Red Crystal Shrimp Care Guide

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

Red Crystal Shrimp are one of the most interesting members of the Neocaridina family. They have a beautiful coloration and come in a variety of patterns. Red Crystal Shrimp are often sold or judged in grades. These depend on how rare their patterns are, which result in more white on their bodies. Check at 4:06 in the video to see the different grades side by side. Having one of the highest grades is quite an accomplishment, especially if you start out with their lower grades.

Even the lowest grade Red Crystal Shrimp will bring a lot of beauty to the aquarium and make for exceptional clean up crew members. They do not take much time to care for and are easy to breed. Their lives are not much longer than a year so you must breed them if you want to keep them for a long time.

There are a few things that can wipe out a shrimp colony or kill them the second they come into the aquarium. Making sure the tank is safe for shrimp is the only difficult part.

Things To Look Out For

Copper in the water will kill Red Crystal Shrimp. Inverts are extremely sensitive to copper and will die even if there are only trace amounts of it in the water. Just because an aquarium is able to keep fish does not mean it can house shrimp.

If you are breeding these shrimp for higher grades and are starting out with a decently expensive grade it would be crazy to not test for copper in the water. This cheap copper testing kit has 90 uses, is easy to use and costs less than a single Red Crystal Shrimp usually is. You can easily keep several tanks copper levels in check with a single kit.

The main way that copper enters our home aquarium is through the water pipes.Many houses have been built with copper water pipes, as they do a good job of killing off bacteria as it passes through the pipes. Unfortunatle for shrimp keepers this copper can leech into the water, making our tanks unable to house them. The copper is not dangerous to humans and does not usually affect fish. This is why I say tanks with fish are still not invert safe.

The best way to prevent copper coming in form the pipes is to run cold water for awhile before taking the water for the aquarium. The colder the pipes are the less likely they re to leech copper into the water. On the other hand newer pipes tend to leech a lot more copper. Older homes with copper pipes may not have any issue at all. This is why testing is so important.


When our fish get sick we are very quick to put liquid medication into the tank. These medicines will often have high amounts of copper in them and can kill shrimp within hours of adding it to their aquarium. Remove any sick creatures and treat them in a different aquarium than the inverts.

Nitrites are a bit more deadly to shrimp and especially threatening to the Red Crystal Shrimp. As we breed them and separate the higher grade shrimp into new tanks we can inadvertently expose them to ammonia or nitrites. Be sure their aquariums have colonies of beneficial bacteria before introducing them to the tank. You can also perform frequent water changes to remove these toxins manually while the bacteria grows.

Strong sources of suction are common shrimp killers. When keeping the Red Crystal Shrimp in large numbers we are encouraged to use pwoerful suction to keep their waste out of the tank. This creates an issue where shrimp get stuck to filtration intakes that are too strong for them to handle. Try to use multiple sources of filtration rather than a single powerful one so that no shrimp are lost. Powerheads and canister filters are the most frequent killers here.

Red Crystal Shrimp Habitat

Due to their coloration and grades just about any Red Crystal Shrimp you get will have been captive bred. They are well versed to aquarium living. They do not require a specific habitat but will show better colors when given a good set up.

The reason their coloration increases is their stress and safety. When the shrimp are stressed and unprotected from predators they can reduce their coloration. This makes them harder to spot and safer over all. When the Red Crystal Shrimp is safe they will display their colors in hopes of finding other shrimps and potential mates.

There are two main ideas when we are making the aquarium for the Red Crystal Shrimp.

  • Create a lot of surface area for the shrimp and algae
  • Promote breeding and survival rate of young

Surface area does a couple things. First it creates a lot of walking space and hiding places for shrimp. This helps keep the shrimp from having to climb over one another and makes the tank look more decorated rather than a pile of shrimp. It also allows for more even algae growth which can easily be eaten y shrimp. When algae grows densely it can become slimy and very unsightly.

The best ways to create more surface area are with flat rocks and long plants. By stacking rocks we make a lot of space in the aquarium. The flatter the rocks the less water volume they take up. Tall plants work similarly as their long stalks allow shrimp to climb up them but take up virtually no water space.

Tips on hiding spaces

Avoid large hidden caves unless you want your shrimp to be out of sight frequently. instead try to use the back and sides of the aquarium to support the rocks. This reduces the area behind the rocks and lets us look into their caves through the sides of the aquarium. This will not bother the shrimp and they will be happy to be hidden from the rest of the tank.

Using wood with the Red Crystal Shrimp is not typically a good idea. The wood will release tannins as it stays in the aquarium. These will not harm the shrimp but will tint the water brown. This makes the water look murky and hides the Red Crystal Shrimps vibrant colors.

Equipment Recommendations


Use either a sponge or under gravel filter. These draw in debris and keep them within the reach of shrimp without putting the shrimp in any danger. They are weaker however. Multiple may be needed for a larger aquarium.

Power filters, also known as hang on back filters are decent choices. They are similar to canister filters but are not nearly as powerful. They will agitate the waters surface and add oxygen to the water.

Canister filters can be used if they have a low flow rate and a protected intake. They are more expensive but usually very quiet and effective. They are meant for large aquariums.


Unless you have the surface of the water moving a lot you will need an air stone with an air pump. They can be loud but are very effective and cheap. Hide the air pump with long tubing and place it inside two boxes. This will create four walls between you and the pump, air box air box, which greatly reduces the volume air pumps produce.

Substrate is important

Gravel is the best option. It is easy for shrimp to pick up and pick food off of, easy to plant plants under their stones, easy to clean, comes in a lot of colors and is fairly cheap.

Sand is more useful for burrowing fish, harder to clean and more expensive. Shrimp will do fine with sand beds but they do not get much benefit from them. Picking sand would be preference more than anything else.

Foregoing substrate is known as a bare bottom tank. These are the cheapest of course, as you don’t have to buy anything. They do not provide any benefit to the shrimp but are incredibly easy to clean. If you are going to keep a lot of shrimp and over feed to ensure breeding bare bottom tanks are the way to go. Just remember there is nothing to secure rocks or plants to the bottom of the aquarium.

Feeding Red Crystal Shrimp

The two main ways to feed Red Crystal Shrimp depend on what else is in the aquarium. Either the shrimp will be in an invert only tank or they will be kept long with fish that are fed regularly.

For a shrimp only tank:

This is more common with the Red Crystal Shrimp as people try to get the higher grades. You will want to feed the shrimp two to four times a week. This is highly dependent on how many shrimp you have in the aquarium and how much you feed at once.

Keep an eye on algae growth. If the algae is growing rapidly you are over feeding. If the algae is fading then the shrimp are hunting it faster than it can grow.

For tanks with fish:

These tanks can typically go without feeding their shrimp. Unless you have a large amount of shrimp the missed foods and fish waste will be enough food for the Red Crystal Shrimp. They are natural bottom dwellers and expect this kind of diet. You may supplement the shrimps diet with occasional feeding once or twice a week.

What to feed them:

Red Crystal 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

As the Red Crystal Shrimp can survive off of scraps, fish waste and a rare feeding I will speak of feeding shrimp only tanks.

When starting out with a handful of shrimp, around six, using prepared algae wafers and occasionally frozen foods is ideal. These are very easy to keep on hand especially for such small number of shirmp.

Once you have more shrimp, twenty or more, algae wafers and frozen foods start to go quickly. Pelleted fish food can work well as it is sold in larger quantities for fairly low prices.

Blanched produce can be used for any number of shrimp but I highly recommend it for any aquarium with a large number of shrimp. Produce is incredibly cheap for how large it is compared to the shrimp. They also are very healthy and we can get them when we buy our own groceries. It also gives us something to do with the greens we buy but then don’t end up eating.

Red Crystal Shrimp Tankmates

When keeping the Red Crystal Shrimp along with fish or other inverts it is important to keep anything semi aggressive or aggressive out of the tank. The shrimp does not fight with anything and will only run away. They are easy targets for even the smallest aggressive fish out there. Barbs will easily hunt the Red Crystal Shrimp until they are gone from the aquarium. The most commonly kept threats are oscars, chiclids, loaches or tiger barbs.

Good tankmates for the Pumpkin Shrimp include:

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

No matter how over populated the tank gets with shrimp they will not start fighting one another. If you do have too many you could use the lower grade shrimp to feed larger fish if you have a second aquarium. Red Crystal Shrimp are expensive so only do this if you have way too many and no one to gift them to.

Red Crystal Shrimp Breeding

With red crystal shrimp how you start out can determine where you get. Lower grade shrimp will take longer to become higher grade. On the other hand lower grade shrimp are more common and less expensive. Buying low grade shrimp now and breeding them several times can get you to a higher grade than waiting for a nice Red Crystal Shrimp to come into stock while also being cheaper.

Unless you have access to a high grade shrimp right away I would just get whatever is available. Overall we are keeping them for our own enjoyment. Having them and breeding them longer is part of the fun.

It is important to get both genders of Red Crystal Shrimp. They will not change genders, meaning a 40 female shrimp will die out before producing a single baby. Thankfully the Neocaridina family is very easy to spot females, but only when they are ready to breed.

Female Red Crystal Shrimp will  have a yellow dot behind their head when they are ready to breed. Once fertilized these eggs will be sent to their underbelly, making them display a dark shadow. Other than this there is no way to tell the gender of the Red Crystal Shrimp. Any size variation is nearly impossible to tell by eye and could be due to age or general health.

Females will typically only try to breed when they are comfortable. If you can tell the gender of the shrimp in a fish store they must be taking good care of their shrimp. You can even try to be cheap and buy a pregnant female. They can give birth to more than enough shrimp to get your colony started.

To encourage breeding among the Red Crystal Shrimp:

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

Over feeding the Red Crystal Shrimp should be done with caution. It will ensure they have enough food to breed but can make the tank unsuitable for living. As the excess food breaks down it will become ammonia ant nitrites. If your bacteria colony is very strong it will be able to make all of the waste into nitrates, which are far less toxic. Either way when feeding the shrimp large amount the water must be changed regularly.

I personally do not recommend over feeding them. They are very eager to breed and do not need tons of food to do so. Just feed them normally.

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.

The female will hold her young until they are fully developed and resemble normal shrimp. The mother will continually fan the baby shrimp with her legs to keep them oxygenated. Once released the baby shrimp will not be targeted by other shrimp. Other fish may see the much smaller Red Crystal Shrimp as food and eat them.

If you want the highest survival rate and have fish in the aquarium you should remove any pregnant Red Crystal Shrimp and let them give birth in a second identical aquarium. Use their original aquariums water, taking some out every time you do a water change so that the second aquarium is ready to receive the shrimp. Once she has given birth you can either leave her in the second aquarium or return her to the main tank to continue breeding.

This video is an indepth guide at breeding crystal shrimp. Helpful for those who learn better through video and audio rather than reading.

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