Ghost Shrimp – The Care, Feeding and Breeding of Ghost Shrimp

ghost shrimpQuick Stats

Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons
 Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 6.5-7.5 (Soft to Hard)
Temperature: 18-28 °C (65-82 °F)
Maximum Size: 1.5 inches (4 centimetres)

The name ghost shrimp applies to dozens of different shrimp that all share a common trait – a completely translucent body. The name ghost shrimp originates from their nearly transparent bodies and these shrimp can be incredibly difficult to locate in a well planted aquarium.

The conditions that ghost shrimp originate in differ wildly depending on the species. In fact, some of the ghost shrimp sold in stores actually require brackish water, and will quickly die if kept in a freshwater aquarium. But for the most part,  ghost shrimp in stores are a fresh water species, that will thrive in both tropical and cold water aquariums.

In fact, they are a valuable addition to any tank containing small fish, and help to keep the tank clean by eating any missed food and constantly picking through the detritus at the bottom of the tank. They live on average for one and a half years and will grow up to 1 ½ inches if they are properly cared for and well fed.


Ghost shrimp are incredibly easy to house and will thrive in just about any tank provided for them. They are of the few fish or invertebrates that will not only survive, but will reproduce in a small fish bowl (one gallon is the minimum size). Of course they will do better in larger tanks, and some will even establish self-sustaining populations in heavily planted aquariums.

Because most stay under an inch, and produce almost no bio-load (waste), any filter should be chosen for their tank-mates and generally not for the ghost shrimp. If you are choosing a filter for ghost shrimp, it’s important to remember that their babies are free swimming larvae and will be sucked up to rather unpleasant deaths by most filters. Hang-on-back filters and canister filters should be avoided, and the only really safe filter for a ghost shrimp tank is a sponge filter.

But if they are kept in a larger tank with any significant number of fish, then it is still best to use a hang-on back filter or a canister filter. In any tank larger than 10 gallons, the majority of the ghost shrimp larvae will be able to avoid the filter intake of death.


The feeding of ghost shrimp is incredibly easy, and most of their food will be scavenged out of the nooks and crannies of your aquarium. With that being said, they will still appreciate supplements to their diet, and they should regularly be fed a high quality flake food. If any fish are kept in the same tank with ghost shrimp, then sinking pellets should be used to ensure that the shrimp are able to get some of the food before the fish devour it all. I have used New Life Spectrum Small Fish Sinking Formulawith great success in the past with ghost shrimp.

As a treat, they can also occasionally be fed small amounts of frozen food. Their favorites are bloodworms and blackworms, though only a fully grown shrimp is capable of eating a bloodworm. Most other frozen food offered will generally be eaten by any fish in the tank, as it doesn’t sink to the bottom quickly enough for the ghost shrimp to grab.


The breeding of ghost shrimp is relatively easy, and the only requirement is having a sufficient number of male and female shrimp. The difficulty arises in keeping the free swimming larvae alive, since their mouths are too small for normal fish food and most starve to death – at least the ones that are picked off by hungry fish.

If you want a large number of baby shrimp to survive, any pregnant female should be removed from the tank as soon as any eggs are visible. Because of their semi-transparent body, it’s easy to see which females are pregnant and carrying eggs. The female will have numerous tiny green eggs in her abdomen, which will hatch into free swimming larvae after carrying them for a few weeks.

Once you have placed a pregnant female ghost shrimp in the breeding tank, you then have to tackle the problem of larval survival. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the fry are notoriously difficult to feed and most quickly starve to death. But there has been some reported success by people using commercially available fry food or baby brine shrimp.

I have personally never tried either of those options, but I have had significant success by placing large mops of Java moss in the breeding tank for ghost shrimp. It seems to harbor large amount of infusoria in the tendrils of moss that larvae to feast on, and I have had an excellent survival rate for ghost shrimp in any tank with Java moss.


  1. Madison says

    Would a pleco eat a ghost shrimp?? I recently added a few to my 36 gallon tank. It is a planted tank. There have been no problems yet except the occasional hide and seek champion deciding to hide from me…. Lol. Ghost shrimp are hard to find in such a big tank!

    • says

      Hey Madison,

      I actually had a pleco that developed a taste for ghost shrimp. That’s assuming that it’s a common pleco. Common plecos mainly eat plant matter when they’re young, but they start to eat a much meater diet as they get older. Of course there is always the chance that my pleco was just taking an opportunity to eat a dead shrimp, but I did see mine eating some a few times.

  2. Dominic says

    I’ve tried to keep two batches of ghost shrimp now and after 2 weeks most if not all are dead, I’ve done all the testing and my results are all good, I didn’t think tetras would eat them as I’ve been told, I really want some in my tank but have no idea what to do??? Please help
    Cheers dom

    • says

      It’s pretty normal to lose a few ghost shrimp after purchasing them. But you definitely shouldn’t be losing all of them that quickly. The problem with ghost shrimp, is that there are dozens of species, all clumped under one name. Some of the ones sold are actually native to brackish water, and won’t do well in a freshwater aquarium.

      Assuming that you have a freshwater species though, what is the pH and hardness of your water? Are there any plants or hiding places for them? Are of them already darkening in colour when you purchase them? Any whose bodies are beginning to turn a milky colour, will die soon after.

      As long as they are healthy, and you don’t have overly acidic water, they are pretty easy to care for. That’s why I suspect there may be something wrong at the source.

      • Dom says

        Thanks for the reply Matt,
        My water ph is 7.2 and I’m not sure about my water hardness I still need to buy the kit to test it, my tank is fully planted with large rocks and loads of hiding places, so I’m not sure what’s going wrong
        Cheers again

        • says

          Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. Aside from the unknown water hardness, it sounds like you have the perfect conditions for them. I think in this case I’d blame the supplier. And like I said, they are somewhat fragile so it’s normal to lose a few even from a reputable supplier. So if they’re already sick when you pick them up, you could end up losing all of them.

          • Dom says

            I checked my water the other day the kh is 5 and the gh is 107, so from what I can read on the Internet everything should be all good for them, fingers crossed on the next batch I get. Thanks for the help and advice,

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