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Freshwater Aquarium: 4 Shrimp for Beginners

Ever since they took the aquarium hobby by storm in the ’00s, freshwater shrimp have been a staple in aquarist’s tanks. Specialized shrimp tanks are still very popular today, and for good reason: shrimp don’t need a lot of space, are a great addition to a planted nano tank and breeding them makes for a fun and easy project. 

If you’re just getting started in the shrimp hobby, some species will make a better choice than others. This article discusses four of our beginner favorites for shrimp success!

Snowball Shrimp (Neocaridina Zhangjiajiensis Var. White)

The snowball shrimp is a cousin of the popular red cherry shrimp (discussed below), with both of them being members of the Neocaridina genus of dwarf shrimp. This species features a milky white color and with a maximum size of 1.5” it works perfectly for planted aquariums.

Snowball shrimp are hardy and easy to breed, which is why they make such a good choice for beginning shrimp keepers. A starter colony won’t set you back too much and makes a great eye-catcher in an aquascape! The image below features a heavily pregnant female snowball shrimp about to release her fry, alongside the spectacularly striped but slightly more challenging Caridina cf. cantonensis (crystal red shrimp).

Snowball dwarf shrimp in the aquarium

Babaulti Shrimp (Caridina babaulti)

Slightly less well-known but definitely no less spectacular than other small freshwater shrimp is the Babaulti shrimp. This species can be found in various colors, ranging from the zebra variety pictured below to dark green, red and yellow. Hardy and decorative, it makes a great option if you’re looking for something a little more uncommon.

You can keep Caridina babaulti alongside members of the Neocaridina genus, as they won’t interbreed. Like other dwarf shrimp, the species can also be combined with a limited number of other peaceful aquarium inhabitants. Examples are dwarf Corydoras and dwarf crayfish from the genus Cambarellus.

Babaulti dwarf shrimp in the aquarium

Amano Shrimp (Caridina Multidentata)

The Amano shrimp is commonly known as the aquascape janitor, a well-deserved position. This diligent algae eater was first introduced into the aquarium hobby by the late famous aquascaper Amano, who they also lend their name from.

At a maximum size of around 2”, the Amano shrimp is a bit larger than the dwarf shrimp on this list. This makes it more suitable for community aquariums, although you should still make sure to avoid tankmates that can fit the shrimp into their mouth (because if they can, they will!). Keep a group of 5-10 Amano shrimp in your tanks to visibly reduce the amount of common pesky green algae types such as hair algae.

Amano shrimp in the aquarium

Neocaridina davidi Varieties

Few aquarists won’t have heard of it: Neocaridina davidi, especially the red cherry shrimp, is the most popular genus of aquarium shrimp out there. Unsurprising, as they are easy to keep and breed.

They come with the added advantage of being very easy to selectively breed for color, which has resulted in an entire rainbow of shrimp available in your local aquarium store and online from (hobbyist) breeders and importers.

  • The red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. Red) is the most popular Neocaridina davidi variety out there. Its red coloration can range from very subtle (referred to as ‘common’ or ‘cherry’ grade) to entirely opaque and dark (referred to as ‘painted fire red’ and pictured in the photo below).
  • The blue dream shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. Blue Dream) is one of multiple blue Neocaridina varieties. It’s our personal favorite though, as the deep blue coloration on the higher (and unfortunately more pricey) grades is truly a sight to see.
  • Rili shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. Rili) is not necessarily a name for a specific Neocaridina davidi color variety, but rather a pattern. Rilis can be recognized from the fact that part of their body is transparent, specifically the belly area. The head and tail are colored (preferably as opaquely and even as possible) and can be anything from blue to black, orange, red or yellowish.

In addition to the three Neocaridina davidi varieties discussed above, shrimp breeders have produced many more spectacular colorations. Each with its own fancy name!

Consider the green jade shrimp, red onyx shrimp, orange (pumpkin) shrimp, blue fairy, blue jelly, black rose, yellow shrimp… and new lines are being worked on right as we’re typing up this article.

Red cherry shrimp in the aquarium
Red cherry shrimp

Need Help?

Even if you go for easy shrimp, these invertebrates are always relatively fragile. If you feel you need some help getting your shrimp tank started and/or maintaining it, we’ve got you covered at FantaSEA Aquariums! We can get your aquarium up and running and keep it healthy for years to come. Just contact us here to discuss your ideas.

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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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