Shrimps give life to a fish tank. They swim around, are eating on everything and they provide color.
To keep shrimps you need to have a lot of hiding places, have the right parameters and have them live with fish that will not hunt them down.
Shrimps could be hard to keep if kept in the wrong conditions. They are easy to stress and that will kill them. Here’s how you keep shrimps in your community fish tank together with fish.
There are several reasons to keep shrimps in a fish tank. I have even written an article covering every benefit to keep shrimps in a fish tank if you want to go deeper into why you should keep shrimps with your fish.
The main reason people are putting shrimps in a fish tank is that the shrimps are often very good algae eaters. You will find them sit anywhere and move their little legs to bring food into their mouths.
It also adds color to the fish tank if you have that kind of species. There are that occurs in nature on shrimps and there are colors that are man-made by breeding two different colored shrimps with each other to get vibrant colors. Most shrimps in nature have very dull colors to be able to hide most efficient though.
Wither way they add color and movement and also helps to keep the fish tank free from algae. The fish, plants, and snails provide movement in a fish tank too but since the shrimps are so small and good looking they are a very popular choice to put in the tank together with the fish.
The optimal environment for the shrimp
Shrimps are easy to stress and you should be careful and keep track of the water parameters when keeping fish.
pH is important with the shrimps. You might think they need a pH over 7 since they have a shell. A lot of shells, like on snails, need alkaline water but not the shrimps.
The optimal pH for most of the shrimps is 6,5-7,5. As you see, the pH needs to be fairly neutral or even a little acidic for the best conditions for the shrimp.
Another important thing when keeping shrimps is that they need the water parameters to be stable. With a lot of fluctuation, the shrimp will get stressed to death and it might wipe out your whole colony of shrimps!
Another thing that the shrimps’ needs are a well-planted tank. Since they are so small, they have a lot of big creatures swimming around you. How would you feel about having giant guys swimming around you whole day long? I imagine you would want to be able to hide. So do the shrimps! They need places to hide.
You could also do some safe spots for the shrimps by creating a pile of rocks. In that pile of rocks, the shrimp are able to hide and the fish are not able to get into the cracks and get the shrimps. It could be the smaller sized or bigger sized rocks you build these zones.
Even wood will make good hiding places for the shrimps.
In nature, the shrimps are hunted and they are professionals of hiding. Sometimes when the coast is clear they will come out to eat and then hide again.
One plant that is the favorite to keep with the shrimps is the Java Fern. The Java Fern will have micro bacteria growing on them and the shrimps are feasting on the bacteria on the fern. That brings us to the food to the shrimps…
What to feed them
Shrimps eat pretty much everything, just like snails do. Their main diet is algae but even fish food will be eaten.
You should, as with all of your fish, vary their diet. You don’t want to eat the same food every day.
Vary with food containing spirulina algae, microorganisms and even fish food for carnivores. If you think the shrimps are bad at cleaning the fish tank you could stop to feed them for a day and they will go eat the algae that are growing. The most important is to give your shrimp good quality food as you do with your fish, to read more about it I have written an article about how to find the best fish food.
They will eat vegetables when provided too. Vegetables are a very popular food for both fish and shrimps!
They will, exactly as you do, get the easiest food to get. That’s why we rather go to a restaurant and let others make the food than to make them ourselves. The shrimp will get the fish food falling down into their lap instead of going out and hunt for algae.
If you don’t provide them with the food they need to hunt for it themselves and then it’s algae that are their preferred food.
Type of shrimps
When deciding what type of shrimp to keep you should consider if the water condition is the right for that specific species of shrimp.
Different types of shrimps require different types of pH, KH and other water parameters. Be sure to read about the type of shrimp you are going to get before you buy it.
For example, is the red cherry shrimp requiring a pH of 7,0-7,8 while the Amano shrimp wants a pH of 6,0-7,0. Be sure to know what your specific type of shrimp want!
It’s also recommended to keep one type of shrimp in your fish tank. Shrimps breed and they might breed with different types of shrimps. That will make weak shrimps that’s probably not gonna survive. They will probably look bad too.
Go for one type of shrimp and get more of that type instead of buying a lot of different types. It might look nice at the beginning but when they start to breed it will probably look messy in your fish tank with too many types of shrimp at once.
To increase the chances of the shrimp to survive, you could introduce the shrimps before you introduce the fish to your tank. That way the shrimps will get established, finding their preferred hiding place and will not get hunted and stressed by the fish.
This goes for all types of shrimps. If you want to read more about some of the most common types of shrimps I have written a few rows in another article.
Fish not suitable for keeping with shrimp
Not all fish are suitable to keep together with shrimps. Bigger fish might eat the shrimps and are not suitable because of that. Dried shrimps are even a type of fish food you could give your fish.
Carnivores, which is fish in which the main diet is meat, is mainly not suitable but if the fish is small and the shrimp have a lot of places to hide it will usually go well.
Discus fish is not the most suitable tank mate for a shrimp. The shrimps are very small and the Discus will eat anything that fits in the mouth. A shrimp will fit very well into the mouth of a Discus and it will be eaten.
But it could work for you, probably not and that’s why I would not recommend keeping shrimp with Discus fish.
Another fish not suitable to keep with shrimps are Malawi cichlids. They want a fish tank that’s very sparse planted. In fact, most Malawi cichlids will un-root all your plants. And no plants equals no hiding spots for the shrimps and no hiding spots… equals stress and the risk of being eaten.
Another factor that makes Malawi cichlids unsuitable to keep together with shrimps the water parameters. A Malawi cichlid needs a pH of 7,5-8,5. That’s slight alkaline while most of the shrimps want a pH of around 7.
That’s something to be aware of, is the pH needed for the shrimps and for the fish. If it’s within the same range it’s okay. If it’s not within the same range, you have to choose. The shrimps or the fish.
And as with humans, fish have different personalities too. No “rule” is the perfect rule for every individual. There are Discus fish that you could keep with shrimps but that differs from individual to individual.
Most discus won’t be suitable to keep with shrimps, but not all.
You have probably seen or have that fish that’s evil and are bullying every other fish in the same tank. Even if it should be a calm and friendly species.
There are different personalities in the animal world too. You need to get a feeling of your fish if they are suitable to keep with shrimps. Some species will not be suitable since most of the individuals are going to have the personalities that are not suitable to shrimps.
When keeping shrimp in fish tank chances are you will get more shrimp in the tank after a while. It depends on the species of the shrimp. Some are easier to breed than others.
The Cherry Shrimp is easy to breed in a fish tank since they often need the parameters you find in a fish tank to breed, while the Amano Shrimp is much harder to breed in a fish tank since they need brackish water to be able to breed.
More correct, the Amano Shrimp could get fry in a freshwater fish tank but the babies won’t survive. They need brackish water to survive.
If you want to breed shrimps, you should have a specific tank just for breeding shrimps with the exact parameters needed for the specific breed you are breeding.
You should not expect the shrimps to breed, just don’t be surprised if they breed. That’s especially true with the species that are easy to breed in freshwater.
There is no problem keeping shrimps in a fish tank. I would even recommend it since they give life, color and are fun to look at. They are even a good cleaner, eating algae and rests from fish food making the water quality better.
Now you know how to keep your shrimp in your fish tank with the best circumstances and make the chances for your shrimp to survive increase.