Red Panda Shrimp Care Guide

Scientific NameNeocaridina serrata
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons
Water Parameters72-82° F, KH 0-10, pH 6.6-8.0

Red Panda Shrimp are one of the smaller ornamental shrimp kept in freshwater aquariums. They are much more expensive than most shrimp and should be treated with more care when added to the tank. Due to their limited availability and small size they are not recommended to be bred to feed other fish but can be bred and sold to fellow aquarists.

Despite these things the Red Panda Shrimp is very easy to keep and will do a good job cleaning up excessive waste in their aquariums. They make good tankmates for small, peaceful fish that will not try to make a meal out of shrimp. They are also easy to breed, which brings into question why they are sold in such limited quantities.

The Red Panda Shrimp, like many freshwater shrimp, has a short lifetime. They will only live for one or one and a half years. As they are so easy to breed most aquarists will be able to keep them alive in their tanks for however long they keep the aquarium up and running. When these shrimp breed they do not release their young as larva and can create larger than desired populations.

Things To Look Out For

Copper is a common shrimp killer. The Red Panda Shrimp will quickly die when placed in a tank with high levels of copper. This is true with most shrimp but especially true with a shrimp of such small size. With the price of this shrimp being much higher being lazy and not checking for copper is not reasonable. This copper testing kit is much cheaper than a single shrimp and can be used 90 times.

The test is very easy to use. Get the strip wet with the aquariums water and see if it changes color. If the strip remains mostly white then the tank is safe for shrimp. If the strip starts to turn any amount of peach you should reduce the copper levels before adding any shrimp to the tank.

One of the most common ways copper gets into aquariums is through copper pipes in the water system. If you have copper pipes try running the water as cold as possible before adding it to your aquarium, letting it get to the same temperature before adding it. Hot water leeches a significantly higher amount of copper than cold water does.

To remove any additional copper from the tank use activated carbon in high flow areas. This will not remove the copper but instead neutralizes it. This will affect the test strips reading as the copper is negated even if it is not removed.

If you known your neighbors you could even ask them for water or bring some from a nearby family member. You can also buy water from pet stores but that should be a last resort with how common water is.

Nitrites will have a strong affect on Red Panda Shrimp. Be sure an established colony of beneficial bacteria is removing nitrites and turning them into nitrates. Plants that the shrimp make their homes in will use nitrates as food. If your tank is new you can combat nitrites with frequent water changes.

Due to their small size Red Panda Shrimp are extremely vulnerable to strong sources of suction. Avoid using powerful filters or powerheads, as these can easily kill shrimp in the blink of an eye. This is especially true for their offspring.

Red Panda Shrimp Habitat

The Red Panda Shrimp can be found in southern China and should not be confused with dwarf wine shrimp. While they look similar they have different water parameters. The Red Panda Shrimp will spend most of its time in highly planted areas with a lot of hiding spots. Aquariums intending to house them should be set up in a similar fashion.

These shrimp best when paired with long, flowing plant life that can create a lot of hiding space. Moss balls are a good choice for tanks that will not be housing any fish, however the Red Panda Shrimp will feel more comfortable when it can spend the majority of its time near or inside its hiding places.

I highly recommend long plants, as they can be cut and replanted. This allows for a single plant to cover a large area. This does take more effort than planting multiple plants at once but helps you get a single plant look in the tank. It’s up to the owner if they would like one type of plant, multiple similar looking plants or a wide variety.

The more comfortable the Red Panda Shrimp is the more colorful they will be. This helps them get attention and find mates. If they do not feel safe their colors will fade as to not attract predators.

While they will be hiding in these plants it is very easy to spot the Red Panda Shrimp. Do not be too worried about never seeing them due to large plants or too many hiding places.

Pair a breeder tank with long, flat rocks to create as much surface area as possible. This creates more algae growth, more space for beneficial bacteria and a lot of different areas for the shrimp to hide and hang out. Avoid using rounder rocks as they will take up a lot of space without doing much for the aquarium.

A simple way to think of it is you want volume for water and surface area for everything else.

Driftwood is a good choice for homes with a high pH source of water. As wood sits in the tank it releases tannins into the water, softening it and turning the water a slightly brown color. Think of the wood like a teabag. If you do not like the browning of your aquarium you can perform water changes to keep the color change minimal.

Do not remove anything from the aquarium to clean off algae. Regular cleaning of rocks, gravel and decorations will kill the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium. Without this bacteria ammonia and nitrites will poison any fish or shrimp in the tank.

Equipment Recommendations

Sponge filters are the best choice for the Red Panda Shrimp. This ensures they are not killed by the suction other filters have and also gives them an area to eat debris from.

Under gravel filters work similarly to sponge filters but can be more difficult to get working right.

As powerful filters and powerheads should not be used in the tank the water surface will not be moving much. Unless you have an external source of aeration, like a separate but connected tank or sump with stronger filtration, an air stone is required. Both of these will keep oxygen in the water by disturbing the waters surface and encouraging gas exchange between the water and air above it.

Gravel should be the substrate of choice for the Red Panda Shrimp. Sand is more useful for absorbing chemicals long term. Bare bottom tanks can be aesthetically pleasing and provide the most water volume. Gravel creates more surface area and is very easy for shrimp to dig around in. This is typically seen as a shrimp spinning a small rock in front of them. When they are doing this they are actually eating all of the small debris off of the rock. With a gravel substrate this will happen with the majority of the aquariums bottom.

Using Red Panda Shrimp As Food

This is absolutely not recommended as the Red Panda Shrimp is a small shrimp that holds onto its young until they are juveniles rather than larva. They are slower breeders that do not carry as much nutritional value as other large shrimp like grass or ghost shrimp.

If you do choose to use these as food be sure to keep multiple sets of male and female shrimp safe. As they age they will stop breeding and will need to be replaced with a younger generation of shrimp.

Avoid feeding young bearing shrimp or juveniles as they will quickly grow to adult size if kept alive.

Feeding Red Panda Shrimp

When kept with fish or other daily fed tankmates the Red Panda Shrimp should not need any target feeding. They do well by feeding off of algae grown by the aquariums light, waste produced by their tank mates and uneaten food. This is especially true when kept with messy eating fish or slow eaters that frequently miss falling foods.

When these shrimp do need to be fed algae wafers and blanched produce are excellent choices. Algae wafers can be kept for long periods of time like normal fish foods. Blanched produce can be cheaper especially for large quantities of shrimp. they also provide more nutrition and can bring in less common nutrients that an algae diet does not offer.

When first introducing the shrimp to the tank try to avoid feeding them directly. Doing so will discourage them from scavenging for food and result in a larger amount of waste being kept in the tank. In a tank as small as theirs this can easily double the number of water changes you will need to perform on the tank each month,

When you do feed them only feed them two or three times a week. If using blanched foods remove whatever food they ignore after a few hours.

Red Panda Shrimp Tankmates

Other than larval and smaller organisms, the Red Panda Shrimp will not harm any of its tank mates. Even when in over populated tanks consisting of themselves the shrimp will not fight each other and have no real means to hurt anything that does not fit in their mouths.

The main concern when it comes to Red the Panda Shrimp tankmates is Avoiding large aggressive fish. Anything that can fit the shrimp in their mouths is highly likely to attack the Red Panda Shrimp on a regular basis. Even if these attacks are never successful the stress they place on the shrimp will prevent them from breeding and end their existence in the aquarium. Oscars, koi fish and goldfish are all commonly kept fish that will eat the Red Panda Shrimp without a second thought.

Good tankmates for the Red Panda Shrimp include:

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

Breeding Red Panda Shrimp

Due to their varying coloration it can be difficult to consistently pair and breed the Red Panda Shrimp. Their genders cannot be seen and can only be observed when the female is actively carrying her young. This means purchasing specific genders is very unlikely to happen. In order to breed the Red Panda Shrimp you will need to get multiple at once and hope you get both genders. Unfortunately they do not change genders so if you get 6 of one gender nothing will happen.

If you do manage to get both genders then the Red Panda Shrimp will be very easy to breed. The only conditions they need are stable water parameters and a consistent source of food. Having a safer tank with more space makes them even more likely to breed. If you plan on breeding them I highly recommend you use a tank larger than 5 gallons. A 20 gallon breeder tank will give you tons of space to breed the shrimp while also keeping small fish that wont harm the shrimp or their young.

The reason their young are much safer than others is that the female will carry these shrimp until they resemble normal Red Panda Shrimp. They will be smaller and less colorful once the female releases them, but they will not be in the larval state that is so small that even the shrimp will eat them.

When the female is ready to breed they will have a yellow or orange saddle on their underbellies. This is incredibly difficult to see on the Red Panda Shrimp. Here is a ghost shrimp displaying eggs to give you an idea of what to look for.

If you want to make the most shrimp possible you can remove the child bearing Red Panda Shrimp into a tank with identical water parameters to give birth. This will ensure no fish or other shrimp have any chance of harming the newly born shrimp. Once they have given birth the female can be returned to the original aquarium.

When kept in the main tank the Red Panda Shrimp may produce more shrimp than desired. They should not over run the tank unless you are overfeeding. When there is limited food the Red Panda Shrimp will stop breeding. Any over sized populations can be fed to larger fish or given away to fish stores or other aquarists. Check your local fish clubs if you want to find these shrimp or donate any excess ones you may have.

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