Do You Need to Feed Shrimp in a Planted Tank?

Your planted tank looks lush and vibrant, and now you’re considering adding shrimp to the mix. But wait, do you need to feed shrimp in a planted tank? This comprehensive guide will answer this question and delve into various aspects of shrimp care in planted tanks. From feeding schedules to water changes, from shrimp types to their role in a planted environment, we’ve got it all covered.

Do You Need to Feed Shrimp in a Planted Tank?

When keeping shrimp in a planted tank, one of the most common questions is whether you need to feed shrimp in a planted tank? The simple answer is yes, you do need to provide supplemental feeding for shrimp even in a lush planted tank.

While shrimp like Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp will graze on algae, biofilm, and microorganisms naturally present in an aquarium, they still require additional nutrition for optimal health and growth. A diet solely based on what they can scavenge in a planted tank is often deficient and can lead to poor coloration, stunted growth, and increased susceptibility to disease.

Some key reasons why intentional feeding is important for shrimp in planted tanks:

  • Promotes growth: Young juvenile shrimp need adequate nutrition to grow to their full size and reach maturity. Feeding high quality foods designed for shrimp provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth.
  • Enhances color: Many popular shrimp like Cherry Shrimp and Red Crystal Shrimp get beautiful red and green colors from dietary carotenoids. Appropriate foods enhance coloration.
  • Improves overall health: Well-fed shrimp have better immunity, disease resistance, molting, and longevity. Feeding prevents nutritional deficiencies.
  • Supports breeding: Well-nourished adult shrimp are more likely to breed successfully and produce larger broods of healthy offspring.
  • Prevents plant damage: Very hungry shrimp may start munching on plants if insufficient algae/biofilm is available. Feeding prevents this.

Even in planted aquariums, shrimp should be intentionally fed a high quality diet 2-3 times per week along with grazing on natural food sources for best results. The exact diet and frequency depends on the shrimp species, tank conditions, and keeper’s goals.

How Often Do You Feed Shrimp in a Planted Tank?

When feeding shrimp in a planted aquarium, developing a proper schedule is key to providing your invertebrates with optimal nutrition. But how often should you feed shrimp living among lush aquatic plants?

General Feeding Frequency

Feeding most common freshwater shrimp species 2-3 times per week is usually sufficient when kept in a well-planted tank. This includes popular kinds like Cherry Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp, Red Crystal Shrimp, and more.

Here are some general guidelines for feeding frequency based on shrimp age:

  • Baby/juvenile shrimp – 3-5 times per week
  • Young adults – 2-3 times per week
  • Full grown adults – 1-2 times per week

Shrimp fry and juveniles have higher nutritional needs for growth, so they benefit from more frequent small feeds. As they mature, feeding frequency can be reduced.

Adjusting Based on Tank Conditions

The above feeding frequencies serve as a good starting point, but you may need to adjust up or down based on the specific conditions in your planted tank.

Some scenarios where more frequent feeding may be required:

  • Not enough natural algae/biofilm growth to graze on
  • Presence of fish or other inhabitants that outcompete shrimp for food
  • Intentionally breeding shrimp and growing out a large population
  • Young juvenile shrimp present in the tank

On the other hand, less frequent feeding may be adequate if:

  • Your tank grows thick algae/biofilm for shrimp to graze on constantly
  • You only have a small number of adult shrimp
  • Water parameters are suboptimal, reducing appetite
  • Your plants are getting damaged from very hungry shrimp

So be sure to observe your shrimp and planted tank closely to find the ideal feeding routine for your setup. Their activity, growth, and coloration can help indicate if adjustments are needed.

What Do You Feed Shrimp in a Planted Tank?

When feeding shrimp in planted tanks, it’s important to provide a nutritious and well-balanced diet to supplement their algae and biofilm grazing. From high quality shrimp pellets to nutritional blends, here are some of the best foods to feed shrimp in planted aquariums:

Shrimp Pellets/Flakes

  • Specially formulated for shrimp nutritional needs
  • High in protein, fiber, carotenoids, and minerals
  • Complete, balanced nutrient profile
  • Brands like Shirakura, GlasGarten, Fluval, Hikari

Shrimp Granules/Powders

  • Powdered foods designed to sink to tank bottom
  • Made from mineral-rich ingredients like spirulina and chlorella
  • Allows shrimp to graze continuously between feedings
  • Popular choices include Shrimp Baby, Shrimp Fit

Supplemental Vegetables

  • Blanch zucchini, spinach, cucumber, carrots, etc
  • High in nutrients, fiber, minerals
  • Provides variation to enhance diet


  • Daphnia, brine shrimp, blood worms
  • Used in moderation to add protein
  • Stimulates natural foraging behaviors

Homemade Mixes

  • Combine vegetables, seafoods, minerals, vitamins
  • Allows you to control exact ingredients
  • Can be time-consuming to prepare properly

Providing a varied shrimp diet across different food types, textures, and ingredients helps ensure all nutritional bases are covered for thriving shrimp. Monitor growth rates, molting, color to see if diet adjustments are needed.

Do Planted Shrimp Tanks Need Water Changes?

When keeping shrimp in planted aquariums, many hobbyists wonder if water changes are necessary since plants help filter and purify the water. However, even in heavily planted tanks, regular water changes are still essential for maintaining high water quality and healthy parameters for shrimp.

Here’s an overview of how water changes benefit shrimp living in planted tanks:

Dilutes Toxins

While plants use up some nitrogenous waste, shrimp are still sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. Water changes remove these before they accumulate.

Replenishes Minerals

Shrimp need calcium and other dissolved minerals for healthy shells and molting. Water changes add these back.

Controls pH Swings

Photosynthesis causes pH fluctuations – water changes can help stabilize pH.

Lowers TDS

Dissolved organic compounds can build up over time. Water changes reset TDS.

Provides Fresh Oxygen

The agitation helps oxygenate the water which shrimp require.

Prevents Disease

The fresh water helps disrupt disease lifecycles and prevent localized spikes in pathogens.

Enhances Growth

Clean, pristine water promotes molting and growth in shrimp colonies.

Regarding frequency, performing 10-25% weekly water changes is recommended for planted shrimp aquariums. Test parameters like GH, KH, TDS, and pH regularly to see if more frequent changes are needed. And always use dechlorinated, temperature-matched water for water changes.

Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp for Beginners

Just getting started with keeping shrimp? Here are some of the best freshwater shrimp species that make great starter options for beginners:

Cherry Shrimp

  • Hardy, colorful red shrimp
  • Thrives in wide range of water parameters
  • Peaceful and breeds readily
  • Great algae grazers

Ghost Shrimp

  • Very affordable and easy to find
  • Tolerates beginner mistakes well
  • Pale/transparent appearance
  • Good scavengers

Amano Shrimp

  • Larger algae eating machines
  • Does well in community tanks
  • Peaceful and active during day
  • Can’t breed in freshwater

Red Crystal Shrimp

  • Beautiful red and white color grades
  • Peaceful community shrimp
  • Sensitive to water conditions
  • Advanced breeding challenges

For first-time shrimp keepers, starting with Cherry Shrimp is typically recommended as they forgive small errors, breed prolifically, and add a pop of color. Ghost Shrimp are also very novice-friendly.

Be sure to fully research and understand the specific care requirements of any shrimp before getting them. While shrimp can be easier pets than fish in some ways, they still require specialized care for success.

Shrimp Care for Beginners

Here is a quick overview of some key aspects of shrimp care that beginning hobbyists should understand before getting their first freshwater shrimp:

Water Parameters

  • Know optimal temperature, pH, GH, KH for your species
  • Maintain stable parameters; fluctuations can be dangerous
  • Test water frequently to catch any issues early

Acclimating New Shrimp

  • Use drip acclimation over 1-2 hours to prevent shock
  • Match temperature and parameters closely
  • Turn off lights to reduce stress

Molting Process

  • Shrimp shed their exoskeleton as they grow
  • Vulnerable and hide more while molting
  • Do not disturb molting shrimp

Tank Setup

  • Planted tanks offer grazing and hiding spots
  • Fine substrate supports digging behaviors
  • Provide adequate filtration and aeration

Tank Mates

  • Choose peaceful community fish that won’t prey on shrimp
  • Avoid species that may attack, eat, or outcompete shrimp


  • Use minerals (GH/KH+), foods, substrates designed for shrimp
  • Cuttlebone or shrimp mineral stones provide calcium

By learning the habitat and care needs of the shrimp species you select, you can set yourself up for shrimp keeping success as a beginner. Research thoroughly before getting your first shrimp!

What Do Pet Shrimp Eat?

When keeping freshwater shrimp as pets, feeding them a varied diet that caters to their omnivorous nutritional needs is important. Here’s an overview of what pet shrimp eat both in nature and captivity:

In the Wild

  • Algae, biofilm, aufwuchs
  • Decaying plant matter
  • Detritus, smaller organisms
  • Larvae, microorganisms

In Captivity

  • Algae naturally growing in the tank
  • Prepared shrimp foods (granules, pellets)
  • Blanched vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, spinach
  • Occasional treats like daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms

Shrimp are natural scavengers constantly grazing in their environments. In aquariums, they forage on algae, biofilm and any prepared foods added by the keeper.

Their diet can be diversified by including mineral supplements, vegetables, and high-protein treats a few times weekly. This provides balanced nutrition and prevents boredom from eating the same thing continuously.

Observing shrimp behaviors can indicate if their dietary needs are being met. For example, constantly grazing glass surfaces may signal insufficient algae or biofilm. Providing both natural and supplemental foods is key.

Pet Shrimp Types

There are many different types of freshwater shrimp suitable for home aquariums. Here is an overview of some of the most popular pet shrimp varieties for hobbyists:

Cherry Shrimp

  • Vibrant red coloration
  • Peaceful community shrimp
  • Thrives in wide range of water parameters
  • Great for beginners; breeds readily

Amano Shrimp

  • Clear/greyish translucent appearance
  • Excellent algae eaters
  • Larger size than other common shrimp
  • Peaceful but may eat delicate plants

Ghost Shrimp

  • Virtually transparent body
  • Very affordable and easy to care for
  • Good scavengers and algae grazers
  • Can be kept in small groups

Red Crystal Shrimp

  • Stunning red and white color grades
  • Sensitive to water parameters
  • Challenge to breed selectively for color
  • Peaceful nature for community tanks

Bamboo Shrimp

  • Also called wood shrimp
  • Unusual fan-like filter feeding legs
  • Require specific care and setup
  • Helpful with removing fine particles

With proper setup and care, virtually all these shrimp can thrive in planted tank environments. Do extensive research on any particular shrimp species before getting them to ensure you can provide suitable habitat conditions.

Special Cases: Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp are among the most popular freshwater shrimp due to their bright coloration, active nature, and ease of care. Here are some key questions about keeping this species in planted tanks:

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Hair Algae?

Yes, Cherry Shrimp are known to consume certain types of hair algae, especially early growths. Their grazing can help control it to some extent but may not fully eliminate major algae problems alone. Supplementing with algae eaters like Amano shrimp or nerite snails may be needed for troublesome hair algae.

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Plants?

Cherry Shrimp are considered quite safe with live aquarium plants and typically will not eat or damage healthy plants in a tank. However, they may pick at dying leaves or plant matter as it decays. Monitoring your shrimp’s diet is still advised – hungry shrimp could nibble plants.

When to Add Shrimp to a Planted Tank

Knowing the right time to add shrimp to a new planted aquarium is important to give them the best chance of survival. Here are some guidelines:

  • Wait 4-6 weeks after setting up the planted tank before adding shrimp. This allows the tank to cycle fully and stabilizes any initial algae blooms. Rushing this process risks exposing shrimp to toxic ammonia and nitrites.
  • Ensure the tank has an established cleanup crew first. Snails, algae-eating fish, and algae-eating shrimp help provide initial stability. Having these populations established gives added protection when adding more sensitive shrimp.
  • Monitor water parameters closely and perform regular partial water changes. Shrimp are sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, and hardness. Stable, pristine water quality gives shrimp the ideal environment.
  • Ensure any fish tankmates are peaceful community species appropriate for shrimp. Aggressive species may prey on or outcompete shrimp.
  • Have plenty of plants, driftwood, rocks, etc to create ample hiding spots, grazing areas and territories to help shrimp establish smoothly.
  • Resist the urge to add too many shrimp at once. Build up the population gradually over weeks and months. This prevents accidentally overstocking.

This careful process helps create a thriving ecosystem perfect for shrimp to settle into successfully when introduced. Patience pays off with shrimp!

How to Feed Shrimp in a Community Tank

In community aquariums with both fish and shrimp, tailoring feeding practices to ensure shrimp get their fair share is important:

Use Specialty Feeding Dishes

Shrimp-only dishes allow shrimp to access food without competition. Place these low in the tank.

Feed at Multiple Locations

Distribute food across the whole tank so less dominant shrimp can find food that settles lower down away from fish.

Target Feeding

Use a pipette or turkey baster to place powered foods or small pellets right in front of shrimp to increase chances of consumption.

Offer After Lights Out

Shrimp are most active at night. Feeding later in the evening prevents fish from grabbing all the food first.

Soak Foods

Pre-soaking pellets or flakes in a cup of tank water makes them sink faster so shrimp can snatch them before fish.

Choose Slow Sinking Options

Smaller sized pellets, fine flakes or powdered foods give shrimp more opportunity to forage before food disappears.

You can keep shrimp successfully in community tanks with some creativity and special considerations. Just be diligent about monitoring competition and adjusting techniques as needed.


Caring for shrimp in planted aquariums comes with unique considerations – from supplemental feeding to ideal tankmates. By understanding aspects like their dietary needs, water quality requirements, suitable tank conditions, and more, shrimp can thrive alongside aquatic plants. With the proper setup and husbandry, shrimp can serve as colorful, active additions that bring life to planted tanks and help control algae. Just be sure to research your chosen shrimp species and make adjustments based on direct observation of shrimp behaviors, growth and overall health.