Also known as the white pearl shrimp, snowball shrimp are a neocaridina species known for their translucent white coloration. They can be striking additions to a shrimp tank, contrasting beautifully with dark substrate and lush plant life.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics about snowball shrimp including their care requirements, as well as some tips for maintaining a healthy ideal habitat.
- Species Name: Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis
- Common Names: Snowball shrimp, snowball neocaridina shrimp, white pearl shrimp
- Size: Up to 1.5 inches
- Lifespan: 1-2 years
- Native Distribution: Taiwan
Native to Southeast Asia, the pearl shrimp (Neocaridina zhangjiajiensis) is a species of freshwater dwarf shrimp in the genus Neocaridina. Originally popularized for their blue coloration, pearl shrimp have been selectively bred for white coloration in a variant known as white pearl shrimp or snowball shrimp.
As with other dwarf shrimp, snowball neocaridina shrimp color intensity depends on breeding. True snowball shrimp are translucent white all over. Some sources suggest that the nickname “snowball shrimp” isn’t a reference to the shrimp’s color, however, but to their eggs. Pure white and carried under the female’s white saddle, the eggs look like mini snowballs.
Regardless of the origins of this species’ name, the snowball shrimp is a stunning specimen. They can be kept with other Neocaridina species with similar tank requirements to create a patchwork of color and contrast in your shrimp tank.
Ideal Aquarium Setup
As members of the genus Neocaridina, snowball shrimp are relatively easy to care for but do best in planted tanks. They feed primarily on biofilm and algae, so a lushly planted tank provides ample sustenance. Your snowball shrimp will also appreciate driftwood and rockwork decorations to ensure they have plenty of places to hide.
A minimum tank size of 5 gallons is recommended for a small group of snowball shrimp. If you plan to keep a larger colony or add other dwarf shrimp species, consider a larger tank at least 10 gallons or larger. Snowball shrimp can also be kept in community tanks with small, peaceful species of fish that won’t prey on them, but the tank size should be scaled up accordingly.
Native to Southeast Asia, snowball shrimp prefer warm, clean water. The ideal temperature range for these shrimp is quite wide at 65°F to 85°F. What matters most is keeping the temperature stable. You can easily achieve temperature stability by using an aquarium heater with a programmable thermostat.
Snowball shrimp are also fairly adaptable to varying pH levels—they’ll do just fine with pH levels ranging from 6.2 to 7.8. They do, however, prefer slightly softer water with GH ranging from 3-7 and KH from 1-8.
It’s wise to monitor water quality in your shrimp tank by testing weekly for ammonia and nitrite. Both ammonia and nitrite should test at zero when you first add your shrimp—any increase in either of these values should be countered as needed with weekly water changes. Just be sure to match the water temperature when refilling your tank to avoid shocking your shrimp.
The most important element in decorating a snowball shrimp tank is live plants. Not only do live plants create a stunning natural environment with plenty of places for your shrimp to hide, but they accumulate biofilm and algae which serve as the primary food source for dwarf shrimp. Your shrimp will look most attractive against dark substrate and driftwood can add intrigue to your tank.
If you decide to incorporate rockwork into your shrimp tank, choose textured rather than smooth stones to maximize the surface area for biofilm accumulation. Just be wary of including rocks that might change the pH or hardness of your tank water.
Tips for Maintaining Clean Water
Though snowball shrimp are no less hardy than other Neocaridina species, they require optimal tank conditions in order to thrive. The key is to make sure your tank is fully cycled and mature before adding your shrimp. This gives the tank time to accumulate biofilm and algae on which your shrimp can feed—it also reduces the risk of fluctuations in water chemistry.
Here are some simple tips for maintaining high water quality in your shrimp tank:
- Outfit your shrimp tank with some kind of filter—sponge filters are often best for shrimp tanks. Snowball shrimp don’t require strong water flow, so a sponge filter may provide sufficient biological filtration.
- Test your tank water on a weekly basis and record the results in a notebook. Compare each week’s test results to the previous so you can catch changes in water quality quickly and make the necessary adjustments.
- Create a weekly maintenance routine for water changes to maintain consistent water quality in your shrimp tank. In a mature tank that isn’t overstocked, you may only need to change 10% to 15% of the tank volume weekly.
- Avoid overfeeding your shrimp. If your shrimp can’t survive off the algae and biofilm the tank produces, you may need to supplement it with shrimp pellets or algae wafers. Remove uneaten food after a few hours to prevent ammonia levels from spiking.
- Be gentle when vacuuming substrate during water changes. In tanks with low flow, diatoms may accumulate quickly on plants and substrate. If you vacuum your substrate, do so gently to avoid uprooting your plants.
- Find the right balance with your tank lighting. Planted tanks will require a certain amount of lighting, depending on what types of plants you keep, but too much light may trigger algae growth. It may take some experimentation to find the right balance.
- Add new tank inhabitants slowly. If you plan to keep a large colony of snowball shrimp, add half a dozen at a time. Adding too many new inhabitants at once might cause your tank to recycle which could be deadly for your shrimp.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced aquarium hobbyist, snowball shrimp are a wonderful species to consider. As long as your tank conditions remain stable and there’s plenty of food, your shrimp should thrive with minimal effort. Visit Shrimpy Business to add this lovely species to your tank.