Fire Shrimp Care Guide: Size, Reef Safety, Diseases & Mates

Welcome to the wonderful world of red fire shrimp care! If you’re looking to add a splash of color and liveliness to your aquarium, these vibrant little crustaceans are the perfect choice. Known for their striking red coloration and engaging behavior, red fire shrimp make fantastic additions to freshwater tanks. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned aquarist, taking care of these delightful creatures is a breeze. With a little knowledge and some tender loving care, you’ll create a thriving habitat that showcases the beauty and charm of these captivating aquatic creatures.

So get ready to embark on an exciting journey into the world of red fire shrimp care, let’s begin! 

Species Summary

Saltwater Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius) are among the most popular invertebrates for aquarium enthusiasts due to their stunning color and fascinating cleaning behaviors. They’re naturally found in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean at depths of around 65 feet to 100 feet. Fire Shrimp are natives of places like Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Otherwise known as Blood Red Fire Shrimp or Cherry Red Shrimp, these charming creatures require very little care and have low aggression levels, making them perfectly compatible with various other saltwater fish. They grow only a few inches long but have long white antennae that make them look much longer.

Author Note: Fire shrimp are considered cleaner shrimp, so they’ll have no problem consuming parasites, leftover food and other unpleasant tank debris. They’ve even been found to eat the invasive Aiptasia, the tiny sea anemones that can target and kill other small tank fish. 

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Fire Shrimp are most active during the nighttime and will often choose to hide under a rock or ledge during the day. It’s possible to coax them out earlier by adjusting their feeding times, but they’re typically shy and peaceful crustaceans.

These shrimp do well in standard marine conditions. In the wild, this species lives closer to the equator, which makes it necessary to keep your tank water warm. While they’ll thrive in small tanks, it’s important never to add Fire Shrimp as an aquarium’s first inhabitants. New Tank Syndrome can have a disastrous effect on their health and further offset ammonia levels.


The typical adult Fire Shrimp has a deep red color that makes it one of the most vibrant invertebrates even when compared to the colorful coral reef. 

As a decapod crustacean, Fire Shrimp have 10 legs attached to their thorax. The first five swimming appendages are paddle-shaped while the sixth has a fan-shaped tail.

These shrimp often have several white dots decorating their shells. Their legs as well as their antennae are long and white. The sex of the Fire Shrimp can slightly change the shape of their belly and the length of their antennae. Females have curved undersides while males have straighter stomachs and longer antennae.

A fire shrimp swimming in a saltwater aquarium


In captivity and with the proper human care and tank maintenance, these shrimp can have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years. Out in the wild, a Fire Shrimp has an average lifespan of about 2 years. 

After they hatch, it takes upwards of two months for the Fire Shrimp to complete all six larval stages. Their nutrition and climate are vital to the speed of their growth.

Average Size

Fire Shrimp will grow to an average size of 2 inches. The size of your females will also fluctuate during the egg-laying process. After creating an egg saddle and molting, the female Fire Shrimp will keep her eggs on the lower part of her tail for about two weeks. 

Author Note: Every time these shrimp need to grow, they’ll shed their molted shells in the tank and eat them for nutrients. That’s like always carrying a backup full of snacks!

Red Fire Shrimp Care

Fire Shrimp will thrive in both small and large tank set-ups. Like other shrimps, they’re incredibly sensitive to metals like copper. It’s vital to fully cycle your tank before adding your shrimp to ensure the nitrate and ammonia levels are stable. 

While there can be a slight current, it should be gentle enough to allow the Fire Shrimp to glide along the tank’s bottom.

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a Fire Shrimp is 10 gallons (check our 4 Best 10-Gallon Saltwater Tanks). However, they’re often better suited to larger 30-gallon tanks that give them room to avoid other inhabitants. They need structures like caves, ledges and rocks where they can hide.

To ensure optimal care for more than one Fire Shrimp, it’s better to opt for a more expansive tank. Unless you’re attempting to breed your shrimp, it’s best to keep them separated to avoid aggressive interactions.

Water Parameters

Water temperature: 72°F to 78°F

pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4

Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH

Specific gravity: 1.023 to 1.025 sg

Tank Setup

As Fire Shrimp spend much of their time on the bottom of the tank, it’s helpful to include structures for them to climb. Live rocks, coral and logs will keep them entertained. The substrate should be fine-grained and soft to avoid damaging the shrimp’s antennae. 

Consider setting up a “cleaning station” for the shrimp where fish can swim up and be cleaned. The shrimp will consider this overhang or cave its territory. When a fish arrives, it will pick away any parasites, dead scales or grime from the fish’s skin.


Standard aquarium lighting is adequate for Fire Shrimp. They’re sensitive to bright lights and will often only look for food once it’s dark. Using dimmer tank lights can encourage this nocturnal species to be more active during the day.


Keep the dissolved organics level in your Fire Shrimp aquarium low by regularly filtering out waste and siphoning the substrate. Approximately 25% to 30% of the water should be regularly changed every two to four weeks. This timeframe can vary depending on your tank’s bioload. The more fish in the tank, the more often the water will need changing.

Author Note: Use a water conditioner to neutralize the chlorine before changing out the water. It’s also recommended to test the water conditions at least once a week to catch potential bacterial issues early.


The tank should be fully cycled and completely free of nitrite and ammonia before adding any Fire Shrimp. Invertebrates tend to be more sensitive to dissolved nitrogenous waste. Levels around 20 to 40 ppm are safe for most aquarium fish, but this amount of nitrates can be dangerous for Fire Shrimp.

Fire Shrimp are typically one of the hardier invertebrate species, but they can’t live in water with a high metal content. Medications that target parasitic invertebrates often contain excessive copper, which can be deadly. When dealing with a disease outbreak, treat the infected fish in a separate quarantine tank.

Are Red Fire Shrimps Reef-Safe?

Fire Shrimps are usually considered reef-safe with a few stipulations. They don’t often pick at common tank corals or anemones, unlike their popular Peppermint Shrimp cousins. However, Fire Shrimp have been found to occasionally nibble at stony corals and zoanthids.

To protect your reef tank, you should make sure your scavenger shrimp aren’t going hungry. If they’re not finding enough leftover bits, they’ll likely turn toward eating your prized coral.

Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

Ornamental species like Fire Shrimp aren’t susceptible to many diseases. They may accrue small leeches or whiteworms on their shells over time. These organisms haven’t been found to have any negative impact on their health. Your Fire Shrimp could become sick or diseased if infected fish are introduced to an overcrowded tank.

It’s vital to purchase your invertebrates from a reliable supplier. Regularly testing and cleaning your water will also dramatically lower your chances of bacterial issues.

Food & Diet

Fire Shrimp have a carnivorous diet and like eating meaty foods. In the wild, they’ll scavenge remains in the substrate or even pieces of dead vegetation. They love eating dead fish skin, scales and parasites. In a tank environment, they’ll clean up forgotten bits along the bottom or even floating particles.

While dried food flakes and pellets are convenient and affordable, they’re not very nutritious for Fire Shrimp. Frozen foods are a better alternative as they retain more of their nutrients. They’re sustained mostly by scavenging, so they don’t require a lot of food during mealtimes.

Author Note: These shrimps will quickly learn their feeding routine and will become more active when they expect to be fed. You may even find that your Fire Shrimps recognize you and will approach your hand when offering food.

Behavior & Temperament

This shy shrimp species will usually keep to itself. They stay hidden during the day and will only come out at night or in dim conditions to eat. Depending on your routine, these shrimp can even become fully nocturnal. If your shrimp are overfed, they’ll develop lazier habits.

Molting is a common behavior that occurs more frequently in younger shrimp. Be prepared to occasionally find discarded exoskeletons that look like dead shrimps. These crustaceans tend to stay hidden for longer after a recent molt but will come out to eat the shell. 

While you may be tempted to add iodine to assist the regrowth process, a healthy shrimp will have no problem growing a bigger and stronger shell by itself.

A lysmata debelius looking for food

Red Fire Shrimp Tank Mates

Fire Shrimp get along well with other fish and are especially helpful if you have species like the blue hippo tang, which are more susceptible to parasites. Most fish enjoy this cleaning service and will leave the Fire Shrimp alone. 

You may occasionally spot your shrimp waving its antennae from its station, indicating to nearby fish that it’s interested in cleaning them. Larger, predatory fish like groupers or lionfish can see them as a meal. 

Fire Shrimp are best paired with the fish below.

They’re also commonly antagonistic toward others of their kind as well as other cleaner shrimp species. If you own more than one, you should expect some shrimp-on-shrimp aggression.


Breeding your Fire Shrimp won’t be as big of a challenge as making sure the eggs survive until adulthood. The first step is to make sure your Fire Shrimp are tolerant of each other. Try introducing them into a tank at the same time for the best results. As Fire Shrimp, they’re hermaphroditic, so they have both female and male organs but aren’t able to self-fertilize.

These shrimp will mature as males and slowly develop female organs with time. One will act as a male to fertilize the other, their roles reversing when they molt. It’s easy to miss the mating event as it only lasts a brief second. Eventually, your shrimp will berry or begin carrying the eggs under the tail.

Fire Shrimp have a long planktonic phase, and it will take between two to three months for them to move out of the water column. In the meantime, the microscopic babies could be sucked up into the filter or preyed upon by their tank mates. Once you see your shrimp has berried, it’s best to place it in a secondary tank until it releases them.

Author Note: The temperature of your tank will affect how long it takes for the eggs to hatch, with a colder temperature prolonging hatching time. Provide planktonic foods like brine shrimp or green water algae to sustain the babies until they’re large enough to see.              


We hope you’ve found this care guide both informative and enjoyable. By now, you should have a good understanding of how to provide a comfortable and thriving environment for these captivating crustaceans.

We hope that this guide has inspired you to delve deeper into the fascinating world of aquarium keeping. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility that these amazing creatures bring to your life, and feel free to explore other aquatic wonders on your journey.

Remember, the key ingredient to being a successful aquarist is love and care. So dive in, have fun, and enjoy your time with your red fire shrimp companions!

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