Blue bolt shrimp are stunning aquatic creatures that many people want to own. But what they don’t realize is these pets are surprisingly finicky when it comes to their tank requirements!
This guide will cover everything you need to know about blue bolt shrimp care, so you can see these critters thrive in your freshwater aquarium.
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The blue bolt shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis) is a gorgeous invert many aquarists dream of having in their tank. They’re beloved aquarium additions, but their somewhat higher price tag and unique care requirements can make them a challenge to keep healthy.
These shrimps are known for their vibrant coloration. While many consider them a distinct species, blue bolts are a mutation of the Taiwan bee shrimp. The exact origins of these colorful shrimp are unclear.
However, we know that seasoned breeders and aquarists worked hard to stabilize these invertebrates to make them a little more manageable for the average fish-keeper to raise.
Like other shrimp varieties, blue bolt shrimp come in a few different grades based on their color intensity. The most sought-after specimen has vibrant baby-blue coloration. The color is almost ultraviolet in the right lighting conditions, creating an eye-catching look you can’t ignore. These shrimp are considered “high-grade” and typically cost more.
Author Note: Lower grades have a mix of white and dark coloration. Some mid-grade shrimp may have spotting and a beautiful gradient that transitions the blue vibrancy into a crisp white. The lowest quality shrimp have more white and patchy blue spots.
If you’re a collector, high-grade shrimp is the way to go. But blue bolts are beautiful nonetheless. They’re a beautiful invert to have in your tank with or without white coloration.
Unfortunately, the lifespan of a blue bolt shrimp isn’t the longest. Most will only live one to two years if they’re lucky.
Of course, you can’t guarantee something like life expectancy. Many variables come into play, and for a somewhat sensitive species like this, you have to work harder to reach the higher end of the lifespan range. Low-quality living conditions, a lackluster diet, and a poor setup could end this shrimp’s life prematurely.
Blue bolts belong to the dwarf category of freshwater shrimp. They are tiny, and most stores sell them measuring only half an inch long. The invertebrates will continue to grow, but not by much.
A fully mature blue bolt shrimp will reach head-to-tail lengths of only 1.25 inches. These creatures are small, but you can keep many of them in one tank. Naturally social, these shrimp thrive in larger groups.
Blue Bolt Shrimp Care
Blue bolt shrimp care isn’t easy. Despite their popularity, many inexperienced aquarists have trouble keeping these shrimp alive due to their specific habitat requirements and care needs.
It can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Follow these care guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully raising blue bolt shrimp.
As a dwarf shrimp species, blue bolts don’t need a huge aquarium. A small group can do just fine in a tank with only five gallons.
However, most fish-keepers recommend starting with a 10-gallon tank to be on the safe side. A standard 10-gallon aquarium is easier to maintain, provides ample room for the shrimp to flourish, and gives you more leeway in designing the enclosed habitat.
Set up your tank long before you purchase your shrimp. You want to give the habitat time to cycle through. A more established tank is more manageable for the shrimp to adapt, decreasing the chance of death shortly after introduction.
Blue bolts have specific water parameters. They require relatively stable pH levels. While swings are normal throughout the day, it’s wise to use filtration with an active substrate to keep levels as steady as possible.
Hardness is also an issue. Water that’s too hard can make it difficult for the shrimp to molt as they grow. Here are a few basic water parameters to stick to while establishing this new underwater environment.
- Water temperature: 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit
- pH level: 5.5 to 6.5
- Water hardness: 0 -1 KH (Aim for close to zero)
What To Put In Their Tank
Don’t let their small size and simple nature fool you. Blue bolt shrimp need a well-designed habitat like any other aquarium creature!
Start with a high-quality active substrate. Also known as buffering substrate, this material is more expensive than typical sand or pebbles. But, the active components help lower the pH balance and provide stability. Plus, the substrate material can benefit live plants.
Speaking of plants, blue bolt shrimp love them! Anything that accumulates biofilm is a big plus. Plants also enrich the water, a boon for sensitive inverts like these.
There are no specific plant cultivars you must get. However, blue bolt shrimp do best with fine-leaf plants that they can move through without much hassle. Good examples include:
- Water fern
- Water wisteria
- Java Moss
For decor, consider adding driftwood and rocks. Again, these materials gather valuable biofilm. They also serve as hiding spots for the shrimp.
Invest in a high-quality sponge filtration system to ensure the water conditions stay stable. The filter should not have over-the-top suction, but its output can provide some movement. These shrimp are native to streams, so extra oxygenation is beneficial.
Common Possible Diseases
The most common health concern for blue bolt shrimp is high ammonia levels. Ammonia and nitrates accumulate in the water due to fish and invertebrate waste. As those harmful contaminants rise, your shrimp can experience extreme stress.
That could eventually lead to chemical burns on the body and eventual death. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to kill these shrimp. They’re susceptible to ammonia spikes.
For this reason, you must have a high-quality filtration system and check water parameters regularly. Many aquarists also suggest more frequent water changes if you want to practice optimal care. Weekly changes can keep ammonia and nitrates at bay.
Food & Diet
Blue bolts are natural-born scavengers. They spend their days looking for algae and biofilm.
The good news is that you probably won’t need to feed these shrimp if you have a well-established tank. The algae and biofilm supply will be enough. That’s especially true if you have plants in the aquarium.
If you need to provide extra sustenance, you can offer up algae wafers, Indian almond leaves, and even blanched green vegetables like Romaine lettuce, zucchini, and spinach.
Author Note: Once-a-day feeding is all you need. However, monitor the shrimp to ensure that feeding is necessary at all. Providing too much food could hamper the quality of the water and put your shrimp’s health at risk.
Blue Bolt Shrimp Tank Mates
The best tank mates for blue bolts are other similarly sized shrimp species that prefer the same acidic, low-hardness environment. Other peaceful inverts can keep the tank aggression-free while giving you more control over the bioload.
Some aquarists see success pairing blue bolts with small fish like neon tetras. However, there are many risks to that. Dwarf shrimp are often the target of hungry fish!
Keeping blue bolts in an invert-only tank will eliminate that worry. Plus, it’ll make maintaining bioload and subsequent ammonia and nitrate levels easy.
Some good tank mate options for the blue bolt shrimp include:
- Bee shrimp
- Bamboo shrimp
- Crystal shrimp
- Japanese trapdoor snail
- Malaysian trumpet snail
- Ramshorn snail
Intentional blue bolt shrimp breeding isn’t easy, but many shrimp will breed on their own if conditions are just right. Keep your inverts well-fed, and it’s only a matter of time before females start to swell up with eggs.
When that happens, you can move the shrimp to a dedicated spawning tank. However, that might not be necessary. Blue bolts are naturally social but lack social structures and domineering roles. They’re a pretty peaceful bunch!
Females carry eggs for up to five weeks as they incubate under their tails. Eventually, she releases upwards of 40 shrimplets, expanding the group.
Keep in mind that blue bolts can crossbreed with other Caridina shrimp species. If that occurs, the babies may not have that intense blue coloration.
As you can see, there’s a little more to blue bolt shrimp care than meets the eye. However, it’s nothing to be afraid of if you’re willing to do the work!
If you have any thoughts or questions about the information in this guide, let us know. We’re always happy to help!