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Ghost Shrimp

Last Updated: 1/30/12

Shrimpy, a ghost shrimp, on 9/15/00.

Ghost Shrimp Information
My Ghost Shrimp
Ghost Shrimp Photos
Ghost Shrimp Breeding - on its own page


Ghost Shrimp Information

Survive in aquariums: Yes
Survive in warm ponds: Yes
Survive in cold ponds: Yes or No (depends on how cold)
Plant eating capacity: Low
Algae eating capacity: Low to Moderate

Ghost shrimp may also be called glass or grass shrimp. Ghost shrimp belong to the genus Palaeomonetes. Both Palaemonetes kadakensis and P. paludosus are found in freshwater. There are also brackish water species. Ghost shrimp are often sold as "feeders" for all sorts of aquatic life. I have found that they live in ponds at least as low as the 50's degrees F. They probably will not survive the winter (I added more after the one winter that I tried them so I could not tell those apart from shrimp from the previous year); plus, their life spans are not that long (1 to 1.5 years). Most kinds of ghost shrimp grow 1 to 2 inches long with females being much larger than males. My males were just under 1" with the females approaching 1.5". Ghost shrimp do fine at a neutral pH. I have also yet to find out if they breed in temperate ponds. Females carry developing eggs under their swimmerets or legs until they are ready to be released. In aquaria, the tiny newborns usually get eaten. Yet, there are a few success stories but the aquarists do not know what made the difference in the babies' survival. Adding java moss and other plants that create hiding spots help increase the likelihood that some babies could survive being eaten. Ghost shrimp are clear except for any food in their digestive tract and any dark balls (babies) under mature females. They also have an orangish yellow dot at each side of their tail. They prefer leftover fish food and small pieces of plant and animal material to eat but will also catch and eat fry.

"Mr. Cichlid" says, "You might want to add that the ghost shrimp sold in Europe are Palaemonetes varians, the European glass shrimp. There is also an Amazonian species that is sometimes but rarely imported to the US and Europe known as Palaemonetes ivonicus.

Female ghost shrimp with eggs are easy to identify. They carry small dark balls under their swimmerets. When she moves around, she often mixes them up by moving her swimmerets. This keeps them well provided with oxygen.

Other Aquarists' Ghost Shrimp Breeding Stories:

I have moved this portion of the shrimp page to this section.


My Ghost Shrimp

I "bred" a baby ghost shrimp myself by total accident. It was a mystery. I added four ghost shrimp on 4/1/00 to my 40 gallon tank. One was removed dead on 4/13/00, and none had been seen since then. Surprise! I found a baby (half an inch versus the 1+ inch adults I added) ghost shrimp in the tank on 6/24/00! Before the adults were eaten or died and were eaten, a female must have released babies. Normally, it is almost impossible to get baby ghost shrimp to survive. My tank was pretty bare with lots of danios and a huge pleco and yet this baby made it!? A photo of Shrimpy is at the top of this page.

Two more ghost shrimp were added on 3/16/01 to join my now big baby Shrimpy. The two new ghost shrimp were completely clear with one carrying eggs. My older Shrimpy had a larger and more intense band red in the middle of his front legs and on his antennae. I did not know if that meant he was a different species or simply that he was male, and the two new shrimp were female (one was for sure as she had eggs). On 6/2/01, I noticed a shrimp only half an inch long in the 40 gallon tank! So, the shrimp had another successful offspring. I guess he/she was Shrimpy Junior! A dead large ghost shrimp was removed on 6/30/01. It was white so it must have died during molting (it was not an empty shell which are commonly found). So, by 7/3/01, there were only three possible ghost shrimp left including the baby which was almost full grown. On 12/10/01, another white, dead ghost shrimp was removed from the tank. On 2/1/02, I added two large and three small new ghost shrimp to my 40 gallon tank. One of the largest ones turned opaque on 3/9/02 and died on 3/11/02 when she was an opaque orange/pink color. I then had six ghost shrimp. On 3/30/02, I was able to see that four of my shrimp were large females with eggs, and one must have been a male (I could not find the sixth shrimp just then). Although they make lots of eggs, the babies never survive. I guess I said that too soon! On 4/20/02, I saw one baby now large enough to not be eaten. How in the world did he survive with no plant cover left in the tank and all those hungry fish? Oh, well, the baby shrimp was cute and happy.

I was surprised on 5/18/02 to see at least four baby ghost shrimp! Then, when I searched the water from the tank cleaning in the bathtub for danio fry, I also found the smallest ghost shrimp I had ever seen. It was the size of the newborn danio fry! I put the baby in with the fry. I was not sure why the shrimp were breeding so well in a nearly bare tank with other fish! Perhaps the addition of Kent Marine Iodide weekly was making a difference in breeding/raising success as babies need to molt more than adults, and iodine is needed for that. On 5/25/02, I saw many babies including one that got sucked up but was big enough to go back and another really small one that I put in the five gallon tank. It was the size of the newborn danios. On 8/10/02, I removed one shrimp from the five gallon and put him in the 40 gallon tank. Maybe he ate the other one! I removed a dead ghost shrimp from the 40 gallon tank on 1/4/03. There were at least a dozen more! The babies were now grown up, and I could not tell who was who! I found two wee ones on 3/1/03, and, since I had a net breeder set up for baby danios, I put them in there. They were SO hard to see since they were clear. They may have been 10 times larger than the newborn danios but they were completely clear (I caught the moving eyes with my eyes and sucked them up with a pipette with the tip cut off). I removed a big, dead ghost shrimp on 5/23/03 from the 40 gallon tank. I removed a part of a dead shrimp on 7/19/03 and a whole one on 7/21/03. Both had turned white and died during molting despite the addition of iodine to the tank. A non-white, dead intact ghost shrimp was found and removed on 10/4/03. Another on 11/22/03 was removed.

By 1/10/04, it seemed that I only had about half a dozen ghost shrimp left. I removed one I accidently killed on 1/3/04 when I removed the fake plants for bleaching to clean them of blue-green algae and did not know she was along for the death ride. I found another large dead ghost shrimp and removed it on 1/31/04. Two more dead ghost shrimp were found and removed on 3/6/04 and 3/13/04. I found another ghost shrimp dried up next to my tank on 6/4/04 that jumped out of a small opening in the lid. A ghost shrimp turned white and died on 7/23/04. Another white one was removed on 8/27/04. I took out a big one on 7/19/05. The power went out on 8/14/05; the water turned milky despite battery-operated aeration; and a large female ghost shrimp was found dead. On 8/19/05, another big ghost shrimp was found dead, perhaps a delayed response to the power outage. When I cleaned the tank on 8/27/05, I found at least one ghost shrimp. It was hard to tell from what was left. I think that was the last of the ghost shrimp. I was then shrimpless.

On 1/8/08, when I got a few plants at the fish store, I found a young ghost shrimp and scuds in with the plants. I put them in my 5 gallon tank (which only had one dying paradise fish who was too weak to try to eat them). [Note: 1/30/12 - I see I made no updates on this so I am not sure how long that shrimp survived but it was not long since I do not remember it happening.]


Ghost Shrimp Photos

Photos of my ghost shrimp in my 40 gallon tank:
Shrimpy on 9/15/00.
Shrimp on 4/22/01.

Here is another photo of a ghost shrimp belonging to Amy: Ghost Shrimp.

This is a photo of a baby ghost shrimp sent to me by Joe on 7/1/05 that used to be on his site to which I had a link. He wrote, "...The picture shows the baby after it has settled into more or less the same form as the adult. I never was able to get a picture of the first stage, when the baby shrimp is hovering head-down in the open water and has a rather different shape. The babies hatched from eggs carried in by an already 'pregnant' female. I've gotten baby shrimp this way numerous times, but I've never had shrimp actually mate and breed in a tank. The shrimp ate fish food flakes mostly, and also liked frozen glassworms. The only other animals in the globe were various small snails and assorted plankton and microlife (which probably fed the babies). Every now and again I added a drop or two of an iodine supplement, which I often hear is helpful to shrimp. Whether or not it had any effect I can't say, but the shrimp did well. The little inset image is of the large plastic globe that the shrimp were living in. It's been empty in storage for a couple of years now, and I don't remember how many gallons it holds. The plants in the globe thrived but were eventually displaced by the Java Moss, which grew into an enormous free-floating blob that filled the entire space. I used a small air-powered sponge filter. The light was a desk lamp fixture with a compact-fluorescent tube; a large square plastic Fresnel lens (similar to what an overhead projector uses) served as a lid and increased the intensity of the light. That's about all the information that I have on the picture. I don't remember when I took it."

John sent me five photos of his ghost shrimp on 3/7/06:
One shrimp, two shrimp, one shrimp, one shrimp, and one female shrimp who is carrying eggs.

Russell sent these three photos of ghost shrimp on 9/16/06:
Ghost shrimp
Pregnant female ghost shrimp - you can even see the eyes of the babies under the female shrimp!
Ghost shrimp


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