The Cute, Tiny, and Underrated Ghost Shrimp
Palaeomonetes make great pets and excellent food

 
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Ghost Shrimp Factoids

Origin

Southern ditches

Maximum Size

1 ½ inches

Life Span

Couple of years

Uses

Good scavengers.  Tasty food.

Temperature

Very flexible

Threats

Overcrowding

Foods

Any fish food

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Good in small community tanks 

LA Pic
Full-grown ghost shrimp tip the scales at 1.5 inches.  Most measure one inch.

LA Pic
Here's a 100 or so.

LA Pic
When they die, ghost shrimps turn pink.  This means they contain carotenes -- like krill.

More than Food.  We sell more ghost shrimps as fish food than we sell as aquarium residents.  Small and medium cichlids enjoy eating ghost shrimps as much as we enjoy eating shrimp cocktails.  Fish dont like that shrimp sauce.  We’ve seen a few references to these guys as “bait,” but they’re so small all you’d catch on one is a slightly larger bait.  However, these diminutive arthropods are intriguing in their own right – not just as food. 

LA Pic
That's Aqualand flake food inside this ghost shrimp's body.

Appearance.  Ghost shrimps are sometimes called glass shrimps because you can see right through them.  Their near invisibility no doubt helps them survive in the wild.  Most predators cannot eat what they cannot see.  You need to watch your aquarium very carefully to see these guys.

LA Pic
Ghost shrimp make a tasty and nutritious live food.

 

Little Threat.  Their small size (adults about an inch and a half) makes them ideal community tank mates.  But don’t mix ghost shrimps with baby fishes.  They reach out and snag small fry as they swim past.  Once your fish attain one inch in length, they need not fear these mighty mites.

LA
Here you see ghost shrimps eating California blackworms in a two-inch bowl.

Excellent Scavengers.  Ghost shrimps spend most of their day scrounging about on the bottom in search of edible morsels.  They also climb up the plant leaves where they are next to impossible to see.  Oddly enough, they can climb up the glass walls of their aquarium if the glass grows even a modicum of algae to give them a footing.  They make a great clean up crew in young discus tanks.

LA
Ghost shrimp swim frontward and backward with ease.

Good Swimmers.  You think of shrimps and lobsters (crayfish) as backward “spurt swimmers” via their muscular tails.  But ghost shrimps also swim very well in a forward direction – particularly when food hits the surface of the water.  Their beady little eyes must be more than adequate because these little rascals push their way into the front of any food fight at the surface of the water.  Perhaps they detect food by smell or via their delicate antennae.  In any event, they let very little food escape.  If you want to see a real wrassling match, feed a bunch of them a few live California blackworms.

Good jumpers, too.  When you net them, they will flip out of your net until you learn to close it with your other hand.  They're tough to pick up off the floor as well as hard to see.

LA
You can easily make your feeder shrimps more nutritious by gut-loading them.

Good Feeders.  With their long (relatively), skinny arms, they reach out and grab onto food flakes many times their size.  They will not relinquish their claim on that flake to another equally greedy ghost shrimp.  However,  they will yield to any fish the size of an adult guppy.  If any fish grabs their food, they just let it go.  If you plan to feed them to your larger fishes, feed your shrimps whatever food you want your larger fish to eat.

LA
You can see the ghost shrimp's food right thru its body.

Strange Mouths.  Unlike fishes with mouths at the front of their faces, ghost shrimps cram food into an opening in what appears to be their chest.  From this strange mouth, their food moves up behind their eyes where you can watch it curve back around and down into their stomachs.  These food storage areas turn the same color as the food they eat.  You can easily see thru their bodies during this process.

LA
Ghost shrimp have 10 legs plus their "swimmerets."  They are decapods, like crayfish.

Lotsa and Lotsa Feet.  Underneath their abdomen, you’ll see several pairs of legs.  They use these swimmerettes to walk on the bottom, swim thru the water, or hover in mid-water as they grab passing food.  

LA
These are the larger and stronger algae-eating shrimps marching in formation.

LA
Bottom view of an algae-eating shrimp.

Algae Eaters, NOT.  We’ve seen references to ghost shrimps as algae eaters.  Perhaps.  Maybe if you starve them they’ll eat algae.  But in an aquarium where you feed the fishes, they’ll get their share of the food and ignore the algae -- just like the fabled Chinese algae eater.  

LA
Ghost shrimps make great scavengers in community tanks of smaller fishes.

Intriguing Activity.  These guys like to stay active.  Lots of crustaceans prefer to hide out during the day and boogie at night.  Ghost shrimps scurry all over your tank all day long.  

 

LA Pic
Each of these females currently carries dozens of eggs.  Hard to see from the top.

LA Pic
Female ghost shrimp carry their tiny eggs on their legs like crayfish.

Breeding.  Females grow larger than the males.  They carry their greenish-grey eggs attached to their swimmerets (just like crayfish).  The eggs look as if they’re inside their bellies because their legs look like part of their abdomens.  If you want babies, you’d be ahead to isolate egg-bearing females in their own maternity tank.  The babies cling to the swimmerets once they hatch out.  Nearly all fishes love baby ghost shrimps.  

LA
For some reason ghost shrimp love Japanese moss balls.

LA
Of course, they love walking on all types of plants.

LA
However, most ghost shrimps wind up on the menu.

LA
Large adults stay under two inches.

Summary.  Put lots of these economical little guys in your community tank.  (You need lots because they’re so hard to see.)  You’ll get a kick out of the extra activity they add as well as the way they spruce up your aquarium. LA

 © 1997, © 2003, © 2004, © 2006  LA Productions.

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