Keeping Caridina vs Neocaridina Shrimp in Your Aquarium

Freshwater aquarium shrimp come in a wide variety of colors and patterns – they also come in different sizes. Smaller species of freshwater shrimp are often categorized as dwarf shrimp, and they are generally divided into two taxonomical groups: Caridina vs Neocaridina shrimp.

Both genera belong to the family Atyidae in the order Decapoda along with a third genus, Atyopsis. Some of the most popular Caridina species include crystal shrimp (Caridina cantonensis) and Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata) while red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) are the most common Neocaridina species.

Given their genetic similarities, Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp have similar care requirements. In fact, it’s possible to keep both in the same freshwater aquarium. Here’s what you need to know.

Differences in Anatomy and Appearance

When it comes to differences between Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp, some are easy to identify. All dwarf shrimp have slender bodies with ten pairs of legs, five of which they use for walking and five for swimming. These shrimp also possess three pairs of feeding appendages.

The primary anatomical difference between Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp is the size and shape of their reproductive appendage which is actually a modified swimming leg. In Neocaridina species, the end of the reproductive appendage – called the endopod – is round and flat. The endopod in the Caridina species, by contrast, is longer and more slender. These anatomical differences likely account for the fact that the two genera cannot interbreed.

Both Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp come in a variety of colors, but the color tends to stand out more on the opaque bodies of Neocaridina shrimp. Shrimp from either genera typically exhibit solid opaque or translucent color or they have a chunk of color in the middle. The most important thing to remember is that all the different colors seen in dwarf shrimp come from the same few species – they are simply the result of selective breeding.

Tank Size and Setup

Neither Caridina nor Neocaridina shrimp are particularly difficult to care for. The key for either type is starting with an established aquarium and maintaining consistency in your water parameters.

If you’re new to the aquarium hobby, you may find Neocaridina shrimp a little easier to work with. Neocaridina shrimp, often affectionately called Neos in the aquarium hobby, tend to be hardy and adaptable. As long as high water quality is maintained, they will thrive at various temperatures and chemistry profiles. Caridina shrimp tend to be more sensitive and generally prefer soft, slightly acidic water. Sponge filters are ideal for dwarf shrimp tanks because they help keep the water clean and oxygenated without creating too much suction or flow for the shrimp.

Both Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp remain fairly small, growing to an average of maximum around 1 ½ inches in length. They are best kept in groups with other dwarf shrimp – it is possible to mix Caridina and Neocaridina species.

The ideal tank size for freshwater aquarium shrimp is best determined by how many shrimp you plan to keep and whether you plan to keep other tank inhabitants. A 5-gallon tank may be adequate for a small group of dwarf shrimp but if you plan to keep multiple species or larger groups, upgrade to a 10-gallon. For community tanks that include snails, small fish, or other inhabitants, you might consider a 20-gallon tank or larger.

Keeping Caridina vs Neocaridina shrimp.

The final consideration for setting up a freshwater shrimp aquarium is the décor. Dwarf shrimp are scavengers, so they’ll get most of their food by searching the bottom of the tank. Softer and finer substrates are ideal and you should provide plenty of places for your shrimp to hide. Dwarf shrimp tend to do very well in planted tanks, though you’ll need to make adjustments to your filtration and lighting setup if you want to cultivate live aquarium plants.

Feeding and Maintenance

Because Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp are scavengers, they do a pretty good job feeding themselves on algae, biofilm, and detritus in the tank. To maintain their color and encourage breeding, however, you may need to supplement their diet with shrimp pellets, algae wafers, frozen foods, and vegetables. Variety is the key to keeping your shrimp healthy and looking their best.

Neocaridina shrimp are adaptable to a wide range of water parameters but, like Caridina shrimp, they prefer those conditions to remain stable.

Ideal Water Parameters for Neocaridina Shrimp

  • Temperature: 65°F to 85°F
  • pH: 6.4 to 8.0
  • kH: 0 – 10 dKH
  • gH: 4 – 14 dGH

Caridina shrimp aren’t quite as hardy as Neocaridina shrimp, so you may need to be a little more intentional about cultivating and maintaining ideal water parameters.

Ideal Water Parameters for Caridina Shrimp

  • Temperature: below 74°F
  •  pH: 6.0 to 6.8
  • kH: 0 – 1 dKH
  •  gH: 3 – 6 dGH

If you’re planning on keeping just Neocaridina or Caridina shrimp in your tank, simply set up and maintain your tank for the appropriate set of parameters. When mixing the two types of dwarf shrimp, it may be best to aim for parameters within the Caridina’s ideal range and maintain them as consistently as possible for the benefit of your Neocaridina shrimp.

The best thing you can do to keep your freshwater shrimp aquarium in good condition is to perform weekly water changes. A sponge filter will help remove solid waste from the water column and provide a place for beneficial bacteria to thrive, but ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates will accumulate over time if you don’t change out the tank water.

Plan to perform a weekly water change of at least 10% but ideally 20% of your tank volume. The longer you go between water changes, the larger the water change will be. Just be sure to match the tank temperature when you refill the water to avoid shocking or stressing your shrimp.

10 Popular Dwarf Shrimp Species

Because Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp are closely related, they have similar tank requirements. Keeping multiple species in the same tank can create a colorful and intriguing underwater world.

Here are 10 dwarf shrimp species you might consider for your tank:

  1. Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi “Red”)
  2. Red Sakura Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi “Red Sakura”)
  3. Blue Velvet Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi “Blue Velvet”)
  4. Green Jade Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi “Green Jade”)
  5. Orange Fire Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi “Orange”)
  6. Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)
  7. Blue Bolt Shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis)
  8. Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
  9. Ninja Shrimp (Caridina serratirostris)
  10. Tangerine Tiger Shrimp (Caridina serrata)
Dwarf shrimp may be small, but they can add a lot of color and interest to your aquarium. Whether you’re a budding aquarium hobbyist or an experienced pro, take your skills up a notch and make your next aquarium a freshwater shrimp tank.
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