Orange Bee Shrimp Care Guide

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

The Orange Bee Shrimp is one of the variations of bee shrimp commonly sold for freshwater aquariums. They make for excellent clean up crew members and are frequently used in a shrimp only tank. They bring a lot of color and personality when placed in a community tank that has no aggressive fish and plenty of crawling space.

These shrimp do well when placed in a tank with long flowing plants, no strong suction and a well established colony of beneficial bacteria. They are highly sensitive to both copper and nitrites. They are very easy to breed and can often remain in the aquarium for multiple generations. Their lives are fairly short at one year long.

When fed the Orange Bee Shrimp, when kept in large numbers, can cover the food. This will resemble how hundreds of bees crawl on top of each other at their hive, earning the Orange Bee Shrimp its name.

Things To Look Out For

Copper is a common shrimp killer. Orange Bee Shrimp will die off quickly when placed in an aquarium with copper infused water. Even in long established aquariums that have housed fish safely in low copper levels the shrimp could  be poisoned and die within a day.

To prevent this it is highly recommended you test the aquariums copper levels. This can easily be done using any copper testing kit. This one comes with 90 test, making it easy to keep shrimp for long periods of time or test the water a lot while trying to reduce copper. It is fairly cheap and easy to use.

A common way copper enters the aquarium is through hot copper pipes in the house. As copper pipes are one of the highest rated pipes available for plumbing there is a good chance your home will have them. If the house is fairly new it is much more likely to leech copper into the water, making unsafe water for our shrimp. Fish, plants and bacteria will all be fine with trace amounts of copper in the water.

To reduce the amount of copper leeching into the water you can run the water cold for awhile before getting water to fill the aquarium. This will cool the pipes, reducing the amount of copper put into the water. Test the water for copper before moving on.

If your water still has too much copper then use activated carbon to help reduce it further. This will not remove the copper but instead neutralize it. If you have a relative near by with a less copper infused source you can get water from their house to help cut down on costs. As the tanks we use for shrimp are not too big you should be able to get at least a months worth of water in a single trip.

Nitrites are toxic to most aquatic creatures. Inverts are more sensitive than fish to nitrites, especially the fish that most people keep. Nitrites are created by bacteria in the aquarium. While this makes bacteria sound bad it is actually good, as they are turning extremely toxic ammonia into nitrites. This is where the established colonies of beneficial bacteria come into play. A second type of bacteria will then convert the toxic nitrites into barely toxic nitrates. These can remain in the water for quite awhile before they bother the fish and inverts. Additionally plants will feed off of nitrates and nearly eliminate the need to perform water changes.

Strong sources of suction Can easily kill a curious Orange Bee Shrimp. Even when the shrimp is aware of the dangerous area they will still go there to pick at the food that is being drawn into the suction. If they get the food and get away no big deal. If they get caught then will die. Clearly the risk is not worth the reward when food is so abundant in the home aquarium.

The most frequently used too strong suction devices would be powerheads and canister filters. While they are not normally dangerous these small shrimp will almost always wander too close to the intakes. Large shrimp can resist the pull but not the Orange Bee Shrimp. Even if the intake is covered the shrimp can be caught against the cover and remain stuck until they die.

Orange Bee Shrimp Habitat

Bee shrimp are natives of Thailand. They will spend the majority of their lives living in slow moving waters with lots of hiding places. Their environment will be made up of rocks and long plants. This is how our tank should be set up to ensure a colorful and active shrimp.

Stressed shrimp will lose coloration

When the Orange Bee Shrimp is not safe they will hide their colors in order to blend into the environment more. They will also be more careful when searching for food and will not roam around the tank freely. Try to avoid stressing out the shrimp if you want them to display vibrant colors and remain in the open.

There are two main ideas when we are making the aquarium for our shrimp.

  • Create a lot of walking space for the shrimp
  • Make hiding places that do not obstruct the view of the shrimp

More walking space doubles as area for beneficial bacteria and algae to grow on. Algae can easily feed the shrimp only requiring light and fish waste. Most tanks will have plenty of algae, so much so that it is a problem. If there is a lot of space and shrimp the algae will be thinly spread and easily eaten by the shrimp.

Long flowing plants work similarly in that they crate a lot of space for our shrimp to crawl and can have algae cling onto their stalks. When densely places these plants can form difficult to swim in areas that only crawling inverts will enter. This means the shrimp can be much higher in the tank while still feeling safe around fish.

Tips on hiding spaces

The Orange Bee Shrimp is not as shy as other shrimp but can be scared into hiding. Plan ahead for this by creating a lot of hiding places that are easily seen into from outside of the aquarium. Using a long breeder tank rather than a normal tank will create a lot more wall space. This allows you to build rock structures against the glass, creating safe spots for the shrimp without obstructing our view of them.

If using rocks be sure to avoid any round rocks. They do not add much to the aquarium but take up a lot of water space. A long flat rock will provide a lot more structure to the tank and take up less volume than a round rock would. It i a lot easier to design a rock structure you enjoy with flat rocks than round ones that do not stay on top of each other.

Using wood in place of rocks is something else to consider. While rocks will slowly raise the pH of the water any wood will slowly lower the pH. Additionally wood will slowly leech out tannins. These will tint the water brown like a tea bag would, but much slower. This is how people create their muddy or murky looking tanks. If you want wood but a clear tank then perform frequent or large water changes to remove the tannins as they are released over time.

Never remove rocks, wood or decorations from the tank to clean them. An exception to this would be slimy oddly colored algae. By cleaning off the tanks environment we remove the beneficial bacteria. If you use any amount of cleaning solution to do so then it is likely the returned item will poison the rest of the remaining bacteria. A reduction in bacteria can easily result in an ammonia spike, killing off everything in the tank. This is hard to see coming as the fish and shrimp will not react to rising ammonia levels.

Equipment Recommendations

Filtration: under gravel filters and sponge filters are good choices for shrimp tanks. These will create low flow areas that draw in debris. The Orange Bee Shrimp can then safely eat any debris the filter sucks in. The filters can be changed out and cleaned by hand to remove the debris from the tank quickly just as other filters can. Under gravel filters work best when you also have a siphoning tube to clean out the aquariums substrate.

Remember to keep the filters near the front of the tank. The Orange Bee Shrimp will spend a lot of time around the filter, so hiding the filter would be hiding the shrimp.

Tanks with low water flow are unlikely to have sufficient surface agitation. Air stones are the easiest solution to the issue. While the bubbles they produce do not put oxygen into the water themselves, they do rise to the surface of the tank and burst, moving the surface of the water a lot. This promotes gas exchange between the water and the air above it.

Air pumps are loud. To combat this get a large amount of air line tubing and hide the pump around a few corners. Mine is hidden inside three different boxes a short distance away from the aquarium. As sound is very bad at turning, the boxes reduce the noise incredibly and also give me a use for all the boxes I have no other use for. Doing this I was able to make the loud pump be nearly inaudible without even changing which room the pump is in.

Substrate is important. Gravel is the substrate of choice when keeping the Orange Bee Shrimp. It is easy for them to pick up and search for food on. Gravel also makes for much easier planting. Colorful gravel can be used to complement the Orange Bee Shrimp’s colors. Sand may make the shrimp difficult to see and is more useful when you have burrowing or sand sifting creatures.

Bare bottom tanks, aquariums without any substrate, are ok for shrimp but will not grow food as well as gravel would. Plants are also much more difficult to keep in place without placing gavel on top of them. It is much easier and cheaper to keep a bare bottom tank but I wouldn’t recommend it for Orange Bee Shrimp.

Feeding Orange Bee Shrimp

There are two main practices for feeding shrimp. Either feed them a few times a week of only once or twice a month. It really depends on how your tank is set up and whats inside it.

For a shrimp only tank:

The shrimp will need to be fed 2-4 times a week. Adjust the feeding as algae grows or food is left behind. While the shrimp will come back and eat food days later, leaving food in the tank will only increase the ammonia levels and put an excessive amount of stress on your beneficial bacteria colonies.

For tanks with fish:

Shrimp should only be fed sparingly, once a week if even at all. Keep an eye on how much food the fish miss and how the shrimp are behaving. If the shrimp are breeding they have an abundance of food and do not need to be fed.

What to feed them:

Orange Bee Shrimp will eat just about anything that is fed to the tank. You can use:

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

Most tanks will produce a decent amount of algae and will feed small numbers of shrimp with ease. Tanks with fish will almost never have to feed the shrimp for them to survive and breed. More often then not we will feed the shrimp for fun rather than them needing it.

When you have large numbers of Orange Bee Shrimp blanched produce like sliced zucchini are great choices. They are very low cost with how large they are relative to the shrimp. They bring a ton of nutrients that most fish foods do not bring and are easy to keep in the refrigerator.

Remember not too feed the shrimp too often. When they are well fed they will not clean the tank. They will instead be adding waste to the tank rather than eating it themselves. This can result in large algae blooms, coating the aquarium in algae that the over fed shrimp will refuse to eat.

Remember to remove any uneaten food, especially large blanched produce.

Orange Bee Shrimp Tankmates

Orange Bee Shrimp do not harm their tankmates. The only things that the shrimp will eat are larval stage organisms like baby fish. The shrimp is not aggressive even when in an over crowded shrimp tank and does not have any real methods of attack.

It is commonly mistaken that shrimp kept in large numbers will ambush fish and eat them. This is not true but similar things can be seen when fish are dying. Once fish are nearly dead they will usually fall to the bottom of the tank or float around with very little movement. They are essentially dead but still can look alive to people. Once these fish stay on the bottom of the tank the opportunistic feeding shrimp will move in and start eating. They do not kill fish but will quickly eat dead ones.

Good tankmates for the Orange Bee Shrimp include:

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

Avoid any large or aggressive fish like Koi fish, oscars or chichlids. The Orange Bee Shrimp is commonly prey for fish. Keeping them safe from predatory fish is the main concern when choosing their tankmates.

Orange Bee Shrimp Shrimp

The main issue people run into when breeding the Orange Bee Shrimp is finding both genders of the shrimp. There is no way to tell their genders unless they are ready to breed. This means most shrimp breeders will have to buy a bunch of shrimp and hope to get both genders of shrimp.

The way to tell the female and males apart are their underbellies when they are ready to breed. The female will produce a black saddle consisting of their eggs when they want to breed. They will then produce a pheromone and call over male shrimp to fertilize the eggs.

To encourage breeding among the Orange Bee Shrimp you should:

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

Keeping food available can be as simple as having algae in the tank. Feeding the shrimp a few times a week will guarantee they have enough food but may lower the quality of the water and stop them from breeding.

If everything on the list is done the Orange Bee Shrimp should start breeding right away. They are not difficult to breed and have a much higher survival rate than many other shrimp. This is due to the female carrying their young until they resemble adult Orange Bee Shrimp. They will be smaller but they do not have an exposed larval stage.

This video shows a female shrimp with the black underbelly of eggs. They will often stay in place and fan the eggs with their legs to keep them oxygenated.

By removing female shrimp that have young we can ensure their survival even further. This is especially true for tanks that have fish in them. While other shrimp will not eat the smaller Orange Bee Shrimp babies fish are much more likely to try.

If you are using a second tank as a breeder tank be sure to keep the water parameters as close as possible. This is easily done by using water from their original tank. Use some of the water removed during water changes as well as some clean water. Over time this will create a second tank with beneficial bacteria that will safely house any transferred creatures. This tank can also be used as a hospital tank for fish.

Once the female has given birth you can return them to the tank. The baby Orange Bee Shrimp can either be left in the second tank to grow or returned to the main tank if there are no predators. You can also choose to start a second shrimp only tank, which isn’t uncommon once people learn how much they enjoy having a bunch of shrimp in a tank.

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