldfish, and Oscars.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many ghost shrimps can be kept in a 10-gallon tank?

If you’re only keeping ghost shrimp in your aquarium, you can easily keep 50 shrimp in a 10-gallon aquarium. Ghost shrimp can live in small tanks because they are so small. However, for maintaining a breathable and healthy environment, 30 – 40 of them are enough for a 10-gallon tank.

What do baby ghost shrimp look like?

The ghost shrimp fry is so tiny, and you cannot spot them at first. All you will see are small dots inside the tank. You will be able to see them properly after three weeks when they develop legs and other body parts.

How do ghost shrimp reproduce?

A spermatophore is transferred from the male to the female at a right angle to an abdomen receptacle specialized for fertilization during the mating process. A female begins laying eggs six to twenty hours after mating, which she carries under her abdomen, and they hatch and are released after a few hours.

Can ghost shrimp live with cherry shrimp?

The answer is yes. Cherry and ghost shrimp can be kept in a tank together. They are compatible and can breed together. This match won’t require individual attention or supervision so it will add variety to your aquarium. Both species have very similar care requirements, so it is easy to take care of them together.

What does a ghost shrimp look like?

This creature has a unique appearance, and it has a transparent body that enables you to see through them easily. They have ten legs, a segmented body, and a maximum size of 1.5 inches. Some of them have yellow and orangish spots on their bodies, especially their tail.

Why are my ghost shrimp dying?

They are susceptible to many common infections and diseases, so the reasons can be plenty. Two of the most common are fungal and bacterial infections. Sometimes when they cannot acclimate, they die. After picking them up at the pet store, dropping shrimp into your home aquarium could cause them serious harm. They were kept at a temperature and with water parameters that differ from yours. They will die if they cannot adapt quickly. You should look for their symptoms to know the actual reason behind their death.

Final Remarks – Do They Make Good Pets for Your Aquarium?

Ghost shrimps are relatively inexpensive and easy to keep in bulk quantities. You can keep them in small aquariums or raise them in colonies. They reduce nitrates and algae and have a very low biological footprint.

The only exception is viewing a tank containing both fish and shrimp. They can survive for up to two years with careful tank monitoring. Ghost shrimps are the perfect addition to your tank if you do not want to deal with the hassle of caring for complex fish. I hope you find this guide about caring for ghost shrimp helpful.

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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