Caridina shrimp is a freshwater shrimp from the family Atydae that takes very well to an aquarium. They are native to the tropical and subtropical waters of Asia, mainly the southeast countries such as Thailand. They are also known to be found in certain locations within Africa and Oceania. Their natural habitat is the bottom of slow-flowing rivers, ponds, streams, and lakes, so they are bottom dwellers in an aquarium for the most part. This almost stagnant water habitat has dense vegetation and a somewhat muddy or sandy substrate.
One of the most interesting thing about the caridina shrimp for the aquarium hobbyist is their incredible diversity of color, patterns, and the different combinations of those. The names given to the different caridina shrimp come from the many patterns and colors: tiger shrimps, bee shrimps, crystal shrimps, the list goes on and on.
The caridina shrimp is a peaceful omnivore and detritivore that never say no to food. They are a very greedy species, always looking for their next meal. The caridna shrimp is defined as separate shrimp species by having chelipeds with bristles on their fingers’ tip, which they use to filter tiny aquatic organisms and detritus when they are scraping for food. However, there is no sure way to identify these shrimps to the species level without a microscope and other specialized equipment.
They are relatively difficult to care for, due to their very specific requirements regarding water parameters, temperature, and tank setup. Not the hardest pet to have in the aquarium hobby, but they will give beginners some trouble. They are also a little on the expensive side of the hobby, not only for the caridina shrimp itself – some of the more rare or exotic ones can be really expensive – but for the tank setup and care.
Once the aquarium environment is properly set up, however, they are very enjoyable to watch. Caridina shrimps can be very active all day. They can be seeing sifting through the substrate, swimming about very fast, tumbling their eggs, or even competing for hiding space. Some caridina shrimp species can be more aggressive than others, but as a general rule, they are very peaceful.
Neocaridina Shrimp vs Caridina Shrimp
The two caridina shrimp species are very similar, but with key differences. To tell the difference by just looking at them is nearly impossible. As we said, you would need a microscope, specialized equipment, and in-depth knowledge of taxidermy. The way we tell them apart is by their different coloring, patterns, and most importantly, their care requirements
Neocaridina shrimps are considered to be easier to care for, with some of the parameters being close to regular tap water in some places. Those are the most recommended to beginners, being very hardy and easy to maintain. They have a great number of popular types, like the orange pumpkin shrimp snowball shrimps, jade shrimps, and the most common cherry shrimps.
The regular caridina shrimp, on the other hand, is a little on the difficult side of things. They require soft water, so a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system would be very useful to create and keep the parameters needed. Their temperature and PH parameters are also a lot more strict than their neocaridina cousins. They are very popular and can be even more diverse in patterns and colors than the neocaridinas, with species such as the deep blue volt shrimps, panda shrimps, tangerine tiger shrimps, crystal red shrimps, and the king kong shrimps.
Can you keep Neocaridina Shrimp and Caridina Shrimp together?
You could keep both Neocaridina Shrimp and Caridina Shrimp together if you can manage to create the perfect balanced environment and water parameters. It would be even more difficult than having only caridina shrimps, but it’s possible. The neocaridinas are a little more forgiving, so setting the parameters closer to the caridina’s requirements is a good idea.
Caridina Shrimp Care
There are many different types of caridina shrimp, but they usually require the same parameters, diet, and tank setup. There are some special cases and outliers, with specific needs, which we will point out bellow.
Caridina Shrimp Temperature
Caridina shrimps need warm water, between 68 to 74 Fahrenheit, or 20 to 24 Celsius. The one thing to remember is that temperature will influence the lifespan, breeding, and level of activity in the shrimps. This is due to the temperature’s effect on the caridina shrimp’s metabolism. The higher the temperature, the higher their metabolism: shorter lifespans, the need to eat more and they breed faster and more frequently.
With lower temperatures, they tend to eat less, live longer, and have slower and more spaced-out breeding periods. Breeding caridinas in the lower temperature setting is considered to have the most healthy offspring, display the best patterns and colors, and increase the survival rate of offspring. The opposite is true to the warmer temperatures.
Caridina Shrimp Water Parameters
Water pH: between 6 to 8, with the recommended being 7 for most species. There are some outliers, manely the Amano shrimp and the blue tiger shrimp, that prefer a pH bellow 7.
Water gH: optimal between 3 and 6.
Caridina Shrimp Size
The caridina shrimp can vary greatly with species, but they remain in the 0.3 to 1.7 inches (1 cm to 4.5) range.
Caridina Shrimp Food & Diet
Being omnivores, they will eat pretty much anything you give them. But what they enjoy most is eating detritus, so powder-based or microorganism-based foods are highly recommended. Make sure to not clean the tank too much, as they tend to graze and eat the algae growth at the bottom, and it keeps the aquarium closer to their natural ecosystem. But do not let uneaten food accumulate, since this will increase the toxicity in the water parameters and can be dangerous to the shrimps.
The caridina shrimp will eat at any time of the day, but be more comfortable eating at night or in low light conditions. Feeding is best done once a day, giving enough food for a 2 to 3 hours period of eating. Excess food is not good for the tank or the water parameters and is not recommended. Overfeeding can also be the cause of death for the caridinas, so keeping an eye on the quantity of food given is a must.
They also need a little supplement once in a while and feeding them blanched and boiled vegetables like cucumbers are a good idea. Having a good biofilm in your tank is a must, and another good practice is to feed them leaves like the Indian almond leaf. They break down after a while underwater and the shrimps love it. Some caridina shrimp keepers even feed them banana leaves or spinach leaves – but be careful choosing which leaf to give the shrimps: many are toxic to them and can be deadly.
In a well-established tank, the caridina shrimps can usually find enough food by themselves, with algae and biofilm being their primary source of food.
Caridina Shrimp Lifespan
Depending on water temperature and feeding habits, the caridina shrimp can live from 1 to 2 years.
Caridina Shrimp Tank Size
The caridina shrimp is communal, which means they need other shrimp in order to thrive in any aquarium. So when choosing a tank size you should consider how many shrimps are going to be living in there. Generally speaking, the minimum size for a single caridina shrimp would be a 5 gallon. But since they need other caridinas to be healthy and happy, a larger tank is recommended.
A good way to calculate the size you are going to need is to add 1 gallon of water capacity for every three shrimps after the minimum 5-gallon size. They can be kept in tanks this size or even smaller, but it is not recommended unless you have good experience with shrimp keeping. A good example of a safe-sized tank, even for people just starting, is a 12-gallon tank. Since there will be multiple shrimps in there, with plants, driftwood, and a filter.
You should also account for breeding and tankmates. If you want to breed a lot of caridina shrimps, it is a good idea to have a larger tank (a 20 gallon in this situation is a good option). The same goes for keeping them with tank mates.
Caridina Shrimp Tank Setup
Setting up a tank for the caridina shrimp can be a little harder for the beginner, but not impossible. The most important thing is to make sure you can keep the water parameters in check so that your shrimps can survive and be comfortable.
The first step is to have a good active substrate to act as a buffer and keep your pH levels under control (less than 7.0). A good substrate is crucial when keeping caridina shrimps. But before you decide on which substrate to buy, you must think about what plants you need to have in the tank.
Caridina shrimp tanks need live plants to help regulate pH, generate biofilm for food, and hide spots for the shrimps. Plants add a filtration element as well, absorbing nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia from the tank. You will also need to have some rocks and driftwood in your tank to mimic their natural habitat.
A good filter is also a must because the water parameters are so strict. It is recommended that you use a sponge filter since they are safe for the baby shrimp. As for light, it is not that important for the caridina shrimp, so you should set it up with the tank plants in mind. The last thing is decorations. If you set up your tank with plants, driftwood, and rocks, they will have plenty of space to hide and graze, so that is the easiest part of setting up your tank.
You will need to properly cycle your caridina shrimp tank before you can add any shrimps to it. The recommended planning time is at least 2 months. Add the substrate, then the RO water, taking care to not disrupt the soil. Then add your filter to the tank, and with everything running, it is time to add minerals to your water.
After that, you need to add the bacteria of your choice and let the biofilm start to grow. Before the end of the cycle, add your plants to the tank. Check your water parameters often. When adding the shrimp, always drip acclimate them, and assure the temperature is the same.
Substrate for Caridina Shrimp
The substrate in your caridina shrimp tank is extremely important. It maintains the ecosystem of your tank and keeps the shrimps safe. If you decide to have root-feeding plants in your tank, you need a better quality substrate with lots of nutrients to keep the plants alive. The most recommended is the ADA Amazonia aqua soil, or Akadama soil (a bonsai soil).
Caridina Shrimp Breeding
Setting up the ideal environment for the caridina shrimp to breed is very important. They need to have hiding spots to mate, so having plants, rocks, driftwood, and other decorations is essential. They do not breed until full maturity, which can take up from 4 to 6 months, and a high protein diet can help. The last thing to consider is temperature. Caridina shrimps mate during the summer season, so warming the water is a good idea.
The last thing to consider is that caridina shrimps are very cautious about their mating practices, specially choosing the right spot. Don’t expect them to mate for the first few months in the tank – they need time to inspect the environment and get comfortable.
Caridina Shrimp Molting
Molting is the process by which the caridina shrimp goes to get rid of their exoskeleton in order to be able to grow. Their exoskeleton cannot grow, so they need to make a new one, and to make a new one they need to remove the existing exoskeleton. They do this by gripping a surface really hard and swimming out of the disposed shell. The new shell is much softer than the old one, at least for a while, so they tend to hide after the molting.
The importance of taking notice of a molting shrimp is that problems during this process are quite common, unfortunately, and they are fatal. If the shrimp can’t get out of the old exoskeleton, it will keep trying until it is exhausted and dies. Not only this, but the shell can break at the wrong angle, or too much, which also causes the shrimp to die.
Caridina Shrimp Tank Mates
It is not recommended to have fish tank mates with the caridina shrimps, because almost every fish will prey on them. Even smaller fish will prey on the baby shrimp if given the opportunity. However, some nano fish may be compatible with the caridina shrimp. A good strategy when choosing fish as mates for a shrimp tank is to choose fish with the smallest of mouths. If the shrimp fits the fish’s mouth, it will eat it.
Caridina Shrimp Types
There are many different types and variations of Caridina Shrimp. In fact, there are over 300 different species of within the genus Caridina identified by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Within each species, there may be multiple types and variations. This is especially true for well-known species that are popular in the aquarium hobby. Caridina cantonensis is an example of a species that contain many different variations. Here’s a list of some of the popular Caridina Shrimp types in the aquarium hobby:
- Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)
- Bee Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
- King Kong Shrimp (Caridina cf cantonensis)
- Blue Bolt Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
- Sulawesi Shrimp (Caridina dennerli)
- Crystal Black Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
- Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
- Red Nose Shrimp (Caridina gracilirostris)
- Shadow Panda Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis var. Panda)
- Tangerine Tiger Shrimp (Caridina serrata)
- Pinocchio shrimp (Caridina gracilirostris)