There are dozens of freshwater aquarium shrimp species that are able to adapt to a wide range of water conditions. Most freshwater aquarium shrimp are scavengers by nature and will dig through gravel or sand at the bottom of the tank to find tiny particles of food. Among the most common are the red cherry shrimp, amano shrimp, ghost shrimp, red-nosed shrimp, and the Malaysian rainbow shrimp.
Red cherry shrimp are probably the most commonly kept of all freshwater aquarium shrimp. They are algae eaters that are named for their bright red bodies. These shrimp are native to Asia, but are sold as pets throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. They are among the most passive of all aquarium varieties and can be kept with most other species of shrimp with no problems. Like most shrimp, they should not be kept with aggressive or large fish.
The amano shrimp is also commonly known as a grass- or algae-eating shrimp. Its natural environment is in the swamps and marshes of Japan and it will live in most types of water. This transparent scavenger has a large fanned out tail and dotted body. One of the largest freshwater aquarium shrimp, the amano can grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. It is one of the most expensive aquarium species.
Ghost shrimp are transparent scavengers like the amano shrimp, but are smaller at about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. They can be aggressive toward other shrimp and should be given plenty of space. A diet of commercial flaked food is best for them. Tetras, danios, and other small aquarium fish are good companions for ghost shrimp.
The red-nosed shrimp is a voracious algae eater that is also known as Rudolph or rhino shrimp due to its pointed red nose. Besides its bright red color, the nose of this species is remarkable in that it is able to re-grow if it is broken off. Native to Asia and India, it originally lived in saltwater, but has adapted to live in freshwater as well. While most shrimp move by running, the red nosed shrimp can actually swim.
The Malaysian rainbow shrimp are named for their ability to change to a variety of different bright colors to evade predators. They are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and have a very docile nature. One of the hardiest freshwater aquarium shrimp, they tend to live longer than most species. Though they are algae eaters, they will often stop eating it when they are given commercial shrimp food.
All of these shrimp will usually survive for about a year in a clean, well-kept tank, though Malaysian rainbow shrimp may live up to two years. They usually shed their exoskeleton several times as they grow and are more fragile at this time. They should be given plenty of places in the aquarium to hide from fish and other larger shrimp that may eat them. Most also have a very low tolerance for ammonia and nitrites and should be kept in tanks where these levels are very low or nonexistent.
Breeding shrimp is difficult, as not enough tiny food particles are available to keep the larvae alive in a tank. In nature, they will feed on plankton and other miniscule meals that cannot be provided in an aquarium. Each type of shrimp has specific breeding requirements and some require some salinity in order to breed.