Do you just started your first aquarium project and need something “outside the box”? Do you already have a beautiful tropical fish tank and want a new direction to focus your interest? If you answered yes to either of these questions, a 5 to 10-gallon shrimp-only tank is perfect for you!
Dwarf freshwater shrimp are not only beautiful creatures, but they are also low maintenance and fun to watch! These little guys make great additions to small to medium-sized planted aquariums, meaning that you don’t need a lot of space to enjoy them.
In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know about setting up and taking care of a 5 to 10 gallons shrimp tank so that you can enjoy your new low-maintenance pet!
Dwarf Shrimp for A 5 to 10 Gallon Tank
The popularity of dwarf freshwater shrimp has exploded in recent years due to their algae-eating habit and low bioload. These tiny invertebrates are always engaged in harvesting algae or scavenging for leftovers in your tank, making them a valuable member of any aquarium cleanup crew.
Dwarf shrimp come in a variety of colors and patterns, adding a splash of color and interest to your tank. They are peaceful creatures that get along well with other shrimp and fish species that won’t eat them.
There are many different species of dwarf shrimp available on the market, but most of them come from two main genera: Neocaridina and Caridina.
With over 290 described species, the genus Caridina is the most diverse group of freshwater atyid shrimp. However, recent DNA evidence has revealed that this large number may be the result of over-splitting by taxonomists and needing a re-structuring.
The vast majority of these species are found in tropical or subtropical water in Asia, with a handful of species inhabiting Africa and Oceania.
The most well-known species of Caridina in the aquarium trade are the bee shrimp (Caridina cantonensis) and Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata).
Bee Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
Bee shrimps are native to Taiwan but have been introduced all over the world since the early 2000s. Nowadays, new and exciting strains appear on the market with impressive color morphs through selective breeding every couple of months.
Here are some of the most popular color variations of Caridina cantonensis being kept by aquarium hobbyists:
- Crystal Red Shrimp (Feature classic red and white crystal red)
- Black Pinto Shrimp (Display breathtaking black and white spots)
- Black King Kong Shrimp (My favorite, take on bold black, white stripes)
- Extreme Red Wine Shrimp (Have a solid wine red coloration)
- Blue Bolt Shrimp (Are a recent addition with a stunning blue hue on the head)
The terms “Crystal”, “Bee”, “Blue Bolt”, and “King Kong” are used to describe the different color patterns. Additionally, each coloration comes with different grading to specify the intensity or percentage of coloration.
Despite their stunning color combinations, these unique shrimp generally carry a heftier price tag and are less forgiving outside of their ideal water parameters range, so they might not be the best species for beginner shrimp keepers. For those who like to have a little bit of challenge, you can create a vibrant community of Cardinia Contonensis with careful planning and patience.
Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata)
Amanos, on the other hand, are hardy enough to withstand a wide range of water conditions and are definitely a great choice for beginners.
It’s native to Japan and Taiwan and was first introduced to hobbyists in the 1980s by Takashi Amano, who used them in his famous Nature Aquariums to control algae growth. Amano shrimp quickly became one of the best algae-eating machines in the aquarium trade.
Amano shrimp was previously named as Caridina japonica, but it was recently renamed to Caridina multidentata in 2006.
Although Amanos shrimp are not as colorful as Bees, they more than make up for their usefulness in the aquarium. While it is true that the Amano shrimp will consume a large number of algae, they actually thrive best on a varied diet that includes both plant- and animal-based foods.
Other Caridina Species
Apart from C. cantonensis and C. multidentata, there are many other species of Caridina that make great aquarium inhabitants.
- Tiger Shrimp (Caridina serrata)
- Pinocchio shrimp (Caridina gracilirostris)
- Sunkist Orange Shrimp (Caridina thambipillai)
- Sulawesi Harlequin Shrimp (Caridina woltereckae)
Caridina Species Care
Compared with the specie of Neocaridina, Caridina shrimps tend to be far more sensitive to water parameters fluctuation, especially ammonia and nitrate levels.
Since most Caridina species come from the subtropical climate in Asia, they prefer slightly cooler, soft water that is acidic or neutral.
Try to maintain the following water temperature to create a comfortable environment for your Caridina shrimps:
- Temperature: 64°F – 75°F (17°C – 24°C)
- pH: 6 – 7.5
- GH: 4 – 6 dGH
- KH: 0 – 2 dKH
- TDS: 100 – 200 ppm
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
While these general guidelines apply to the more common Caridina species, it is always best to research the specific species you are interested in to ensure that you provide the optimal conditions for your little friends.
The genus Neocaridina is a relatively smaller group of shrimp that includes 30 recognized species and has also found its way into the aquarium hobby.
Neocaridina species mostly originate from South-East Asia, inhabit ponds and streams with plenty of plants, and the substrate is often blanketed with small rocks and wood.
Many species have been selectively bred to enhance their coloration and patterns, making them very popular among shrimp hobbyists. The most popular Neocaridina species in the aquarium hobby is Neocaridina davidi, which comes in a wide range of colors.
Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)
The Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) is the undisputed king of all aquarium shrimp, known for its bright red coloration and adaptability. It is one of the hardiest species out there, making them a go-to for first-time shrimp keepers.
This most widely spread species was classified as N. heteropoda and N. denticulata sinensis before being renamed N. davidi in 1904.
Wild N. davidi originates from China with the natural coloration of green-brown and has slightly different colors. Like the Bees, N. davidi comes in more than 15 different colors and patterns thanks to years of selective breeding in Taiwan and Japan.
The most commonly sold color morphs include Red Cherry, Super Yellow, Orange Rili, Blue Diamond, Red Rili, White Snow Ball, and Choco Black.
The term rili means that the shrimps have some transparent parts. These colorations also have four “grade” levels. The price and required care level will go up based on the shrimp’s color grade.
Neocaridina Species Care
Neocaridina shrimp care is simple and easy. These hardy, adaptable, prolific shrimp are low maintenance and can adapt and thrive in a far wider range of conditions than Caridinas.
The following water parameters are ideal for Neocaridina shrimp:
- Temperature: 64°F – 84°F (17°C – 29°C) (The mid to upper 70 degrees is recommended)
- pH: 6 – 8.0
- GH: 4 – 8 dGH
- KH: 3 – 15 dKH
- TDS: 200 – 300 ppm
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
Interestingly, N. davidi shrimp can change color and intensity based on the environment and food. If they are kept in a tank with a lighter substrate, they will tend to be paler. On the other hand, if they are in a dimmer aquarium with mostly darker substrate and black background, they show their full coloration. Also, try to feed them color-enhancing foods.
If you intend to breed N. davidi shrimp, I strongly recommend not to mix different color morphs as they will readily cross-breed and produce offspring with drab brown or clear color.
Equipment for 5 to 10-gallon Shrimp Tank
Shrimp have a very low bioload, meaning they produce very little waste. However, shrimp are still living creatures and deserve the best care we can give them. To ensure our shrimp thrive, we need to do our best to maintain consistent tank parameters and have the right shrimp tank equipment.
The tank is the most basic need, regardless of the size and type of shrimp you plan to keep. Since shrimps stay small, they are the perfect critters for nano and small tanks.
Contrary to what you might think, nano and small tanks are more difficult to maintain than large tanks. This is simply because of the lower amount of water volume, meaning that there are more fluctuations in water parameters. Therefore, I would recommend not going smaller than 5 gallons.
Furthermore, they will stop breeding naturally when the tank gets too crowded. A 10 gallons would be the minimum size for future breeding projects.
How many dwarf shrimp can I put in my 5 to 10 aquarium? The thumb of rule is no more than 5 shrimp per 1 gallon of water as long as you perform regular water changes weekly and have a good biofilter. If you don’t want to breed shrimp, you can start with 5-10 and let them multiply on their own.
Are you looking for a small tank for shrimps? Check out these stylish and easygoing column aquariums.
The filter is very important for shrimp tanks because they are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. Ammonia and nitrite should be at 0 ppm at all times, and nitrate should be below 20 ppm.
There are many types of filters on the market, and the best filter for your shrimp tank is the sponge filter since they’re cheap, easy to clean, and very durable. What’s more, the sponge filters provide a good surface area for shrimp to graze on and are safer for newborn shrimplets.
This Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter from UPETTOOLS works great for planted shrimp tanks since it does a good job of filtering, and the vibrant green color will blend in with the decor when they start to get a little dirty. Also, there is no need to worry about your baby shrimp could get stuck.
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The general consensus among shrimp keepers is that a heater is not always necessary for shrimp tanks since they need cooler waters to hold more dissolved oxygen. Well, this is more or less true.
If you live in an area with warm weather all year long, you may not need a heater. But if you live in an area with cooler winters, then it’s best to have a heater that can maintain a stable temperature. Not to mention that shrimp will stop reproducing if the temperatures drop below 64.4°F(18°C).
When setting up a dwarf shrimp tank, a layer of fine gravel can be used as the base of the substrate. To recreate their natural inhabits, I also prefer to add dry twigs or foliage from the oak trees; of course, you can buy some Indian almond leaves if you don’t have oak trees around your house.
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- Stress Reliever --- Bettas have been known to display improved behavior when SunGrow Betta Leaves are...
- For Playing And Hiding --- Small shrimps, fry and fishes enjoy swimming through and hiding in the Cholla...
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Not only do they look good, but they also provide places for the shrimp to hide and retreat. Even more importantly, these wooden materials will help to grow micro-organisms- an important natural food source for shrimps.
Meanwhile, shrimp will consume the parts of decaying matter by searching the micro-organisms with their bristles, providing them with the roughage they need.
Plants & Decor
Bees and Cherries look excellent in heavy-planted tanks because their intense coloration really pops against a green background.
Besides the aesthetically pleasing, plants also serve many important purposes in the shrimp tank. They help to keep the water clean by stabilizing ammonia and nitrate levels. Plants also provide places for the shrimp to hide and lay their eggs.
When it comes to shrimp-friendly plants, nothing beats the aquatic mosses, such as Java Moss, Christmas Moss, and Marimo moss balls. They are easy to grow and can supply baby shrimp with plenty of hiding places.
Most freshwater dwarf shrimp are omnivorous scavengers that will eat just about anything they can find. To keep your shrimp healthy and thrive, you should offer them a variety of food that meets their nutritional needs. A good diet for dwarf shrimp should include high-quality pellets, flakes, and wafers.
In the wild, they primarily feed on plant matters, dead animals, protein-rich biofilms, and algae, especially Amanos. They will do the same in your aquarium.
My favorite food for dwarf shrimp is the Hikari Shrimp Cuisine. These sinking pellets are super tiny, making them the perfect size for shrimp to hold and eat by themselves. It is also rich in protein and has minerals to help your keep your Crystals or RCS color vibrant.
- Formulated diet for all types of freshwater ornamental shrimp
- Natural color enhancers like spirulina, seaweed and alfalfa meal
- Includes astaxanthin which helps to reduce color fading
- Vitamin and mineral mix that supports immune system health
- Promotes proper ecdysis (moulting)
Does a Tank Need to be Cycled and Mature for Shrimp?
Yes, shrimp do better in cycled aquariums. In fact, your 5 to 10 tanks should not only be cycled but should be aged (or mature). It’s recommended to run at least two months before adding any shrimp.
How often Should I Change the Water in my Shrimp Tank?
Once again, shrimp don’t like large water changes. With that said, you should only do 5-10% water changes 1-2 times every week, depending on your stocking levels and feeding habits.
Shrimp are very sensitive to water conditions and will die or jump out of the tank if there’s a sudden change in water parameters.
Can you Run CO2 with Shrimp?
Basically, CO2 injection IS NOT necessary if you do not plan to breed. A high CO2 level in the water will kill shrimp.
Regardless of your budget or experience level, there’s definitely one or more dwarf shrimp for your 5 to 10 gallons shrimp tank.
These little creatures are not only fun to watch, but they are also very easy to care for. With the right setup and diet, your shrimp will thrive and provide you with endless hours of enjoyment.
I hope this article was helpful and informative. If you’re an owner who’s interested in sharing your stories, feel free to share your photos and experiences in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!