Home > Tips & Tricks > Camel Shrimp Care & Info | Hump-Backed Aquarium Shrimp

Camel Shrimp Care & Info | Hump-Backed Aquarium Shrimp

Is your marine aquarium still missing a pop of color? We’ve got just the thing for you: camel shrimp, scientifically known as Rhynchocinetes durbanensis. Hardy, beginner-proof, and suitable for nano tanks, this tropical shrimp is all color and no complications. We love its candy-cane striped pattern!

Below, let’s have a look at everything you need to know about camel shrimp, including where they’re from, what they eat, and what the perfect camel shrimp aquarium looks like.

Name (Common, Scientific)Camel shrimp, camelback shrimp, hingebeak prawn, dancing shrimp, Rhynchocinetes durbanensis
Minimum tank size10 gallons
Minimum group size2 (preferably more)
Temperature73-80 °F
Difficulty levelEasy

Camel shrimp description & natural habitat


It’s not difficult to see why the camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis) is a staple invertebrate in the saltwater aquarium hobby. Despite the species’ small size (around 1.5″), it really is quite the eye-catcher!

You can recognize a camel shrimp by its transparent body, which is covered in an intricate pattern of red and white lines as well as small white dots. The eyes are a dark greenish-blue in color and the species has a prominent rostrum (translation: a long nose). And don’t forget, of course, the prominent back hump!

Camel shrimp look quite similar to two different shrimp that you might find in the aquarium trade. The first is the closely related Rhynchocinetes uritai, which is common in Japanese waters and often sold under the same common name.

According to scientists, R. uritai can be told apart by its color: it sports more white or translucent coloration than today’s subject, R. durbanensis. Their care is pretty much identical, so if you bought R. uritai, you can keep reading.

There’s also the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni, which can appear similar at first glance. However, this one lacks the back hump, pinocchio nose, and the white stripes.

Did you know? It’s possible to tell the difference between male and female camel shrimp even when there are no eggs present. The males have significantly larger chelipeds (front claws) than the females.

Natural habitat

The camel shrimp has a wide natural range. It occurs throughout much of the Indo-Pacific, from as far west as South Africa (the species’ type locality is the city of Durban, from which it also lends its scientific name durbanensis) to as far east as the Philippines and beyond.

Found between 16-115+ ft in depth (a 2021 article suggests up to 165 ft) , this shrimp usually dwells in rock crevices in large groups of differently sized individuals. It mostly comes out at night.

Here at FantaSEA we love spotting our aquarium friends in the wild, so we were delighted to find camel shrimp in their natural habitat while diving in Thailand. As the literature suggested, large groups of them could be spotted in rock fissures on the reef.

The shrimp weren’t shy at all and didn’t mind posing for plenty of photos!

Three camel shrimp in a rock crevice in the Andaman Sea.
The photos in this care guide were taken in the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand by the FantaSEA team.

Camel shrimp aquarium

One of the things we ♥ so much about camel shrimp here at FantaSEA is that they’re the perfect mix of decorative and hardy. You really don’t need to do anything special if you’d like to keep them. They make a great choice for beginners, community tanks, and low-maintenance single-species set-ups.

Whatever kind of aquarium you choose to keep your camel shrimp in, make sure it has a water volume of at least 10 gallons (this allows you to keep 2-3 shrimp). Normal reef parameters work fine and the shrimp won’t immediately keel over if conditions are less than ideal.

In terms of tank decor, camel shrimp aren’t picky. They don’t care much about substrate type, lighting levels, and the like. What they do need is cover, preferably imitating the crevices they naturally hide in during the day.

Some well-placed (live) rock works well, but you can also add more “artificial” solutions like shrimp caves or fun stuff like underwater castles and skulls.

Tip: In order to keep your shrimp happy and healthy, don’t forget to keep up with regular aquarium maintenance. Regular water changes and the occasional deep clean are important; avoid the use of any product that contains copper.

Camel shrimp compatibility

Camel shrimp are friendly little fellows that won’t bother their tankmates. In fact, as with most small invertebrates, their tankmates are more likely to pose a danger to them than the other way round.

Avoid keeping your shrimp with any fish that can fit them into their mouths or with aggressive invertebrates (like most crabs). Instead, choose peaceful tankmates like other aquatic shrimp, or go for friendly small fish such as:

Don’t forget that camel shrimp love the presence of their own kind. The minimum group size mentioned here is 2, but the more the merrier. Just make sure your tank is large enough; you can count 2-3 gallons per extra shrimp. This helps disperse any territorial aggression that may occur between males when the shrimp are breeding.

Are camel shrimp reef safe?

As for whether camel shrimp are reef safe, that’s their one drawback—most aquarists agree they’re not. They will pick at anemones, polyps, soft corals, and pretty much anything else they can find.

Keeping your shrimp well-fed may help, but there’s no guarantee they won’t eat your corals.

Close-up of Rhynchocinetes durbanensis, also known as the camel shrimp or camelback shrimp

Camel shrimp diet

Like many other small invertebrates, camel shrimp are omnivores. They naturally eat pretty much everything they can get their little claws on, making them a great addition to your aquarium’s janitorial crew. No detritus makes it past a camel shrimp!

Because most of our tanks are too clean to sustain a group of shrimp just with decomposing material, it’s important to offer supplemental feedings. Whatever you’ve got on hand is fine, as long as it sinks. Foods that are high in calcium, like specially formulated shrimp foods or blanched spinach, can help your shrimp molt successfully.

We also like to offer blanched carrot regularly, as it contains beta-carotene that helps bring out the red color in camel shrimp. Not that they really need it, because healthy specimens will already be almost eye-wateringly bright.

Did you know? Camel shrimp are sometimes recommended to help get rid of aiptasia, a type of pest anemone that can infest our tanks. This is likely due to confusion with the peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni. Camels may pick at aiptasia, but they won’t help much in controlling an infestation.

Breeding camel shrimp

Although it is possible to breed your camel shrimp, it’s not an easy task. Like many other marine creatures, these shrimp pass through a larval stage. The larvae are tiny and very fragile, so it’s difficult to raise them to adulthood.

There is one silver lining: camel shrimp are a commercially significant species in the aquarium trade. This motivates research into how to rear them, which is cheaper and more sustainable than catching them in the wild, offering us handy insights into how best to care for the larvae at home.

A 2023 study compared three different feeding regimens for camel shrimp larvae. It found the highest survival rates and best growth in larvae that were fed a combination of newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia) and microencapsulated foods. At home, you can easily hatch your own Artemia and supplement with something like Golden Pearls microfood.

Armed with this knowledge, you can set up your camel shrimp breeding program (full shrimp breeding guide coming soon). Do remember that even with detailed instructions, it’s not uncommon to lose entire batches of shrimp larvae. Even tiny mistakes can prove fatal! Just keep trying, and be sure to write down what did and didn’t work.


If you’re looking for a decorative shrimp for your saltwater aquarium but want to avoid overly demanding species, the camel shrimp may just be the one for you! It’s hardy and beginner-proof.

PS: Dreaming of a beautiful (reef) tank for your home or office but lack the time or knowledge? We can help. Contact FantaSEA Aquariums with your ideas so we can design, set up, and maintain your dream aquarium for you!

Sources & further reading

Burukovsky, R. N. (2021). Shrimps of the family Rhynchocynetidae (Crustacea: Decapoda: Pleocyemata) of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean. Arthropoda Selecta 30(4): 423–429.

Ferrari, A., Ferrari, A., & Eklund, L. M. (2002). Reef life. Firefly Books.

Okuno, J., & Takeda, M. (1992). Distinction between two hinge-beak shrimps, Rhynchocinetes durbanensis Gordon and R. uritai Kubo (Family Rhynchocinetidae). Revue Française d’Aquariologie y Herpétologie, 19, 85-90.

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Marijke Puts

Hey! I'm Marijke, FantaSEA's resident blog writer. I'm a full-time pop science author, part-time PADI diver and snorkeler, and have been keeping fish since I was a kid. When I'm not writing fish care guides, you can usually find me underwater or trying to figure out how to fit more tanks into my house.

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