What do Freshwater Shrimp Eat?

Fact Checked by
Sheldon Myers, MS / Aquarist

Freshwater shrimp, also known as aqua or aquarium shrimp, are small invertebrates that are commonly kept in freshwater aquariums. These shrimp are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal material. Some of the common foods that freshwater shrimp eat include algae, plant matter, small insects, dead fish, and food specifically designed for shrimp.

Freshwater shrimp are especially fond of live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. In the aquarium, they can also feed on algae wafers, blanched vegetables such as spinach and lettuce, and high-quality pellets.

It’s important to provide a balanced diet for freshwater shrimp to keep them healthy and prevent any nutritional deficiencies. Feeding them a variety of foods helps to ensure that they receive a balanced supply of nutrients. It’s also recommended to feed the shrimp small portions several times a day, rather than one large feeding, to prevent overfeeding and water pollution.

How much to feed Freshwater Shrimp?

When feeding freshwater shrimp, it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind. Overfeeding can lead to water pollution and other health problems for the shrimp. It’s best to feed them small amounts a few times a day, rather than a large amount all at once. A good starting point is to offer a small amount of food and then observe how quickly it gets consumed. If the food is gone within an hour, you can gradually increase the amount. Keep in mind that different types of food may have different consumption rates, so it may take some trial and error to determine the optimal portion size for your particular shrimp species.

How often to feed Freshwater Shrimp?

Shrimp keeping is a popular hobby and most keepers feed their colonies daily. However, the frequency of feeding can vary depending on various factors such as the age of the tank, the conditions, and other factors.

In tanks that have been in operation for a while, the presence of biofilm and algae can provide enough food for the shrimp to eat throughout the day, thus allowing the keeper to reduce the frequency of feeding. However, if the keeper is trying to increase the population, they may need to feed the colony more frequently.

One less desirable aspect of shrimp life is their tendency to consume the dead bodies of their own kind. Although it may seem gruesome, it helps the colony make the most of the available nutrients and prevent waste. This process is often unobtrusive and can take as little as a few hours for a large colony to completely consume a dead shrimp. Even in smaller colonies, it is important to remove any remaining dead shrimp to maintain the health and well-being of the colony.

Do you need to throw out uncooked food?

tank without causing harm to the water quality. On the other hand, other foods may not be as durable and may need to be removed within 24 hours if they have not been consumed.

To prevent overfeeding, adding snails to your tank can be a helpful solution. Snails will consume any leftovers that haven’t decomposed, avoiding water pollution. If you notice that food from the previous meal is still present, it’s best not to add any more. The decomposing food can release ammonia into the water, which can cause stress and even harm to your shrimp.

Having a team of clean-up crew, in this case, snails, is a great idea to maintain a clean tank. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the snail population as well, as overfeeding them can lead to a population explosion.

Using a feeding dish

A feeding dish can be especially useful for those who want to monitor the amount of food they are providing to their shrimp colony. By placing the food in a dish, you can better control the portion size and reduce the risk of overfeeding. Additionally, feeding dishes can help prevent food from falling into crevices and hard-to-reach areas of the tank, which can help keep the water cleaner and prevent the build-up of excess waste.

Additionally, feeding dishes can also help to keep the substrate cleaner and more attractive, as food that falls on the substrate can attract debris and waste. By placing the food in a feeding dish, it can be more easily removed once the shrimp are finished eating, reducing the amount of time needed to clean the substrate.

In conclusion, using a feeding dish can have several benefits for shrimp keepers, including better control over feeding portions, a cleaner substrate, and easier maintenance of the tank. While it is not a requirement for a healthy shrimp tank, it can be a useful tool for those who are looking to streamline their feeding process and keep their tank in top condition.

Going on vacation?

If you are going on a vacation or leaving your shrimp tank unattended for an extended period, there is no need to hire a shrimp-sitter. With proper preparation, you can safely leave your shrimp for up to two weeks. For stays longer than two weeks, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a trusted friend or aquarist to help with feeding and water changes, as needed.

Before leaving, it’s important to make sure that your tank is well-stocked with food. Rather than relying on automatic feeders, which can malfunction or overfeed, it’s better to add a few pellets of snowflake food. This type of food will not break down quickly and will provide a slow-release source of food for your shrimp to graze on while you’re away. With an aged tank, you should have plenty of biofilm and algae that can also serve as a food source.

To prevent nitrate buildup, it’s important to perform your regular water change the day before leaving. This will ensure that your shrimp are in the best possible water conditions while you are away. Finally, it’s important to avoid any sudden changes or alterations to the tank before you leave. Stick to your usual routine and procedures, to avoid stressing your shrimp while you’re away.

Types of food


In the wild, shrimp primarily feed on biofilm. Biofilm is a thin layer of bacteria and microorganisms that covers various surfaces in the tank, such as the glass walls, rocks, plants, substrate, and filter sponge. A new tank should be aged to allow for the growth of biofilm, as it is an essential part of a shrimp’s natural diet. Having a substantial amount of biofilm in the tank will provide shrimp with a consistent source of food.

Indian almond leaves

Indian Almond Leaves (IAL) can be used as food for shrimp in aquariums. IAL is known to release tannins and other beneficial substances into the water which can help mimic the natural environment of shrimp in the wild. This can help reduce stress, promote molting, and improve the overall health and growth of the shrimp. Some shrimp keepers add IAL to their tanks, either by boiling them and adding the infused water, or by placing the leaves directly into the tank. The leaves can also provide a food source as they break down and release their tannins and other nutrients into the water. However, it’s important to monitor the pH levels in the tank, as the tannins can lower the pH levels significantly.

Alder cones, cinnamon sticks, and other parts of plants

Alder cones, cinnamon sticks, and other parts of plants can be used as supplementary food for shrimp. These parts of plants contain tannins and other organic compounds that can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the tank, which in turn can help create a more natural and healthy environment for shrimp. Additionally, tannins and other organic compounds can help lower the pH of the water, making it more suitable for some species of shrimp. When using these materials as food, it is best to add small amounts at a time and monitor the water parameters to ensure they do not have a negative impact on the tank.


A biofilm-promoting powder may be an option if you don’t like the idea of tanning.

Biofilm-promoting powder is a popular alternative to tanning leaves for shrimp hobbyists who are looking to provide a suitable environment for their shrimp populations. This type of product is designed to help create a natural, nutritious environment for shrimp by promoting the growth of biofilm in the tank. Biofilm is an essential part of a shrimp’s diet and is made up of bacteria and microorganisms that grow on all surfaces in the tank, including the glass walls, rocks, plants, substrate, and filter sponge.

Some of the most popular biofilm-promoting powders on the market include Shrimp King BioTase Active, Bacter AE, and Shrimp King BioTase Active. These products are simple to use and are available in small packets, making them easy to store and dispense as needed. To use, simply dissolve the powder in the water, and it will spread throughout the tank, helping to create a rich, nutritious environment for baby shrimp to thrive.

In addition to promoting biofilm growth, these powders can also help to reduce the amount of time required to build up a sufficient supply of biofilm. This is particularly beneficial for new tank setups or for hobbyists who are looking to switch from another type of food. So, if you’re looking to raise healthy and thriving shrimp populations, a biofilm-promoting powder may be a great option to consider.

Snowflake food

Snowflake shrimp food is a type of food specifically designed for freshwater aquarium shrimp. It is a high-quality, well-balanced diet that provides all of the essential nutrients that shrimp need to thrive. The food is made with a blend of ingredients, such as fish meal, krill, shrimp meal, spirulina, and other natural substances, to provide a well-rounded diet for your shrimp. The use of soybean shells in snowflake shrimp food may vary depending on the specific product, but soybeans and their by-products are common ingredients in many types of shrimp food.

Snowflake food is often shaped into small, easy-to-eat pellets that float on the surface of the water, making it easy for shrimp to access. Additionally, the food is slow-sinking, meaning it will gradually sink to the bottom of the tank, allowing even bottom-dwelling shrimp to have access to it.

Snowflake food is a great option for freshwater shrimp keepers because it helps to keep water conditions stable by reducing the risk of overfeeding and reducing the amount of uneaten food that falls to the bottom of the tank and decays. It is also a convenient option because it comes in a variety of forms, such as pellets, flakes, and even freeze-dried food, making it easy to find a form that works best for your tank.

Shrimp pellets

For shrimp-lovers, pellets made specifically for them are a great first food. Many years of research have gone into determining the nutrients required for shrimp to thrive. You can drop one pellet in your mouth with confidence until you start eating different kinds of food.

Examples include Shrimp King Complete, Hikari Shrimp Cuisine and Shrimp King Complete.


Shrimp can be fed a variety of vegetables, but not all vegetables are safe for them to consume. Some of the most commonly fed vegetables include lettuce, spinach, carrots, and zucchini. It is recommended to blanch these vegetables by boiling them briefly to soften them and remove any harmful substances before feeding to the shrimp. It is important to also remove any uneaten vegetables from the tank as they can pollute the water and lead to bacterial growth. Vegetables should be fed in moderation as a supplement to a balanced diet, as too much can lead to digestive problems for the shrimp.


Algae can be an important part of a shrimp’s diet, providing them with essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Freshwater shrimp, in particular, will often graze on algae growing on rocks, plants, and other surfaces in their tank.

There are different types of algae that can be fed to shrimp, including spirulina, chlorella, and green algae. Some shrimp keepers even use algae wafers specifically designed for herbivorous fish, which can also be fed to shrimp.

It’s important to remember that while algae can provide important nutrients, it should not be the only food that shrimp are given. A varied diet that includes other sources of protein and carbohydrates is essential for a healthy and balanced shrimp diet. Additionally, feeding too much algae can cause water quality issues, so moderation is key when feeding algae to shrimp.

Bee pollen

Bee pollen can be fed to shrimp as a supplement to their diet. Bee pollen contains a variety of essential nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support the health and growth of shrimp. However, bee pollen should not be relied on as the sole source of nutrition for shrimp, as it lacks the complete spectrum of nutrients they need. It’s best to use bee pollen in small amounts as a supplement to a balanced diet of other shrimp foods, such as pellets, biofilm, and vegetable matter. It’s important to remember that bee pollen should be used in moderation, as too much can cause digestive issues for the shrimp.


Shrimp lollies are a type of food specifically formulated for freshwater shrimp. They are often sold in the form of a long, thin, cylindrical stick that can be attached to the side of the aquarium. The lollies are designed to dissolve slowly over time, providing a constant supply of food for the shrimp. The lollies are usually made up of a mixture of ingredients that are high in protein, including shrimp meal, fish meal, and various vitamins and minerals. They are a convenient way to feed shrimp when you’re not around to drop food in the tank regularly. However, it’s important to monitor the amount of food that your shrimp are consuming and adjust the feeding schedule accordingly to prevent overfeeding and water quality issues.


In conclusion, freshwater shrimp are a popular addition to aquariums, and they are commonly referred to as aqua or aquarium shrimp. They are omnivores, eating both plant and animal material, including algae, plant matter, small insects, dead fish, and food specifically designed for shrimp. It’s important to provide a balanced diet and monitor portion sizes to prevent overfeeding and maintain a healthy environment for the shrimp. A feeding dish can also be a useful tool to control portion size and keep the tank clean. If you are going on vacation, proper preparation, such as stocking up on food, can ensure that your shrimp are safe and well-fed while you are away. With the right care, freshwater shrimp can be a low-maintenance and enjoyable addition to any aquarium.

Elliot Galindo
Elliot Galindohttp://ShrimpPro.com
Elliot Galindo is a highly educated expert on freshwater shrimp and their care as pets. He received his Bachelor's degree in marine biology from the University of Oregon and has used that knowledge to become an authority on shrimp care.



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