Ghost Shrimp: Appearance, Tank, Diet, Health, And More

scientific name of ghost shrimp is Palaemonetes paludosus
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: June 17, 2024
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Tired of not knowing how to take care of Ghost Shrimp? **Learn all you need** with our in-depth guide. **Jump right into the info** to make your Ghost Shrimp thrive in your tank—**it’s not rocket science**!

Article Summary

  • Ghost shrimp are small, transparent crustaceans native to freshwater habitats and popular in aquariums.
  • Proper tank requirements include a suitable tank size, filtration, lighting, hiding places, and a well-planted environment.
  • Common diseases in ghost shrimp include Vorticella and bacterial infections, requiring isolation and treatment.

Overview of Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp are fascinating creatures that add a unique touch to any freshwater aquarium. These small, transparent crustaceans are native to freshwater habitats and have become popular among aquarium enthusiasts for their intriguing appearance and beneficial behavior as scavengers.

The scientific name of ghost shrimp is Palaemonetes paludosus. They are also known as glass, grass, and river shrimp.

They typically have a lifespan of about 1 to 2 years in aquariums. They have a relatively short lifespan compared to other aquarium creatures, but they can still provide enjoyment and interest during their time in the tank.

Providing proper care and conditions to maximize their lifespan and ensure they thrive in the aquarium environment is important.

Anatomy of Ghost Shrimp

Glass shrimp are fascinating creatures with unique anatomy. One key aspect of their anatomy is their antennae, which are long and slender.

Glass shrimp’s antennae are used for sensory perception, allowing the ghost shrimp to detect changes in their environment…

These antennae are used for sensory perception, allowing the ghost shrimp to detect changes in their environment and locate food.

They have distinct body segments, including the cephalothorax and abdomen. The cephalothorax is the fused head and thorax region, housing essential organs such as the heart and digestive system.

The abdomen, on the other hand, is segmented and houses the reproductive organs.

Color Range

Another interesting characteristic of ghost shrimp is their color range. While they are often transparent or translucent, their color can vary depending on their diet and habitat.

Some ghost shrimp may have a pale yellow or greenish color, while others may have a pink or reddish hue. This color variation adds to their visual appeal, making them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Average Size

In addition to their unique anatomy, ghost shrimp are known for their small size. These creatures typically range in size from 1 to 2 inches in length, making them suitable for smaller aquariums.

Appearance of Glass Shrimp

Glass Shrimp Profile

Ghost shrimp are fascinating creatures due to their unique appearance. They have transparent bodies, allowing you to see their internal organs and even the food they have consumed.

This transparency gives them a Pac-Man-like appearance as if they are floating through the water with their mouths wide open. The transparent bodies of ghost shrimp serve as a survival strategy.

By being transparent, they can blend in with their surroundings and avoid being detected by predators. This camouflage helps them stay hidden and increases their chances of survival in their natural habitat.

Additionally, their transparent bodies allow them to move unnoticed, making finding food and exploring their environment easier without drawing attention to themselves.

Molting Process

The molting process is a crucial aspect of the life cycle of ghost shrimp. The shrimp shed their exoskeletons during this process to allow for growth and development. This molting occurs periodically throughout the shrimp’s life, with younger shrimp molting more frequently than adult ghost shrimp.

This process allows the shrimp to grow and accommodate its increasing size. Molting also enables the shrimp to repair any damage or injuries it may have sustained.

Additionally, molting plays a crucial role in the reproductive cycle of these shrimp, as females need to molt to release eggs.

Molted Shells And Dead Shrimp

Distinguishing between molted shells and dead shrimp can be challenging, but there are a few key differences to look out for.

Molted shells are typically lighter in color and more translucent compared to live shrimp. They may also appear slightly hollow and lack the vibrant colors of a living shrimp.

On the other hand, a dead shrimp will often have a darker color, an old shell, and a more rigid body, indicating that it has not recently molted.

Tank Requirements

It is essential to understand their specific tank requirements to ensure their well-being. One crucial aspect to consider is the tank size. Ghost shrimp can thrive in relatively small tanks, with a minimum recommended size of 5 gallons. This size allows them enough space to move around and explore their environment comfortably.

Another vital consideration is filtration. They are sensitive to water conditions, so it is crucial to maintain clean and well-filtered water. The use of sponge filters is highly recommended for ghost shrimp tanks.


To prevent any unfortunate accidents, it is essential to have a tight-fitting lid on the ghost shrimp tank. These small shrimp are excellent jumpers and can easily escape from an open tank.

Lighting is another factor that should be considered when setting up a ghost shrimp tank. While they do not require intense lighting, providing them with a consistent light-dark cycle is essential. A basic aquarium light with a timer can create a natural day-night rhythm.

Plants and Decorations

Grass Shrimp And Aquatic Plant

One critical point to consider when keeping ghost shrimp is the need for hiding places and decorations in the tank. These shrimp are naturally timid and will feel more secure and less stressed in an environment that provides plenty of hiding spots.

Adding plants and decorations such as rocks or driftwood will create a visually appealing tank and offer the shrimp places to retreat when they feel threatened.

Another essential aspect to consider when setting up a tank for these shrimp is the benefits of a heavily planted environment. Ghost shrimp are primarily herbivorous and will graze on algae and other plant matter.

Ghost shrimp are primarily herbivorous and will graze on algae…

A well-planted tank will provide a natural food source for the shrimp and help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

A fine-grained substrate, such as sand or gravel, is recommended to prevent injury to the shrimp’s delicate exoskeleton. Avoid using sharp or rough substrates that could potentially harm the shrimp.

Additionally, a dark-colored substrate can help bring out the vibrant colors of the shrimp, creating a visually stunning tank.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Adding ghost shrimp to an uncycled tank can harm the aquarium’s health. The nitrogen cycle is crucial for maintaining water quality, converting toxic ammonia into less harmful substances.

In an uncycled tank, the necessary beneficial bacteria have not yet established themselves, leading to a spike in ammonia levels. This can result in poor water quality, stress for the shrimp and other tank inhabitants, and potential harm or death for the shrimp.

It is important to properly cycle the tank before adding ghost shrimp or any other aquatic organisms, allowing time for the beneficial bacteria to be established. This ensures a stable and suitable environment for the shrimp to thrive and contribute to the overall balance of the aquarium.

Ideal Water Parameters for Ghost Shrimp

There are several critical factors to consider when maintaining healthy water parameters for ghost shrimp.

First and foremost, monitoring the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the tank is essential. They are sensitive to high levels of ammonia and nitrite, which can harm their health.

In addition to monitoring ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, paying attention to other water parameters such as temperature, GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness), and pH is crucial.

Ghost shrimp thrive in water temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C)…

Ghost shrimp thrive in water temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C), so it is essential to maintain a stable and suitable temperature range for them. GH and KH levels are also crucial as they affect the overall hardness and stability of the water.

They require moderately hard water with a GH of around 6-10 dGH and a KH of 3-8 dKH. Lastly, the pH of the water should be kept within a slightly acidic to neutral range, ideally between 6.5 and 7.5.

There are several tips to maintain healthy GH and calcium levels in the tank. Firstly, a water conditioner containing minerals and electrolytes is recommended to help stabilize GH levels.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your ghost shrimp, it’s crucial to consider compatibility to ensure a peaceful and harmonious tank environment. Here is a list of compatible tank mates that can coexist with ghost shrimp:

Neon Tetras: These small and peaceful fish make great companions for ghost shrimp. They are known for their vibrant colors and active swimming behavior, which adds beauty and movement to the tank.

Cherry Barbs: These colorful fish are relatively peaceful and can coexist with ghost shrimp. The cherry barbs prefer to swim in schools, so keeping them in groups of at least six is recommended.

Corydoras Catfish: These bottom-dwelling fish are peaceful and won’t pose a threat to ghost shrimp. They are also known for their scavenging behavior, which helps keep the bottom of the tank clean.

Mystery Snails: These snails are a great addition to a tank with ghost shrimp. They are peaceful and won’t bother the shrimp. They are also excellent algae eaters, helping maintain a clean and balanced tank.

While these shrimp have many compatible tank mates, it’s essential to be cautious when considering larger and more aggressive fish in the community tank. Some larger fish may see ghost shrimp as a potential snack and may try to eat them. It’s best to avoid aggressive fish species such as cichlids or larger predatory fish.


Avoid keeping different shrimp species in the same tank, as they may have other care requirements and behaviors, leading to conflicts or stress. Keeping ghost shrimp with their kind is best to ensure their well-being and minimize potential issues.

What do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

These shrimp are omnivores, meaning they have a varied plant and animal matter diet. There are several suitable food options to consider when it comes to feeding ghost shrimp. These include flakes, pellets, vegetables, and live foods.

Flakes and pellets are convenient options for feeding these shrimp, providing a balanced diet. Look for high-quality flakes or pellets formulated explicitly for shrimp or small crustaceans.

These foods typically contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals essential for your ghost shrimp’s health and well-being.

In addition to flakes and pellets, ghost shrimp also enjoy eating vegetables. Some suitable options include blanched spinach, zucchini, and cucumber.

These vegetables can be sliced into small pieces and placed in the tank for the shrimp to graze on. Vegetables provide essential nutrients and help keep the shrimp’s digestive system healthy.

Ghost Shrimp enjoy hunting and consuming tiny live organisms…

Live foods are another option to consider when feeding ghost shrimp. They enjoy hunting and consuming tiny live organisms such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

These live foods can be purchased frozen or live from pet stores or online. Be sure to offer them in moderation, as too much protein can harm the shrimp.

Feeding Frequency

Regarding feeding frequency, it is recommended to feed ghost shrimp small amounts of food once or twice daily. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, so it’s crucial to monitor the amount of food consumed and adjust accordingly.

A feeding dish can help prevent uneaten food from scattering throughout the tank, making it easier to clean and maintain.

You can ensure that your ghost shrimp are happy and healthy by providing a varied diet and following these feeding guidelines. Remember to observe their eating habits and adjust their diet to meet their nutritional needs.

Breeding Ghost Shrimp

A Pregnant Glass Shrimp

It’s important to note that while ghost shrimp are generally peaceful creatures, there is still a chance of aggression during breeding. Some male ghost shrimp may exhibit territorial behavior towards each other or pregnant females. Keeping an eye on their interactions is necessary to prevent any harm or stress caused by aggressive behavior.

Female ghost shrimp play a crucial role in the breeding process. Unlike other shrimp species, female ghost shrimp carry their eggs under their abdomen until they hatch.

This unique characteristic makes it easier for breeders to identify pregnant females and provide them with the care they need to ensure successful breeding.

Separate Tank For Ideal Environment

Separating pregnant females from other shrimp in the tank is essential to maximize the chances of successful breeding. This helps protect the young ones from potential harm and ensures that they receive proper attention.

Setting up a dedicated breeding tank or partitioning a section within the main tank can benefit this purpose.

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial for successful breeding. These shrimp prefer clean water with stable parameters. Regular water changes and monitoring ammonia levels are essential to create a healthy environment for adult and newborn shrimp.

Beneficial bacteria help establish a stable nitrogen cycle and maintain water quality…

Introducing beneficial bacteria into the breeding tank can significantly improve the chances of successful reproduction. Beneficial bacteria help establish a stable nitrogen cycle and maintain water quality by breaking down waste products such as ammonia and nitrites. This creates an ideal environment for ghost shrimp to thrive.

Hiding Spots

Providing plenty of hiding places for newborn shrimp is essential when creating a breeding environment. These hiding places offer protection and mimic their natural habitat, making them feel more comfortable and secure.

You can achieve this by adding driftwood, rocks, or artificial plants to the tank. The presence of these hiding spots encourages the survival rate of baby ghost shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp Common Diseases And Treatment

Ghost shrimp are prone to various common diseases, including Vorticella and bacterial infection. These diseases can be detrimental to the health of the shrimp and can even lead to death if not adequately treated.

Therefore, it is crucial to maintain clean tank conditions to prevent these diseases. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and maintaining optimal water parameters are essential for creating a healthy environment for the shrimp.

Parasitic Infection: Vorticella

In the case of Vorticella, a protozoa-caused disease, it is vital to remove the affected shrimp from the tank and treat them separately. Vorticella can be treated with medications that specifically target parasites.

Additionally, thoroughly cleaning the tank and disinfecting any equipment can help prevent the reoccurrence of the infection.

Early detection and prompt treatment are critical to successfully managing and treating common diseases in ghost shrimp. Regularly observing and monitoring your shrimp’s behavior and appearance can help you identify any signs of illness.

By maintaining a clean and healthy tank environment, you can greatly reduce the risk of disease and promote the overall well-being of your ghost shrimp.

Isolation of Infected Shrimp

If you notice any signs of disease in your ghost shrimp, it is essential to isolate them immediately. This will help prevent the spread of the disease to other shrimp in the tank.

You can temporarily use a separate quarantine tank or container to house the infected shrimp. During this time, it is recommended to closely monitor the shrimp’s behavior and appearance to assess the severity of the disease.

Once the infected shrimp has been isolated, you can proceed with the appropriate treatment. For bacterial infections, it is often necessary to use antibiotics specifically designed for aquatic animals.

These medications can be purchased from pet stores or obtained from a veterinarian. Please follow the medication instructions carefully to make sure it’s effective.

Ghost Shrimp as Feeder Fish

Ghost shrimp can be a valuable source of nutrition for larger species as feeder fish. When using ghost shrimp as feeders, gut loading is a crucial aspect to consider.

Gut loading involves feeding the ghost shrimp with nutrient-rich foods before offering them to larger fish. This process ensures that the shrimp are packed with essential nutrients, making them an excellent food source for the larger species.


By gut-loading the ghost shrimp, you can maximize their nutritional value and provide a well-balanced diet for your fish.

Feeding the shrimp with high-quality foods such as algae, vegetables, and specially formulated shrimp pellets is recommended. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which can significantly benefit the health and growth of the larger fish.

However, some concerns may arise regarding parasites when using ghost shrimp as feeder fish. It is important to source the shrimp from reputable suppliers to minimize the risk of introducing parasites into your aquarium.

Additionally, quarantining the shrimp before feeding them to your fish can help further reduce the chances of introducing unwanted organisms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some interesting facts about ghost shrimp?

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp or grass shrimp, are fascinating creatures found in freshwater and brackish environments. One intriguing fact about them is their translucent, almost invisible appearance, which helps them blend into their surroundings and evade predators. Ghost shrimp are proficient burrowers and can create intricate tunnels in the substrate, aiding in their protection and allowing them to feed on detritus. Additionally, they play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems by filtering water and improving its quality.

What do ghost shrimp need to survive?

Ghost shrimp requires several vital elements to thrive. They need a suitable aquatic habitat with clean water, as they are sensitive to water pollution. Proper filtration and regular water changes are essential for their well-being. Ghost shrimp are omnivorous, so they need a varied diet that includes algae, detritus, and small organic matter. Maintaining stable water parameters, including temperature, pH, and hardness, is crucial to their survival. Adequate hiding places in the form of substrate or aquatic plants are also important, as they provide security for these secretive creatures.

What conditions do ghost shrimp like?

Ghost shrimp thrive in specific environmental conditions. They prefer freshwater or slightly brackish water with a temperature range of 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Ideally, the pH level should be around 7.0, and water hardness should be moderate. Maintaining good water quality is essential, which includes regular water changes and filtration to remove debris and waste. Ghost shrimp also appreciate a well-planted aquarium or a habitat with hiding spots like PVC pipes or driftwood.

What is the hardest part about breeding ghost shrimp?

Breeding ghost shrimp can be challenging due to several factors. Firstly, distinguishing between males and females is difficult, as their sexual dimorphism is subtle. Secondly, they require specific water conditions and a stable environment to encourage breeding behavior. Raising young ghost shrimp can also be demanding, as the tiny larvae need microscopic food sources like phytoplankton. Additionally, providing a separate rearing tank for the young shrimp is essential to protect them from potential predation.

How long can ghost shrimp survive without oxygen?

Ghost shrimp, like most aquatic organisms, rely on oxygen for respiration. They can survive without oxygen for a limited time, typically up to 24 to 48 hours in optimal conditions. However, this tolerance may vary depending on water temperature and the shrimp’s health. Ensuring a well-aerated aquarium with sufficient oxygen levels is crucial to prevent stress or fatalities among ghost shrimp. Proper water circulation and surface agitation can help maintain adequate oxygen supply in the aquarium.

Image Reference

  • Content image – Missouri Department of Conservation. Mississippi Grass Shrimp [Photo].
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