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Living Organism Care Guide: Algae-Eating Shrimp (Freshwater)

Living Care Information

Macrobrachium lamarrei
commonly known as Whisker shrimp,
Kuncho river prawn

Quick Start Information

  • These are freshwater shrimp. Do not add them to a marine aquarium.

  • When your shrimp arrive, remove the shipping bag containing the shrimp. Open the shipping bag to allow fresh air to enter.

  • Prepare a 1-gallon holding pail (glass, plastic, or stainless steel) or an aquarium filled with conditioned tap water or natural spring water. You will need to acclimate your shrimp to their new water conditions.

  • Allow the water in the holding container to reach room temperature before beginning acclimation.

About the Organism

  • Males can reach a total length of 80mm.
  • Algae-eating shrimp are nocturnal freshwater shrimp.
  • Juveniles and adults are omnivores and will feed on algae and plankton.
  • This species can have up to 17 teeth.
  • This species of shrimp is native to Nepal.
  • Domain: Eukarya
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Malacostraca
  • Order: Decapoda
  • Family: Palaemonidae
  • Genus: Macrobrachium
  • Species: lamarrei

Preparation

Algae-eating shrimp thrive in established freshwater aquaria. For best results, establish your aquarium at least 2 weeks before you receive your shrimp. This allows time to ensure that the biological filtration is operating properly in your tank. Select an area with a fairly constant temperature and diffused light. Do not place your aquarium in direct sunlight because temperature fluctuations in the tank environment can promote disease and stress for the animals.

To acclimate your shrimp to their new environment, float the open bag in the holding pail or aquarium. After 20 to 30 minutes, remove and discard about ¼ of the water from the bag and replace it with an equal amount of water from the holding pail or aquarium. Wait 15 minutes and repeat. After another 15 minutes, carefully remove the shrimp from the bag with a net and place them in the holding pail or aquarium. Discard the water in the shipping bag by flushing it down a sink drain with tap water.

Housing

We recommend that you keep the shrimp in an established planted community aquarium of any size. The shrimp are not aggressive toward fish or other animals in the tank, but some larger fish may eat the shrimp. If you provide a forest of hiding places, the shrimp will use them. The shrimp will also appreciate access to hiding places when they molt.

Feeding

Do not use algaecides if you are keeping algae-eating shrimp. Algae-eating shrimp feed on algae that naturally grow in most aquariums. They will also eat leftover fish food as well as algae wafers; blanched vegetables such as zucchini, brussels sprouts, or cucumber; fish flakes; and shrimp pellets. In an established aquarium, no additional feeding is necessary; however, the shrimp will not eat black, furry algae. You may need to manually remove this from your tank during your normal cleaning procedures.

Maintaining and culturing

Avoid these deadly stresses: temperature shock, pH stress, and toxin buildup. Vigilant tank maintenance and water changes are key. Algae-eating shrimp can survive a wide range of water parameters, but ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels must be kept to a minimum. Algae-eating shrimp jump, so place a cover on the tank. If the shrimp escape, they will scurry like cockroaches. They are fast! They can also crawl out of nets when caught. The shrimp may breed as long as their water is kept clean and they are well-fed.

Disposal

We strongly recommend giving any unwanted organisms to another individual if you do not want to keep them. We do not advocate the release of organisms into the environment. Please contact your local (state) Department of Agriculture for any restrictions on release of organisms. As a last resort, place unwanted organisms in a sealable container and freeze them for 48 hours. Dispose of the organisms in the regular solid waste.

Biosafety

No biosafety information needed for this organism.

Video

FAQs

What should I do with the water in the shipping bag?

Discard all shipping water by flushing it down a sink with tap water. It contains waste products given off by the shrimp during shipment, and you cannot use it in your aquarium.

Can I house my algae-eating shrimp in an aquarium with fish?

The shrimp are nonaggressive toward fish. Some larger fish may eat them, but otherwise they mix well with most aquarium fish. Provide a couple of hiding places where the shrimp can retreat to molt.

How can I keep my algae-eating shrimp healthy?

The period following the introduction of the shrimp into an aquarium is critical. Properly acclimate your shrimp to get them off to a good start. Maintain your aquarium to keep them healthy. Once each month, remove about ¼ of the aquarium water and replace it with fresh water, aged and treated with water conditioner. This dilutes any toxic buildup in the aquarium and keeps pH and ionic balances within normal range. Note: To avoid sudden changes in temperature and pH, never replace more than ¼ of the water at a time.

All my algae-eating shrimp died soon after we put them in the aquarium. What went wrong?

If the fish in the tank are healthy, you may not have properly acclimated the shrimp. Shrimp are more sensitive to copper ions in water than are fish. This may be the problem if the water pipes at your school are less than 3 years old or recently underwent major repairs. Try using water from another source or bottled natural spring water.

Need help?

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