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Opae Ula Shrimp Care, Lifespan, Diet, Breeding & Tank Specs

Opae Ula Shrimp Care, Lifespan, Diet, Breeding & Tank Specs

Meet the Opae Ula shrimp, a hardy little critter that makes a great addition to a beginner’s shrimp tank. 

These shrimp are known as Supershrimp because they are very adaptable to different environments and they make for low-maintenance pets. 

They are also very fun to look at and will keep you entertained for quite some time! Let’s find out more about them!

Opae Ula Shrimp Species Overview

Aloha! The Opae Ula shrimp originates from the Hawaiian Islands where it thrives in pretty challenging environments. 

It is believed that this hardy shrimp species has existed in the region for millions of years, adapting to the unique anchialine ponds and caves found in Hawaii.

Many Names Of Opae Ula Shrimp

So, why is it called the Opae Ula shrimp? Well, the name “Opae Ula” comes from the Hawaiian language and translates to “red shrimp.”

Its scientific name is “Halocaridina rubra”, but it has quite the collection of different names. And, here is a fun fact – each name reflects a different aspect of the shrimp’s personality or habitat. Let me show you! 

It is called the Tiny Red shrimp, because it is among the smallest crustaceans that has a super-bright red color.  

Then we have the Hawaiian Lava shrimp, Hawaiian Red shrimp, and Hawaiian Volcano shrimp, all the names that reflect its origin and habitat.

Then there’s the Super shrimp, a name that reflects its impressive lifespan and hardiness. 

That’s not all! We also have Anchialine shrimp and Micro Lobster names that reflect the unique habitat where these Shrimp live in – anchialine pools, which are underground bodies of saltwater that are connected to the ocean.

Last but not least, the Wonder Shrimp is a name that reflects the wonder this little creature evokes in those who observe it!


opae ula shrimp
Opae Ula Shrimp

Opae Ula are tiny crustaceans that are quite the lookers! 

Their semi-transparent bodies come in a range of vibrant colors, from bright reds to sunny yellows, to even pinkish hues! Some of these shrimp even inherit a beautiful combination of multiple colors, making them look like a walking rainbow!

Opae Ula shrimp have ten tiny legs that they use to wiggle and swim around. The first three pairs of thoracic bits, called maxillipeds, are like their fancy utensils and are specially designed for feasting. And, as for the remaining five pairs, called pereopods, they are walking legs that help them get around.

And, if you look closely, you will notice that they also have two antennae on their head, which they use to sense their surroundings and communicate with other shrimp. They also serve as food sensors!

Speaking of their heads, their eyes are as adorable as they are impressive. This species inherits big round peepers that let them see in multiple directions at once! 

Now, you may be wondering if these little guys can change their colors like a chameleon. Well, the answer is yes, but they mostly change color due to stress or illness. However, it is natural for juvenile shrimp to have softer and lighter shades than adults. 


When it comes to size, the Opae Ula shrimp are probably the smallest of them all, with some only growing to be about a centimeter long! That is equal to 0,39 inches!

Most adults reach about ⅗ inches in length, with size differences between genders. 

But, don’t let their small size fool you, these little fellas have big personalities! 

Opae Ula Male Vs. Female

While both genders are equally cute, female shrimp tend to be slightly larger, with a plumper appearance. The reason behind this? Well, lady shrimp need to make room for baby shrimp! 

If you’re trying to distinguish females from males, just look for a saddle!

A saddle is only found in females. It is a bright yellow or green spot, situated right behind the shrimp’s head on her back. It’s like a little flag that announces to the world, “Hey, I’m a female and I’m ready to mate!” And, that’s not all – the saddle is actually filled with unfertilized eggs, waiting for a mate to come along.

Male Opae Ula shrimp inherit a more vibrant exoskeleton color to woo the ladies! They may have a few specks of color on their shells or appear to be a bit more translucent.

To keep them growing healthy, it is important to avoid their tank becoming overcrowded, or the water quality going down. If their needs are not met, they may not grow as quickly or to their full potential.


The Opae Ula shrimp have a very unique behavior that, to me, resembles that of ants. 

They are small and their colonies usually count several thousands of shrimp that form unique social structures. Their main goal is to work together to keep their homes clean and tidy!

One thing to keep in mind is that these shrimp are sensitive and peaceful creatures, and they do not like to be disturbed. 

So, if you’re keeping them in your home tank, you have to make sure to give them plenty of hiding spots and avoid matching them with aggressive species. 

How Long Do Opae Ula Shrimp Live?

opae ula shrimps in brackish aquarium

The Opae Ula shrimp are known for their impressive lifespan, and they have the potential to live for many years! In fact, some individuals have been reported to live for over a decade, which is much longer than many other species of shrimp. 

For example, Malawa shrimp are also dwarf species, but they live only up to 3 years. Opae Ula, on the other hand, can live up to 20 years of age!

So, why do these little crustaceans have such a long lifespan? Well, they are very adaptable, considering their heritage. 

While most of these shrimp can live longer in captivity where there are no weather fluctuations nor predators, it is important to note that bad water quality and improper setup, as well as bad diet can influence their longevity in a bad way. 

Common Health Problems

There is a reason why these critters are called Supershrimp. Opae Ula shrimp are among the hardiest species and there are not many health problems found in those that come from controlled breeding environments. 

That’s right, the captive-bred Supershrimp that has been around for generations has never caught a cold!

Most wild shrimp are prone to parasitic infestations such as Vorticella. Additionally, bacterial and viral infections, such as the White Spot Syndrome (WSS) can affect these little guys and shorten their lifespan. 

But, if you purchase these shrimp from reputable breeders, then you do not have to worry. 

Opae Ula Shrimp Care Guide

Now that we have gotten to know this hardy shrimp better, it is time to move to the ultimate Opae Ula shrimp care guide!

The best thing about these little fellas is that they are super easy to care for. In fact, they are most likely the easiest shrimp to care for! 

Without further ado, let’s get right into all the do’s and don’ts of keeping these amazing crustaceans! 

What Do Opae Ula Shrimp Eat?

The Opae Ula shrimp are omnivores, which means they’ll eat anything! They are quite the little foodies, and they love to munch on a variety of tasty treats. 

Well, they will mostly stick to eating both plant and animal matter. Like all other shrimp, they are scavengers that keep the tank clean. 

In their natural habitat, they feed on algae, bacteria, and other small organisms. So, that’s something that you should be aware of when keeping them in a shrimp tank. 

You can provide them with a commercial shrimp food, such as flakes and pellets, which is specifically designed to meet all of their nutritional needs. Another option is to offer them blanched vegetables, which provide a natural source of vitamins and minerals. 

You can also give them small bits of dried seaweed or algae-based food. 

1. Algae

Algae are a staple food for the Opae Ula shrimp, no matter if we are talking about wild or captive-bred individuals. 

Different algae provide a healthy source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These shrimps love to munch on all-things algae, including wafers and pellets. 

In addition to algae, it is important to note that these shrimp also need a variety of other foods to meet their nutritional needs, such as fresh, blanched or frozen veggies, and a commercial shrimp food.

2. Blanched Vegetables

Blanched vegetables are like super food for this Super shrimp! They are packed with essential nutrients that add some zest to the shrimp’s diet. 

They are pretty easy to prepare too! You just have to put fresh veggies into boiling water for a few seconds to help soften the texture. Then, you cut them into small pieces and feed your Hawaiian shrimp! 

These little guys are very fond of spinach, lettuce, and peas.  

Water Parameters

Proper diet is not the only thing you should pay attention to. 

Even though the Opae Ula shrimp are very hardy and they get used to different types of environments, you still have to provide them with adequate water parameters. Here’s how you should do that: 

Water Temperature68°F – 80°F
Water pH8.0 – 8.5
Optimal KH0 – 12
Nitrateless than 20 ppm
Water Salinity1.008 – 1.018 sg
Water Qualitywell oxygenated and clean

Tank Requirements And Tank Mates For Opae Ula Shrimp

Here comes the fun part – let’s choose the perfect tank size, plants, substrate, and tank mates for your new Opae Ula shrimp! 

We can’t wait to decorate the shrimp tank with plenty of hiding spaces and natural green plants!

Tank Parameters

Due to their super small size, the Opae Ula shrimp are a popular species for nano aquariums. The ideal tank size for these shrimp is between 2 to 5 gallons.

It is recommended to use a small filter, such as a sponge filter, to maintain water quality and provide a source of oxygen. 

Lighting is not required for Opae Ula shrimp, but if you choose to add it, a low-wattage LED light on a timer set to mimic a natural daylight cycle is perfectly fine.  

Tank Plants

Due to the fact that the Opae Ula shrimp species thrives in brackish waters, there are not many plants that you can choose. 

  • Vascular plants: Mangrove tree, Pandan
  • Red algae: Red moss, Pulmon alga
  • Green algae: Supershrimp moss ball, Chaeto

Tank Substrate

Opae Ula will get used to any substrate you choose. 

However, soft sand or gravel have proven to be the best choices. Soft sand goes easy on their tiny legs, while gravel is easy to clean. 

Opae Ula Tank Mates

Again, due to their specific water needs, there are not many tank mates that you can choose for the Opae Ula shrimp. 

Besides that, these shrimp are so small that many species will like to take a bite. So, I recommend that you stick to tank snails such as Malaysian Trumpets. 

Opae Ula Shrimp Breeding

pregnant opae ula shrimp

Your Opae Ula breeding tank should be kept at the optimal temperature and proper pH levels, with plenty of hiding places and plenty of room for the female to lay her eggs. 

When the female is ready, she will carry 14 to 18 eggs in the saddle, and this will go on for about 27 to 38 days after which the male will fertilize them. 

And before you know it, these little eggs will hatch into tiny shrimplets, ready to explore their new tank and grow into big, beautiful adult shrimp.

Opae Ula Shrimp For Sale 

These little shrimp are very popular and you will be able to find them in many specialized aquarium stores, online sellers, and reputable breeders. 

Their price can range from $15 to $50, depending on the source you are getting them from.

With a variety of sizes, colors, and quantities available, you’re sure to find the perfect Super shrimp to fit your tank and your budget.


Oh Opae Ula, what an interesting little shrimp with an even more interesting behavior! These small guys are sure to make your life all the more interesting. 

Not only are they easy to maintain, but these Super shrimp will stick to you for more than a decade! 

Are you ready to show them off to your friends?