Freshwater aquarium shrimp are some of the most overlooked critters to include in your tank. We understand why everyone gravitates toward fish, but these little animals have a lot to offer as well!

Shrimp offer a unique look to your tank, are very low-maintenance, and many will even help keep it clean over time. In short, there are a lot of benefits you get when you include some in your aquarium.

But first, you have to choose which ones you like.

You see, there are many different types of freshwater shrimp to choose from. These creatures come in all shapes, colors, and sizes!

This list includes all of the best shrimp for freshwater aquariums, so you can quickly pick your favorites. Trust us, you’ll be ready to make a purchase by the time you’ve finished reading!

1. Ghost Shrimp

While Ghost Shrimp are often used as a food source for larger predatory fish, these critters make great pets too! Also known as Glass Shrimp, the entire body of the invertebrate is transparent.

A close up image of a Ghost Shrimp

This physical characteristic is used as a defense mechanism in the wild. In captivity, it offers a unique look that complements any aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp are active creatures that will spend their day scavenging the tank for food. They eat algae around the clock. When kept in larger groups, the shrimp can make a noticeable difference in the overall cleanliness of the tank.

The inverts do best in a natural environment filled with plants, rocks, and driftwood. These decorative items will develop a nice film of algae that the shrimp can feed on. Plus, they provide shelter from fish that might view them as food!

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

2. Bamboo Shrimp

Native to Southeast Asia, the Bamboo Shrimp is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium shrimp you can find. They’re natural filter feeders. This means that they pull microalgae and tiny organisms from the water around them.

Bamboo Shrimp climbing on a plant

They don’t actively eat algae like some types of shrimp species do. So, don’t expect them to keep your tank clean.

Most aquarists raise them because of their beauty. There are a few different variants out there. However, most are covered in shades of brown. Horizontal bands of yellow and tan are pretty common. More exotic varieties may take on colors of bright red!

No matter what the shrimp looks like, this species is fun to watch. They’re quite active and will continually move to new spots as they feed.

One interesting thing about the Bamboo Shrimp is that it molts every 45 to 65 days! When this happens, it will leave behind a near-pristine of its former self.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons

3. Blue Velvet Shrimp

Known for their vibrancy, the Blue Velvet Shrimp makes a beautiful addition to tanks big and small. As their name would imply, these inverts are completely blue! The exact shade may vary from specimen to specimen, but most are bright enough to spot straight away.

One Blue Velvet Shrimp climbing up a plant

Like other species, Blue Velvet Shrimp prefer environments with dense vegetation and natural hiding spots. Because they are so brightly colored, the shrimp are easy targets.

They do fine with other freshwater shrimp species as tank mates. But, many fish will mistake them for food. To keep the shrimp alive, you need to pair them with passive species that stay out of their way.

Blue Velvet Shrimp are efficient algae eaters. Most will spend their day snacking on algae that grow on decor and plants.

  • Size: 1.5 to 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 to 10 gallons

4. Cherry Shrimp

Here’s another wildly popular aquarium shrimp that’s worth checking out. The Cherry Shrimp is one of the best algae eaters that can help to keep your aquarium in good shape.

Cherry Shrimp exploring a freshwater aquarium

Naturally found in Taiwan, these shrimp have been in the aquarium trade for several decades. They’re pretty easy to breed in captivity, leading to healthy populations around the world.

The Cherry Shrimp certainly lives up to its name when it comes to appearance. They’re covered in bright red.

Interestingly enough, there are a few different color grades available. The highest grade, which is also the priciest, is covered from head to tail in red. Meanwhile, lower-grade specimens may feature red spots with a transparent base.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

5. Indian Whisker Shrimp

Indian Whisker Shrimp are a unique type of aquarium shrimp that can exhibit some aggressive tendencies. These shrimp can easily overpower more passive invertebrates. They may even kill larger fish!

Don’t let their aggressiveness turn you off. The shrimp are quite beautiful. They are transparent like Ghost Shrimp. But, they are a bit bigger and have long feelers that look like whiskers!

Natural bottom-dwellers, the Indian Whisker Shrimp will spend most of its time scavenging for food. It eats leftover fish food, helping to get rid of remnants that would affect water quality.

These shrimp are not algae eaters. So, you have to provide supplemental food beyond scaps. They do well on commercial shrimp foods. Sinking varieties are best. The shrimp can also eat vegetables like cucumbers or spinach.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

6. Amano Shrimp

When a large group of Amano Shrimp are introduced to an aquarium, they can eat large quantities of algae without making the water murky. For that reason, these inverts have become a popular staple in the aquarium hobby.

One Amano Shrimp in a freshwater tank

It helps that they’re quite beautiful, too! The shrimp are usually gray and transparent. Depending on the lighting, they may take on a greenish tint. Dark-colored spots run along the length of the body.

In a heavily planted tank, the coloration of the shrimp makes them masters of camouflage. The creatures are naturally passive and will use those plants to hide out anytime they’re feeling threatened.

In addition to algae, Amano Shrimp like varied diets. You can provide commercial shrimp foods or blanched vegetables as snacks.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

7. Pinto Shrimp

Covered in shades of dark black and pure white, the Pinto Shrimp is a standout species. They’re not great for those who don’t have a ton of experience caring for shrimp, though.

Pinto Shrimp can be sensitive to changes in water quality. They need stable conditions to truly thrive. The shrimp do best in temperatures between 62 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit. pH levels should stay somewhere in the range of 5.8 and 7.4.

The main diet staple of the Pinto Shrimp is algae biofilm. You can watch the shrimp eating algae off of decorations. Don’t clean your tank too intensely, as it will get rid of some of that natural food.

You can also provide supplemental feedings of commercial foods and leaf litter.

  • Size: 0.75 to 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons

8. Panda Shrimp

It’s not hard to see why this species got its name. The Panda Shrimp is covered in thick bands of alternating black and white. The color combination is quite stunning and stands out well in a natural tank setup.

Speaking of which, these aquarium shrimp need plenty of places to hide. This means filling the tank with plants, caves, and other decorations that the shrimp can use for shelter.

Panda Shrimp can be a bit difficult to take care of. Not only do they require stable water conditions, but these invertebrates are fragile. They’re virtually defenseless and their color pattern often attracts hungry fish.

For these reasons, many aquarists do not keep these shrimp with fish. Though, they do fine with other Panda Shrimp and some snails. You can easily create an interesting tank with those limitations.

  • Size: 1.2 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 to 10 gallons

9. Blue Bolt Shrimp

Next up, we have the eye-catching Blue Bolt Shrimp. This species has colors of white and blue. The tail is usually covered in white. Meanwhile, the head has patches of different shades of blue.

Blue Bolt Shrimp feeding at the bottom of the aquarium

The blue color and white color meet in the middle of the shrimp’s body to create a beautiful gradient.

Like most shrimp types, Blue Bolts have a few basics you need to cover. These include multiple hiding spots, dense vegetation, and some algae!

Blue Bolt Shrimp also require good filtration. They will not tolerate increased ammonia or nitrate levels. Use a standard filter with sponges to avoid injuring the shrimp.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 to 10 gallons

10. Vampire Shrimp

Found in Western Africa and South America, the Vampire Shrimp is a rare species with a lot to offer! They have longer lifespans than most shrimp, living up to five years in captivity.

Two Vampire Shrimp standing next to each other

The appearance of the shrimp is its most exciting feature. Coloration can vary quite a bit. You might see shrimp that are blue, gray, brown, or even pink. The shrimp often changes colors multiple times throughout the year, adding some unique variety to your tank.

The Vampire Shrimp also eats in a distinct way. They are filter feeders. If you look closely, you can see tiny hairs on its front appendages.

When they eat, the shrimp will wave their arms in the water to catch tiny microorganisms and algae. It looks like they’re waving at you!

  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons

11. Babaulti Shrimp

Hardy and easy to care for, Babaulti Shrimp are perfect for beginners. As long as you have a fully cycled tank that’s within their preferred parameters, you should have no problem helping these inverts thrive.

Babaultis can tolerate a nice range of temperatures. The water can be as cool as 64.5 degrees to as high as 82.5 degrees. Though, somewhere in the middle is best so that you have some wiggle room. As for pH levels, the shrimp do best when the water is pretty neutral.

The Babaulti Shrimp is a beautiful freshwater species. There are a few different color varieties in the trade. The most common is green. Many are also neutral brown.

Whatever their base color is, the shrimp have dark zebra stripes that run vertically along the entire body.

These shrimp are omnivores. For food, they will consume plant detritus and algae.

  • Size: 1 to 1.4 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

12. Blue Tiger Shrimp

Want a freshwater aquarium shrimp with a more foreboding look? Check out the Blue Tiger Shrimp.

A Blue Tiger Shrimp standing in a freshwater aquarium

This type of shrimp is aptly named for its coloration. The base color is dark blue. This color is accompanied by black vertical stripes that resemble that of a tiger’s. You may also find some subtle purple shading on the top of their shell.

The cool features don’t stop there! On their head, the shrimp have bright orange eyes and long feelers for scavenging.

Blue Tiger Shrimp aren’t the easiest to care for. They are inbred very often, resulting in sensitive specimens that don’t tolerate poor water conditions.

To keep them healthy, you must check on the water frequently. Use an efficient filtration system as well. Even small amounts of ammonia and nitrates can be lethal!

  • Size: 1 to 1.2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

13. Crystal Red Shrimp

Here’s a small freshwater shrimp that is a product of selective breeding. They were created from the Bee Shrimp. Oftentimes, you’ll see them marketed as Red Bee Shrimp.

One small Crystal Red Shrimp inside a freshwater aquarium

The Crystal Red Shrimp has beautiful patches of vibrant red and crisp white. Usually, the colors take the form of stripes. However, the color markings vary dramatically from specimen to specimen. This can be a good thing, as it makes identifying the shrimp much easier.

These invertebrates are very passive and will spend most of their time searching the tank for food. They’re omnivores, so they will eat anything that they can get their feelers on.

Because the shrimp are passive, they can be vulnerable to stronger tank mates. They don’t do well with aggressive shrimp or larger fish that could eat them.

  • Size: 0.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 to 10 gallons

14. Snowball Shrimp

Also known as the White Pearl Shrimp, Snowball Shrimp are a great option if you want to get into breeding. This species breeds very quickly and in large numbers. From spawning, it only takes as little as 30 days for the eggs to hatch.

The shrimp gets its name from the bright white eggs, which look like tiny snowballs! The color of the eggs is great for breeders, as it makes spotting them a cinch.

Snowball Shrimp look similar to Ghost Shrimp. But, there are some noticeable differences. The biggest is the level of transparency. Snowball Shrimp have a milky look. While you can still see their internal organs, you won’t be able to see finer details like you would with other see-through species.

  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

15. Blue Pearl Shrimp

Here’s a freshwater species that you might not have heard of before. Blue Pearl Shrimp are one of the newer additions to the trade.

Technically speaking, they’re a color variant of the Pearl Shrimp. These invertebrates were first developed in Germany. But, they’ve already captivated aquarists in the United States and beyond.

The semi-transparent body of the shrimp has a greenish-blue tint to it. This is offset by some random splashes of red here and there.

Blue Pearl Shrimp have healthy appetites for algae. When they are comfortable in their habitat, you can find the shrimp grazing on plants and decor throughout the day. They may also require supplemental feeding. In those cases, commercial shrimp food or sinking pellets work well.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

16. Grass Shrimp

Best in large groups, grass shrimp are wonderful little invertebrates that can support your entire aquarium. They are avid scavengers and constantly work to keep the tank clean. The shrimp can eat everything from plant detritus to phytoplankton.

Most of the time, you’ll see these shrimp grazing on plants and decorations at the bottom of the tank. However, they are avid swimmers that can use their legs to get to any part of the tank.

You do have to be a bit careful with these shrimp when it comes to tank mates. Because of their size, they are often targets of attack. Many aquarists use Grass Shrimp as food for predatory fish as well.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

17. Red Rili Shrimp

Red Rili Shrimp are a product of selective breeding. They were created from the ever-popular Red Cherry Shrimp. If you’re familiar with that species, the relationship with the Red Rili Shrimp is obvious.

A Red Rili Shrimp eating some pellets

They feature the same bright red coloration. Patches of red can cover the head, tail, and legs. The primary difference between Red Cherry Shrimp is the absence of white. instead of white, Red Rilis are transparent.

Overall, Red Rili Shrimp are pretty easy to take care of. They tolerate standard warm water temperatures and can do fine in a generous range of pH levels.

They’re easy to feed, too. The Red Rili Shrimp is an omnivore. So, they’ll eat any food that they can find in the tank.            

  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons

What Are Your Favorites?

There are so many great types of freshwater aquarium shrimp that it can be hard to pick your favorites. But we hope this list helped introduce you to some species that caught your eye!

We’ve been a huge fan of keeping shrimp for years. These little critters offer a number of benefits to your tank (and they’re surprisingly fun to watch).

If you have questions about another species of shrimp that we didn’t include on the list, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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