Ghost Shrimp Care Guide: Diet, Breeding and Tank Mates

The Ghost Shrimp, also famous as Glass Shrimp, belongs to the group of crustaceans. This freshwater ghost shrimp is quite popular among the aquarists, whether he is experienced or naïve.

The ghost shrimp is affordable, easy to care, and works as an efficient tank cleaner. They can only live up to one year. You can keep it in a peaceful community aquarium with small fishes or feed it to big fishes as well.

If you want to know more about them, keep reading till the end.


Category Rating
Care Level Easy
Family Palaemonidae
Compatibility Small Peaceful Fish
Lifespan 1 Year
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Color Form Clear
Minimum Tank Size 5-10 Gallons
Size 1.5”
Tank Set-Up Tropical freshwater, caves, and plants

 Ghost Shrimp Overview

Ghost shrimp or glass shrimp

Ghost shrimp is a native of North America, which was first discovered in 1850. Since then, it is famous among aquarists. The Palaemonetes family includes a variety of Ghost Shrimp species. All of them are different from each other but are known by a common name of Ghost Shrimp.

They are easily available around the globe, and most of them are found on the farms. They can be kept as a feeder fish to big fishes or to supply to aquarium owners. They are also used as a bait by the fishermen, but the wild ones can act as pests.

Ghost shrimp are always active and busy in scavenging. They will make the tank look clean by keeping the algae level down and clearing up the uneaten food from the tank.

The Ghost shrimp cannot function properly in the group. So, get a single shrimp to get the full result from them. The aquarium fish and feeder fish are not treated equally in the farm. So, always check whether the Shrimp is bred as feeder or for aquarium. The life expectancy of feeder fish is less than that of aquarium fish. 

Ghost Shrimp Appearance

Ghost or glass shrimp body parts

Ghost shrimp has a unique transparent body which helps them to hide from predators. The processed food, in the form of dots on their back, is the only thing that is visible clearly. This brings beauty and uniqueness to the aquarium. The color of dots differs from species to species.

The size of the female Shrimp is larger than the male ones, and they can grow up to the size of 1.5 inches only. Ghost Shrimp has two pairs of sensory organs in the form of antennae. One of these antennae is longer than the other. These antennae can help Shrimps detect chemicals or food in the tank. This is all we know about their use.

The shrimps have a hard shell to protect their soft body parts. It is called the carapace. In front of the carapace, there is a beak-like extension, called Rostrum.

In the abdominal part of the body, the Shrimp has six segments, and below these segments lie a pair of pleopods (swimming limbs). The sixth segment gets connected to the tail. The final part of the tail is called a telson that carries pairs of uropod fanning either side of it. 

Ghost Shrimp Lifespan and Molting

How long do ghost shrimp live?

The lifespan of the Ghost or Glass Shrimp depends on the place of origin and their breeding. Still, their average life span is considered around a year. These Shrimps are easy to breed and inexpensive.

They also make a great feeder fish, and many bred them for the larger fishes in the aquarium. As they are inexpensive and easy to breed, the feeder fish are kept in the tank with poor filtration and high densities.

It results in their early death and an increase in their mortality rate. If they are bred in poor conditions, keeping them in the new tank with healthy conditions won’t affect their health. They are still likely to die within a few days.

Although their life span is short, yet they grow rapidly, and as a result, they molt their shell quite frequently. The frequency of molting depends on how much they eat and how fast they grow.

The Shrimp becomes vulnerable as they shed their shell and can get hurt from the behaviors of other fishes. To avoid this situation, make sure there are enough plants and crevices for the Shrimp to hide till their new shell hardens.

The discarded shell looks like a dead shrimp lying on the bottom of the tank. But you can easily identify it because of the absence of colored dots on the body. Other shrimps can feed on this discarded shell, so don’t remove it immediately after the Shrimp sheds it.

Ghost Shrimp Care and Tank Requirements

It is important to make the conditions of the aquarium suitable for the species you are putting into it. If we talk about the origin of the Shrimp it is usually found living in the lakes or rivers with flowing water, fine sediment, and lots of places to hide.

How to take care of ghost shrimp?

The tank size of 5 gallons is more than enough, given their smaller size. It is safe to keep 3 or 4 shrimps per gallon, and as a beginner, you should start with a small number only. The capacity can vary depending upon the number of other fish species in the aquarium.

To make the tank conditions ideal for the shrimps, make sure you put as many plants and crevices as possible. The plants should be live, and you can choose the plant between Cabomba, Hornwort, and Java Moss.

Also, make sure these plants are easy to maintain as their debris can become an additional food source for the Ghost Shrimp. The hardy plant will be able to take any nibbling from the shrimps and also help them tidying up the place.

These plants and crevices not only enhance the beauty of the tank but also makes a great place for the shrimps to hide. They can get harassed during the molting period.

These bottom dwellers spend most of their time on the sediment. So, it is important to choose sand or fine quality gravels to reduce the chance of damaging their sensitive antennae. The fine quality gravels also help to sediment food on the surface and prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the tank.

Conditions Parameters
Set up Tropical
Water Temperature 65 to 85oF
Water pH 7.0 to 8.0 (slightly hard)
Nitrate level 5 to 10 ppm

The Ghost Shrimp can survive most of the water conditions, but increasing water temperature can cause stress in them. For their better growth and keeping them active, make sure the conditions are consistent, and there is a flow in water, as well. The air pump or filter outlet can easily generate the flow.

The Glass Shrimp can help keep the tank look tidy, but still, you have to change the water. The dirty tank and filters can increase the level of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the tank. These chemicals are harmful to the fish, so make sure the level of these toxins is low. Avoid overfeeding and overstocking as well.

Nitrate is less toxic, and regular water change will help in keeping the level low. If you are keeping the Ghost Shrimp as a feeder fish, then you can keep it in a simple tank like the breeding tank. Make sure the water is moving and changing.

Ghost Shrimp Diet and Feeding

Keeping and feeding Ghost Shrimp is easy. Do shrimp clean tanks? Yes, they mostly feed on the plant detritus, algae, and left-over food from the other fishes. It makes them keep the tank clean.

What do ghost shrimp eat?

They are active eaters and will most likely consume everything you feed them. As a supplement, you can also add algae wafers, flakes, and pellets in their diet.

Feeding pellets on the surface of the water and watching the Shrimp come up to fetch it can be entertaining to watch. But, with the middle swimmers, there is a possibility they won’t get any. So, if you have a tall tank, make sure to sink the algae pellets for the shrimps.

One algae pellet is more than enough for the tank full of shrimps. But if you increase the quantity, the risk of overfeeding will increase as well.

With the food mentioned above, adding calcium supplements will help in the better growth of their shell.

Many medicines contain Copper, which is toxic for shrimps and should not be introduced in the tank at any cost. Always check the ingredients of medicine before adding it into the tank.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Ghost Shrimps are small, non-aggressive species. But the same cannot be said about other tropical fishes. If you have big fish in the tank, then adding shrimps to it is like feeding them. So, to keep variety in the tank, make sure other fishes are small and non-aggressive like them.

The following fishes are compatible with the Ghost Shrimps.

  • Danios
  • Characins, they may be Tetras and Hatchet fish
  •  Corydoras genus, a kind of small catfish
  • Zebra and Kuhli Loaches, they are peaceful
  • Cherry Barb, these are small barbs

Apart from the fishes, you can also add other species of Shrimp who share the same temperament as Ghost Shrimp. Bamboo shrimp, Amano shrimp, Vampire shrimp, Cherry shrimp are a few of them. You can also add snails to add variety and attractiveness to the tank.

The fish that has a big enough mouth to fit Ghost shrimp should be avoided. That’s the first and golden rule. Secondly, avoid the fish species that are known for their aggressive temperament. Betta is one of the species of fish that comes in this category. So, never put the Ghost shrimp and Betta together.

Ghost shrimp tank mates

Ghost Shrimp Breeding

The Ghost shrimps are easy to breed as long as they are in a healthy environment and away from aggressive fish. This quality makes them good feeder fish, as well.

How to Breed Ghost Shrimp?

For breeding, you will need a male and female and a separate breeding tank. Once the glass shrimps mature, it is easy to identify males and females. The females are bigger than the males and grow a green saddle underneath their body as they mature.

For breeder tanks, you can set it up like the main tank but with minimal features. The bottom layer of the fish tank can be thin, and there is no need for a lot of hiding places as well. You can put a few plants for the baby shrimps to feed on them. Also, use the sponge filter instead of the regular one to avoid the young shrimps getting sucked into the equipment.

The females (pregnant ghost shrimp) produce approx. 20-30 eggs every few weeks. These eggs look like green dots attached to their legs. After a few days, the males can fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs go into the belly of the female Shrimp. This is the time to separate the female Shrimp from the tank.

There is less possibility of the survival of the young shrimps in the community tank. They can become food for the other fishes.

The eggs take around three weeks to hatch. Once they are done, move the female Shrimp back to the main tank; otherwise, the mother will end up eating her babies.

They can feed on algae and plant debris in the tank with their smallmouth, but if you are adding a supplement, make sure to put small particles of food. You can feed them like adults once their legs are visible. Still, it will take five weeks for them to be full-grown adults. After that, they can be moved back to the main tank.

Is Keeping Ghost Shrimp Simple for You?

Well, there are many benefits of having Ghost or Glass Shrimps in your aquarium. They are inexpensive, and you can easily get a Ghost Shrimp for yourself in the price range of $1 to $3. They are small, easy to breed, and even easy to maintain, so you won’t have to spend a fortune to feed them. In contrast, you will get an excellent tank cleaner at a low price.

Ghost shrimp will add variety and attractiveness from their looks. Also, their active search for food, whether fetching it from the top or collecting from the bottom, can keep one entertained and engaged with them. They aren’t ideal for the tropical tank with the big fishes, but they are perfect for the non-aggressive and small community tank.

Do you have Ghost Shrimps, or planning to have one? What are the qualities of the shrimps that you liked the most? If we missed something, let us know in the comment sections below.