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Freshwater Shrimp Care Sheet

Freshwater Shrimp Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Freshwater Shrimp

This care sheet covers a variety of freshwater shrimp, including: 



Caridina japonica, Neocaridina denticulata, Neocaridina heteropoda, Necaridina sp., Atyopsis mollucensis, Atya gabonensis, Neocaridina davidi, Palaemonetes paludosus 

A great addition to a freshwater cleaning crew, freshwater shrimp are colorful, interesting little scavengers who can help control algae and uneaten food. These peaceful, community invertebrates need a lot of hiding places and protection from other aquatic life who might try to make a meal out of them, so always do your research to ensure compatibility.


Typical appearance and behavior

  • Freshwater shrimp can control algae as well as eat leftover food; in fact, most of their diet consists of algae gathered from the tank, but they will eat almost any food offered 
  • They may feed at night when other fish are less active, and they feel safe enough to roam about  
  • Plants and driftwood are a great addition, giving them plenty of places to hide and a natural food source  
  • Can be kept with some small, nonaggressive fish and some snail species  
  • When they sleep, they will be motionless and unresponsive with a lowered antennae and can sometimes be observed upside down  
  • They come in many colors and patterns with differing levels of care and requirements 
  • Most shrimp are social species and can be found in small to large groups  



Care Difficuty Beginner to advanced, depending on species
Average Life Span Up to 3 years with proper care, depending on species
Average Adult Size 1–6”, depending on species
Diet Omnivorous
Minimum Habitat Size 5+ gallons
Water temperature 72–82°F, depending on species; some may prefer temperatures outside these parameters



Habitat size

Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium based on the species selected, which can range from 5+gallons for a few freshwater shrimp to a much larger aquarium for a bigger group of freshwater shrimp. Remember water conditions can change rapidly in smaller water volumes.

Building your habitat

  • Water health - 
    • Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health 
    • Provide slow to moderate water circulation to mimic the water currents and high oxygen levels found in a freshwater shrimp’s natural habitat  
    • Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life; if you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing 
    • Use an aquatic heater to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in either direction in a 24-hour period 
    • Many freshwater shrimp will benefit from the addition of freshwater salt to the aquarium; the specific gravity should be kept at 1.004 
    • Always research your species-specific needs before adding freshwater aquarium salt, and do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than 0.001 in either direction in a 24-hour period. 
  • Décor - 
    • Provide plenty of space for swimming as well as plants, driftwood rocks or décor for hiding places 



A well-balanced freshwater shrimp diet consists of: 

  • Flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, frozen foods, algae sheets and wafers 

Things to remember when feeding your freshwater shrimp: 

  • They typically feed on algae and leftover foods but should be offered supplemental feedings 2–3 times per week 
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding 


Freshwater shrimp care 

  • Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your freshwater shrimp healthy 
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment 
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week 
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every 2–4 weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly 
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease 


Where to buy freshwater shrimp

Freshwater shrimp are available for purchase at Petco online and in store; availability varies by location. If visiting your local Pet Care Center, please call ahead to check availability. 




Tank mates 

Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually. Shrimp generally do well with most peaceful community species, such as:



Signs of a healthy freshwater shrimp

  • Clear eyes 
  • Healthy appetite 
  • Bright, even coloring 
  • Free of parasites or disease 

Red flags (if you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Loss of color or appetite 
  • Spots or fungus on body  
  • Cloudy eyes 
  • Erratic swimming 


Common freshwater shrimp health issues 

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueParasites Symptoms or CausesWhite growths around head and body area and/or green growth around swimmerets Suggested ActionQuarantine shrimp; conduct a daily freshwater salt bath and perform water change; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment
Health IssueFungus Symptoms or CausesWhite cottony growth and/or discoloration of the eyes Suggested ActionQuarantine shrimp; use a commercial, shrimp-safe, antifungal remedy as directed and perform a water change; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment



  • What do freshwater shrimp eat? Freshwater shrimp will feed on algae and leftover foods but should be provided 2–3 supplemental feedings per week of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods, algae sheets and wafers. 
  • Where can you buy freshwater shrimp for an aquarium? Freshwater shrimp are available for purchase at Petco online and in store; availability varies by location. If visiting your local location, please call ahead to check availability. 


Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.