Ghost Shrimp Care Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Scientifically referred to as Palaemonetes paludosus, the ghost shrimps have several common names, including glass shrimp and eastern glass shrimp. Their native habitat is primarily North America, and they grow to about 1.5 inches in size.

These peaceful omnivores can survive for approximately one year and prefer living in a 5–10-gallon tank with a temperature range of 65–82°F (23–28°C).

The ideal pH for ghost shrimp is between 7.0–8.0 with a hardness of 3.0–12.0 dGH. As for care level, these transparent beauties are considered easy to maintain.

Ghost shrimp have been a part of our planet since the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, as indicated by the existence of their fossils.

However, they were formally described in North America in the 1850s. Today, they are frequently sighted on sandy beaches and coastal regions around the Pacific Ocean.

The ghost shrimp, a cherished resident of freshwater tanks, hails from the Palaemonetes family.

Celebrated for their remarkable transparency and diligent tank-cleaning abilities, these shrimp are a go-to choice for aquarists worldwide.

Quick Stats About Ghost Shrimp

Scientific Name: Palaemonetes paludosus
Common names: Ghost shrimp, glass shrimp, eastern glass shrimp
Distribution: North America
Size: 1.5 inches
Life expectancy: One year
Color: clear
Diet: Omnivore
Temperament: Peaceful
Minimum tank size: 5–10 gallons
Temperature: 65–82°F (23–28°C)
pH: 7.0–8.0
Hardness: 3.0–12.0 dGH
Care level: Easy

Ghost Shrimp Appearance

Ghost shrimps, or Palaemonetes paludosus, possess an uncanny charm derived from their unique translucent bodies. Their bodies reveal their internal organs and the food they consume, which is why they are often called glass or skeleton shrimp.

Typically, they exhibit a nearly clear appearance with occasional splashes of faint green or subtle brown spots, enhancing their visual appeal.

Despite their minute size, they manage to capture attention. Males of the species can reach an approximate size of 1.5 inches, whereas females usually are slightly smaller.

Their distinctively large rostrum, or beak, and elongated claws are other identifying characteristics that lend them a fascinating profile.

Natural Habitat of Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps naturally inhabit freshwater environments such as slow-moving rivers, lakes, and ponds. They thrive in the muddy bottoms rich in decaying vegetation and organic material, which serve as their primary food source.

The aquatic setup that mimics their natural habitat the most closely would be one filled with soft sediment, decorated with live plants, and driftwood for hiding.

The environment should provide an ample food supply, consisting of biofilm, algae, decaying plant matter, and even tiny crustaceans and larvae.

Origin and Distribution

The glass shrimps originate from the southeastern regions of the United States, predominantly in warm and slow-moving bodies of water.

They’ve been recognized to inhabit bodies of water across states like Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas.

Owing to their hardiness and fascinating looks, ghost shrimps have made their way into aquariums around the world.

They are now common residents of freshwater aquariums globally, reflecting their adaptability and the appeal they hold for aquarists of all levels.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps belong to the dwarf shrimp family, hence their size remains relatively modest throughout their life. On average, they grow to be around 1.5 inches in length, with males marginally larger than females.

A fully grown adult male shrimp can reach up to 2 inches, but this is considered the maximum.

The growth rate of these intriguing creatures is quite fascinating. As younglings, they molt and grow at an almost weekly pace. However, as they mature, this rate reduces, and they only molt and grow once a month.

Ghost shrimps are not known for a long lifespan. In their natural habitat, they can live up to a year, and this expectancy can extend slightly in well-maintained aquariums.

Despite their relatively short lifespan, their resilience, interesting behavior, and the crucial role they play in maintaining a clean tank environment make them a rewarding addition to any aquarium.

While their lifespan might seem short, it’s essential to remember that ghost shrimp breed readily in captivity.

So, with a stable population in your aquarium, the brevity of individual shrimp’s lives doesn’t detract from the ongoing presence and benefits of these engaging little critters.

By ensuring optimum tank conditions and mimicking their natural environment as closely as possible, you can promote their health and longevity, offering them a fulfilling life while reaping the benefits of their tireless cleaning efforts.

Ghost Shrimp Behavior and Temperament

Ghost shrimp are a fascinating breed, known for their calm and peaceful temperament. They are bottom-dwellers and exhibit an intriguingly active lifestyle, often seen busily scurrying around the tank bottom and scavenging for food.

This makes them an invaluable asset for maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment.

Despite their docile nature, ghost shrimp can turn defensive if they feel threatened. This is usually seen as an aggressive posture and is more of a defense mechanism rather than an offense.

Generally, though, ghost shrimp harmoniously coexist with their tank mates, adding an element of life and movement to any aquarium.

Tank Setup: Crafting a Home for Your Ghost Shrimp

Creating the perfect tank environment for ghost shrimp entails mimicking their natural habitat as closely as possible.

Below we’ll delve into the aspects you need to consider, ensuring that your ghost shrimp not only survive but also thrive in your care.

Tank Size

Ghost shrimp are small creatures and don’t require an overly large space. A 10-gallon tank can comfortably house a small colony of ghost shrimp. The key lies in maintaining the water quality and ensuring each shrimp has enough space to search for food without excessive competition.


Since ghost shrimp are bottom-dwellers, the choice of substrate is essential. A sandy or fine-grained gravel substrate would work best. It’s also ideal to choose a darker substrate to make your translucent ghost shrimp more visible against the contrast.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Ghost shrimp are big fans of hiding places. Provide them with plenty of nooks and crannies using aquatic plants, driftwood, and caves. Not only does this mimic their natural environment, but it also gives them a sense of security and reduces stress.

Water Parameters

Maintaining optimum water conditions is crucial for the wellbeing of ghost shrimp. The water temperature should be between 70°F and 80°F, pH levels between 7.0 and 7.8, and the water hardness between 3-10 dKH. Regular water changes are necessary to keep nitrate and ammonia levels low.

Filtration and Aeration

A filter is a must for a shrimp tank, both to keep the water clean and to create water movement for oxygenation. However, be mindful of the water current – it should be gentle enough not to stress the shrimp.


Ghost shrimp aren’t particularly picky about lighting. However, a moderate light will help if you have live plants in your tank, which in turn provide hiding spaces and food for the shrimp. A standard aquarium light should suffice.

Tank Mates

Ghost shrimp are peaceful and can coexist with many other species. However, avoid pairing them with large, aggressive fish that might see them as food. Small, non-aggressive fish like guppies, tetras, or other dwarf shrimp make suitable tank mates.


While ghost shrimp are scavengers, they also need a balanced diet. Feed them high-quality shrimp pellets, algae wafers, and occasional fresh or blanched vegetables. They’ll also happily consume any leftover food from their tank mates.

By paying attention to these factors and tuning them to mimic the ghost shrimp’s natural habitat, you can ensure your tiny companions enjoy a healthy, happy life within your aquarium.

Tank Maintenance of Ghost Shrimp

Tank maintenance plays a key role in ensuring your ghost shrimp stay happy and healthy. Regular cleanings, water changes, and careful observation of the tank’s inhabitants are all essential tasks for a shrimp owner.

Here’s a more detailed look at how to maintain your ghost shrimp tank.

Regular Water Changes

Water changes are crucial for the health of your ghost shrimp. To keep water parameters stable, it’s recommended to change 25-30% of the tank’s water every two weeks.

Use a water conditioner to remove harmful chemicals from tap water before adding it to the tank. This simple routine keeps the water fresh and promotes the well-being of your ghost shrimp.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Every month, set aside time to clean the tank walls and decorations. Algae can accumulate on these surfaces and, if unchecked, can affect water quality.

Use a soft-bristled brush or an aquarium-safe scrubber to gently clean the surfaces without disturbing your shrimp or damaging the tank. Remember, some algae growth is healthy and provides a food source for the shrimp.

Filter Maintenance

The aquarium filter is a workhorse, tirelessly cleaning the water for your ghost shrimp. To ensure it continues to function effectively, clean it once a month.

Always rinse filter components in the tank water removed during a water change, as tap water can kill beneficial bacteria. Avoid replacing all filter media at once to keep the bacterial colonies intact.

Monitor Fish Health

One of the most crucial aspects of maintaining a healthy aquarium is regular observation. Watch your ghost shrimp’s behavior closely.

Healthy shrimp will be active, eating well, and displaying their typical translucent appearance. If you notice lethargy, color changes, or lack of appetite, it could be a sign of stress or illness.

In conclusion, keeping a ghost shrimp tank requires regular maintenance and attention to detail.

By staying on top of water changes, cleaning, filter maintenance, and observing your shrimp’s behavior, you can ensure a thriving habitat for these fascinating creatures. Remember, a well-kept tank is the key to healthy, happy ghost shrimp.

Acclimating Ghost Shrimp

When bringing ghost shrimp into a new aquarium, it’s vital to acclimate them properly. This process reduces stress and helps your shrimp adjust to their new home’s water parameters.

To acclimate your ghost shrimp, float the bag they came in, in the tank for about 15-20 minutes. This allows the water inside the bag to match the temperature of the aquarium.

Following this, gradually add small amounts of tank water into the bag every 5 minutes for around an hour. This slowly adjusts the shrimp to the water’s pH, hardness, and other parameters.

After this, gently release your shrimp into the tank using a net.

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Ghost Shrimp Diet and Feeding

Ghost shrimp are omnivorous scavengers, and their diet plays a crucial role in their health and lifespan.

Here’s a more detailed look at what ghost shrimp eat and how to feed them:

Commercial Shrimp Food

Ghost shrimp do well on commercial shrimp or fish pellets. These are nutritionally balanced and often contain a variety of proteins, fibers, and essential minerals. However, do not rely solely on pellets as the diet should be varied.

Fresh and Frozen Foods

Occasionally supplement the diet with fresh or frozen foods like bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. These are great sources of protein, and ghost shrimp relish these delicacies.

Plant Matter

Being omnivores, ghost shrimp also enjoy plant matter. Fresh vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, and peas can be given. Be sure to blanch the veggies to make them easier to eat.

Algae and Biofilm

Ghost shrimp will naturally graze on algae and biofilm in the aquarium. These are great natural food sources and encourage the shrimp’s natural foraging behavior.

Feeding Guidelines

Feed your ghost shrimp once a day, giving them only as much food as they can consume in 2-3 hours. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality, while underfeeding can cause health issues.

In conclusion, a varied diet including commercial food, fresh and frozen foods, plant matter, and naturally occurring algae, ensures your ghost shrimp receive all the nutrients they need.

Remember, proper acclimation and feeding are critical for the health and happiness of your ghost shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates: Friends and Foes

Ghost shrimp are peaceful and can coexist with many aquarium species.

However, choosing the right tank mates is key to maintaining a harmonious tank environment.

Best Tank Mates for Ghost Shrimp

  1. Guppies: Guppies are small, peaceful fish that won’t threaten your ghost shrimp. Their vibrant colors also create a nice contrast with the shrimp’s clear bodies.

  2. Neon Tetras: Neon Tetras are another great option. They’re small, peaceful, and tend to stick to the middle and top areas of the tank, leaving the bottom for the shrimp.

  3. Otocinclus Catfish: These small catfish are peaceful and share similar water parameter requirements with ghost shrimps. They also help control algae in the tank.

  4. Dwarf Gouramis: Dwarf Gouramis are calm and won’t harm your ghost shrimps. They’re also beautiful to look at, adding more color to your tank.

  5. Snails: Snails like the Mystery Snail or Nerite Snail are excellent companions for ghost shrimps. They’re peaceful, share similar diets, and won’t compete for space.

Tank Mates to Avoid

  1. Cichlids: Most Cichlids are aggressive and can eat smaller tank mates, including ghost shrimp.

  2. Oscars: Oscars are large, predatory fish and can easily eat your shrimp.

  3. Bettas: Although not all Betta fish will harm ghost shrimps, they can sometimes see them as food, especially in a smaller tank.

  4. Goldfish: Goldfish tend to be messy eaters and can cause water quality issues, which could stress or harm your ghost shrimps.

  5. Puffers: Pufferfish are known to be aggressive eaters and could potentially see your ghost shrimps as a tasty snack.

Breeding Ghost Shrimp and Fry Care

Breeding Ghost shrimps can be a rewarding experience and isn’t too complicated if the right conditions are met.

Here’s a detailed look at how to breed ghost shrimp and care for the fry:

  1. Ensure a Balanced Sex Ratio: For successful breeding, you’ll need both male and female ghost shrimp in your tank. Typically, females are larger and have a green saddle under their bodies where eggs develop.

  2. Create a Conducive Environment: Keep the water parameters stable and provide plenty of hiding spots. This will help the shrimp feel secure and promote breeding behavior.

  3. Provide Nutritious Food: A diet rich in protein can stimulate breeding in ghost shrimp. Consider feeding them with brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Once the female carries eggs, they will hatch in about two weeks. The newly hatched ghost shrimps (known as larvae) will float in the water column.

Caring for Ghost Shrimps Fry

  1. Separate the Fry: To protect the fry from being eaten by adult tank mates, consider moving them to a separate tank or breeding box within the main tank.

  2. Feed Them Properly: Ghost shrimp fry need nutritious food for proper growth. Infusoria or commercially prepared fry food work well.

  3. Maintain Water Quality: The fry are more sensitive to water conditions than adults, so ensure the water parameters are stable, and carry out regular water changes.

Breeding ghost shrimps and caring for the fry can be a fascinating endeavor. Just remember, choosing the right tank mates and providing the proper care will ensure your ghost shrimp thrive.

Recognizing Stress in Ghost Shrimp

Stress in ghost shrimp can manifest in several ways. Spotting these signs early is essential for maintaining the health of your shrimp.

Changes in Color: While ghost shrimps are naturally clear, stress can cause a change in color. Some may become milky or take on a grayish tone.

Erratic Behavior: Shrimp experiencing stress may show unusual behavior, like swimming erratically or hiding more than usual.

Decreased Activity: A reduction in usual activity, like feeding or exploring, may indicate stress.

Molting Issues: Stress can affect molting, leading to incomplete molts or molting more frequently.

Common Health Issues and Treatments

Like all aquarium pets, ghost shrimps can encounter several health problems.

Here are the most common issues and their remedies:

Parasitic Infections: Ghost shrimps can contract parasites, leading to lethargy and loss of appetite. Treat with a shrimp-safe anti-parasitic medication.

Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections can cause discoloration and lethargy. Use antibiotics specially designed for aquariums.

Molting Issues: If your shrimp are having difficulty molting, they may lack calcium. Make sure their diet includes calcium-rich foods.

Poor Water Quality: This can lead to a host of problems. Regular water changes and monitoring water parameters can prevent many health issues.

ghost shrimp

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

Maintaining a healthy aquarium environment is crucial for the well-being of your ghost shrimps. Here are some additional tips:

Regular Monitoring: Keep a regular check on water parameters like pH, temperature, and ammonia levels. Sudden changes can stress your shrimp.

Balanced Diet: Ensure your ghost shrimps are getting a balanced diet, including algae, detritus, and commercial shrimp food.

Provide Hiding Spaces: Shrimp appreciate hiding places. Decorations, plants, or rocks can offer spaces for your shrimp to feel safe.

Is a Ghost Shrimp Right for Your Aquarium?

Ghost shrimps can be an excellent addition to your aquarium due to their peaceful nature, interesting behavior, and utility as efficient cleaners.

However, they do require specific care and attention to thrive.


  1. Easy to Care for: Ghost shrimps are generally easy to care for, making them ideal for beginners.

  2. Good Tank Cleaners: They are diligent scavengers, helping keep your aquarium clean.

  3. Peaceful: They coexist well with many species, making them good community tank members.


  1. Sensitive to Water Conditions: They need stable water conditions, requiring regular water checks.

  2. Prey for Larger Fish: Their small size and peaceful nature make them potential prey for larger, more aggressive fish.

Considering these factors will help you decide if a ghost shrimp is the right choice for your aquarium.

The Conservation Status of Ghost Shrimp

Currently, ghost shrimps are not considered endangered or under threat according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They are common in their natural habitats and also in the pet trade. However, it is crucial to purchase from ethical sources to ensure the continued health of wild populations.

Availability & Pricing: Getting Your Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimps are widely available due to their popularity as pets. They can be found at most local pet stores, aquarium specialty shops, and even online.

Because of their high availability, they are relatively inexpensive. However, prices can vary depending on location and store. Generally, you can expect to pay around $2 to $5 per shrimp.

Remember, it’s always best to buy from reputable sources to ensure you’re getting healthy shrimp.


Frequently Asked Questions About Ghost Shrimps

1. Can ghost shrimps live with fish?

Yes, they can coexist peacefully with many species of fish, especially those that are non-aggressive and similar in size.

2. How long do ghost shrimps live?

On average, ghost shrimps live about 1-2 years, though this can be slightly longer with excellent care.

3. What do ghost shrimps eat?

They are omnivores and scavengers, eating algae, detritus, and commercially available shrimp food.

4. How many ghost shrimps should I get?

This depends on the size of your tank. As a rule of thumb, you can keep two to four ghost shrimp per gallon of water.

5. Do ghost shrimps need a heater?

Ghost shrimps prefer temperatures between 65-82°F, so they may require a heater if your room temperature falls below this range.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, ghost shrimps can make a fantastic addition to your aquarium. They are relatively easy to care for, interesting to watch, and provide the added benefit of helping keep your tank clean.

However, they do require certain conditions to thrive, including stable water parameters and a safe, peaceful environment.

With proper care, these intriguing creatures can add an extra level of interest and beauty to your aquatic ecosystem.