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All About Crystal Red Shrimp Care + Breeding

All About Crystal Red Shrimp Care + Breeding

Crystal red shrimp is the newest craze among aquarium enthusiasts! Due to their availability, everyone can enjoy having them – no matter if you have little or much experience in shrimp care. 

But to keep them healthy, happy, and live longer, they need special care, and environment conditions must be perfect. So, we are here to help you learn how to care for this gorgeous shrimp.

It’s of great value if you have prior experience with these shrimp. But if you’re just starting, don’t worry. You may also be successful if you strive to keep the tank clean and the shrimp content – but it will require some of your time and extra effort. 

Don’t worry – you will quickly discover the appeal of this magnificent species and how they’re excellent pets.

If you’re planning to have this  and want to learn everything about them, you are in the right place. This article will discuss the special shrimp’s behavior, diet, care, breeding, and some interesting facts about this gorgeous shrimp. Keep on reading.

Crystal Red Shrimp Facts 

Before we start with all of this, let’s share with you some quick and interesting facts about these little creatures in the following: 

  • This shrimp comes from the bee shrimp (caridina cf. cantonensis), a color variant. It’s a part of the Atyidae family, and its real name is Caridina cantonesis var, Crystal Red. 
  • They are tiny. Adult size is around 1.2 inches in length, with female shrimps being larger than males. 
  • While bee shrimp originate from Taiwan, this particular color mixture was formed in Japan
  • They don’t exist in the wild because they’re human creations. 
  • When you buy these shrimps, you should be familiar with grading. Grading is a rating used to specify the quality of a shrimp. 
  • Generally, low-grade shrimps are pure red. On the other hand, high-quality grade shrimp has white stripes on an opaque red. As we can see, the shrimp’s price increases with their grade.  
  • Unfortunately, they can’t live for very long in home aquariums. Their lifespan is only 18-24 months. However, they need excellent care and clean water to reach two years. 

And now, let’s see where everything starts. 

History of Crystal Red Shrimp

crystal red shrimp

Let’s go back to 1993 when Mr. Hisayasu Suzuki  accidentally got a rare red shrimp in a batch of about a thousand black shrimp. This color fascinated him, so he tried breeding it. This gave him shrimp with redder coloration.

Afterward, he got an idea to repair the red gene. So, he decided to select and blend red shrimp with red stripes. And finally, after years of inbreeding, he reached a “true red shrimp”.

Accordingly, in 1996 he called it a red bee shrimp, and was given a patent for this recessive status of the typical bee shrimp. 

Later, this breed became known as a crystal red shrimp, especially in USA, UK, and EU.


crystal red shrimp in aquarium

Crystal red shrimp are one of the most attractive animals you can get for your tank. Their color is stripy red and white. But, as we said before, this can vary based on their grade.

The different grades of these red shrimp are:

  • SSS – grade

This is the most desirable coloration, as well as the one with a high price point . The best shrimp, known as Mosura, fall into the SSS category. The shrimp must be at least ¾ white to be classified as SSS-grade. These shrimps have smaller red stripes on their abdomens

  • SS-grade

The SS-grade shrimps have white heads and tails. The red spots are located along the abdomen and the lower part of the carapace. 

  • S+-grade

The shrimps classified as an S+ grade have an utterly red carapace. At the same time, translucent white stripes come out in a white or faded red waist. You might also notice some small white spotting.

  • S-grade

These shrimp have a white abdomen and tail and a red upper body, with red bands above the side of the body

  • A-grade

The A-grade shrimp is at least ¾ red, with just a few thin white spots. Also, the more intense the color, the higher the quality grade. For example, a translucent red is preferable to a mighty, dark red shrimp. 

The crystal velvet shrimp belong to the dwarf shrimp family. Their average size is no more than 1.2 inches. 

However, they have all the aspects of a ‘classic’ shrimp – they’re just smaller. The crystal red shrimp have long walking legs under the swimming legs under the abdomen and a telson at the end.

Luckily, it’s easy to sex them. For example, female shrimp are 10-30% larger. Also, they have larger tails than males. Once they are ready to lay eggs, their ovaries can be seen in their head and back. 

All of this is rather similar to gender differences in neocaridina species.


These little animals are entirely harmless. As such, they won’t cause problems for any of their tank mates. However, due to their size, they’re pretty helpless, which can be a problem – but more on this later on.

These shrimp spend most of their time on the tank floor. They walk across dirt, looking for a portion of food.


crystal red shrimp in aquarium closeup

Just like all shrimp, they molt regularly. Molting is a process where shrimp release old shells to grow new vital ones. After this process, the shrimp is extremely weak, and it takes a little while for the new exoskeleton to develop and strengthen.

During this period, the shrimp will hide to prevent any damage. It’s essential to watch over them and be careful not to move them.

If you see that your shrimp eat their old shell, that’s ok. There’s nothing to worry about. Sometimes they need nutrients, and their old shell is an excellent source.

However, if they don’t eat it in a day or so, it would be great to remove it because it can infect the tank as it spoils.

Crystal Red Shrimp Care 

These shrimp are sensitive animals. They need perfect water conditions in order to stay healthy. Shrimps react poorly to unexpected changes in their environment. This sensitivity comes from the intensive inbreeding process that happens in shrimp farms. 

Therefore, you need to maintain the tank as clean as you can. A sponge filter can handle this, but you must conduct regular water changes and remove excess algae.

Keep the substrate clear by removing old shells from molting or eliminating uneaten food on the surface. 

Further, you should have a water testing kit nearby at all times. Using this regularly will help you detect problems quickly before they can negatively affect your shrimps and the entire tank.

If your aquarium is clean, you won’t have to worry about much, but know that your shrimp can get ill like any other aquatic pet. The illness can be caused by parasites, bacterial infection, or fungal outbreaks.

So keep this in mind when getting a new aquarium animal. The best solution is to quarantine your new shrimp for quite a while. They don’t need to be ill to put them alone because other common fish diseases can circulate in your tank community.

Pathogens love poor water conditions. So, a healthy setup will protect them at bay. If they get into your tank with other shrimp, separate the infected individual, and treat it. There are many medications available for them.

Diet & Food Ideas

Most of the time, shrimp scavenge for food. In addition, calcium is a crucial element of what they eat. It helps them to grow and raise strong exoskeletons.

But in the wild, their diet isn’t the same as in a tank. It might contain algae, small insects, larvae, and plant detritus.

You can buy the highest quality foods possible to lower the distress in their digestive systems. Bloodworms are a popular option.

Dried foods are another practical choice. For example, you can use sinking pellets and algae flakes. However, dried foods lose many nutrients during manufacturing, so they aren’t the first choice of many. If you do opt for them, your shrimp might require calcium supplements.

And last but not least, green vegetables are an excellent way to give nutrients and vary the diet. For example, you can use bits from your kitchen, including broccoli, zucchini, and cucumber. 

You can play with vegetables and make some homemade foods too. 

How Often to Feed Crystal Red Shrimp

It’s enough to feed your adult shrimp once every 2-3 days. They spend the whole time scavenging so they’ll be able to find some food on their own.

Also, due to their small size, they don’t need much food. Use the amount that your colony can eat in a few hours. 

It’s important to say that overfeeding can be a big problem for crystal red shrimp. They’re sensitive animals, and overeating can cause issues. However, leftover food can cause damage by releasing pollutants.

As such, if you notice some excess food on the substrate, remove it before it causes damage. Vacuum gravel cleaners can help you to remove uneaten food from the tank. 

Adding snails to your tank is yet another great way to prevent overfeeding.

Popular Food Choices 

Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare healthy snacks, so here are some food you can buy in most stores:

  • Snowflake food: One of the big things about Snowflake food is that it doesn’t get into the substrate. The second evident advantage is that it will take some time for the shrimp to eat it. As such, you can leave snowflake food in water until gone without worrying about pollutants. Yes – this food doesn’t change water quality. However, if you want to play it safe and ensure the best conditions for your shrimp, you can use feeding dishes. This will lower the quantity of food leftovers in the tank.
  • Bacter AE: Bacter AE is one of the best powder foods on the market right now. Primarily, it’s a good choice for baby shrimp. It’s a biofilm grounded down into a fine white powder, and because of this, a lot of shrimp breeders utilize it. The most common feeding method is to spray it on the top of the tank. This will cause the spray to float all around the tank. And the best thing is that it spreads through all corners and crannies over every surface in the tank. As a result, it will raise the baby’s survival rate because every baby has full entry to food. 
  • Indian almond leaves, oak leaves, guana leaves, etc: Indian almond leaves are an excellent natural food source that breeders usually give to their shrimp. These leaves will break down after some period, and the shrimp will start to eat them for about a week. Hence leaves are a big part of keeping a shrimp tank fed. As such, they are a great source of biofilm. This is a great way to imitate shrimp’s natural diet. As we’ve mentioned, nobody feeds shrimp in nature. They have to scavenge for their food. Also, a huge bonus is that Almond leaves support the lower PH in the tank. 

Tank Conditions And Size

crystal red shrimp

If you want perfect conditions for your gorgeous shrimp, you need to imitate their natural habitat. And with that in mind, create and design a great place they’ll like. 

However, to be clear, they don’t have an actual natural environment. They only exist through the careful breeding of bee shrimp.

Still, as they are closely related to the bee shrimp, you can look into their habitat to understand the needs of a crystal red shrimp.

Bee shrimps live in freshwater rivers, especially the rivers of Taiwan. These conditions are perfect for them. The water is warm and rarely acidic. The tiny flow of water helps wash away pollutants. This also means there’s a ton of oxygen.

Many shrimp farms use these rivers to breed shrimp. If you can imitate perfect water conditions, then you can rest assured that your aquarium shrimp should live a long and happy life. 

Water Conditions 

The number one priority is to keep the right water conditions. 

As I’ve already mentioned, crystal red shrimp are freshwater shrimp. This is a good thing, as you don’t have to worry about proper salt levels.

Despite this, crystal red shrimp are more susceptible to poor water conditions compared to most other shrimp. They’re small, and innating in shrimp farms makes them much weaker.

As such, use a water testing kit regularly. It’ll be perfect if you use it weekly and test the water parameters to make sure they are stable.

Another way to ensure the perfect water quality is to use a sponge filter to clean the water constantly. 

Don’t worry – you don’t need any water or an air pump. The filter is sufficient. 

As for the lighting, don’t bother with it too much. Crystal red shrimp are nocturnal animals, so they won’t mind a dimmer light. 

Now, you can start preparing the tank by layering the bottom of the tank with a smooth sandy substrate. Harsh, larger rocks might scratch or hurt their bodies. 

Then, you can spread around different rocks and decorations to create tunnels and hiding spots that your shrimps can use as shelter. 

Tank Size

Crystal red shrimp are tiny shrimp. However, they love having a lot of space in their planted aquariums. The minimum tank size is 10-gallon. But if you can provide more space, the better and happier they will be. 

If the tank is more extensive, it’s easier to maintain the water condition. And this is important because these shrimps are sensitive to changes in their environment. 

Water Temperature

The ideal temperature for the tank depends on the temperature in your home. So, the perfect temperature is about 21 – 23°C (~70°F – 74°F).  

While this is a standard room temperature, I would still suggest using a water heater. Water tends to be a bit colder than its environment, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Not just that, but this temperature is ideal for their growth. Furthermore, you can let them get down to 68°F, and they will be all right – even though they won’t thrive.. 

But, if you cannot maintain that temperature or have significant variations, a thermostat heater can avoid any unexpected temperature variations. It will help keep things as safe as possible.

Live Plants 

crystal red shrimp

Crystal red shrimp will love having plants in their tank! Having massively planted areas will do wonders for your shrimp. They’ll use this as their hiding spots, and this will give them lots of plant waste to munch on.

Some plants you might want to buy include:

  • Water lettuce: This plant has very long seeds. It’ll give the shrimp a bit of surface area to graze on. The second benefit of this plant is that it can help you maintain your nitrite levels. Water lettuce will lower and sometimes even remove all nitrates in the tank! 
  • Rotala rotundifolia: The rotala rotundifolia is a plant that usually grows as tall as the tank you put it in. You don’t need to trim it a bunch of times or cut it out. However, when it grows to the shelter of the water, it stops growing and shoots off another sprout (instead of increasing and overcrowding the tank). So, if you let them overgrow, you will have roots everywhere. This can be a nightmare to pull out!

And don’t worry – shrimp won’t eat live plants! Instead, they’ll eat rotten plant leftovers, cleaning the tank in the process.

Suitable Tank Mates 

This shrimp is an excellent fit for a community tank because they are so small. You can fit many of them inside your aquarium. They are attractive, and they will keep the tank interesting.

However, species tanks are trendy when keeping higher-grade individuals. They are a much safer option, and this will allow you to keep an eye on the entire colony.

A community tank is another good option. This will give you activity in all areas of the tank.

However, you must choose tank mates carefully. Dwarf shrimp are seen as food by carnivore fish that are big enough to eat them..

Still, you have many options, including the following fish: 

  • Zebra Danios,
  • Otocinclus,
  • Neon Tetras,
  • Cherry Batbs, etc.

Furthermore, you can mix your shrimps with other invertebrates too. Most of them make good tank partners as long as they don’t have a habit of attacking other shrimps.

Combining snails and shrimp can be a good idea, as both species keep the tank clean by eating algae and biofilm.

Keeping Crystal Red Shrimp Together 

As we already mentioned, crystal red shrimps are excellent for various tanks. They don’t show aggression towards each other and happily live next to each other.

Males won’t fight with other males, even during the mating season! Therefore, you don’t need to worry about the tank’s male-to-female ratio. 

Consequently, since you may keep a lot of crystal red shrimp in one group, this is helpful if you want to breed them. 

Crystal Shrimp with Other Fish in Aquarium

It’s not a great idea to make shrimp and other fish together because your aquatic pet needs the perfect conditions, and the safest option is to have an aquarium designed with your shrimp in mind. They need a different environment from most other aquatic creatures.

For example, if you maintain large or aggressive fish, these shrimps wouldn’t live very long. Instead, they need peace and small tank mates

If you can find freshwater fish – preferably herbivores – that live in the same condition as these tiny shrimp, that’s amazing! Crystal red shrimps do really well in community tanks. 

However, they will do just as good in species-only aquariums.

How Many Shrimps Can You Keep?

One of the most typical questions in this hobby is, how many shrimps can I have in my tank? Well, it depends. 

According to the study, 5 to 10 dwarf shrimp is enough per gallon (4 liters). They said that is optimal density, but the final experiment showed that the final weight and size of the shrimp reduced shrimp density. 

Still, in general, if you’ve bought a tank of a recommended 10-gallon size, you should be fine with up to 100 shrimp (as long as this is a species-only tank).


crystal red shrimps

One of the most popular kinds of shrimp used in breeding tanks is the crystal red shrimp – and it’s easy to see why.

This species is simple to breed. If the tank’s conditions are proper, crystal red shrimp should start mating with little encouragement. 

You must maintain the tank sterile and watch the water parameters. Low-grade conditions affect a shrimp’s health, making them less likely to breed.

Of course, you need to ensure there are both male and female shrimp in the tank. This shouldn’t be a challenge due to appearance differences I’ve already mentioned.

Another good trait is that males don’t fight, so if you have enough room, you can have many of each sex in the tank.

Sexually mature females will release pheromones into the water, attracting the males. 

Afterward, they’ll carry eggs around until they hatch – which happens after about 4 to 6 weeks. The baby shrimp will appear fully formed but much smaller than the parents.

A good tip is to keep crystal red shrimp with other crystal reds or with shrimp that belong to the neocaridina species. This will prevent cross-breeding that can lead to ugly morphs.

Baby Shrimp Care

Due to their tiny size, it might be a good idea to keep the baby shrimp in a species-only tank until they are big enough to stay in the same aquarium as much bigger fish.

The mother shrimp should be able to look after the babies, but if you want, you can also feed them with foods specifically designed for baby shrimps. That will help their development process. This type of food usually comes in powdered form.

You’ll need to wait for them to get bigger before you grade them. It allows the colors and patterns to come through. For example, a baby shrimp with opaque white coloration might still get some red dots as it grows older.

Should You Buy Crystal Red Shrimp?

So, after all that’s been said, should you buy crystal red shrimp? I’d say most definitely yes!

It’s easy to love them. This peaceful shrimp works as well in a community as it does on its own. They’re little tank cleaners and they can get rid of dirt and algae before it gets a chance to take over the tank.

Also, crystal red shrimps are extraordinarily eye-catching. Massing in groups with other fish, they’ll attract immediate attention from anyone who might take a glimpse at your tank.

And what’s best about them is that if you can learn to breed them by grade, you can even make a small profit by selling them. Sounds great? I think so!


Now that you have learned all this about crystal red shrimp, it’s easy to find that they’re one of the most beautiful dwarf shrimp known to us. They’re famous shrimp in this hobby. 

However, these shrimp have a reputation for being a fragile and complex breed. There is little room for mistakes.This is why they aren’t an excellent option for beginners.

But, once you figure their care out and have a little experience, it becomes rather easy to maintain your entire colony!

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