Ghost Shrimp – Complete Care Guide


Many people purchase Ghost Shrimp as feeders for their larger fish. It turns out that they can make a great addition to any aquarium. Keep on reading to know what they can do and how to take care of and breed them.

Ghost Shrimp Overview

Ghost Shrimp, also known as glassfish, is a freshwater crustacean native to the Southeastern United States. They were first introduced to the trade in 1850, and have been popular among aquarists now.

Many people consider glassfish to be perfect feeders for both saltwater and freshwater fish due to their small size. Even fishermen use them as bait. They can make a great food source for seahorses, grunts, newly born sharks, and lionfish.

Facts show that this species is not just a feeder. You can put them inside your tropical community tank as they are peaceful and good at cleaning up the aquarium.

They are scavengers after all, which means they will help you clear up any uneaten food and keep algae at bay.

Ghost Shrimp are easy to take care of. Besides, they inexpensive. No wonder many hobbyists add them into their tank to beef it up on the cheap.

The name “Ghost Shrimp” refers to a few different varieties. The most popular one is the freshwater genus that belongs to the Palaemonetes family.

You will be likely to come across several different species within the Palaemonetes genus. But if you visit a fish store, it probably just call them with one common name, Ghost Shrimp.

Appearance and Behavior of Ghost Shrimp

When you hear their name for the first time, you might be able to guess why they are called Ghost Shrimp. If you think it is because of their transparent bodies, you are right.

These animals have a translucent body with mottled green, white, and brown on it, which allow them to camouflage among the dappled shade of the tangled water weeds well. Different specimens might not share the same colored dots on their backs, though.

The transparency of Ghost Shrimp allows you to see through their inner-workings, which is one of the reasons why many aquarists keep them. They like to observe how they process food, which can be mesmerizing.

This species tends to be small with two pairs of antennae. One pair is longer than the other. They can grow up to 1.5 or 2 inches. The females are generally larger than the males.

They use the antennae as sensory organs that navigate around objects, give information related toxins or food in the water, and communicate with others.

Ghost Shrimp are active. They spend most of their time scavenging and can do it throughout the day. This species will keep your tank clean so that you can sit back and relax.

How Long Do Ghost Shrimp Live

Ghost Shrimp can live for about a year depending on the water conditions and how you take care of them.

In most fish stores, the shrimp are often kept in high densities with poor filtration just because they are meant to be feeders for larger fish. This situation makes them more vulnerable and likely to die during transport to the home aquarium.


Although they do not survive for a longer period, they still molt regularly. They are living things after all. They still eat and grow. As a result, their sizes keep changing, and they end up being too large for their previous shell.

Like other shrimp, they will be vulnerable after shedding their old shells. it will last until their new shell completely hardens. For this reason, you might want to incorporate more hiding places for them into your tank.

You might come across motionless a Ghost Shrimp in your tank. Do not panic! Take a look at it a bit closer. It may be the empty old shell that has been discarded, and it is perfectly normal.

The old shell can contribute to a horrible view that ruins your aquascape. As a result, you might have the urge to remove it as soon as possible.

Hold on a second! You can leave the shell in the tank as it can good and inexpensive food for another shrimp that you keep in it.

Tank Requirements

Glass Shrimp Tank Requirements

Ghost Shrimp are used to living in freshwater or mildly brackish water.

Similar to other freshwater shrimp, they live in rivers or lakes where they can find flowing water with fine sediment and crevices that allow them to hide.

To make them thrive well, you should emulate their natural habitat as well as possible. Therefore, ensure your tank is heavily planted and features some crevices.

Apart from becoming perfect hiding spots, plants also provide debris that makes essential additional food source for shrimp.

Make sure the plants that you are going to add inside your tank is hardy. They can be Java Moss, Amazon Sword, Java Fern, Anubias, Hornwort, Cabomba, and Water Wisteria.

You can also enrich the look of your aquarium by adding decorations and rocks. As a bonus, they can make fabulous hiding spots, too.

Do not forget to provide sand or fine gravel at the bottom of your tank to reduce the risk of damaged antennae. It also prevents food from being buried into sediment so that Ghost Shrimp can pick it easily.

Water Parameters

When it comes to setting up water parameters, these shrimp are not fussy at all. They can live happily in any standard of a tropical community tank. However, if you maintain proper conditions well, they can leave longer and healthily.

Although Ghost Shrimp can put up with a wide array of water temperature, keeping it stable between 65 and 82ºF is highly recommended. The hardness should be between a pH of 7.0 and 8.0.

But, you can stretch these boundaries wider. Though you will be probably stressing them and reduce their activity.

Since Ghost shrimp naturally live in rivers, they enjoy a light flow of water. You can mimic this condition by installing a filter outlet or an air pump.

This species is sensitive to ammonia and nitrite because they are toxic. Nitrate is essential for the plants’ growth. But keep it around 5-10 ppm. Otherwise, it can be harmful to your shrimp and fish.

Monitoring the levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and any other pollutants are crucial. You also need to avoid overfeeding and overstocking to keep them down to a minimum.

Check the filters regularly as when they are dirty, they will be likely to raise the ammonia and nitrite levels. Regular water changes can also help you control them.

Both nitrite and ammonia can kill your fish if it raised to a high-level. Although plants need nitrate for growth it must preserve around 5 to 10 ppm. If you change the water regularly, these chemical levels most likely will be under control.

All the aforementioned water parameters are necessary if you want to breed Ghost Shrimp. In case you are going to keep them as feeders, simpler setups would be enough. Just make sure the water is moving steadily and clean.

How Many Ghost Shrimp Per Gallon

The uniqueness of this species is that it enjoys solitude rather than being on a group.

Due to their small size, ghost shrimp can live in a limited space aquarium. Normally, you will need at least a 5-gallon tank to keep them. A larger one is more preferable, though.

Per gallon can accommodate about 3 or 4 shrimps. However, that is not always the case. You also need to consider the number of other species you keep in the same tank.

While other shrimp prefer living in a group to boost their confidence, a single Ghost Shrimp can dwell in a tank by itself, and there is not any problem with it.

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat

What Do Ghost Shrimp Eat

When it comes to food, Ghost Shrimp are not fussy. They can eat anything that you give to them. They mostly consume plant detritus and algae. But it will not refuse a leftover from the fish’s meal.

Apart from algae and plant detritus, your shrimp also need supplementing the diet, such as flakes, pellets, and algae wafers so that they can stay robust. Giving them calcium supplements is also necessary to form a strong shell.

Bear in mind that one algae pellet is just enough for all the shrimp you have in your tank. If you give them some more, you will overfeed them and can cause water pollution.

Before giving them supplementing diet and medication, double-check the ingredients, and make sure they do not contain copper because it is very toxic to shrimp and can be harmful to them.

Tank Mates

Ghost Shrimp can dwell in a tropical community tank along with other aquatic animals.

But it does not mean you can just put them in the tank carelessly, though. The gentle nature and the small size of these shrimp make them prone to being scrumptious prey for bigger tank mates.

For this reason, leaving them with non-aggressive small fish should be done for the peace of mind.

Here are some good tank mates for them:

  • Zebra loaches
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Tetras
  • Cherry Barb
  • Bamboo Shrimp
  • Danios
  • Hatchetfish
  • Vampire Shrimp
  • Corydoras
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Snails
  • Cherry Shrimp

How to Breed Ghost Shrimp

How to Breed Ghost Shrimp

If ghost shrimp live in a healthy environment without any predators and are not exposed to limited stress, breeding them will be just a piece of cake. This is why they tend to be used as feeder fish.

But you will still need to separate the couple in a breeding tank so that you can grow your population. Just make sure you have males and females in your main aquarium.

Every few weeks females should be pregnant and produce eggs. Thanks to their clear body, you will notice around 20-30 green dots attached to their legs.

If you can see them, it means the females are ready to be fertilized by the males.

After that, move the berried female to a different tank that you use for breeding before the eggs hatch. If you do not do this immediately, the young will get eaten by other tank mates.

You should immediately move the female to the main tank, right after the eggs hatch in your breeder tank. Although she is the babies’ mother, she will be likely to see her own young as delectable food and tempted to eat them.

Keep the babies in the breeder tank for about three weeks.

You should install a sponge filter in your breeder tank so that the young will not get sucked into the equipment.

If you are wondering about what to put in the breeder tank, you should set it up in a similar way as the main tank. It does not have to be the same, though. Being more minimalist will be just fine.

You will still need to add plants to your breeding tank. The young shrimp will not use them as a hiding spot, but they see them as a pantry with lots of food sources.

In addition to plant debris and any algae available in the tank, you also need to feed the larvae very fine particle food. Make sure it fits their tiny mouths perfectly. You can begin to give them the same food as the adults when they have grown legs.

They only need five weeks to fully-grown. It means you can move them to the main tank if desired.

Are Ghost Shrimp Fit for Your Aquarium?

You may find several reasons why you must add these shrimps into your tank. First, they come at a low price, which will not make you broke.

They are not fussy, so any aquarists, even beginners, can take care of them without breaking a sweat. These shrimp can even help you keep the algae at bay.

When purchasing Ghost Shrimp, make sure to check them beforehand to know whether they are bred for home aquariums or as feeders because the latter are unlikely to survive long due to being poorly treated.

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