If you’re looking for a new, colorful addition to your freshwater aquarium, chances are you’ve run into blue velvet shrimp. These adorable invertebrates are among the most beautiful creatures you can add to your collection.
Still, they’re not as widespread as many other species. This means many aspiring keepers are still uncertain how to give their blue velvet shrimp the best care possible.
Luckily, due to ease of care, most people don’t have any issues whatsoever with these dwarf shrimps! However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some requirements you need to meet.
Here’s everything you need to know about these blue-colored shrimp.
Blue velvet shrimp (neocaridina davidi) is a fairly unknown species of shrimp. They are a morph of red cherry shrimp, which is why many people get confused when they see their Latin name.
They belong to the Decapoda order. This means they have five pairs of walking legs.
While there is no dilemma when it comes to taxonomy, experts can’t seem to agree about the breed’s origin.
Some scientists think they came by cross breeding red cherry shrimp with other blue neocaridina shrimp. Others believe they originate from the Wild Schoko species.
They are known by many common names, such as blue velvet shrimp, electric blue shrimp, blue phantom shrimp, and blue freshwater shrimp.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Appearance
As their name suggests, blue velvet shrimp are known for their stunning, blue color that can come in many shades. High grade shrimp come in pure, velvety blue color, but lighter, more transparent variants are also possible.
They are built just like other freshwater dwarf shrimp. This means their abdomen comes in five parts. Their head and thorax are fused, making a cephalothorax. This is further protected by a carapace.
Their long tail helps them swim in rivers and lakes, and their antennas serve to detect movement in the substrate or water.
Blue velvet shrimp belong to the dwarf shrimp family. They are rather tiny in size and the largest specimens had no more than 2 inches, which is considered their maximum size and is achieved by the largest females only.
Their average size is around 1.5 inches, with females being much larger than male shrimp. In fact, the difference in size is the easiest way you can sex them.
Similarity to Other Shrimp
Many people are confused about whether blue velvet shrimp is the same as dream blue shrimp. While they belong to the same species (and many would say the two are genetically the same), they are slightly different in color.
In general, dream blue shrimp – or dream blue velvet shrimp – come in a deep blue shade, while standard blue velvet shrimp can be a bit paler. Also, some low-grade blue velvet shrimp might have white spots or discoloration.
They are very similar to blue pearl shrimp, as well. While they belong to the same species, you can easily differentiate blue pearl shrimp by their red spots. Keep in mind that blue velvet shrimp might also have a bit of red color, but they won’t be as regular as in blue pearl.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Temperament
Blue Velvet shrimp are rather peaceful shrimp, so there isn’t much to worry about. They spend most of their time scavenging at the bottom of the tank without bothering any tank mates they might have.
In general, they will ignore other fish and shrimp in their tank, as long as there are algae and plants they can collect and eat. They’ll spend most of their time grazing on plants.
This might make you think they are eating plants, but this is far from true. They’ll only munch on dead plants while using alive ones as a hiding spot.
Like most freshwater shrimp, they’ll prefer to be left alone. As payback, they won’t have too much contact with other creatures you might combine them with. This is why they are a common choice for community tanks.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Lifespan
Unfortunately, neocaridina family isn’t known for its long lifespan. Most blue velvet shrimp will live for 1 to 2 years.
Their life expectancy depends on the quality of life you provide them with, combined with their health.
Unfortunately, there are many diseases and parasites that can shorten their lifespan.
The most common possible disease is muscular necrosis. Unfortunately, not much is known about this disease, which is why precise treatment is unknown. Still, if you recognize its symptoms and react on time, there are things you can do to prevent it from spreading and killing your entire colony.
As for bacterial and fungal infections, you need to be on the outlook for porcelain disease, milk shrimp disease, and chitinolytic bacterial disease.
Parasites that might plague your blue velvet shrimp (as well as other cherry shrimp variations) include scutariella japonica and shrimp worms.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Care Requirements
Blue velvet shrimp are hardy shrimps that don’t require too much care. This makes them a good choice for beginner shrimp keepers, as there isn’t much you can do wrong.
Still, in order to have your shrimp thrive, you need to mimic their natural environment – or rather, the natural habitat of other neocaridina species that can be found in nature.
Provided you’ve given them fairly good conditions, your shrimp will live long and happy lives and their colony can live for years, if not even decades!
Here are some of the things you need to do to help your shrimp love the tank they live in:
Blue Velvet Shrimp Diet
First and foremost, you’re probably wondering about the diet of blue velvet shrimp.
Blue velvet shrimp are omnivores. Their diet mostly consists of algae and biofilm. They are among the best scavengers you can get for your freshwater tank. They’ll eat any organic matter they can find floating around in your tank.
Because of this, many shrimp and fish enthusiasts think there is no need to give your shrimp additional food. However, you should still give them some food.
Most commercial shrimp food you can find in local stores, such as algae wafers, are good options. They are produced with shrimp nutrient needs in mind and have all the nutrients your little colony will need.
It is a good idea to provide your shrimp with calcium supplements, but check how many minerals your food has beforehand.
Shrimp need plenty of calcium to ensure healthy and strong exoskeletons, but this doesn’t mean you should go overboard.
How Often Should You Feed Your Velvet Shrimp?
Many aquarium owners feed their fish once every day, and they think this is how often you should feed shrimp, as well. However, things are not as simple as that.
Shrimp eat organic matter from the tank. If your aquarium has plenty of algae, they can get by on their own, at least to a certain extent. Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed them.
If you have plenty of very young shrimp in your colony, then you might give them a little food once a day or once every two days. Baby shrimp eat more food than adults, as they need more energy to grow and molt.
However, if your colony consists mostly of adult shrimp, there is no need to feed them more often than once every three days. This is enough to provide them with additional nutrients they might not collect from the tank itself.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to feeding blue velvet shrimp is the amount of food you give your shrimp.
Believe it or not, overfeeding is the main cause of death of not just a single shrimp, but entire colonies! And no, shrimp obesity isn’t something you need to worry about.
When shrimp don’t eat entire amounts of food you’ve given them, this food will remain in the water, polluting it. This can disrupt the balance in the water and make your shrimp struggle.
While blue velvet shrimp aren’t as fragile as blue bolt shrimp, they are still prone to illnesses due to poor water quality. As such, you want to make sure their water is clean and properly balanced all the time.
Food leftovers can also cause bacteria to spread, which is yet another problem you want to prevent from happening. Bacteria infestations can quickly eradicate entire colonies.
As such, always feed your shrimp small amounts of food. Make sure they have just enough food to last them for a few hours. Once that time is passed, check the aquariums to make sure there are no leftovers.
In case of remaining leftovers, remove them from the fish tank. Sure, your shrimp might eat it tomorrow, but by then your water quality will already be ruined.
Water Parameters and Quality
These are freshwater shrimp that are rather adaptable. They can survive in most water conditions. However, you should still provide them with proper water temperature and hardness.
Blue velvet shrimp prefer warm water. The ideal temperature range is between 72° and 82° F. However, they can survive in a bit colder water, as well.
When it comes to hardness, just like most shrimp, hard water is not good for them. Some ideal ranges are:
- kH 0-8;
- gH 4-14;
- TDS 100-300
As for pH, your blue velvet shrimp can survive within pH ranges of 6.4 to 8.0. However, neutral water acidity is the best, so they will thrive when pH is between 6.8 and 7.5.
This also means you should cycle your water before adding shrimp. This will make sure the nitrogen cycle is complete and that the water is healthy enough for your newest addition.
Never use tap water for your shrimp. While most blue velvet shrimp colonies will survive, high amounts of chlorine found in tap water are toxic to most fish, shrimp, snails, and other freshwater critters.
Instead, I would suggest using RO/DI water for your tank. This type of water is pure and clean from any harmful ingredients that might damage your shrimp.
Just make sure you introduce some good minerals to your water, as well! This will partly be fixed by cycling your tank.
As this is a dwarf shrimp species, you don’t need to use large aquariums. Blue velvet shrimp don’t require too much space, and they can do just fine in smaller tanks.
However, there are a few reasons why I would suggest keeping your shrimp in an aquarium with a capacity of at least 10 gallons.
First off, your colony will likely increase, as shrimp are known for some of the fastest breeding processes in freshwater tanks. By keeping them in larger tanks, you won’t have to move them in a few months, which can stress them out.
More importantly, it’s easier to ensure balanced water parameters in a larger tank.
When you have a small tank with a small water capacity, even the slightest chemical change will make a huge impact. Just think about it: It’s enough to leave food leftovers in a small tank once to create absolute chemical chaos.
When you have a larger tank, you have more room for mistakes. Anything you do wrong can be fixed, especially if you’re regularly checking your water quality.
When it comes to the substrate, blue velvet shrimp is rather adaptable. They can live on most types of substrates, including sand, gravel, or even without any substrate at all.
However, their favorite type of substrate seems to be a rocky bottom, as this is where algae thrive.
When you give them rocks, they’ll spend most of their time having fun and looking for biofilm at the bottom of the tank.
Just make sure not to use larger stones, or if you do, make sure they are stable. These small shrimp are rather fragile, and they can easily die if a larger rock falls on them.
Even if you use lots of live plants in your shrimp tank, you still need filters. Filters make sure the water quality is decent and that the oxygen levels are adequate.
In theory, any type of filter will do. All do a rather decent job of keeping your water parameters stable. However, it might be a good idea to use a filter with a sponge.
As blue velvet shrimp are so tiny, large, stronger filters might suck them in and injure or even kill them. When you have a sponge on your filter, you’ll prevent this from happening.
Whether you use canister filters or hang-on-back filters, make sure they have a sponge that will keep your shrimp from getting sucked in.
Just like most neocaridina shrimp, blue velvet shrimp is nocturnal. They don’t have any specific light requirements, so you can go overboard with decorating the tank without worrying it will be too dark for them.
In fact, these little shrimp love to have lots of hiding places. They’ll enjoy decorated tanks, especially if you give them plenty of live plants.
From water wisteria to anubias and java fern, your shrimp will love plants! They provide them with natural hiding spots, and this can look really impressive considering the shrimp’s beautiful color combined with green plants.
Not just that, but plants are a great source of organic matter your shrimp love to eat. As I’ve said earlier, shrimp won’t eat live plants, but they’ll love eating rotten ones. By doing so, they’ll even help keep your tank clean!
Next to plants, there are plenty of decorations you might consider adding to your tank. From stones, pipes, and even carefully crafted castles, your shrimp will love it all!
What Fish Can Live with Blue Velvet Shrimp?
As mentioned before, blue velvet shrimp are an amazing choice for community tanks. They’ll go really well with peaceful fish species, such as small tetras and guppies.
However, you need to keep your shrimp’s small size in mind. They are only suitable for small fish species. Larger animals might eat them or hurt them by accident. Not to mention how they’ll stress them out, as neocaridina shrimp are rather shy!
Also, it goes without saying that you should never combine them with carnivorous species of fish or even large omnivores.
Another amazing companion for blue velvet shrimp is any type of freshwater snail. In fact, if you keep both shrimp and snails inside the same tank, you will rarely have to clean it!
These two species are both scavengers and they’ll make sure most biofilm is gone from your freshwater tank.
Just be careful, as both shrimp and snails are known for their fast breeding cycles. You might end with two huge colonies in no time!
Finally, blue velvet shrimp will do great with any dwarf shrimp species with similar requirements. This includes bamboo shrimp, ninja shrimp, crystal red shrimp, or even vampire shrimp if you have a large enough tank.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Molting
All shrimp are crustaceans. This means they’ll need to shed their exoskeleton whenever they grow. This process is known as molting.
How often a blue velvet shrimp will molt highly depends on the shrimp’s age. As young shrimp grow faster, they might molt once every week or two. Once they reach their adult size, they’ll molt once a month, maybe even more seldom.
A shrimp might change its behavior before and during molting. For example, they might appear more lethargic, which might even make their keepers think they are sick.
You should never touch a shrimp you suspect is molting. This is when they are most vulnerable, and they can easily get hurt or even die if you upset them at this time.
Once the molting process is completed, a shrimp will cast its molt away. This will look as if you have dead shrimp in your tank. Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal and you’re only looking at an exoskeleton.
Also, you don’t need to remove the molt from the tank. It is a great source of calcium, and your shrimp will love eating it.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Breeding
Blue velvet shrimp is rather easy to breed. In fact, they will breed as soon as they are a few weeks old, given that the water conditions are right.
Breeding shrimp should be done in species-only tanks. Baby shrimp are rather small, and they might get eaten by even the small fish inside the tank.
Also, they prefer a water temperature of 76° F in order to breed successfully. However, they are rather tolerant and can breed in parameters that are far from ideal.
Female shrimp will carry eggs beneath their tails. In fact, you might even see the eyes of the baby shrimp inside the eggs once they are close to hatching!
Baby shrimp won’t leave their mother’s tail until they hatch. This might make it seem as if shrimp are birthing live offspring, but this isn’t the case.
Once the little shrimp hatch, you need to provide them with lots of algae and biofilm. You can introduce them back to the colony once they are near their adult size.
Blue Velvet Shrimp Price
Blue velvet shrimp isn’t the cheapest shrimp out there, but it isn’t the most expensive one, as well. Typically, their price will depend on their color, as the darker-colored shrimp tend to be more expensive.
When you make your order, make sure the shrimp come with a live arrival guarantee, no matter if you’re ordering from small businesses or large pet stores. Otherwise, an easy purchase might turn into a disaster if your new shrimp arrive sick – or worse.
Also, make sure your package arrives in a few business days. The longer the shrimp stay in boxes during shipping, the bigger the chance of some of them dying.
Keep in mind that these shrimp can breed really fast. It’s enough to buy just a few shrimp to grow a rather beautiful and large colony over time. As such, you don’t have to waste too much money on buying dozens of them.
As long as you have a male shrimp and a few females, you should be able to start a gorgeous colony inside your own tank.
Where Do Blue Velvet Shrimp Come from?
Just like their close cousins, sakura red cherry shrimp, blue velvet shrimp originate from Taiwan. This species is a morph of many other neocaridina shrimps, but it is still unknown where their blue color comes from.
Some experts think they are the result of crossbreeding the blue dream shrimp and blue carbon rili, but this is yet to be confirmed.
As this is an artificially bred morph, blue velvet shrimp doesn’t exist in nature. It was bred solely to be sold to aquarium enthusiasts, so you don’t have to wonder about it being wild-caught.
Is Blue Velvet Shrimp Friendly?
While blue velvet shrimp is a rather shy species, this doesn’t necessarily make it unfriendly. Quite the opposite, these little shrimp can live peacefully with most fish species.
However, they are not animals that will play with other fish or even particularly enjoy their company in a typical way.
These shrimp prefer to lead their own lives, without being disturbed or disturbing other tankmates.
Are Blue Velvet Shrimp Easy to Care For?
Blue velvet shrimp are excellent beginner shrimp, as they are easy to care for. They require minimal care and they can survive in conditions that aren’t very suitable for them.
Many people have kept blue velvet shrimp in tap water or in tanks of inadequate sizes. They can breed in hard water, as well, and the water quality doesn’t seem to disrupt them that much.
They can live alone or in community tanks just as well, which is why many people love keeping them.
Blue velvet shrimp can make a colorful addition to any tank, but they’ll look just as amazing on their own, with nothing but a few green plants in the aquarium.
Still, in order to have your community thrive, I would always suggest trying to maintain excellent living conditions, as this is when they’ll be the happiest and live the longest.
Hi fellow aquarists, I’m Ava and I’ve been an enthusiastic aquarium hobbyist for over four years now.
I’ve been amazed by these beautiful creatures since I was a kid and I’m thrilled to be sharing everything I’ve learned over the years with anyone who’s as passionate about the topic as I am.