Species Name: Caridina cantonensis “Pinto”
Common Names: Black galaxy pinto shrimp
Size: Up to 1 inch
Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
Native Distribution: Japan
Freshwater dwarf shrimp come in a wide variety of colors and patterns but one of the most striking is the black galaxy pinto shrimp. This dwarf shrimp variety is highly sought after and fetches a hefty price in the aquarium industry. Aptly named, the black galaxy pinto shrimp has a black-and-white pattern that brings to mind a night sky speckled with stars.
Here’s what you need to know about black galaxy pinto shrimp genetics and how to properly care for and breed this variety for yourself.
Black Galaxy Pinto Shrimp Genetics
The freshwater dwarf shrimp variety known as the black galaxy pinto shrimp is a crossbreed. Pinto shrimp, also called Taitibee shrimp, result from crossing two Caridina cantonensis varieties—either tiger shrimp with Taiwan bee shrimp or tiger shrimp with crystal red or crystal black shrimp. Pinto shrimp exhibit black, white, or red colors in an array of patterns.
The black galaxy pinto coloration refers to this variety’s black-and-white color combination. As with other Caridina cantonensis varieties, the more white color a black galaxy pinto shrimp has, the higher the grade. Higher opacity (as opposed to translucency) of color is also important for grading.
Because the black galaxy pinto shrimp is simply a color variant of the Caridina cantonensis species, its anatomy is similar to other popular varieties. These shrimp remain smaller than some dwarf shrimp, however, growing up to 1 inch in length. With proper care, they live an average of 18 months.
Ideal Aquarium Setup
While black galaxy pinto shrimp do not occur in the wild, their care is similar to other Caridina cantonensis varieties. Caridina shrimp prefer tropical temperatures with soft, slightly acidic water. Above all else, however, high water quality and stable conditions are required.
Because they remain small, the black galaxy pinto shrimp doesn’t require a lot of space. That said, they are highly sensitive to fluctuations in tank conditions and they are best kept in colonies with others of their kind. A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended, but 20 gallons is better.
Another consideration related to tank size for black galaxy pinto shrimp involves their feeding habits. Like other dwarf shrimp, black galaxy pintos are scavengers and they feed heavily on algae growth and microfilm. Larger tanks offer greater surface area on which these food sources can accumulate.
Stability is the most important factor when it comes to water parameters for black galaxy pinto shrimp. These shrimp may be able to adapt to the conditions in a mature tank, but you should acclimate them as slowly as possible to avoid shock.
The ideal tank parameters for black galaxy pinto shrimp are:
- Temperature: 68°F to 74°F
- pH Level: 6.0 to 6.8
- GH: 3 to 6 dGH
- KH: 0-2 dKH
Recommendations vary in regard to specific tank parameters for black galaxy pinto shrimp because they’re a crossbreed of two separate varieties. The best course of action may be to match your tank setup to the conditions in which the shrimp were bred.
Freshwater dwarf shrimp generally don’t require much in the way of tank equipment. Some kind of gentle filtration is recommended—such as a sponge filter or Matten filter—and a heater to keep the tank temperature as stable as possible. Lighting should be dictated by the plants in your tank.
Like other freshwater dwarf shrimp, mature planted tanks are ideal for black galaxy pinto shrimp. Not only does a planted tank offer places for your shrimp to hide, but they help keep the water clean and well-oxygenated. Your shrimp will feed on decaying plant matter as well but shouldn’t bother healthy plant leaves.
In addition to plenty of plants, your shrimp tank should be decorated with soft substrate (like fine sand or aqua soil) and driftwood or porous rockwork. Driftwood and porous surfaces like rocks provide surfaces on which algae and microfilm can accumulate. These are two of the primary food sources for dwarf shrimp. Arrange your décor to provide ample hiding places for your shrimp.
Diet and Feeding
A mature planted tank with plenty of driftwood and porous rockwork will provide ample algae, microfilm, and plant matter on which your shrimp will feed. Depending on the size of your tank and how many shrimp you keep, however, supplemental feeding may be necessary.
The best commercial foods for dwarf shrimp are herbivore formulas like small algae wafers or shrimp pellets. Fresh and frozen foods can be offered as well but feed high-protein foods sparingly. Too much protein can cause your shrimp to grow too quickly, leading to issues when they molt. Blanched vegetables are another excellent supplementary food source.
Temperament and Tank Mates
The best tank mates for black galaxy pinto shrimp are others of their kind. Because these shrimp are small and gentle, you can keep large colonies together—as large as your tank can adequately accommodate. These shrimp can be kept with other Caridina shrimp as well, but keep in mind that they may crossbreed. Neocaridina shrimp may be appropriate tank mates for these shrimp as well since their preferred water parameters are a little closer to the black galaxy pinto shrimp’s than some.
If you plan to keep your black galaxy pinto shrimp in a community tank with other inhabitants, make sure they are a fit in terms of size and temperament. Avoid fish that might see your shrimp as prey, like bettas and cichlids. Small, peaceful top-feeders or mid-dwellers may be appropriate as well as peaceful bottom feeders like pygmy Corydoras.
Breeding Black Galaxy Pinto Shrimp
The black galaxy pinto pattern is tricky to achieve through crossbreeding. Once you have a healthy colony of these shrimp, however, they should breed with relatively little interference. Just be sure to maintain high water quality in your tank and feed your shrimp as needed to keep them in good condition.
The challenge with breeding these shrimp is centered around sexing. It can be difficult to tell males apart from females until they are mature. Even then, the saddle on female shrimp can be tricky to identify due to the shrimp’s dark coloration. The best method is to keep a sizable colony together and let the shrimp breed on their own.