Ghost Shrimp Care Guide

By Snaketracks / January 29, 2021

Ghost Shrimp Care Sheet

Ghost shrimp care is fairly simple and doesn’t require a ton of equipment for setting up. Below we will dig into a complete overview of these cool looking crustaceans as well as what is required for their care.

These crustacea are not only easy to care for, but they are inexpensive and will be a beautiful addition to your tank.

Ghost shrimp will also help keep algae numbers controlled while simultaneously making an excellent food source for your larger aquatic fish. No need to feel bad about using these invertebrates as food because their lifespan is only about a year long.

These beautiful seethrough shrimp will add to the overall aesthetic of your beautiful fish since they are clear; a nice contrast to a more colorful aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp swimming in aquarium
Freshwater Ghost Shrimp swimming in aquarium

Quick Reference Section

Facts About Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp are pests to aquaculture and are often used as bait for fishing.

When ghost shrimp eat, you can see their food in their bodies since they are seethrough.

This is also how you can tell the gender of a ghost shrimp, by looking through their translucent bodies for an egg sac, which only females will have.

When females are pregnant, you can see their eggs with the naked eye as well.

Ghost shrimp will actually eat your aquatic fish’s waste, which is why they are a great clean-up crew!

They are omnivores that eat algae, detritus, and will scavenge for any leftover food that might sink to the bottom of your tank.

Most of the time, females will grow larger than males.

These tiny shrimp love to burrow and can dig down to up to 4 feet deep.

Ghost Shrimp Appearance

Freshwater ghost shrimp on black background
Freshwater ghost shrimp on black background

Ghost shrimp are shaped like almost any other shrimp, except that they are tiny and transparent. Some ghost shrimp may have tiny dark spots on them while others will be completely clear.

If you look at them closely, you might see a yellow or greenish mass inside of them. You are looking at their stomach!

You may also see some tiny claws grow on them, usually, one side being larger than the other.

Since they are transparent and love to hide, they are very hard to find. This is why owners will usually pair them with a darker background or substrate.

Their shell is also translucent as well as flexible and you will see it shed, or molt. This is normal and it just means they are growing.

Locations and Habitat

Ghost shrimp originated from North America and have quickly spread out, becoming a popular aquarium addition. They can now be found all across the world, mostly at the water’s edge, burrowing, and searching for food to eat.

A few distinct species of ghost shrimp were discovered inhabiting the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which were a little larger than our usual ghost shrimp, sizing up at 3 to 4 inches.

Generally, they can be found in fresh water lakes or rivers with slow or gentle moving water. They like places with a lot of hiding places and usually sediment for them to burrow into.

They prefer tropical temperatures and conditions, as they are used to temperatures of around 70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH balance should be kept between 7.0 and 8.0.

Diet

So what do ghost shrimp eat?

These guys will eat almost anything at the bottom of the tank. They’re not very picky and will eat algae, dead plants, fish flakes, shrimp flakes, algae wafers, and any other debris or food that is left uneaten by their cohabitants.

In the wild, they feast on pieces of mostly algae and dead plant matter. They are omnivores and will eat anything small enough to get in their mouths, but prefer dead organic matter, such as small eggs, larvae, and sometimes even tiny insects.

If you are raising them in a single tank, you can feed them 1 algae wafer daily. They really don’t need a specific diet, so don’t worry too much.

If you are breeding and have baby ghost shrimp, all you need to do is make sure you break the food down into smaller pieces and only feed them smaller amounts.

One thing you also want to pay attention to is the substrate you use with ghost shrimp. As mentioned they do love to burrow, but you need to keep in mind that they will also eat in that substrate.

Make sure you use a very fine substrate that might mimic ones in their natural habitat.

Again, they aren’t too picky about this either and don’t require anything special. A darker background will definitely allow you to see them, though. 

Lifespan

Glass Shrimp also known as ghost shrimp swimming
Glass Shrimp also known as ghost shrimp swimming

Ghost shrimp typically have a lifespan of one year, but it also depends on the individual shrimp and their origin.

Some breeders or enthusiasts find that they will die very quickly when they first go into the tank. This is not due to them, but due to their conditions with breeders or pet stores as well as the shock in the change of conditions.

To avoid this, make sure you read all reviews and recommendations on whichever website or breeder you are choosing to buy from.

Although they do not live very long, some owners have had their ghost shrimp live as long as 3 years! As long as you do your research and the conditions in the aquarium are good, although it’s rare, it can be possible to prolong their life.

Don’t expect them to live that long though, as that is in rare cases. Most of the time, their lifespan is about a year both in the wild and in captivity.

Clutch Size

Female ghost shrimp will typically have a clutch size of 20 to 30 eggs, and it takes them 3 weeks to hatch. These tiny shrimp are only pregnant for 21 days and can get pregnant again soon after hatching.

Some ghost shrimp can, however, eat their young, so be sure to cover them up and feed the adults well as a precaution. It is a better idea to have them in a grow tank after they pass their larval stage.

If the right precautions are taken, the babies could all survive.

Predators

These ghost shrimp are eaten by almost all or most fish. If you have an aquarium, they will not be disturbed by catfish, loaches, snails, and other shrimp.

Your larger, more aggressive fish will eat them as well as any of your fish that eat an omnivorous diet. It is safe to say that most fish will eat them since they are so tiny and make a perfect snack for them.

To keep away from these predators, these ghost shrimp use their translucency as a defense mechanism. They also burrow and hide behind plants to stay safe from their predators.

Legalities

When it comes to regulations and restrictions on ghost shrimp, in most states, you need a fishing license to catch them in the wild. Even so, you are only allowed to possess 50 shrimp at a time.

Breeders will need a license if they want to legally sell to another company.

In some states, it is completely illegal to own them unless you have a permit. For example, in Maine, you cannot sell them at all.

There is not too much mentioned about possession of them, but just make sure you check the laws of your state for whether or not it is or is not mentioned.

Purchasing Ghost Shrimp

In most cases, owners will buy these shrimp online or at their local LFS. You can sometimes find them at Petsmart or Petco, but most enthusiasts prefer buying them online.

Online, you can find them on Amazon or eBay, but do check the reviews and ratings before picking a breeder. Many enthusiasts recommend AquaBid as well as LiveAquaris, so check these websites out.

Care Sheet

Ghost Shrimp Swimming also known as Palaemonetes paludosus
Ghost Shrimp Swimming also known as Palaemonetes paludosus

Enclosure

Since they’re so tiny, you should give them at least a 2-Gallon tank, and 5 Gallons if you are raising them in groups. Keep the substrate fine and give them a lot of plants and rocks to hide in and they will most feel more at home.

Habitat

Ghost shrimp usually tend to enjoy a more tropical kind of aquarium. They like a lot of plants in their enclosure for hiding and prefer slightly moving water.

If you want to try to mimic their natural freshwater environment, you want a fine-grain substrate and consistent water conditions. Keep the tropics in mind; so waters at about 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Substrate

Ghost shrimp really are not too picky, but if you won’t have any vegetation or rocks for them to hide behind, you want a fine-grained substrate for burrowing.

Enthusiasts prefer to put these tiny, clear shrimp in front of a black background since it will be easier to see them and it just looks more beautiful.

They really don’t need anything special, so most people just choose a good substrate that will best fit their plant’s needs.

Aquarium soil should work just fine and will look more natural in your little aquatic habitat.

Feeding

These bottom-feeders do not have any specific dietary requirements and consume a diet of algae and dead aquatic plants in the wild.

In an aquarium, they will feed on algae, algae wafers, aquatic plants, baby shrimp food, brine shrimp, fish or shrimp pellets, frozen foods, insects, fruit and vegetables, mosquito larvae, and small live foods.

It is much easier to just feed them algae wafers and it will be a healthy enough diet for them to be nutritious to your other fish if you are using these shrimp as feeders.

Depending on how many shrimp you have in one tank, feeding every other day to every day is fine. Just pay attention to how fast they eat the food. If there are leftovers after 2 or 3 hours, remove the leftovers and feed them less next time.

You should be feeding them 1 algae wafer per 4 shrimp about 1 to 5 times a week. Keep an eye on how they eat and whether or not there are any leftovers at all.

Cleaning

Although ghost shrimp will do most of the cleaning themselves, you will want to filter their tank once a month to keep them healthy.

You should wipe their tank down with a sponge before you put their monthly filter in every two weeks. When you filter their water, do so for at least 48 hours.

After that, you should top up their water about 4 to 6 times a week and change their water at about 20 to 30 percent of the way bi-weekly.

If there are any dead shrimp, you should remove them right away and clean the tank to avoid a spike in ammonia.

Keep checking pH levels if you have a case of some dead shrimp.

Conclusion

Whether you are hoping to keep ghost shrimp as feeders or just think they are interesting pets, they are inexpensive and make a beautiful addition to any aquarium.

Not only that, but they are very easy to take care of and will be healthy as long as their conditions are kept stable. Be sure to do your research and follow these instructions.

Hopefully, we have answered any questions you might have about these beautiful, interesting invertebrates and that you’re on your way to making good choices for your very own ghost shrimp.

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