The Ghost Shrimp
What are Ghost shrimp
Ghost Shrimp, also called Glass Shrimp are a small invertebrate
usually reaching no more than 1.5" to 2" in length.
They are characterized by long slender feeler antenna, translucent
body and nimble appendages. The body is segmented, and features
ten sets of legs. The front four sets have tiny claws used
for grasping and feeding. They can gracefully swim as well
as walk across the bottom of their aquarian environment
but are completely helpless out of water being able to move
only by jumping randomly with a flick of their tail.
As you can see from the picture on the right because of
their small size and lack of color they can be a bit hard
Many aquariumist use Ghost Shrimp as live food sources
for larger species of fish while others have them as tank
mates who act as valuable scavengers eating dead plants,
some types of algae and uneaten fish food.
Because of the general versatility of this species, its
relatively easy care and high reproductive rate, it has
become commonly available in most pet shops. Usually ranging
in price of 20 to 59 cents.
is a group of Ghost shrimp that have just fed. You can actually
observe the food as it moves along part of their digestive
Why keep them and why in a bowl
There are a number of reasons Ghost Shrimp are perfect
for the bowl.
These creatures thrive in the warm, still waters of the
freshwater lakes, ponds and canals of the southern US states,
especially Florida. Some of these ponds are even stagnant
and algae ridden. These are easy conditions to to match
or even improve upon in a bowl. Temperature wise Ghost shrimp
are versatile surviving in a range of 60 to 85 degrees,
the higher temperature of this range being preferred due
to their tropical nature.
Ghost Shrimp are fun, energetic creatures that are really
entertaining to watch. At times they can be still as a stone
but more often then not they can be seen combing
the surface and sides of their bowl exploring, picking up
and eating bits of food from the sand and gravel or even
swimming upside down with their four outstretched claws
picking at the surface looking for a morsel that has not
yet sunk to the bottom.
Children love to watch Ghost Shrimp and while a bowl of
prawns may not replace their tv or video games many kids
will find their activities interesting and particularly
educational. I say this because it's possible to observe
this species in a number of activities common to crustaceans
in general that would have been otherwise hard to observe.
- feeding - Ghost shrimp spend the majority of their time
hunting for anything remotely edible. While non aggressive
by nature they won't hesitate to steal food from their
fellow shrimp either by boldly tearing away a meal all
ready half consumed and chasing off the previous owner
or by quickly snatching a morsel and scurrying in full
retreat with captured food.
- digestion - Do to their translucent form. It is very
easy to see a good part of the digestive process as they
consume their food. A quality not exhibited by many of
it's thicker shelled cousins such as crabs, lobsters and
even most other types of shrimp. It is also a good way
to see which shrimp have had success finding food and
which ones have gone wanting during feeding time.
- molting - the process where all crustaceans slide off
their shell covering that has become too small and emerge
with a new set of armor, and a little bit bigger. The
new shell takes a few hours to harden, so you'll need
to supply some hiding places for the shrimp to use during
this stage. You will rarely see the old empty shells lying
around since they are quickly eaten for their calcium
- reproduction - Ghost shrimp will readily breed in the
bowl if kept in large enough groups (6 or more) and the
container is big enough. From the bowl you will be able
to see baby shrimp development right from small, hardly
noticeable pink eggs right up to free swimming youngsters.
Plants are important to keeping happy healthy Ghost shrimp
for the following reasons
- Aquatic plants help oxygenate the water.
- Aquatic and terrestrial root cuttings can be used
to help reduce ammonia, a byproduct of most animals.
- Increase surface area to allow the growth of ammonia
and nitrate eating bacteria.
- Provide coverage which can be so important, especially
for a shrimp that has molted.
- Environmentally that is what they are instinctively
used to, Ponds have plants in them and along the edges.
- I believe the surface floating plants can actually
act as a kind of barrier in case the shrimp gets spooked
and jumps. The floating plants can cushion the shrimp,
keeping it in the bowl.
Some of my favorite plants to keep with both Ghost
shrimp and fish in general are as follows:
also known as the Brazilian Waterweed, is an ideal aquatic
plant for the bowl. Light to bright green leaves, with branching
stems covered in small grouped leaflets. Anacharis anchors
itself in the substrate by sending out tendril like roots,
but will also grow just as well free floating. In fact it
may grow so well that it will require frequent pruning.
Works well as an algae fighter and nutrient sponge usually
at a very affordable price.
Read more about working with anacharis
Free floating small plant (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) resembling
a miniature lily pad. It has nickel sized, kidney shaped,
green leaves about 1 inch or less across that grow in circular
clusters. New pads rise from the cluster center to produce
new growth. A white flower with a yellow center may be tucked
among the leaves. The undersides of the leaves are puffed
with spongy, air-holding tissue. The roots are beautiful
fan like extensions that can grow two inches or more and
absorb nutrients directly from the water without having
to anchor or even touch the bottom.
Read more about working with frobit
minima, Small, oval, 3/8" joined eaves covered
with tiny hairs that absorb nutrients from the water. Prefers
a lot of light and will help control algae. These plants
are essentially floating ferns. Since they naturally occur
in still waters having high organic content they are perfect
for the bowl. Their root-like structures which are actually
modified fronds that act like nutrient sponges helping to
clean the water like their floating counter part.
Read more about working with salvinia
a small floating flowering plant, is highly recommended
for fish. It's not only considered extremely healthy for
many types of fish in their diet but the roots attract other
nutritious microscopic foods for smaller fish and fry. These
plants grow floating in still or slow-moving fresh water
around the globe, except in the coldest regions. The growth
of these high-protein plants can be extremely rapid, so
much so that even if a few of these plants remain after
a water change they will quickly repopulate the surface.
I've read that environmental scientists are using duckweeds
to remove unwanted substances from water. All in all a very
good addition for a bowl.
Read more about working with duckweed
moss, While one of my absolute favorites I'm still
relatively new at growing this plant let alone taking good
pictures. You should be able to find better pictures of
this plant on some of the links I've included in this article,
Java moss is the common name for Vesicularia dubyana, a
hardy plant which makes few demands on the water or light
and will grow on just about any surface. It is ideal for
decorating stones and plant roots in your bowl. It can be
anchored by placing a stone on top, tied into position using
fishing line or just left free floating. If its growth becomes
too excessive as it usually will given enough time it can
be broken up and spread to other bowls and aquariums. Its
an excellent hiding place for smaller fish and shrimp.
Read more about working
with java moss
- Ghost Shrimp are excellent scavengers and will eat any
kind of fish food. One of their main benefits to a tank
is eating left-overs from the bottom of a bowl or aquarium,
- In the wild on the other hand ghost shrimp will feed
on detritus that naturally appears in the sand and mud
in shallow lakes and ponds.
- ammonia, should be kept as low as possible.
Should not be a problem with a well cycled bowl or tank
and avoidance leftovers during feeding. Resort to partial
water changes if needed.
I personally like to avoid them altogether. Many of the
so-called medications for fish are deadly to crustaceans
like shrimp. Such products should indicate on the label
that they are harmful to invertebrates. Some parasitic medications
and those with heavy metals such as copper are the most
harmful and should be avoided though antibiotics are usually
small non aggressive fish
- bettas (occasionally and under the right circumstances)
- small apple snail
Every few months the shrimp becomes more vulnerable by
molting. That's when they cast off their hard exoskeleton
and emerge with new armor, and a little bit bigger. The
new shell takes a few hours, up to a day, to harden, so
the shrimp will need a hiding place during this routine
Many shrimp keepers believe that iodine is essential to
help freshwater shrimp complete their molt. In tanks with
low iodine, molting shrimp turn white and die. Adding iodine
(as iodide) can help prevent this. Those in the Shrimp
Group have recommend using half the recommended dosage
of Kent Marine Iodine with water changes
Sometimes you can see a large female Ghost Shrimp over
1" long with the underside of her body covered with
light pink or green eggs. As long as the water is clean
they will just about take care of themselves.
Bowls work well into a breeding strategy with Ghost shrimp
which are more likely to breed if their numbers are 6 or
more. While tanks should be used with such high numbers
of of shrimp egg carrying females should then be isolated
into a separate tank or bowl if you wish the babies to survive,
the young are too small to catch so you must move the female
while she is still carrying the baby ghost shrimp or eggs.
It is essential to provide plenty of plants or other small
hiding places in the aquarium for the young Ghost Shrimp.
After the babies have hatched, the parent Ghost Shrimp should
be removed. In order to successfully raise the young, they
should be fed on baby brine shrimp, in addition to liquefied
(fry) food or minute algae.