Caring For Ghost Shrimp – Food, Lifespan, Habitat

The Ghost Shrimp (also known as Glass Shrimp) is a popular freshwater aquarium shrimp. It is easy to care for and peaceful, so it does well in community aquariums. Ghost shrimp are always available for sale. You can find them at your local pet store and also at the larger chain stores. At the pet shop, they are kept in a small tank with other ghost shrimp. The small shrimp tank often has a sponge filter or an air stone that makes bubbles.

Ghost shrimp are small and cheap. You can buy them for other fish, like cichlids, to eat. But ghost shrimp are not only food- they are fantastic aquarium pets! They are good aquarium cleaners. You’ll have fun watching them race around the aquarium in search of scraps of food. Ghost shrimp are easier to see when kept in an aquarium with black gravel or substrate. Make sure that the background is also black, so they’re easier to see.

Ghost Shrimp Facts & Overview

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Clear
Lifespan:1 Year
Minimum Tank Size:5-10 Gallons
Tank Set-Up:Tropical Freshwater: Caves and Plants
Compatibility:Small Peaceful Fish
Ghost Shrimp Overview

Ghost Shrimp Photo Gallery

Ghost Shrimp Appearance

Ghost shrimp are very transparent so that they can hide from other animals in the water. But, their translucent bodies make them famous because you can see how they digest food in their bodies. It is interesting to watch them eat!

Female ghost shrimp are larger than males. Both sexes have two pairs of antenna, one long and one short. Shrimp use their antennae as a sensory organ. They use their antennae to feel and detect chemical changes in the water.
Ghost shrimp have a rostrum, a beak-like extension between the eyes and in front of the carapace. The carapace is the hard outer shell that protects the shrimp’s vulnerable parts.

There are six abdominal signals behind the carapace and pairs of pleopods, which the shrimp use for swimming. The sixth abdominal segment connects to the tail. In the middle, there is the telson, the final part. Under the telson are four more segments that embody the uropod, forming the iconic tail fan.

Ghost Shrimp Behavior

Ghost shrimp care is not complex. They are very active and hungry, always looking for food to eat. These shrimp are happiest in a tank that is not too clean. Ghost shrimp eat little bits of food that other animals do not want. They search the gravel or rocks for this, and they are good aquarium cleaners, almost as good as Amano shrimp and Nerites snails. Ghost shrimp are smaller than other invertebrates. They eat tiny things like little bits of food, but they always pick what is near them.

Ghost Shrimp Size

Ghost shrimps are tiny. Most mature ghost shrimps are only 1.5 inches in length. The females are a tad bit bigger than the males. They are thin and have a tiny hump on their tail.

Palaemonetes paludosus
(Glass Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Grass Shrimp)
Palaemonetes paludosus
(Glass Shrimp)

Ghost Shrimp Lifespan

Ghost shrimp do not live for very long. They usually live for a few days to one year. Their purpose shortens their lifespan. As feeders, large fish eat the tiny shrimp as soon as you add them to the aquarium. Tank conditions also affect how long they live.

Ghost shrimp can die within a few days after you put them in a new aquarium. There’s no real consensus on why they die. But, one can assume that some die due to not acclimating to their new environment. And others die due to stress during transport. So, always expect that a few of your shrimp will die no matter how well kept your aquarium is.

Ghost Shrimp Molting

It’s not clear how often ghost shrimp molt. But, as shrimps eat and grow, they shed their shells and form new ones. You may see empty shells in the aquarium from time to time. But, as long as you can verify that all your shrimp are well, it’s normal.

As the shrimp molt, they tend to be vulnerable and will need to hide. Adding aquarium decorations or live aquarium plants can give them places to hide. There’s also no need to remove the shed shell right away. Other shrimp will eat the molted shell. If three days pass and the shell is still not eaten, you can remove it.

Tank Size For Ghost Shrimp

You can keep ghost shrimp in tanks that are 5-gallons or 10-gallons. For smaller aquariums, do not overpopulated and be mindful of the water volume. Although ghost shrimp are small, they add to the bio-load of the aquarium. So, adding too many to a small tank can negatively affect water quality. With small tanks, adding too many shrimp can lead to aggression. If you want to house lots of shrimp, use a bigger tank.

Ghost Shrimp Water Parameters

Ghost shrimp can live in tropical water conditions. Water temperature between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable. But, there is some leeway on temperature. Ghost shrimp can survive in temperatures as high as 80°F. But, higher temps cause molting issues and raise the risk of bacterial infection.

The pH level should be between 7.0 and 8.0. Be sure to keep ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates levels in check. Avoid copper at all costs. Copper is fatal to freshwater aquarium shrimp.

Ideal water conditions for ghost shrimp:

  • Ammonia and Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm
  • Temp: 65°-75°F (18.3°-23.8°C)
  • GH: 3-10 dGH (50-166.7 ppm)
  • KH: 3-15 dKH (53.6-268 ppm)
  • pH: 7.0-8.0

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

Ghost shrimp can eat most food. For instance, they eat a variety of algae, dead plant matter, and detritus. Shrimp also eat algae wafers, fish flakes, and shrimp pellets. They love to feed on algae and biofilm that grow in the aquarium. Most of the time, they scuttle through the substrate in search of food.

Ghost shrimp will also eat dead tank mates like fish and other shrimp. But, do not leave dead animals in the tank as that spikes ammonia levels.

Here are some foods that you use to feed ghost shrimp:

  • Flake food
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Algae
  • Blanched vegetables.
  • Algae wafers
  • Blood worms
  • Leaves
  • Spirulina

What Are Ghost Shrimp Used For?

The primary use of ghost shrimp is as live food for large aquarium fish like Jack Dempseys. You can also use ghost shrimp as cleaners for planted aquariums.

Some fish-keepers even keep ghost shrimps as pets. They are charming to look at when placed against contrasting elements in the tank. These shrimp are also lively and always on the move.

Rasing Glass Shrimp To Feed Fish

When raising glass shrimp as feeders for other fish, a simple tank is all you need. Use an air stone and air pump to create air bubbles to keep the water flowing. There’s no need for plants or substrate. And, don’t forget to buy a net so you can scoop them out and transfer them to the main tank to feed your fish.

If you want to keep the water clear and clean, use a small sponge filter. You also need to use a filter if you plan to keep the shrimp for more extended periods. You can buy shrimp and shrimp supplies online.

Do Ghost Shrimp Clean Tanks?

Ghost shrimp clean aquariums by eating uneaten food and cleaning up algae. Because they are always active, they usually graze on algae and scavenge for food all day.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

Ghost shrimp can live in a tank with other peaceful animals like danios, zebra loaches, Otocinclus, and other algae eaters. Other shrimps are also good tank mates: cherry shrimp, bamboo shrimp, and vampire shrimp.

Fish that can live with ghost shrimp:

There are reports of ghost shrimp attacking and killing cherry shrimp (see references below). So, you might not want to introduce cherry shrimp in the same tank. Lastly, please do not keep them with goldfish, cichlids (like angelfish), crayfish, or other aggressive fish.

Ghost Shrimp Breeding And Reproduction

If ghost shrimp are kept in a healthy environment with no predators and little stress, they are generally easy to breed. It is one reason why they are so commonly used as feeder fish. Ghost shrimp are easy to breed so long as they are in a healthy and stress-free habitat with no predators. But, you do need to have a breeding tank for successful reproduction.

Make sure that there are males and females in the main thank. Females grow much larger than males and have a green saddle once they mature. Female ghost shrimp tend to produce eggs every few weeks. You can tell that a female has eggs by the 20-30 green dots attached to her legs. Wait a few days to give the males a chance to fertilize the eggs.

Move all berried female shrimp to the breeder tank before the eggs hatch. When the eggs do hatch in the breeder tank, move the female back to the community tank, or she may eat her young. The whole process takes about three weeks.
Using a sponge filter in the breeder tank is best so that the baby shrimp don’t get sucked into the equipment. A thin layer of sediment is enough to keep the young happy. A few plants here and there to provide food and extra hiding places go a long way as well.

Along with plant debris and any algae in the tank, you should feed the larvae tiny amounts of fine particle food because they have small mouths. Once the baby shrimp grow legs, you can provide them the same food as you do adults. It takes about five weeks for the shrimp to mature. Once they are mature, you can move them to the main tank.

Final Thoughts

Ghost shrimp are a good choice for your aquarium. They are small and easy to breed. Prices vary, but you can usually buy them for around $1-$3 each. In exchange for a bit of effort to care for your ghost shrimp, you get some of the best pet cleaners for your aquarium.

These shrimp have a peculiarly shaped body and almost no coloration. The shrimp are constantly moving around, so there is always something to look at (when you can see them). Ghost shrimp aren’t ideal for a large tank with big fish. But, they are great additions to a tropical community of small, non-aggressive fish.