Guide to Freshwater Shrimp Care

Our Guide to Freshwater Shrimp Care

Welcome to the world of freshwater shrimp! Interested in taking the plunge in keeping these wonderful freshwater invertebrates but have no idea where to start? Have no fear! Shrimpy Business has got you covered for aquarium shrimp care. 

We have compiled a list of important aspects to the freshwater shrimp hobby to equip hobbyists with the necessary knowledge to understand how to care for freshwater shrimp. 


Before you can properly learn how to care for shrimp, it’s first important to understand the different varieties of freshwater shrimp. That’s because each variety will require different parameters. The following is a high-level overview:

Neocaridina Shrimp

This is a hard water shrimp variety, however, Neocaridina shrimp can survive in a wide range of water parameters if acclimated appropriately. We recommend beginners to start with Neocaridina shrimp as they typically can survive in most conditioned tap water in the USA.

Caridina Shrimp

Caridina Shrimp require soft, acidic water. They typically require remineralized RO/DI water and an active substrate to bring down the PH. If you would like to read more about how to set up a Caridina tank, we have a separate article here.

Sulawesi Shrimp

These shrimp are only found in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia and are the smallest among all the shrimp we carry. Sulawesi are a hard water variety and require warm water in the range of 80F to 84F. These shy shrimp are natural rock dwellers and require rock in their setup for them to graze algae off of and for them to feel safe.

Other Freshwater Shrimp varieties

Amano Shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp and Vampire shrimp are the other varieties that technically do not fall into the categories above (Amano Shrimp is technically a Caridina variety as well, but we’ll leave that for another blog 😊). These 3 shrimp will do well in a Neocaridina setup. 


Want to learn how to care for shrimp in small aquariums or large tanks? It all starts with water chemistry. 

Water parameters or water chemistry is the most important topic to master when it comes to freshwater shrimp care. For hobbyists who have been familiar with keeping freshwater fish, the compounds that might be familiar are Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia which makes up the Nitrogen Cycle

Ensuring the aquarium is cycled is important for freshwater shrimp, however, freshwater invertebrates have very different anatomy compared to freshwater fish. Invertebrates also go through a molting process as they grow and mature, unlike freshwater fish. 

Because of the difference in anatomy and the molting process, General Hardness (GH), Carbonate Hardness (KH) and Potential Hydrogen (PH) are very important parameters to watch out for to ensure our freshwater shrimp friends go through a healthy molting cycle.

a) General Hardness (GH)

GH is a measure of the concentration of Calcium ions (Ca2+) and Magnesium ions (Mg 2+) per volume of water. The unit of measure of most test strips is Parts Per Million (ppm). 

However, we recommend using the Liquid API GH test kit as we find that the liquid test kit is more accurate compared to the test strips. The unit of measure of the liquid API test kit is in Degrees of General Hardness or dGH. 1 dGH is roughly 17.9 ppm. 

Soft water basically means that the water has a low GH, and Hard water means that the water has a high GH. The following are the dGH ranges for soft water, water with medium hardness and Hard water:

  • Soft Water: 0-3 dGH
  • Medium Hardness: 4-6 dGH
  • Hard Water: >7 dGH

Type of Freshwater Shrimp

Recommended dGH Range

Neocaridina Shrimp

7 to 12 dGH

Caridina Shrimp

3 to 4 dGH

Sulawesi Shrimp

6 to 8 dGH

b) Carbonate Hardness (KH)

“K” in the abbreviated term KH actually comes from the German word of Carbonate, Karbonatharte. KH is a measure of the concentration of Carbonate and Bicarbonate ions in the water, which correlates to the buffering capacity of the water. 

In other words, KH keeps the PH stable. The higher the KH, the more forgiving the water chemistry will be to additions that might normally alter the PH. The unit of measure of most test strips is Parts Per Million (ppm).

However, we recommend using the Liquid API KH test kit as we find that the liquid test kit is more accurate compared to the test strips. 

The unit of measure of the liquid API test kit is in Degrees of Carbonate Hardness or dKH. 1 dKH is roughly 17.9 ppm.

Type of Freshwater Shrimp

Recommended dKH Range

Neocaridina Shrimp

4 to 8 dKH

Caridina Shrimp

0 dKH

Sulawesi Shrimp

3 to 8 dKH


c) Potential Hydrogen (PH)

PH measures the concentration of Hydronium (H+) ions in water, and it is measured based on a scale of 1 to 14. 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic.

PH for Neocaridina Shrimp

The PH for Neocaridina shrimp is not as important because it correlates with KH. If the KH is in an acceptable range, the PH will most likely be between 7 and 8, which is OK.

PH for Caridina Shrimp

The PH for a Caridina shrimp setup is determined by the active substrate that is being used. The substrate we recommend is SL-Aqua soil which buffers the PH at about 5.8 to 6.4. 

The active substrate does exhaust itself after a certain period, the sign that the substrate is reaching its end of life is when the PH starts increasing. If the PH starts increasing, the substrate will have to be changed out. We find that the SL-Aqua substrate lasts about 2-3 years. If the KH is above 0, the PH will most likely be higher and the lifespan of the substrate will be shortened.

PH for Sulawesi Shrimp

We find Sulawesi Shrimp do well in a higher PH setup. To buffer the PH above a 7, we use a substrate that is rich in Carbonates like Seachem Onyx Sand. It usually buffers the PH around an 8. 

Type of Freshwater Shrimp


PH Range

Neocaridina Shrimp

7 to 8 

Caridina Shrimp

5.8 to 6.4

Sulawesi Shrimp

7.5 to 8.5 


d) Temperature

Both Neocaridina Shrimp and Caridina Shrimp are cold-water shrimp species. Therefore, most aquariums do not require heaters if the room temperature is within the range stated below. Sulawesi shrimp on the other hand are a warm-water shrimp species and require a heated setup.

Type of Freshwater Shrimp


Temperature Range

Neocaridina Shrimp

65F to 76F

Caridina Shrimp

65F to 72F

Sulawesi Shrimp

78F to 84F


e) Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

TDS as its name suggests is a measure of all dissolved solids in the water. A TDS measure can be obtained with a TDS pen. If TDS of a tap water is measured, it will measure EVERY Dissolved solid in the water. Not limited to metal compounds, carbonate compounds, and other chemicals that are added to make the water safe to use. 

Therefore, it is not really a useful measurement if tap water is being used. If tap water is being used in a Neocaridina setup, the TDS measurement can be disregarded.

Where TDS comes in handy is when remineralized Reverse Osmosis / Deionized (RO/DI) water is being used. We’ll use a Caridina setup for this for example. Since RO/DI water is pure water, the TDS measurement should be 0 ppm (or close to zero). 

If a GH+ product is added to the water to increase just the GH, only GH compounds are added and nothing else. Therefore, the TDS measurement will measure the concentration of GH that is present in the water. 

For the GH+ product of our choice, we know that 80 to 90ppm will correlate to around 3 GH (through our own testing and per the information on the bottle). Knowing this, we can add the GH+ product into a new batch of RO water until the TDS is around 80-90ppm. 

Getting a TDS number is obtained by simply dipping the TDS pen into the water, this is so much simpler compared to performing a GH test after each additional dose of GH. In summary, TDS is mainly used to make our lives as freshwater shrimp hobbyists easier. 


Shrimp are natural scavengers and will eat a wide variety of food. It is important to have a fully cycled and mature tank prior to adding shrimp. This is a crucial step because it provides biofilm and algae for adult shrimp and baby shrimp to constantly feed on. 

To supplement the tank, most high-protein fish food will do OK. However, to encourage breeding and to ensure the shrimp are healthy, we recommend a high protein, high vitamin and high mineral diet specially formulated for shrimp. We feed our own line of shrimp food here.

If the heater is not used and the tank fluctuates with the room temperature over the year, we find that shrimp metabolism slows down significantly when it is cooler, therefore, their appetites will be significantly smaller. If a heater is used, and temperature is constant the shrimp appetite will usually stay the same throughout the year. 

We recommend feeding daily. Figuring out the amount of food to feed can be tricky. We recommend starting with a very small amount of food and removing any leftovers (if any) after 4-6 hours. If there are leftovers after 4-6 hours, the amount of food introduced is probably too much, and the amount of food should be reduced until little or no leftovers are remaining after 4-6 hours. 


If the shrimp tank is not overfed frequently, nitrates should not get out of hand because freshwater shrimp has a very low bio-load. Therefore, they do not need large and frequent water changes. We recommend 15-20% water change every 2-3 weeks by dripping new water back into the tank via an airline tubing or a drip system. This is to prevent large water parameter swings in the aquarium.

We hope this helps you along with your Shrimpy journey.! If you have any other questions regarding how to take care of freshwater shrimp, or other general shrimp-related inquiries, contact us! Don't hesitate to reach out to us at for any questions regarding this post or shrimp care in general. We'll be more than happy to help! :)

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Thanks again for the help 🙏 🙂. I’m just counting down the days so I can have some shrimp in my aquarium.

Dan Titus

Shrimps hobby, very good instruction for beginning, I am in the process builds up 5gallon tank aquarium…. I am looking for to buy neocaridina shrimps soon.

Davis be Le


My name is Devin and I’m about to start a shrimp tank for the first time, and I look forward to purchasing some of your gorgeous looking shrimp once my tank is fully cycled. I just have a few questions…

- Since I am going the neocaridina route to begin with, is a substrate with clay okay to use? Is it going to be inert or will it lower the ph over time?
- How long will it take to fully cycle the tank and what is the best way to get that process started once I have the tank set up?
- Is there a specific type of rock/wood I should ideally be using for my aquascape? I’ve read some places that seiryu stone can be beneficial, will this help with forming a biofilm or will algae be able to grow on this type of stone?
- Is there any specific type of wood I should use for my scape as well? I want to promote the biofilm buildup so are there specific woods that will be better for overall tank health?

Thank you for any help you can give, and have a great day!



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