Bamboo Shrimp – Species Profile & Facts

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Invertebrates make good additions to community tanks. Among these, the Bamboo shrimp is a particularly good choice.

This species is easy to look after, gets along well with all tankmates, and exhibits unique behaviors you won’t see in most other bottom-dwelling species.

The bamboo shrimp is also excellent as a standalone pet. If you’re considering adopting one of these crustaceans, this article should help seal the deal.

Keep reading to learn more about Bamboo shrimps, their care requirements, and other interesting facts!

What is a Bamboo Shrimp?

The Bamboo shrimp (scientific name “Atyopsis moluccensis”) is a freshwater shrimp native to Southeast Asia.

This species is becoming more popular in the aquarium hobby thanks to its filter-feeding behavior and non-demanding nature.

This invertebrate creature has a unique eating style. Instead of searching for food through the substrate, like other bottom-dwellers, it uses special fans on its front appendages.

The Bamboo shrimp roams the aquarium in search of a strong water current. When feeding, the shrimp perches itself on a high surface and uses its fans to catch and filter food particles floating in the water column.

Bamboo shrimps are highly adaptable, don’t need a lot of room, and do well alongside peaceful fish and invertebrates. They have all the qualities required for a community tank critter. 

Bamboo shrimp don’t come in bright, interesting colors. Still, they have a natural charm. Their earthy reddish-brown carapace and white back stripe look quite interesting.

The Bamboo shrimp’s earthy-toned body blends nicely with gravel substrates and wood décor.

Bamboo Shrimp Requirements

If you contemplate adopting a couple of these shrimps, you should ensure you’re prepared to house and care for them. Luckily, Bamboo shrimps have modest requirements and are easy to look after.

To keep it short and sweet, here’s a rundown of what these crustaceans need:

– Tank Size & Setup

The most important thing when keeping Bamboo shrimps is the aquarium size. These critters are filter feeders, so their eating behavior depends on the tank’s surface area and water flow.

The more aquarium width, the better!

A wide aquarium ensures more food particles circulate in the lower levels of the water column.

If you’re planning to keep just one shrimp, a 10–20-gallon tank is enough. You should provide 20 additional gallons for any extra shrimp.

Like all aquatic creatures, Bamboo shrimp also need aquarium equipment to live in a clean environment with proper water parameters.

In the wild, these shrimps live in a warm tropical habitat with moderate water flow. The right equipment will help you emulate these conditions in the aquarium.

You should include a water heater to maintain a high water temperature. A sponge filter will keep the aquarium clean.

It’ll also provide enough water movement to keep the shrimps comfortable and help with feeding. An air pump is also a good idea for larger aquariums as it creates additional flow for the shrimps.

Finally, aquarium décor makes a house a home. You should make the tank look as natural as possible to provide behavioral enrichment for your pets. Include a variety of rocks and live plants.

These provide shelter and climbing spots for the shrimps to filter-feed. The substrate can be anything from sand to gravel. Dark-color substrates are ideal as they help the shrimp camouflage and feel safe.

– Water Requirements

Bamboo shrimps are quite adaptable to various environmental conditions. But for them to thrive, you should keep their water parameters within the ideal range. Bamboo shrimps prefer warm water, ideally 70-85°F.

The water should be as close to neutral as possible. This translates to a 6.5-7.5 pH value.

General water hardness should measure 6-8 dGH, which translates to soft water. Total dissolved solids should be 150-200 ppm.

As for toxic compounds, nitrates should be below 20 ppm. Ammonia and nitrites should be 0 ppm.

Because of their filter-feeding behavior, Bamboo shrimps also need moderate water flow in the tank. They can also adapt to high water movement.

– Feeding & Diet

Bamboo shrimps are omnivorous, so they will eat any food you’d feed other aquatic pets.

Fish flakes, shrimp food, brine shrimp, algae, dead plant matter, and any leftovers in the aquarium provide excellent nutrition for them. But their unique eating style demands a different feeding technique.

You can’t just sprinkle some good ol’ fish flakes into the tank and call it a day. Unlike other shrimps, Bamboo shrimps don’t usually forage for food through the substrate.

They need the food to be very fine, and they need to get their food from the water column.

So, choose powdered foods or very finely-chopped dry foods that stay afloat. I recommend baby shrimp food, algae powder, baby brine shrimp, fine fish flakes, micro worms, and crushed bottom-feeder tablets.

The shrimps will also consume detritus and plant particles floating in the tank.

When feeding the shrimp, drop the powdered food close to the air pump to disperse it evenly in the water.

The filter will draw food particles towards the intake sponge, making the food easily accessible for the shrimps.

The shrimps will find a spot with moderate current, typically right next to the filter, and lie still for hours, waiting for food bits to stick to their fans.

Bamboo shrimp take a long time to eat, but they don’t consume much food. You may feed them every other day.

You’ll know the food’s running out when the shrimps start looking through the substrate. Such foraging behavior’s a sign you should feed them some more.

Do Bamboo Shrimp Need a Heater?

In the wild, Bamboo shrimps are found in tropical habitats with high temperatures. They’ll feel best in an aquarium that mimics their natural living conditions.

Remember, the ideal temperature range for these crustaceans is 70-85°F. Unsurprisingly, you need a heater to reach and maintain this water temperature.

The aquarium water may not reach the ideal temperature range without a heater. On average, room temperature is 68-72°F— a fine line between just right and not warm enough.

Even if the room temperature is within range, your aquarium remains unprotected against temperature fluctuations.

Only an aquarium heater guarantees stable and ideal temperature day and night, year-round.

Do Bamboo Shrimp Need a Filter?

A filter is indispensable in an aquarium. You need one to maintain a stable pH and water clarity.

An aquarium filter also keeps the water clean and fresh for longer, making aquarium maintenance easier for you.

Most importantly, aquarium filters house a large percentage of beneficial bacteria. Without these bacteria, you can’t cycle your tank, and you’ll get a rapid rise in toxic ammonia after each feeding.

A filter-less aquarium is a ticking biohazard bomb for your shrimps (and fish).

The filter also does one more important thing for Bamboo shrimps. Aquarium filters create water movement thanks to the constant stream going in and out of the filter.

Filter feeders like Bamboo shrimps rely on this water flow when feeding. You’ll often find the shrimps perched near the filter, picking up the food particles getting carried toward the intake.

How Much do Bamboo Shrimp Cost?

The Bamboo shrimp is a bit pricier than other aquarium invertebrates. They’re also harder to find because there’s a lower demand for them.

On average, you’ll find them selling for $9.99-$13.99 apiece. If you catch a sale, you may also find packs of three selling for $24 or less.

Petco does sometimes carry these shrimps and they have pretty good deals. The prices are mostly similar between local pet shops and online stores.

So, if you can’t find Bamboo shrimp at a physical store in your area, you may also find them online for a similar price.

What is the Lifespan of Bamboo Shrimp?

Bamboo shrimp have an average lifespan of 2-3 years, similar to other shrimp species. With good care and a proper environment, they can live slightly longer.

Up to three years might not sound that impressive, but it’s similar to other common aquarium pets like Guppies (2 years), Danios (3 years), Platies (3 years), or aquarium snails (1-3 years).

There’s a caveat, though. The Bamboo shrimp is highly sensitive to sudden fluctuations in water parameters. Despite their decent average lifespan, these shrimps will die a lot earlier in a poorly-managed aquarium.

Changes in water pH, dissolved solids, or temperature can cause shock and sudden death in this species.

Bamboo shrimps are adaptable to different conditions, but the transition must happen slowly. It’s common for Bamboo shrimps to die soon after being introduced to a new aquarium.

When bringing the shrimps home, remember to acclimate them before placing them in the tank. The acclimation process protects the shrimp against sudden water parameter changes.

How Big do Bamboo Shrimp Get?

The Bamboo shrimp distinguishes itself from most other shrimp species thanks to its size.

Most common shrimps grow up to 1.5 inches (Amano, Ghost, Cherry, Rili, and Christal shrimps are such examples). Bamboo shrimps reach 2 inches on average and can grow up to 4 inches.

Females typically measure 2-3 inches, while males grow up to 4 inches. The only other shrimp that reaches comparable dimensions is the Vampire shrimp.

It, too, grows up to 2-4 inches. These two species are often mistaken for one another, thanks to their outstanding size.

Are Bamboo Shrimp Aggressive?

Not at all! You can’t get any less aggressive than a Bamboo shrimp. These sizeable crustaceans are calm, passive, and gentle.

The only thing they care about is feeding. Even if you keep multiple Bamboo shrimps together, they won’t compete for food.

They’ll gather together in an area with decent water flow and do their thing.

If you think about it, the Bamboo shrimp has all the safeguards you’d want from a good community critter:

  • Their unique filter-feeding behavior ensures they won’t compete for food with other shrimps, snails, or fish
  • They have almost non-existent claws and teeth, so they aren’t equipped to attack their tankmates
  • They’re slow and clumsy but are also bottom-dwellers; in any case, they won’t get in the way of energetic fish

Bamboo shrimps can do no wrong, and that’s why we love them. Since they are defenseless against boisterous tankmates, Bamboo shrimps get stressed easily.

They’re very shy and spend a lot of time hiding when they feel unsafe.

Bamboo Shrimp Tank Mates

Bamboo shrimps are medium-sized, non-territorial, and non-competitive. You can keep them alongside various bottom-dwellers and higher-layer swimmers.

Bamboo shrimps only eat very small zooplankton and baby daphnia, so even the smallest fish are safe around them.

However, it doesn’t go the same way around. You’ll want to keep these shrimps away from large fish that could eat them. Also, avoid boisterous or aggressive tankmates like Bettas, Barbs, or Angelfish.

Bamboo shrimps are shy and get scared easily. Most importantly, these shrimps are vulnerable when shedding their skin. Bamboo shrimps can get injured and lose limbs if aggressive tankmates attack them during molting.

The best tank mates for Bamboo shrimps are peaceful and small to medium-sized fish, snails, and shrimps.

Here are some suitable species if you want to create a community tank:

  • Guppies
  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Platies
  • Swordtails
  • Gouramis
  • Catfish
  • Hatchet Fish
  • Yoyo Loaches
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Mystery Snails
  • Nerite Snails
  • Freshwater Clams
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Vampire Shrimp
  • Bee Shrimp

Are Bamboo Shrimp Good for Beginners?

The Bamboo shrimp is a suitable pet for beginners. It requires a low to moderate level of care, so it isn’t more challenging to look after than other aquarium pets.

This shrimp has slightly different requirements but nothing too difficult, even for new aquarists.

Feeding is the most challenging because this shrimp needs fine foods that stay suspended in the water column.

You’ll have to look for special baby shrimp food and powdered foods or crush the fish flakes and pellets yourself before feeding. Target feeding can take some practice, too, until you get the hang of it.

Besides that, this shrimp needs the same care as other aquatic pets. You’ll need to maintain a clean aquarium, which implies regular maintenance tasks like water changes, substrate siphoning, and cleaning filter sponges.

Also, make sure there are no sharp decorations in the aquarium. Bamboo shrimps need a safe environment to prevent injuries during molting.

How to Tell if Bamboo Shrimp is Male or Female?

Unlike other shrimp species, the Bamboo shrimp is quite easy to sex. Once the shrimps grow up to 2 inches or more, the sex differences become readily apparent.

There are a few visual cues that help us differentiate between male and female shrimps:

  • Size and shape: Male shrimps are typically larger than females. Male shrimps also appear thinner. On the other hand, female shrimps have larger and rounder abdomens.
  • Legs: Shrimps have two types of legs. The pereiopods (long front legs) are used for feeding, while the pleopods (shorter back legs) are used for swimming and brooding.

Females have longer pleopods. Males have stout-looking pereiopods equipped with small claws.

  • Sexual organs: Shrimps have multiple openings (called “gonopores”) on their abdomen, at the base of their legs. You’d have to hold and turn the shrimp on their backs to observe these.

Female Bamboo shrimps have small gonopores at the base of their third pair of legs. Male gonopores are larger and situated at the base of their fifth pair of legs.

How do Bamboo Shrimp Breed?

Bamboo shrimp have a unique breeding process that makes them quite difficult to grow in captivity. Once the shrimps reach 2 inches in size, they become sexually mature.

During breeding, the male shrimp mounts the female to fertilize her eggs. A female shrimp carries up to 2000 tiny orange eggs under her abdomen.

Once fertilized, the eggs keep developing for 30-40 days. Many of these eggs start turning brown. That’s a sign of a healthy growing baby shrimp! So far, so good, but here comes the crazy part—

After 30-40 days, the eggs hatch, releasing multiple small larvae. These larvae are very sensitive to water salinity levels. They need brackish water to survive and grow. If the water salinity is lower than 1.024 SG, the larvae will die in days.

On the other hand, adult shrimps can’t survive in brackish water. So, the larvae and adults must be separated.

After 70 days, the larvae start metamorphosing into shrimplets (pre-adult shrimp). At this point, you need to lower the water salinity to 1.011-1.015 SG.

By 90 days, the larvae have developed into young Bamboo shrimps and need to be gradually accustomed to fresh water.

It takes 70 more days for the young shrimps to fully develop into adults. Adult shrimps can’t tolerate high water salinity and will die if kept in the same conditions as when they were still growing.

As you can see, breeding Bamboo shrimps comes with a few logistics issues. Breeding them in captivity is a challenging task. Unsurprisingly, most of the Bamboo shrimps in stores are wild-caught.

Conclusion

Bamboo shrimps stand out from the crowd. Many traits distinguish them from other shrimps you might be accustomed to. Bamboo shrimps grow up to 4 inches and are filter-feeders.

They need very fine food and rely on the water current to feed. They’re good either as standalone pets or as part of a community tank.

Bamboo shrimps are shy, non-demanding, and gentle, so they won’t cause any trouble. The only inconvenience is that they’re difficult to breed in captivity.

But at least you don’t have to worry about overcrowding your tank! So, what do you think?

Does the Bamboo shrimp sound like the ideal aquarium pet? Let me know in the comments!  

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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