Bloody Mary Shrimp Care Guide

Scientific NameNeocaridina davidi
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons
Water Parameters62-82° F, KH 0-10, pH 6.6-7.2

Bloody Mary Shrimp Is a solid pick for a freshwater clean up crew. They are very easy to keep, breed easily and have a high survival rate for their offspring. Color wise the Bloody Mary Shrimp stands out in just about any aquarium. As the name suggests they are a strong blood red color.

While their name may radiate fear and threat the Bloody Mary Shrimp does not harm anything in the aquarium and is a model citizen. They should not be kept with larger fish or anything even mildly aggressive as they have no means of defending themselves.

As their lives are short, typically just over a year, they should be kept in groups. This will allow them to breed and survive in the aquarium for multiple generations.

Things To Look Out For


Like most inverts the Bloody Mary Shrimp is very sensitive to copper. The trace amounts that can be found in water coming from copper pipes can easily kill these shrimp.

If your home has copper pipes try running the water cold for awhile before getting any water for the aquarium. The hotter and newer the pipes are the more copper they will leech into the water.

Testing for copper with any copper testing kit is highly recommended. They kits are very cheap and easy to use. They also come with a lot of tests, letting you keep your aquarium under control for years with a single purchase.


Many of the medicines that we use on fish contain a lot of copper in them. The medicine will typically warn you not to use it in invert tanks as even a small dose can kill all the inverts in the tank. Remove any sick fish from the aquarium and treat them in a hospital tank.


The second stage of the beneficial bacteria stage, nitrites are fairly toxic to most marine creatures. The Neocaridia family of shrimp, which the Bloody Mary Shrimp is from, is especially sensitive to these toxins. Likely due to their origin being coated with algae, plants and bacteria to break down these chemicals immediately.

Powerful Suction:

These shrimp are not always quick. They can dart aqay when scared but can easily get sucked into strong, consistent sources. As the shrimp become more used to powerheads or other strong sources of suction they will avoid them less and less. This can result in them slipping up and falling into the suction. If it is uncovered the shrimp will be pulled in and die. If the source is covered the shrimp will be stuck and will not last long. Unless the power is cut off before they die you can expect to lose any stuck shrimp.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Habitat

As with many of the Neocaridia family members the Bloody Mary Shrimp is mostly captive bred. This means just about any shrimp you buy will be well acclimated to life in the aquarium. They have not experienced living in the wild like most fish we keep.

Still, their ancestors did live in the wild and that is what their brains see as home. For the Bloody Mary Shrimp this would be the eastern freshwater lakes and streams. They would usually be found in slow moving waters with dense vegetation. This is what we should be recreating for a Bloody Mary Shrimp focused aquarium. If they are just an addition to your aquarium they will probably do fine anyways.

If they are so resilient then why should we bother making them a specific aquarium? Good question. The reason we enjoy our aquariums is the peaceful nature they can give a room. They give us something to watch and can be a window into an aquatic world. That being said we would like our fish and inverts to be comfortable so that they are not hiding or fading in colors. The Bloody Mary Shrimp is one of the latter, they will lose color when stressed and gain color when comfortable.

The three major things I promote when designing aquariums are.

  • Create a lot of surface area
  • Make hiding places that do not obstruct our view
  • Keep the aquarium easy to clean

Ill start with the last point. If the aquarium is difficult to clean it is easier to avoid doing. Most things in life are like this. Recently I found I won’t go for runs to exercise often but I will sit in an exercise bike where I can still watch tv or use my laptop. If our tank takes 10 minutes to clean we will do it easily. If it takes an hour because we have to move everything around and then get it back into the right place we probably won’t clean as much as we should. A dirty aquarium does not look as nice even if it is more well designed.

This relates to the second point which is make visible hiding places. Deep caves that we cannot see will accumulate debris and we will have to find a way to clean them out. Otherwise the debris will break down and put unneeded strain on our beneficial bacteria, resulting in ammonia or nitrite spikes. Additionally we will not be able to see our shrimp if they spend all their time in great hiding places where no one can find them.

Instead use the aquariums glass as walls to make easy to access caves that you can see into. This will help you clean them out as you can see what you missed and what you got without having to move the rocks around.

Finally large amounts of surface area is just the best way to do things. It gives shrimp more space to crawl, fish more territories to claim and algae/bacteria more space to grow. Flat rocks are the best tool for making more space as they take very little water volume while being so large. Avoid round rocks as they do very little for the tank. Remember our space is limited.

You can also use wood in the aquarium. This will tint the water brown, which can help give the Bloody Mary Shrimp tank a more sinister look. It can also make the water feel more murky. If you want the tank crystal clear so that you can see everything you should avoid wood.

Use plants if possible

Plants give the shrimp something to climb on, consume the somewhat toxic nitrates(not nitrites) and are generally nice looking. As the plants grow you can prune them and replant parts of them which will then regrow into full size plants.

Equipment Recommendations


Use either sponge or under gravel filters. Only use canister filters if you can reduce their strength and spread out their intake. Powerfilters, also known as hang on back filters are ok but can have the same issue as canister filters.

Sponge and under gravel filters do not endanger the shrimp at all and actually benefit them. They work by drawing water into exposed filtration media or the substrate, trapping the debris and returning the water to the aquarium. Shrimp are then free to pick at these trapped debris without being sucked into the filter.

Canister filter intakes are typically long poles with a hole at the bottom. These usually have a cage around them to prevent large things from coming into the aquarium. If the canister filter has an especially large attachment and can have its flow rate reduced then it is probably safe for the shrimp. If it must run full strength or does not expand on the bottom of the intake it is likely too strong and can trap shrimp.


Gravel is easy for shrimp to pick food off of as they are light enough to be carried. It is one of the cheaper options and very easy to keep clean. Gravel has the most color options and is easy to position around the aquarium.

Sand is an alright choice. It is only beneficial to burrowing or sand sifting critters which the Bloody Mary Shrimp is not. It can be blown around the tank by equipment but settles after a few days. It is more expensive and harder to keep clean but not by a lot. When cleaning you may remove some sand from the tank, making your amount of sand lower over time.

Skipping substrate is known as using a bare bottom. They are the easiest to clean and of course the cheapest (nothing is free and nothing is all you need). This provides a flat surface for the shrimp to crawl on but does not have all the small edges sand or gravel has, meaning there will be less algae and beneficial bacteria at the bottom of the aquarium. If you frequently over feed then a bare bottom tank would be significantly easier to clean as the food settles on the easy to vacuum/siphon glass bottom. You will not have anything to put rocks or plants in.

Feeding Bloody Mary Shrimp

Their are two ways to keep this shrimp.

For a shrimp only tank:

Feed at most four times a week, keeping an eye on algae growth. If algae grows rapidly the shrimp are being over fed and algae is taking the rest. If algae is growing slowly you are close to the right amount. If the algae is receding then you are under feeding the shrimp and they are hunting algae faster than it can grow.

Remember to remove uneaten foods after a couple of hours. While they will eventually go back for the food, leaving food into the tank to degrade will quickly harm the water parameters.

For tanks with fish:

Do not feed the shrimp more than once a week if there are only a few shrimp and a full aquarium of fish. The Bloody Mary Shrimp will eat any missed food, fish waste and growing algae. Fish are fairly messy and will create more food than the shrimp need most of the time. In these cases we only feed the shrimp for fun.

If there are a lot of shrimp with just a few fish you may need to feed them more frequently. Again keep an eye on algae growth to gauge how well you are feeding the Bloody Mary Shrimp.

What to feed them:

Bloody Mary Shrimp are not picky and will take whatever they can find. If you are feeding them specifically these are good options.

  • Meaty foods | Frozen fish
  • Prepared Foods | Flakes, pellets
  • Algae wafers
  • Blanched Produce

Try to pick out shrimp focused prepared foods or quick sinking pellets. These are cheaper options that we can keep by the aquarium without issue.

Frozen foods, while beneficial, are more work to feed the shrimp. The cubes they are frozen in have a lot of nutrients that will dissolve in the water, feeding algae and bacteria but not shrimp. Try rinsing them in aquarium water before adding the frozen foods to the tank.

Algae wafers are easy choices and can help keep the Bloody Mary Shrimp on a plant based diet. They should not be fed meat primarily. Blanched produce works similarly but you need to buy the produce more regularly as it will go bad quickly.

For people with large amounts of Bloody Mary Shrimp I highly recommend the blanched produce route. Feeding a lot of shrimp algae wafers will have you going through them fairly quickly. A single zucchini will easily feed the shrimp for a fraction of the cost. Additionally this gives us something to do with the greens we bought for ourselves and don’t eat. Finally a use for those fridge decorating broccoli.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Tankmates

This shrimp is harmless. They will only eat dead or nearly dead critters, larval sized organisms and plant based foods. Some believe shrimp can gang up on fish and take them down, but this is just a myth. The Bloody Mary Shrimp will never harm anything in the aquarium. If you see them eating a fish the fish must have died on its own.

Keep large or aggressive fish away from the Bloody Mary Shrimp. Barbs, cichlids, loaches, oscars and koi fish are all shrimp eaters. Even the most peaceful fish will eat this shrimp if they fit in their mouths. Shrimp eating is not seen as aggressive. Most fish will eat shrimp if they can.

Good tankmates for the Bloody Mary Shrimp include:

  • Snails
  • Shrimp
  • Cory Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Mollies
  • Hatchet Fish
  • Thin Tetra fish

Bloody Mary Shrimp will ear larval fish or eggs. Keep them out of tanks where you are trying to raise other fish. Likewise the Bloody Mary Shrimps offspring will be very small and easy to eat. Even mid sized fish that are safe with the shrimp itself will go for the much smaller baby shrimp.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Breeding

The Bloody Mary Shrimp is one of the easiest shrimp to breed. The only difficult part of breeding them would be getting both genders. This can easily be done by buying six or more shrimp.

If you want to pick and choose your shrimp then you will have to make a gamble. There is only one way to tell the difference between male and female Bloody Mary Shrimp. This happens when they are ready to breed or have recently been breeding.

The female will show a light yellow dot on the back of her head when she is ready to breed. Due to the vibrant colors of the Bloody Mary Shrimp this can be difficult to see. Once they have bred their eggs will move to just under their torso and above their legs. This is easier to see.

If you buy a female you should not buy any more females. You want the highest chance of getting a male along with the female. A single female shrimp will likely give you more shrimp than you want in your aquarium.

To encourage the Bloody Mary Shrimp to breed:

  • Keep the water parameters stable
  • Make sure food is always available
  • Provide plenty of hiding places
  • Do not allow any predators into the tank

Again do not over feed the shrimp. When kept in aquariums with regularly fed fish, unfed shrimp will still likely have enough food to breed. If anything over feeding will reduce the quality of the water and stop the shrimp from breeding.

Baby Bloody Mary Shrimp will be born several weeks after the shrimp breed. The will resemble adult shrimp and eat the same things their parents would. They will be much smaller and can be eaten by fish but will not be hunted by shrimp.

This video shows baby Bloody Mary Shrimp along side their parents.

If you do have other fish in the aquarium then you may want to remove the pregnant female Bloody Mary Shrimp to protect its young. Place her in a second identical aquarium. This will let the shrimp grow to full size in safety. Once this happens you can either return the now fully sized offspring to the main aquarium or start a second shrimp tank.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.