Bamboo Shrimp Care Guide: A Graceful Filter Feeder for Your Aquarium

Species Snapshot

  •       Species Name: Atyopsis moluccensis, Atyopsis spinipes
  •       Common Names: Bamboo shrimp, dwarf bamboo shrimp, fan shrimp, flower shrimp
  •       Size: Up to 3 inches
  •       Lifespan: Up to 2 years
  •       Native Distribution: Southeast Asia

Freshwater shrimp make excellent additions to your cleanup crew, but many species are too small to be kept with certain fish. If you’re looking for a slightly larger and hardier species of freshwater shrimp, the bamboo shrimp might be right for you.

Known for their reddish-brown color and gentle temperament, bamboo shrimp differ from dwarf shrimp in more than just size. They also have fan-like appendages they use to filter food from the water. Read everything you need to know about caring for these beautiful freshwater shrimp in this bamboo shrimp care guide.

Anatomy and Appearance

The name bamboo shrimp applies to two species of freshwater shrimp native to Southeast Asia. The genus Atyopsis includes the bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis) and the dwarf bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis spinipes). Shrimp in this genus are also sometimes called wood shrimp, fan shrimp, flower shrimp, or Asian filter-feeding shrimp.

Bamboo shrimp and dwarf bamboo shrimp look very similar. They both range in size, growing up to three inches in length. They’re reddish-brown with a horizontal striped pattern that resembles woodgrain. The primary differentiation between the two species is that Atyopsis spinipes has 2-6 teeth on the underside of the rostrum while Atyopsis moluccensis has 7-16.

Ideal Aquarium Setup

Like many freshwater shrimp, bamboo shrimp are native to tropical habitats and their aquarium environment should be designed with that in mind. Bamboo shrimp do best in established planted tanks that provide plenty of places to hide. It also doesn’t hurt if there’s an accumulation of detritus you can stir up from time to time for your shrimp to feed on.

Keep in mind that these shrimp do not scrape algae or biofilm from surfaces in the tank—they filter food from the water, so you’ll need to create adequate water flow to naturally distribute food throughout the tank. Occasionally stirring the substrate will loosen detritus, though supplemental feeding is still wise.

Tank Size

As a larger species of freshwater shrimp, bamboo shrimp should be kept in tanks 20 gallons or larger. It’s the combination of water volume and water movement that will enable your shrimp to feed properly.

Water Parameters

Bamboo shrimp are sensitive to changes in water parameters and they require high water quality. This can be tricky, however, because they rely on accumulated detritus circulating in the tank as their primary food source. If you perform water changes too often—especially if you vacuum the substrate—your shrimp could starve.

The best way to prevent this problem is to ensure your tank is fully cycled and well-established before you add your shrimp. Make sure your plants and other tank inhabitants have settled in and the water parameters have stabilized. As long as your tank isn’t overstocked and you don’t overfeed, you should only need to perform small water changes to control ammonia and nitrite levels.

The ideal water parameters for bamboo shrimp are:

  •       Water Temperature: 71-82
  •       pH Level: 6.5-7.5
  •       General Hardness: 6-10 dGH
  •       Carbonate Hardness: 3-6 dKH

Depending on what type of filter you use in your tank, you may need to add a powerhead or two to facilitate circulation. Play around with the arrangement and aim of these additions, paying attention to the areas where your bamboo shrimp tend to congregate for feeding. Once you’ve discovered their favorite feeding areas, you can adjust decorations to keep them open and use the powerheads to direct the flow of water through this area.

Tank Décor

Like other freshwater shrimp, bamboo shrimp tend to prefer planted tanks, but the tank shouldn’t be too cluttered. There needs to be enough open space so that your shrimp can filter food from the water. Over-planted tanks may stifle the water flow necessary to keep food sources circulating.

Diet and Feeding

Bamboo shrimp are similar to other freshwater shrimp in that they are scavengers. They’ll eat detritus including decaying plant matter, uneaten fish food, and even algae in the tank. Unlike many species, however, they don’t sift through the substrate or scrape algae and biofilm from tank surfaces to eat—they use their unique fan appendages to filter food from the water column itself.

Water movement is essential in a bamboo shrimp tank. If the water is stagnant, food sources will settle, and will be more difficult for your shrimp to find. If you see your bamboo shrimp scraping along the substrate for food, it’s a sign they’re not getting enough from the water. Supplemental feeding is often required to keep bamboo shrimp healthy.

The key to feeding bamboo shrimp is to offer small amounts of very fine food as often as needed. Spirulina powder, baby brine shrimp, and even crushed flakes work well. Release the food in small amounts near the shrimp or near your filter outlet to make sure your shrimp can filter it out of the water properly.

Temperament and Tank Mates

Bamboo shrimp are generally very peaceful and can get along with other freshwater shrimp. These shrimp do well in groups as long as there is sufficient space and food. Freshwater dwarf shrimp make good tankmates, as do Amano shrimp and ghost shrimp, but avoid crayfish which might eat your shrimp.

Most peaceful fish make good tankmates for bamboo shrimp, as long as they aren’t large enough to eat your shrimp. Small-to-medium-sized species like tetras, danios, and livebearers make good tankmates. Algae-eaters and bottom dwellers like otocinclus and kuhli loaches may work well too.

The best bamboo shrimp care guide.

Breeding Bamboo Shrimp

It can be very challenging to breed bamboo shrimp in a home aquarium environment, primarily because the juveniles require brackish water to develop. If you plan to breed bamboo shrimp, you’ll need a freshwater tank to condition and breed the adults. Once they breed, you’ll then need to transfer the larvae to a brackish tank to develop.

Though raising bamboo shrimp larvae can be difficult, it’s easy enough to sex the shrimp and to encourage breeding. Female bamboo shrimp have larger abdomens and longer pleopods. Males are slimmer overall and have small but well-developed claws on their front limbs.

If you’re looking for an attractive addition to an established freshwater aquarium, consider the bamboo shrimp. Though challenging in terms of feeding and breeding, these shrimp are beautiful to behold and their unique behavior makes them endlessly entertaining.

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