Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp – Diet, Tank Mates, and Breeding:

Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes Paludosus) is also known as “Glass Shrimp” referring to their crystal-clear transparent body. Their appearance is the main reason behind so much attention they get from fishkeepers. Ghost shrimps are bred for two main reasons 1) as fish feeders, 2) for home aquariums.

Thus, it is important to know for what purpose the breeders have bred them in the first place. This determines their lifespan, size, water conditions, and disease-fighting ability.

In this article, we will discuss everything about this nature’s marvel so let’s begin.


Ghost shrimps were discovered rounds the states of Louisiana, Texas, and California especially areas where predators are lower. Glass shrimps usually inhabit freshwater or slightly brackish water from lakes to protect themselves from predators.

Scientific NamePalaemonetes Paludosus
OriginNorth America
Care LevelEasy

Ghost shrimps are very active scavengers who are almost always busy cleaning up waste from water. They are often kept in an aquarium either to feed other larger fish or to keep the aquarium clean. These shrimps enjoy cleaning a lot.

Initially, ghost shrimps were used by fishermen as bait for catching fish but their beautiful appearance and scavenging ability are responsible for their increased popularity among fishkeepers.


Ghost shrimps have glassy look to them so are called glass shrimps, being arthropods, they have an exoskeleton with segmented bodies. There is not much to their pigmentation, as they are colorless to hide from predators.


1.5 Inches

When it comes to the size of this eastern grass shrimp, they are small and can read a maximum size of 1.5 inches at most. Their size can clearly define why they’re used as fishing bait or food for large fishes.

The main difference between a male and female ghost shrimp is size, the females are quite larger than the males.


The anatomy of a glass shrimp is a rather difficult one as compared to many freshwater creatures we see every day. They have the following body parts.


Ghost shrimps have antennae that are sensitive to motion and chemical substances. Thus, these antenna helps them detect ongoing movements and toxic chemicals around them.

Ghost shrimps contain two pairs of antennae in front of them that can protect them from upcoming danger or predators. One pair is shorter than the other.


The rostrum is an elongated pointed structure located just between their eyes just in front of their main trunk.


The carapace is the main protective exoskeleton that protects the soft organs from external damaging items. The carapace is also transparent to slightly silver.


These are front swimming limbs that are a total of three pairs in number. These limbs assist the main swimming limbs and also have protective functions.


Pleopods are the primary limbs for swimming that arise from the abdominal segments. They are a total of six in number arranged in pairs.

Abdominal Segments:

There is a total of six abdominal segments that are protected by the carapace.

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Telson is the last segment that connects the body to the tail. It looks like two long pointed needles that join at the rear end.


Uropod is the iconic tail of this ghost shrimp. It is composed of four segments and forms the tail with a slightly pointed end.

Ghost Shrimp
Image Credit: eSwamp


1 year

The maximum lifespan of a ghost shrimp is 1 year provided their basic needs are met. The diet, tank mates, water conditions, and diseases if managed accurately will let them lead a good life.

Usually, ghost shrimps die within few days to weeks due to poor care and are mostly eaten by boisterous fishes.

Behavior and Temperament:

Ghost Shrimps are probably one of the most peaceful creatures you can keep in an aquarium. They always stay busy performing scavenging duties and saving your aquarium from waste build-up and algae formation.

They are bottom dwellers and spend most of their time in the bottom section of the aquarium. Being non-aggressive they usually prefer a similar company so it’s clear that you can’t keep them with bugging aggressive fishes.

Molting In Ghost Shrimps:

Molting is a process in which a shrimp get rid of a tight shell or exoskeleton to grow in size. Usually, shrimps molt or shed their shell every 3 to 4 weeks as the skeleton is limiting their growth.

At the time of molting the ghost shrimps are generally very vulnerable and try to hide from predators. You might even see them lying on the substrate seeming lifeless even though they are quite alive.

At the time of molting, shrimps require intense care and protection. Moreover, the exoskeleton or shell is a source of nutrition for other shrimps or fishes as well.

Without a hard shell, you can see through the shrimps every single part of their body that’s what excites most of the fishkeepers into keeping a ghost shrimp.

Aquarium Care Guide:

Ghost shrimps are pretty hardy when it comes to aquarium conditions and through their ability to degrade the organic matter, they keep the aquarium parameters in control. This section will include all the basic requirements of a glass shrimp.

Aquarium Size:

2-3 shrimps per gallon

Ghost shrimps are the best fit for nano aquariums or a 5-gallon aquarium. They require very little space; this factor helps breeders keep a large number of them in a small space.

If you are keeping them in a community tank you should look into the space required by their tank mates as they can squeeze everywhere.

Water Parameters:

Ghost shrimps are not much bothered by the water parameters such as temperature thus there is a wide temperature range for them. As for pH, they prefer to stay close to the borderline thus pH should not be kept near the recommended value.

Aquarium Size2-3 shrimps per gallon
Water Temperature68-83-degree Fahrenheit
Water Hardness5-15 dKH
Ammonia levelsLess than 5ppm
Nitrate and Nitrite LevelsBetween 6-10ppm
Ghost Shrimps Aquarium Parameters

Ghost shrimps are particularly sensitive to levels of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite so these levels should be kept minimal.

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Substrate, Plants, and Decorations:

The ghost shrimps are inhabitants of soft land areas, so a sand-based aquarium is a perfect choice for them. Another option is a fine gravel base as it is the least damaging for your fish.

The best thing about sand or fine gravel substrate is that the leftover food is just above the surface of it and helps the shrimps scavenge it easily.

Ghost shrimps are quite fond of plants and even keep nipping them from time to time. Thus, a planted aquarium is a better choice when it comes to ghost shrimps. Ferns, Anubis, java moss, hornwort, and other small plants can be placed in their aquarium.

In the molting stage, your ghost shrimp will need places to hide so the addition of small decorations such as caves and rocks will help your shrimp.

Aquarium Equipment:

The list of aquarium equipment is quite narrow in the case of ghost shrimps. Following are the important components of a ghost shrimp aquarium.

A water filter:

Not a very efficient one as these shrimps can keep the water clean themselves.

Water Testing Kits:

Water testing kits to maintain water parameters under appropriate conditions.

Sometimes a water pump:

Ghost shrimps usually enjoy little waves in water thus water pump could be added but it’s not mandatory.

That’s all for a ghost shrimp aquarium.

Compatible Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimps:

As ghost shrimps are very peaceful, minding their own business so they need similar tank mates. Any non-aggressive small fish will do good with your ghost shrimp.

Following is a list of compatible tank mates for ghost shrimp.

  • Barbs especially cherry barb
  • Danio such as celestial pearl danio
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Zebra Loaches
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Cory Catfish
  • Other Shrimps (cherry shrimp, brine shrimp)

Worst Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimps:

If you want to see your ghost shrimp alive in the aquarium for a longer period you should keep big aggressive fishes away from them.

Moreover, bottom dwellers are also forbidden or the fish that has a mouth large enough to fit a shrimp should be out of this tank.

Thus, the following fishes should be avoided for the safety of your glass shrimp.

How Many Ghost Shrimps Can I Keep Together?

Ghost shrimps are fine if kept in a large group, but they usually prefer to work alone. So, in a large fish tank, 2 or 3 ghost shrimps are more than enough. They will work together in keeping your tank clean and free of algae.

Ghost Shrimp Diet:

A ghost shrimp is probably the easiest one you have seen so far. They can eat anything plants, algae, leftover food, organic matters, insects, larvae, or store-made food. Fish flakes, pellets, algae flakes, or wafers are their favorite.

As ghost shrimps mainly reside at the bottom of the tank so heavy-weight pellets that can sink to the bottom should be preferred.

As these shrimps have an exoskeleton or shell that is made of calcium carbonate so calcium should be an important component of their diet. Thus, remember to feed them with calcium supplements or food fortified with calcium.

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As so many options are available it often leads to overfeeding and later it can make your fish sick or stressed. You should not feed them more than once every day.

How To Breed Ghost Shrimps?

Breeding ghost shrimp is like the easiest thing, they are quick to breed and produce a large number of offspring. The main reason behind using ghost shrimps as a feeder for fish is their ability to reproduce easily.

All you need is a minimalistic breeding tank and a pair of male and female ghost shrimp, and you are good to go.

1.    The major difference between the two genders is their size, females are much larger. Moreover, females have a green saddle just below their bodies.

2.    First, move the mature female in the breeding tank and wait for them to give lay eggs. The eggs are green in color and are closely attached to their bodies.

3.    Now introduce the male counterpart and wait for them to fertilize the eggs.

4.    Once the eggs are fertilized, they are detached from the female body and are left to hatch on the aquarium surface. So, it is advised to make the breeding tank with a soft soil base.

5.    Now remove both males and females from the community tank as there is an increased risk of the parents consuming their offspring.

6.    It takes 3-5 weeks for the eggs to hatch, and your little fry is ready.

7.    Once the fry is old enough to swim on its own that takes no more than a few weeks, you can add them to the community aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp female with eggs
Image Credit: Fylde Water Gardens

How Much a Ghost Shrimp Cost?

2-3$ per Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps are pretty inexpensive as they are bred in large amounts for feeding purposes. The price of ghost shrimps grown as feeders is generally lower than that grown for aquariums. You can even get them for 1$ at some pet stores.


Q. What do ghost shrimps eat?

A. Ghost shrimps can eat everything, fish flakes, pellets, algae wafers, insects, larvae, plants, algae, and leftover food as well.

Q. How long do ghost shrimps live?

A. 1 year
The lifespan of a ghost shrimp is pretty short, and they can live a year if kept in absolute care.

Q. How big do ghost shrimps get?

A. 1.5 inches
A ghost shrimp can grow to a maximum size of 1-1.5 inches.


Ghost shrimps are a beautiful and valuable addition to a freshwater aquarium. They are peaceful, calm, little creatures cleaning your tank with complete diligence. Moreover, they are easy to keep and are pretty convenient on budget as well.

The transparent glassy body adds a different look to your aquarium and can excite anyone into getting them for their aquarium. The only bug that comes with ghost shrimps is that they can’t be kept with big territorial fishes.

I hope this article cleared all your queries regarding ghost shrimp, looking forward to helping you in the future as well.

Till then best of luck with your aquarium!!!

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