Ghost Shrimp: Easy Care Guide for a Fascinating Aquarium Addition

Ghost shrimp, small and primarily clear in color, are interesting and low-maintenance creatures that can bring life and natural balance to your freshwater aquarium. Known for their transparency, they’ve earned the names “glass shrimp” and “ghost shrimp” and are a popular choice among aquarists.

As a member of the Palaemonetes family, these shrimp offer multiple benefits to your tank, including acting as efficient cleaners. Native to the southeast area of the United States, they’ve quickly captured the attention and admiration of freshwater tank enthusiasts worldwide.

As you dive into this aquatic world, you’ll soon discover the unique aspects of ghost shrimp care, from their feeding habits and breeding to the tank mates that best suit their needs. It won’t be long before you understand why these translucent shrimp are a favorite among aquarists.

Species Overview

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp, belong to the Palaemonetes family and are a small, freshwater species of shrimp. Their primarily transparent appearance is what earned them their unique names. Ghost shrimp are popular among aquarists due to their easy care requirements and their ability to keep tanks clean.

Property Information
Scientific name Palaemonetes paludosus
Common names Ghost shrimp, Glass shrimp
Distribution Southeast United States
Size Up to 4 inches
Lifespan 1-2 years
Diet Omnivore, detritus, algae
Temperament Peaceful
Minimum tank size 10 gallons
Temperature 65-80°F (18-27°C)
pH 7.0-8.0
Water hardness 3-15 dGH
Care level Easy
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water type Freshwater
Breeding Egg layers
Breeding difficulty Easy
Compatibility Peaceful community tanks, avoid aggressive tankmates

As a ghost shrimp owner, you’ll appreciate their peaceful nature and their compatibility with other non-aggressive tank mates. They are highly adaptable to a variety of water conditions, making them a great choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. So, enjoy their presence and let them work their magic on keeping your tank clean!

Ghost Shrimp Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Native to the southeast region of North America, ghost shrimp are a dwarf species of freshwater shrimp that call slow-moving rivers, ponds, and creeks their home. Adapting to a variety of aquatic environments, you’ll find these shrimp grazing on algae and debris in their natural habitat.

Size and Shape

As a relatively small species, ghost shrimp typically grow to about 1.5 inches in length. Their body features a carapace, which is a protective shell-like covering over their head and thorax. Due to their small size, they make a great addition to your freshwater aquarium without taking up too much space.

Color and Markings

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp, boast an almost entirely transparent body, giving them their unique appearance. Some individuals have a greenish tint that adds a subtle hint of color. Occasionally, you might also notice faint markings on these agile creatures as they swim and explore their surroundings.


Unfortunately, ghost shrimp have a relatively short lifespan of around one year. Factors such as water quality, temperature, and diet can impact their lifespan. Be prepared for the occasional molting process, as this is a natural part of a shrimp’s growth and development. Keep an eye on your ghost shrimp to ensure they’re healthy and thriving in your aquarium.

Diet and Feeding

Ghost shrimp are scavenger omnivores, happy to munch on almost anything in their tank. They’ll consume fish flakes, algae, shrimp food, blanched veggies, blood worms, spirulina, and even leaves. As a tank mate, ghost shrimp can easily share food with other fish as they’ll eagerly eat whatever reaches the bottom.

Using a large, glass feeding dish helps prevent food from getting lost in the substrate and can also reduce the chances of aggressive behavior among shrimp during feeding. Make sure to provide live feed, such as daphnia or brine shrimp, for a more balanced diet.

If the tank has plenty of plants, ghost shrimp can graze on them, allowing for longer periods between feedings. When kept alone, however, feed them every 1 to 2 days—removing uneaten food after four hours to maintain a clean environment.

When using ghost shrimp as food for larger fish, it’s essential to incorporate gut-loading techniques. By keeping the shrimp in a separate tank and offering them highly nutritious food, they become a beneficial and nutritional meal for bigger species.

Behavior and Temperament

Ghost shrimp are peaceful creatures that spend their time foraging at the bottom of your aquarium. As bottom feeders, they’re great at cleaning up leftover food or algae. You’ll often see them swimming gracefully, searching for food and exploring their surroundings.

Provide a variety of hiding spaces for your ghost shrimp to feel secure, and they’ll coexist happily with other peaceful tank mates. Stick to these guidelines, and you’ll be mesmerized by their unique habits as they become a valuable addition to your aquarium.

Care and Tank Requirements

Caring for ghost shrimp requires attention to some essential details regarding their tank and environment. In this section, we will cover key aspects, such as tank size, water parameters, tank setup and decorations, and filtration and aeration.

Tank Size

The appropriate tank size for ghost shrimp is important to ensure they have a healthy environment. A minimum of 10 gallons is recommended for a stable water condition. If you want to keep ghost shrimp in a community aquarium, consider the needs of other fish and add an extra 10 gallons for the shrimp.

Water Parameters

Ghost shrimps thrive in the right water conditions. Monitor and maintain the following parameters in their freshwater tank:

  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C), achieved with an aquarium heater.
  • pH: 7.0-8.0
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm
  • Nitrates: <20 ppm

Perform regular water changes and test the water parameters to ensure water quality remains optimal for your ghost shrimp.

Tank Setup and Decorations

To provide a comfortable and natural environment for ghost shrimp, consider the following elements when setting up their tank:

  • Substrate: Use sand or fine gravel to create a stable base for plants and offer shrimp a place to forage.
  • Plants: Include live aquatic plants, such as Java moss and Anubias, which help maintain water quality and provide hiding spots.
  • Driftwood and rocks: Add driftwood and rocks to simulate a natural habitat and offer additional hiding places.

Remember to avoid adding sharp decorations, as ghost shrimp are fragile and can be injured by them.

Filtration and Aeration

Good filtration and aeration are vital for maintaining water quality and oxygen levels in your ghost shrimp tank. When selecting a filter, consider a sponge filter or a filter with a low flow rate, since excessive current can stress your shrimp. Sponge filters also provide extra surfaces for beneficial bacteria that contribute to the cycling process in your tank.

To ensure proper oxygen levels, consider adding an air stone or an additional air pump to your setup. This will help keep the oxygen levels optimal and promote a thriving environment for your ghost shrimp.

Suitable Tank Mates

When it comes to finding suitable tank mates for your ghost shrimp, you should focus on selecting peaceful and small fish to ensure harmony in your tropical community aquarium. While there are various options to choose from, some common companion fish for ghost shrimp include:

  • Barbs
  • Goldfish
  • Tetras
  • Red cherry shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Freshwater snails
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Cory catfish

As an aquarist, it’s essential to avoid aggressive fish such as cichlids and Oscars, as they may harm your ghost shrimp. Also, steer clear of fish that could potentially eat them, as this would lead to a short and unhappy life for your shrimp.

There’s a possibility that ghost shrimp can coexist with betta fish; however, exercise caution when attempting this pairing. If you have a larger betta fish, it might attempt to eat the shrimp. Smaller betta fish may get along with ghost shrimp, but it’s best to introduce just a few shrimp initially to test compatibility. This testing will help you avoid potential losses and ensure a thriving environment for your ghost shrimp.

Ultimately, proper selection of tank mates is crucial for maintaining the well-being and survival of your ghost shrimp in your aquarium.


Breeding ghost shrimp can be challenging, especially in a home aquarium. To start, it’s essential to set up a separate breeding tank with a basic sponge filter to keep the vulnerable larvae from being sucked into the water purification system. Adding live plants or driftwood in the tank is highly encouraged as they provide food and hiding places for the hatchlings.

Keep an eye on your female ghost shrimp because when they are ready to breed, they become berried, meaning they form a collection of green eggs on the underside of their tail. During this time, the female releases pheromones into the water to attract males for fertilization. It’s crucial to spot berried females in the main tank and leave them there for a few days to ensure sufficient time for fertilization.

After a few days, transfer the berried female to the breeding tank for safety while you wait for the eggs to hatch. Remember that breeding ghost shrimp isn’t recommended for beginners due to the specific requirements and vulnerability of the young shrimp. If you do spot larvae in your main tank, consider installing fine sponge filters to cover power filter intakes to help protect the shrimp offspring. Good luck with your breeding efforts!

Common Diseases and Treatments

Ghost shrimp can be affected by diseases such as Vorticella and bacterial infections. You may encounter these problems while caring for your ghost shrimp.

Vorticella is a protozoan that can make the shrimp’s shell look white and moldy. It is usually acquired from algae and other sources. To treat Vorticella, you can perform water changes and use salt treatments. Thankfully, no medication is necessary for this common issue.

Keep an eye on your ghost shrimp’s exoskeleton as it molts. The molted shell should not be confused with disease symptoms. Make sure to monitor your shrimp during the molting process to ensure proper growth and development.

Bacterial infections are easy to spot on ghost shrimp due to their transparent bodies, appearing as pinkish swollen spots. These infections are often fatal, so it is recommended to remove the affected shrimp and monitor others to prevent the spread of infection.

In summary, while ghost shrimp are generally not prone to many diseases, proactive monitoring is essential. Early intervention for issues such as Vorticella and bacterial infections will help maintain the health of your ghost shrimp and ensure a thriving aquarium environment

Frequently Asked Questions

What do ghost shrimp eat?

Ghost shrimp are omnivores, meaning they’ll consume a variety of plant and animal matter. This can include algae, detritus, dead plant material, and even small organisms like zooplankton. In your aquarium, you can provide them with a diet of high-quality sinking pellets or flakes, occasional blanched vegetables, and frozen or live food such as brine shrimp or daphnia.

Can ghost shrimp live with other aquatic species?

Yes, ghost shrimp can coexist peacefully with many aquatic species. They get along well with small, non-aggressive fish and other shrimp species. However, avoid keeping them with larger or predatory species, as they may see ghost shrimp as a food source.

How long do ghost shrimp live?

Ghost shrimp have a relatively short lifespan. On average, they live to be about 1 to 2 years old. Nonetheless, providing them with excellent care can extend their lifespan slightly.

How big do ghost shrimp get?

Ghost shrimp are a dwarf species, so they remain quite small. On average, they grow to be around 1.5 inches in size, with males typically larger than females. Their maximum size is about 2 inches.

How many ghost shrimp per gallon?

When stocking your aquarium with ghost shrimp, a general rule of thumb is to keep 3-5 ghost shrimp per gallon. This ensures they have enough space to thrive and reduces the chances of stress or aggression between shrimp. Make sure to also provide them with hiding places, such as plants or rocks.

Do ghost shrimp help clean the tank?

Indeed, ghost shrimp are excellent cleaners! They help maintain the tank’s cleanliness by consuming algae, leftover food, and other debris. This makes them a great addition to many freshwater aquariums, as they assist in keeping the environment healthy for both themselves and their tankmates.