- Species Name: Cardina cantonensis
- Common Names: crystal black shrimp, black bee shrimp
- Size: ¾ to 1 ¼ inches
- Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
- Native Distribution: Taiwan
While cherry shrimp may be the most easily identifiable freshwater shrimp in the aquarium hobby, crystal black shrimp are strong contenders. Also known as black bee shrimp, these shrimp exhibit stark black and white coloration sure to create a stunning contrast in your tank. These black crystal shrimp are a little more sensitive than other species, but they’re still a joy to keep in the home aquarium.
Anatomy and Appearance
Crystal black shrimp are similar in anatomy and appearance to other dwarf shrimp. They reach up to 1.25 inches in length and have long, slender bodies and ten pairs of legs sprouting from their muscular abdomens. Like other dwarf shrimp, crystal black shrimp use five pairs of legs for walking and five for swimming. They also have three pairs of feeding appendages on their abdomens.
Like many dwarf shrimp, crystal black shrimp are graded according to their markings and coloration. Compared to cherry shrimp, however, grading crystal black shrimp is much more specific. It follows the same grading scale as crystal red shrimp:
- C-Grade – These shrimp are almost fully black with thin white stripes. The color is fairly translucent.
- B-Grade – Shrimp of this grade have more white color than C-grades, including some bands of color, but the coloration is still fairly uneven.
- A-Grade – Ideal for beginners, A-grade crystal black shrimp have more defined bands of black and their coloration is opaquer than B-grades.
- S-Grade – Compared to A-grades, these shrimp have relatively opaque coloration and strong color solidity with a less clearly defined middle black band.
- SS-Grade – These shrimp are higher in quality than S-grade because they have slightly less black. Instead of bands, their coloration is dot-shaped.
- SSS-Grade – The highest grade of crystal black shrimp, these shrimp are mostly white.
In addition to being graded by color, crystal black shrimp are graded by pattern. The lowest grade (S/A) is given to shrimp with three white bands while the highest (SSS) is given to shrimp with a thick band of black behind the head and a small dot on the tail.
Ideal Aquarium Setup
All freshwater shrimp are sensitive to fluctuations in tank chemistry and are best introduced to a fully established tank. Crystal black shrimp require different water parameters compared to their Neocaridina cousins like cherry shrimp and green jade shrimp.
Though crystal black shrimp may be small, their sensitivity to changes in water chemistry makes a large tank a better choice than a smaller one. These shrimp need at least 10 gallons for a small group of shrimp but the bigger the tank, the more stable the water chemistry is likely to be.
A crystal black shrimp tank should be fully cycled and established before adding shrimp. These shrimp require a quality filtration system, though it’s wise to avoid systems with strong suction or heavy output. Sponge filters are ideal, especially if you plan to breed your crystal black shrimp.
Crystal black shrimp can survive at room temperature but it’s best to install an aquarium heater to keep the water temperature from fluctuating too much.
The ideal tank parameters for cherry shrimp are:
- Temperature: 68°F to 76°F
- pH Level: 5.5 to 6.5
- Water Hardness: 4.0 to 6.0 dGH
Routine maintenance is essential for keeping your crystal black shrimp healthy. The water should be fairly soft and acidic, kept free from ammonia and nitrates with frequent water changes. It’s wise to test the water regularly so you can catch changes in water chemistry early enough to make adjustments.
Because crystal black shrimp are so sensitive to changes in water chemistry, frequent low-volume water changes are preferable to infrequent high-volume changes. You should plan to change about 30% of the tank volume each week.
Crystal black shrimp are fairly active and will appreciate having space to explore their tank. Planted tanks are best for freshwater shrimp because live plants provide cover under which your shrimp can hide as well as food. Decorations like driftwood and flat rocks increase the surface area on which algae and biofilm (two important food sources for shrimp) can grow.
Lighting is not a biological factor for crystal black shrimp but is important for planted tanks. Many shrimp keepers prefer hardy, fast-growing species like java ferns and java moss. Fake plants can also be used as tank décor, but they will not oxygenate the water for your shrimp like live plants will.
Diet and Feeding
Crystal black shrimp are omnivores and they thrive on a varied diet. While these shrimp will naturally feed on algae and biofilm that forms in the aquarium, it’s necessary to supplement their diet. Shrimp pellets are a strong addition to your crystal black shrimp’s diet, but they will also enjoy frozen foods, algae wafers, and blanched vegetables.
Be mindful when feeding crystal black shrimp that uneaten food will break down and affect the ammonia and nitrate levels in the tank. It’s best to feed in small portions and remove any uneaten food after two hours.
Temperament and Tank Mates
Though crystal black shrimp are not recommended for beginners due to their sensitive nature, they are non-aggressive. They can be safely kept with other peaceful shrimp species like Amano shrimp as well as other invertebrates like snails.
Avoid keeping crystal black shrimp with fish except for small and very peaceful species like Otocinclus catfish or dwarf Corydoras. Larger fish – even community species like tetras – may consider crystal black shrimp and shrimplets prey.
Breeding Green Crystal Black Shrimp
While some freshwater shrimp are difficult to breed in the home aquarium, crystal black shrimp tend to breed fairly readily. In fact, you may not have to do much besides provide optimal tank parameters to encourage your shrimp to breed on their own.
Female crystal black shrimp are generally larger and more brightly colored than males. They carry eggs between their back legs for about 30 days before releasing the shrimplets. Once released, the shrimplets do not require any special care.
Other Interesting Facts
- Crystal black shrimp will eat some unusual foods like dried Mulberry leaves, cholla wood, and Indian almond leaves.
- Because crystal black shrimp breed so readily, you can keep them with other shrimp to create hybrids. They’re most likely to interbreed with crystal red shrimp because they are two varieties of the same species.
- The gene for black coloration is dominant in crystal black shrimp, so it is possible for crystal red shrimp to have black offspring and there is a small chance crystal black shrimp could have red babies. Check out our Crystal Shrimp Combo Pack.
- The crystal black shrimp is derived from the bee shrimp, a small species of freshwater fish native to Taiwan and known for its black-and-white striped coloration.
Interested in purchasing Crystal Black Shrimp? Feel free to check them out here!