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All About Bumble Bee Shrimp: Care, Lifespan, Diet & More

All About Bumble Bee Shrimp: Care, Lifespan, Diet & More

They may be small, but they pack a punch of color and personality. Meet the Bumble Bee shrimp, a super-fun and extraordinary aquarium critter that will take your breath away!

Seriously, if you’re looking for a new pet that will always put a smile on your face, a Bumble Bee shrimp is the way to go! However, there are a few things you need to know about this little guy before introducing him into your aquarium. 

We’re here to tell you all about keeping this shrimp species in your tank, how to properly care for it, and assure that it lives a long and happy life!  

Bumble Bee Shrimp Species Overview

Just by looking at the Bumble Bee shrimp we can assume that this little guy has some other names it goes by. Besides its fancy name Gnathophyllum americanum, this shrimp is also called the Striped Harlequin shrimp.

This shrimp species hails from the Indo-Pacific region where it is found in bodies of saltwater.

It is no wonder that this fancy aquarium critter is among the favorite species for both beginner and expert tank hobbyists. 


Bumble Bee shrimp are very unique-looking creatures! They inherit a long, translucent body with vertical yellow and black stripes. 

These stripes give them their specific appearance that resembles a bumblebee! To me, their black stripes also resemble zebra or tiger stripes! 

Similar to other shrimp species, they inherit two long antennae, two large eyes on top of their head, 5 pairs of walking legs. and 5 pairs of swimming legs. 

But, what makes them different from other shrimpies is that their eyes are orange or red! Also, their legs and antennae are striped like the rest of their body. Pretty cool, right? 

I mean, when you look at other freshwater shrimp like the Blue Velvet shrimp or the Ninja shrimp, you can see why these bee-like shrimp are so special in terms of appearance. Their body seems rounder and sturdier. 


Bumble Bee shrimp are a relatively small species. In fact, they are smaller than other commonly kept aquarium shrimp. 

They usually only reach about 0.8 to 1.2 inches in length when fully grown. 

Their small size makes them great candidates for so-called nano tanks, small, and compact aquariums. 

Male Vs. Female

Determining the gender of your shrimp is tricky regardless of the species. So, whether it’s a Ninja shrimp or a Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, you are in it for quite a challenge.

Bumble Bee shrimp males and females can be distinguished by their physical characteristics. However, these differences are so subtle that it may be difficult for an untrained eye to figure out which shrimp is male and which one is female. 

Here are a couple of tips that you can keep in mind when looking at your shrimp tank. 

When compared to females, male shrimp tend to be smaller and have a more slender body shape, as well as slender, and longer antennae. You might notice that their front limbs (claws) are larger than those in females. 

Even though their limbs aren’t bigger, female shrimp can brag about having bigger bodies. They tend to be larger and have a more rounded body shape and they often have a wider and more pronounced abdominal section, which is used to carry eggs.


Although Bumble Bee shrimp are generally robust, their lifespan can be impacted by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, inadequate feeding, and exposure to illness or common tank parasites

That said, the longevity of this shrimp can vary based on external and internal elements like its nutrition, environment, and general health. Additionally, the shrimp’s lifespan can be greatly decreased by stress. 

Under ideal conditions, these species have a lifespan of about 2 years. However, this can be reduced because of poor water quality, a lack of proper nutrition, disease, stress, and so on. 

Your shrimp buddies can have a healthy and long life if you take good care of them and keep their surroundings steady.

Common Health Problems

Some common health problems that can affect the Bumble Bee shrimp include: 

However, most of these diseases can occur in other aquarium fish too.

Among other issues that can lead to development to serious health issues are stress, poor water quality, and bad diet. 

Specific health problems that can affect this shrimp species are:

Pay attention to low pH levels in the tank because this can cause your shrimp’s immune system to weaken, making it more prone to developing these nasty diseases. 

If you notice that this may be an issue, make sure to raise pH levels in your aquarium. 

Bumble Bee Shrimp Care Guide

The Bumble Bee shrimp are an interesting and hardy addition to any aquarium, especially for smaller ones. As long as you provide them with proper care and a suitable habitat, these critters are going to live a healthy and long life.

There are a couple of things that you should know, one of them being the fact that this shrimp species is sensitive to water quality and may be more prone to disease in poorly maintained tanks. 

Here are a few tips on how to care for these delicate species!


In the wild, as well as in captivity, Bumble Bee shrimp feed on a majority of food. They are an omnivorous species that scavenges for food, usually during the night. 

Tank-kept shrimp will eat everything they find – from leftover meals, algae, to all the nasty aquarium trash they find! This is important to keep in mind because you will want to give them healthy meals, instead of letting them feast on leftovers. 

And no, they won’t clean up your tank by eating algae; they may assist in cleaning, but they won’t make the water quality of a dirty tank better.

If you are not sure what to feed your new Bee shrimp, here are a few ideas!  


Feeding algae to Bumble Bee shrimp is natural and healthy! Algae are yummy and they provide them with a natural and nutritious diet. In addition to being a natural source of vitamins and minerals, algae are inexpensive and provide a great hiding place. 

Algae are basically live plants, so they will keep the tank oxygenized to some extent. They can grow by themselves on different parts of your well-cycled tank. 

If there are other aquarium species around, they will also happily munch on algae! 


Veggies are not only healthy to humans, they are super-healthy to shrimp! But, you can’t just give them any veggies. They mostly like the green and leafy ones, as long as they are blanched and softened. So, chopping veggies into smaller pieces will do the trick. 

Similar to algae, green vegetables are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals and can help to provide a balanced diet for your Bumble Bee shrimp. 

If you have younger shrimp, then you may want to make a puree out of these greens, so that it is easier for them to eat. Just don’t overfeed them and don’t put too much food in your aquarium, otherwise you will end up with a dirty tank. 

You can choose zucchini, cucumber, kale, spinach, or lettuce, your shrimp won’t mind! 

Protein Food

Everyone needs protein, and so does your Bumble Bee shrimp!

In addition to algae and veggies, “meaty” foods that contain protein should be given to the shrimp regularly. The high-protein diet should be given as a supplementary diet as you do not want to overfeed and make your shrimp unhealthy. 

Protein-based diet includes protein powder supplements, brine shrimp, insect larvae, frozen food, or mosquito larvae. You see, not only will proteins keep your shrimp healthy, but they will also help stop them from attacking younger and smaller shrimp in the tank.

Wafers And Pellets 

Algae wafers are very nutritious for the Bumble Bee shrimp. These are specially formulated wafers that contain a variety of different algae species and can be fed to shrimp. 

You can also offer them some commercial pellets or sinking wafers that provide a great source of vitamins, minerals, as well as protein. 

Due to the fact that these types of food are specially formulated to provide all of these necessary nutrients, you don’t need to worry if your shrimp is underfed. 

Remember to only feed as much as the shrimp can consume in a few minutes, you still want to keep your tank water clean!

Water Requirements

Let’s start off by saying that Bumble Bee shrimp are sensitive to water pollution as much as any other shrimp species is. Therefore, you will want to perform regular water changes to maintain the perfect water quality. 

By changing water regularly, you will prevent the buildup of harmful toxins in your aquarium, while providing your shrimp with a safe environment. It’s recommended to do a water change of at least 25% once a week.

Other than that, feel free to take quick notes on basic water parameters for this shrimp species. 

Water Temperature72-78° F (22-25°C)
Water pH8.1 – 8.4
Water Hardness8 – 12 dKH 
Water QualityClean, well-oxygenated water

Besides regular water changes, you should keep water parameters in place by testing them regularly. It’s important to keep the temperature stable and avoid sudden changes. 

Tank Requirements And Tank Mates For Bumble Bee Shrimp

In addition to water parameters, there are several other important factors to consider when setting up a tank for Bumble Bee shrimp. These include proper tank size, substrate, decor, and tank mates.

So, when setting up a tank for your new shrimp, it’s important to consider all of these requirements. So, let’s start with the proper tank size. 

Tank Parameters

Bumble Bee shrimp are very small and they can be kept in a tank as small as 5 gallons. While a larger tank is always better, it is important to note that these shrimp may feel stressed in a more spacious place. 

If you plan to have a small Bee shrimp colony, a maximum of a 10-gallon tank would be a good starting point. Moreover, if you plan to breed these shrimp, then you will definitely need a larger tank for little hatchlings. 

Tank Mates

You may have guessed that Bumble Bee shrimp are as peaceful as other tank shrimp species such as Blue Velvet or Blue Jelly shrimp

That being said, these creatures can be kept with a variety of tank mates, as long as they are not aggressive or large enough to eat them. I know that differences attract, but in this case, you want to find tank mates that are similar to your shrimp’s personality. 

Here are some examples of suitable tank mates you may want to check out:

  • Snails such as Nerite, Mystery, and Ramshorn species
  • Other peaceful shrimp species such as Cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, Ghost shrimp and Neocaridina species
  • Peaceful fish such as Guppies and Neon Tetras

I want to note that it is also essential to research and provide suitable conditions for any tank mates you decide to add to your shrimp tank. Every tank critter needs to feel at home!

Tank Plants

As we previously mentioned, live plants such as algae can be a great addition to a Bumble Bee shrimp tank, as they provide a natural and attractive environment for the shrimp to live in, as well as many other health benefits. 

Firstly, tank plants provide a natural source of sustenance for this shrimp species. Other than that, they provide good oxygenation which allows the shrimp to live normally. 

What I like most about tank plants is that they provide a natural environment that mimics the same one in which they live in the wild. 

One of the most important things that tank plans do for the shrimp is provide them with lots of hiding places!

Tank Substrate

The Bumble Bee shrimp like to dig and burrow, which is why you need to be on the lookout for small gravel. Finding a mix of fine and coarse sand would do the trick. 

Just make sure not to use sharp sand as it can cause damage to the shrimp’s fragile body. 

You can also choose a darker substrate color to make your shrimp pop out. Imagine how cool this little critter looks when standing on a dark background – all of its colors and stripes come to light. A real attention-grabbing shrimp!

Bumble Bee Shrimp Breeding 

Breeding Bumble Bee shrimp in a tank is so difficult that some may say it is impossible. But, we’re here to tell you that it is not. However, the whole process requires a lot of patience, knowledge, and time. 

Firstly, you need to understand that breeding this shrimp species requires an optimal environment. So, all the water and tank parameters that we have mentioned previously need to be respected. This includes providing a tank of proper size, along with proper water quality, a suitable substrate, and plenty of hiding spots. 

Most importantly, you will need to provide a varied diet to your breeding stock. 

When it comes to female shrimp, they become mature when the dorsal section of their body grows to about 4.4 mm. Once these shrimp are mature, you will need to provide a suitable mating location such as a cave or other shelter. 

Mating usually occurs after shrimp molting, and that’s when the female transfers her eggs from her saddle to her back legs. 

She will keep them there for about a month, constantly fanning them to ensure their survival. After hatching, the baby shrimp will be able to fend for themselves and require no additional care from you.

So, while breeding these shrimp may take more effort and patience than some other species of dwarf shrimp, it is still possible.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, Bumble Bee shrimp are not it. They require a lot of attention and care to thrive, but they’re worth it. 

Additionally, they are pretty uncommon and rare to find, so you may experience troubles when searching for a pet store or aquarium trade that offers them. 

So, if you’re thinking about getting a Bumble Bee shrimp, just remember, with great color comes great responsibility!