Ghost Shrimp Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Keeping ghost shrimp, as a beginner, you may be seeking guidance on how to properly care for these fascinating freshwater crustaceans. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the essential knowledge needed to ensure a thriving tank environment for your new aquatic pets.

ghost shrimp

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Ghost Shrimp Species Profile and Identification

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp, are small freshwater crustaceans that belong to the family Palaemonidae. They are popular in the aquarium trade due to their transparent bodies, low-maintenance nature, and the benefits they provide in keeping an aquarium clean.

Origin and Size: Ghost shrimp are native to North America, specifically the southeastern United States. Fully grown, these shrimp typically measure between 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) in length.

Color and Transparency: Ghost shrimp are mostly transparent, which is why they are called “ghost” or “glass” shrimp. They may have some specks of color (usually orange) on their bodies, but most of their internal organs are visible through their translucent exoskeleton.

Lifespan: In ideal conditions, ghost shrimp can live up to one year in an aquarium setting. However, their average lifespan is around six months, primarily due to their natural vulnerability to diseases and predation.

Identifying ghost shrimp can be difficult because other similarly sized and colored shrimp species are often sold alongside them. To definitively identify a ghost shrimp, look for the following features:

  • Transparent body with visible internal organs, with occasional specks of color
  • Two pairs of long, thin antennae
  • A long, segmented tail with a distinct fan at the end
  • A large, conspicuous hump on the back of mature females

Remember, acquiring the right species is essential for proper care and successful breeding. Always purchase ghost shrimp from a reputable retailer or breeder, and check for the characteristics mentioned above.

Ghost Shrimp Supplies

When setting up a tank for ghost shrimp, there are several essential supplies you’ll need to ensure a suitable environment. Let’s take a look at the necessary items and why they are crucial for ghost shrimp care.

  • Tank: A 5-10 gallon aquarium is suitable for a small group of ghost shrimp. These tanks are relatively affordable and provide ample space for the shrimp to swim around and explore.
  • Filter: A filter is essential to keep the water clean and well aerated. Choose a gentle sponge filter, as this is the perfect type to suit ghost shrimp’s preference for low water flow.
  • Heater: Ghost shrimp require a consistent water temperature of 72-82°F (22-28°C). An aquarium heater is crucial to maintain this ideal temperature.
  • Lighting: While ghost shrimp do not require any particular type of lighting, having a light source for the tank is essential if you plan to include live plants.
  • Substrate: Sand or fine gravel provides a stable base for plants and offers ghost shrimp a place to forage.
  • Aquarium decor: Incorporating hiding spots and plants is crucial for the mental welfare of your ghost shrimp. You can use driftwood, rocks, and live or artificial plants to provide these necessary spaces.
  • Water conditioner: Dechlorinating the tap water is vital for ghost shrimp health. A water conditioner will remove harmful chemicals and make the water safe for your shrimp.
  • API Master Test Kit: Regularly testing the water parameters is essential for your ghost shrimp’s wellbeing. Using an API Master Test Kit will help you monitor the water quality and make any necessary changes.
  • Shrimp food: Ghost shrimp are omnivores and need a well-balanced diet. An appropriate shrimp pellet, supplemented with occasional vegetable-based snacks, is recommended.

These supplies form the basics for a healthy and thriving ghost shrimp habitat. By providing the right equipment and conditions, you’ll create an environment where your shrimp can thrive.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Setup

Creating the perfect tank setup for your ghost shrimp is essential in ensuring a healthy and stress-free environment. Often referred to as the “clean-up crew,” these small and transparent crustaceans remove algae and leftover food, keeping the tank clean and tidy.

Start with at least a 5-gallon tank to provide ample space for your shrimp to roam and explore. If you are planning to house multiple ghost shrimp or keep them with other tank mates, consider a larger tank of 10 gallons or more.

  • Prepare the substrate by adding an inch or two of sand or fine gravel to the tank’s bottom. This will not only aid in the shrimp’s movement but also serve as a surface for beneficial bacteria to live.
  • Add plants, rocks, and decorations to the tank, providing hiding spots for the shrimp and fostering a more natural environment. Live plants such as java moss, java fern, and water wisteria are perfect choices for ghost shrimp tanks.
  • Equip the tank with a filter to ensure proper water circulation and filtration. Sponge filters are ideal for ghost shrimp since they prevent the shrimp from being sucked into the filter while maintaining optimal water quality.
  • Install a heater to maintain a stable water temperature between 68-80°F (20-27°C). A stable temperature is essential for the shrimp’s wellbeing, as drastic changes can put them under stress.

Remember to cycle the tank for at least a few weeks before introducing your ghost shrimp. Cycling allows beneficial bacteria to establish themselves, helps maintain water quality, and prevents harmful ammonia and nitrite spikes.

Ghost Shrimp Water Requirements

Ghost shrimp, like any other aquatic creatures, require proper water conditions to thrive and stay healthy. In this section, we’ll talk about the essential factors of water requirements for these amazing transparent crustaceans.

Temperature Range: Ghost shrimp are quite adaptable and can survive in a wide range of temperatures. However, the ideal range for them is between 65°F and 80°F (18°C – 27°C).

pH Level: The pH level determines how acidic or alkaline the water is. Ghost shrimp prefer a pH range of 7.0 to 7.8, which is considered slightly alkaline.

  • Regularly monitor the pH level in the tank
  • Use pH-testing kits available at aquarium stores to check the water condition

Water Hardness: Ghost shrimp require a moderate level of water hardness, between 3 and 15 dGH.

  • To maintain optimal water hardness, you can use crushed coral or calcium-rich rocks as a substrate

Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels: Ghost shrimp, being sensitive to water parameters, need a tank with stable water conditions. High levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate can be harmful for them.

  • Aim for 0 ppm ammonia and nitrite levels
  • Keep nitrates levels less than 20 ppm by performing regular water changes

Here are the keys to the ideal water requirements for ghost shrimp:

Parameter Ideal Range
Temperature 65°F – 80°F (18°C – 27°C)
pH Level 7.0 – 7.8
Water Hardness 3 – 15 dGH
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate under 20 ppm

Stick to these parameters, and ensure regular monitoring and maintenance to keep your ghost shrimp happy and healthy in their aquatic home.

Ghost Shrimp Diet and Feeding

Feeding your ghost shrimp a well-balanced diet is essential to keep them healthy and active. These tiny creatures are opportunistic feeders and eat a variety of food, making it easy to keep them satisfied.

  • Primary Food Source: Ghost shrimps are scavengers by nature and should be provided with a mix of sinking pellets, flakes, and algae wafers, catering to their diverse tastes. It’s equally important to provide enough of this staple diet collectively to avoid competition and aggression.
  • Supplemental Food: To ensure good health, supplement their diet with a variety of fresh, frozen, and live food such as blanched vegetables (like zucchini and spinach), white worms, bloodworms, and daphnia. Providing these treats once or twice a week will make a huge difference.
  • Natural Algae: Additionally, ghost shrimps love munching on the natural algae present in the tank which helps to keep the tank clean. However, ensure the algae growth is well balanced and doesn’t overrun the tank. You can clean excessive algae from the tank walls manually or by using special algae-eating fish.

Always remember, overfeeding can be an issue, leading to deteriorating water quality and shrimp health. To prevent this, remove any uneaten food from the tank after 24 hours. It’s essential to regularly monitor your ghost shrimp’s eating habits and adjust the amount of food provided accordingly.

A well-planned diet with various options, a mix of sinking pellets, algae wafers, flakes, and supplemental live foods can keep your ghost shrimps happy and healthy. Keep an eye on their eating habits, and be prepared to make adjustments to maintain optimal water quality and shrimp health.

Ghost Shrimp Care Schedule

To ensure the well-being of your ghost shrimp, it’s essential to follow a consistent care schedule. This routine will help you maintain a healthy environment for your pet and prevent potential issues.

  • Daily chores: Check on your ghost shrimp every day to look for any signs of stress or health issues. Regularly observe their behavior, as unusual activity can indicate potential problems.
  • Feeding: Feed your ghost shrimp once or twice a day, based on their needs. Provide a balanced diet consisting of pellets, flakes, and occasional live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms.
  • Weekly chores: Perform a partial water change (around 20-30%) every week to maintain water quality. Test the water parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to ensure they are within the recommended range.
  • Monthly tasks: Give your tank a thorough cleaning every month. Focus on removing any accumulated debris, algae, and detritus. Clean the filter system and replace or rinse filter media, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Trimming plants and decorations: Keep an eye on the growth of plants in your tank and trim them back as needed. This will help maintain an ideal environment for your ghost shrimp by preventing plants from overtaking their space.

Following this care schedule will keep your ghost shrimp healthy and happy. Always be attentive to your pet’s needs and adjust the schedule if needed, based on their behavior and overall well-being.

Ghost Shrimp Health Problems

Ghost shrimp, while generally hardy, can face a few health problems. These mainly occur due to poor water quality, stress, or incorrect care.

Molting Issues: Molting is a normal process for ghost shrimp, but it can occasionally lead to health problems. Signs of molting issues include incomplete shedding or a white and cloudy appearance after molting. To avoid these issues, make sure to:

  • Maintain proper water quality and parameters.
  • Provide a calcium-rich diet to support healthy shell development.

Bacterial Infections: Poor water quality can lead to bacterial infections in ghost shrimp. Common symptoms of bacterial infections include lethargy, cloudy eyes, and red or white spots on the body. To prevent bacterial infections:

  • Keep the tank clean and maintain appropriate water parameters.
  • Don’t overcrowd the tank, which can cause stress and lead to illness.

Parasites: Parasites might attach themselves to the shrimp’s body, causing discomfort and potentially stressing the shrimp. Some common parasites found in ghost shrimp include:

  • Scutariella japonica: Appears as tiny white worms on the shrimp’s head.
  • Vorticella: Small, white, and hair-like growths on the body.

To prevent parasites:

  • Quarantine new shrimp before introduction to the tank.
  • Maintain a clean tank with appropriate water parameters.

Keeping an eye on your ghost shrimp’s health and maintaining proper care is crucial. Prevention is always better than cure, so always be diligent in maintaining water quality and observing your shrimp for any signs of distress or illness.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Ghost shrimp are peaceful and social creatures that can get along well with various other tank mates. However, it’s essential to select the right tank mates for your ghost shrimp to ensure a harmonious and thriving aquatic environment. Here are some suitable tank mates for your ghost shrimp:

  • Small and peaceful fish species: Ghost shrimp can safely share their tank with small, non-aggressive fish such as neon tetras, guppies, and mollies. These fish will not harm your ghost shrimp and are likely to get along well.
  • Snails: Snails are a natural addition to a ghost shrimp tank, as they clean algae and do not harm the shrimp. Examples include nerite snails and mystery snails.
  • Shrimp species: Other small and non-aggressive shrimp species can be great tank mates too. Amano shrimp and cherry shrimp are popular choices, as they share similar water requirements with ghost shrimp.

Avoid adding the following tank mates to your ghost shrimp aquarium:

  • Large or aggressive fish species: Large fish like goldfish, cichlids, or angelfish may see your ghost shrimp as food, which is not ideal for your shrimp’s survival.
  • Predatory species: Likewise, avoid adding predatory species like crayfish or assassin snails to your tank, as they might hunt and eat your ghost shrimp.

It’s important to carefully observe the interaction between your ghost shrimp and the other inhabitants of your tank. If you notice any signs of aggression or harm, do not hesitate to separate the incompatible tank mates. By choosing the right tank mates, you can help ensure a healthy and happy living environment for your ghost shrimp and their aquatic friends.

Ghost Shrimp Breeding

Breeding ghost shrimp can be a fun and rewarding process. If you’re interested in increasing the population of your tank, you’ll need to understand the proper steps to ensure success.

Preparing the Tank

First, ensure your tank is suitable for breeding. This includes having plenty of hiding places, optimal water parameters, and a stable environment. To get your ghost shrimp ready for breeding, try the following steps:

  • Provide plenty of hiding spots with plants, rocks, or decor.
  • Maintain the water temperature at around 72-82°F.
  • Ensure optimal tank conditions such as a pH of 7-8 and well-oxygenated water.

Assessing Mating Behavior

Ghost shrimp usually mate after they molt, as the female needs to be soft-shelled to mate. Once a female molts, the male will initiate the mating process, which involves grabbing her while he deposits sperm.

This process can be fast, so you may not notice it at first. However, you can check if a female is carrying eggs by observing her belly, where fertilized eggs, called berried eggs, will be visible.

Raising Ghost Shrimp Fry

After about two to three weeks, the eggs will hatch into larvae. At this stage, it’s a good idea to:

  • Separate the larvae from the tank mates as they can be seen as prey. Set up a separate tank with similar conditions to the main tank for optimal growth.
  • Feed the larvae a nutritious diet, including infusoria, baby brine shrimp, or powdered fry food, to enhance their survival rate.
  • Maintain optimal water quality through regular water changes and monitoring the conditions.

Lastly, be patient when breeding ghost shrimp. It may take some time before you notice any significant growth in the population. However, with proper care and tank maintenance, you can enjoy the rewarding experience of breeding ghost shrimp!


Caring for ghost shrimp can be a fun and rewarding experience, as long as you follow the guidelines outlined in this complete guide. With the proper supplies, tank setup, and attention to their dietary and care needs, your ghost shrimp will thrive in your aquarium. We encourage you to leave a comment below and share your thoughts or experiences with ghost shrimp care.

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