Ghost shrimp (Paleomonetes), also known as Glass shrimp, are common in the freshwater aquarium hobby.
Ghost shrimp make an excellent starter shrimp if you’re just getting into a dedicated shrimp aquarium.
The shrimp appear clear and may have a slight yellowish tint. Their constant movement is interesting to watch.
If you’ve got freshwater fish that are small and not aggressive, Ghost shrimp can live in harmony provided they have the right environment.
They’re inexpensive and easy to care for.
Here’s what you need to know about keeping Ghost shrimp.
Ghost shrimp like room to explore
No one keeps just one Ghost shrimp!
You’re going to want to keep a “herd” of these scavengers. Because they’re not very colorful, most aquarists keep them with shrimp friendly fish in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium.
The shrimp like to climb on driftwood, rock structures, live and plastic plants.
If you create a cave or rock cliff, the shrimp will even hang upside down.
Ghost shrimp, if startled, can “rocket” straight out of the water.
Some curious shrimp may try to explore the rim of the tank and end up on the floor.
Consider a secure lid to keep shrimp inside the aquarium.
Aquascaping essentials for Ghost shrimp include:
Water filtration in the shrimp aquarium
Unlike fish, Ghost shrimp are not strong swimmers.
Ghost shrimp prefer to crawl around the tank, exploring everything.
You don’t need powerful water flow in a shrimp aquarium. If you have troubles with the water flow of your filter, check out this article on how to reduce the flow..
A small hang on back power filter, matched to the aquarium size is all you need. We suggest you check out the Aqua Clear Power Filter on Amazon.
Make sure the filter has an intake screen.
You’ll have to wrap a piece of sponge or fine netting around this screen.
Ghost shrimp like to climb onto the filter intake, scavenging for food.
The shrimp sometimes get sucked against the intake and can’t get free.
Sponge or netting will prevent the shrimp from being harmed by the suction.
Look for a filter that uses cartridges containing activated carbon.
The combination of cartridge pad and activated carbon will provide plenty of water purification.
The cartridge’s fabric will capture tiny debris.
The activated carbon adsorbs organic substances that discolor the water and degrade water quality.
Water quality and Ghost shrimp
Ghost shrimp are very hardy and don’t have any special water chemistry requirements.
But that doesn’t mean anything goes.
Like all tropical fish and invertebrates, Ghost shrimp like stable water temperature and water chemistry.
They can live in water as cool as 68°F and warm water up to about 85°F.
Quick swings in water temperature, however, are stressful and should be avoided.
In most cases aquariums water temperature problems arise from air conditioning.
Use an aquarium heater to stabilize the water temperature and prevent rapid cooling.
A temperature range of 74-78°F is recommended.
If you’ve got tropical fish, they’ll also need a stable water temperature, so use a heater!
pH is not critical.
A range of 6.5 up to 8.0 is acceptable to Ghost shrimp. Water hardness and alkalinity should be kept from 3 to 10 degrees.
When making water changes, make sure there are no dramatic changes in pH or hardness.
Copper and Ghost shrimp don’t mix
The great thing about Ghost shrimp is they’re very hardy.
But there’s one thing they don’t like – copper.
Let's find out why.
Copper is an essential trace element used by plants and animals. Our blood uses iron to carry oxygen throughout our body.
Shrimp have blue blood because their blood uses copper, not iron, to bind to oxygen.
But too much copper dissolved in aquarium water is poisonous to Ghost shrimp and other aquatic life.
Certain fish medications and algae control products contain copper. Never use these products with shrimp!
But that’s not the only way copper gets into the aquarium.
As tap water passes through copper pipes, it can pick up copper and carry it into the aquarium when you add water.
If your sink, toilet or bath tub has blue-green satins, you have copper in your water supply.
You can also test your water with an aquarium copper test kit.
It’s OK to use bottled “spring” or “filtered” water in the shrimp aquarium.
Don’t use distilled or reverse osmosis water.
These types of purified water contain no water hardness minerals or pH stabilizing carbonates.
Spring and filtered water contain a variety of beneficial minerals but are tested to make sure it contains no harmful copper or other metals.
Some aquarium water conditioners contain a metal detoxifying chemical but it may not be strong enough to render all of the copper harmless to the shrimp if your water contains a high level of copper.
Maintaining water quality
While Ghost shrimp are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, it’s no excuse for letting the water quality decline.
A dirty aquarium with sludge build up is a breeding ground for disease-causing organisms.
As the aquarium ages, fragments of plants, algae, solid waste and uneaten food accumulate in the gravel.
This organic sludge is natural and can be a source of nutrients for live plants.
But too much sludge becomes a haven for microbes that cause fish and shrimp health problems.
It can also cause a yellowish tint in the aquarium water.
These natural tannins reduce light penetration and will give the tank an tea like hue.
An aquarium filter helps, but water changes restore mineral balance while diluting excess algae promoting nutrients like phosphate and nitrate.
Partial water changes dilute these nutrients and lower the chances of excess algae growth on the rocks, gravel and aquarium glass. We recommend changing 10% of the water every week or 20% every two weeks .
A siphon tube or gravel cleaner makes it easy to remove dirty water and sludge and debris.
Shrimp are attracted to the debris stirred up during cleaning.
Be careful not to suck out a curious shrimp!
Make sure the replacement water is about the same temperature as the aquarium water.
How to feed Ghost shrimp
Ghost shrimp are omnivores, meaning they will consume plant and animal-based diets.
In nature and in your aquarium, they’ll scavenge for algae cells, biofilm, tiny worms and other live foods.
Look closely and you’ll see that most of their activity is exploring the tank and picking at bits of live foods too tiny to see.
The shrimp will hunt for food on anything in the aquarium and forage through the gravel.
Ghost shrimp will also eat flakes, pellets and discs.
They’ll grab and carry micro pellets into their safe zone.
You may be able to see the food particles inside their clear body.
If you’re keeping shrimp in a peaceful community tank, the shrimp may need to be given sinking pellets or other foods if the fish eat all the food before it reaches the shrimp.
In most cases bits of flakes and stray pellets are snatched by the hungry shrimp.
After a while, some shrimp learn to climb to the water surface a grab flakes and pellets before the fish can!
Live Java moss is a great natural food source for Ghost shrimp.
The green moss provides a protective micro environment for tiny live foods to live in.
The shrimp will feed on these live foods as they explore the moss.
Breeding Ghost shrimp
It’s possible to breed Ghost shrimp in an aquarium.
All you need to do is provide dense cover with live plants and add four of five shrimp.
If there is a pair, they’ll breed. The female will be seen carrying tiny green eggs.
When the eggs hatch, the larva will hide in the dense cover, protected from the other shrimp. Eventually you see them emerge as tiny fully formed shrimp.
Final thoughts on Ghost shrimp
Ghost shrimp are hardy and inexpensive, making them a great place to start with shrimp keeping.
Experienced shrimp keepers recommend sticking with a single type of shrimp, even in a community aquarium with peaceful fish.
If you’re looking for a new hobby or want to expand your existing aquarium experience, be sure to explore the world of Ghost shrimp!