Ghost shrimp (aka glass shrimp) are one of the cheapest ways to get into shrimp keeping, but it’s not without its risks.
“Ghost shrimp” is a name for a few dozen different varieties of shrimp, so it’s hard to say for certain how any particular ghost shrimp will do in an aquarium with other fish or shrimp. (For example, some of them are predators and may attack other shrimp if food is scarce.)
That having been said, this list is a best effort attempt at listing the fish, shrimp, and snails that will work with most ghost shrimp. If you want a short list, here are the ones that are the absolute safest bets.
The best tank mates for ghost shrimp are going to be otocinclus catfish, amano shrimp, vampire shrimp, and mystery snails. Pygmy corydoras, bristlenose and clown plecos, and hatchetfish will also live peacefully with ghost shrimp, but they may snack on a few fry if the opportunity presents.
Let’s go into more detail and cover a few more fish not mentioned above.
Kuhli loaches are a peaceful, eel-like fish that make a welcome addition to any aquarium large enough to hold them.
They aren’t likely to attack adult ghost shrimp, but they may eat a baby if it swims close enough to their mouth. That having been said, if you have a stable population already, they aren’t likely to make much of a difference in the growth of your ghost shrimp population.
If you get Kuhli loaches, you will need to get at least 6 of them (though 3 can be fine in a smaller tank) for them to be happy and active.
They are a bit of a larger fish compared to the rest of the options on this list (except bristlenose plecos), so if you want something that gets a bit big, these may be your choice.
Dwarf Cory Catfish
Pygmy corydoras are in the same category as kuhli loaches, in that shrimp and krill make up a large part of their diet (if you look at the ingredients on a lot of the sinking wafer brands), but they’re so peaceful that they’re not likely to cause a problem for your shrimp.
Your adult ghost shrimp are likely going to be as big as they are anyway.
They may eat some baby shrimp if the opportunity presents, but it’s not likely to be a big problem.
They’re also full of personality and fun to watch. If you have sand as a substrate, I’d highly recommend them.
The 3 pygmy corydora species are:
- C Pygmaeus
- C Habrosus
- C Hastatus
Red Cherry Shrimp
Other species of shrimp can mix well with ghost shrimp, especially if you want to go with an invert only community tank. Red Cherry Shrimp are no exception here.
RCS are probably the easiest species of shrimp to take care of, and they come in a variety of nice colors (red, blue, gold, etc).
One thing to note is that you’ll want to keep your community well fed, as there have been stories of ghost shrimp attacking RCS after missed feedings.
This isn’t going to be a problem with all ghost shrimp, but since so many things are sold as ghost shrimp and some of them are carnivorous, it’s something to keep in mind.
Amano shrimp are a great addition to an aquarium if you want something that will keep your tank clean. They will spend their entire lives patrolling your aquarium for any hair algae and uneaten food they can find and dispose of.
They’re generally hardy, so if they survive the first few weeks in your aquarium, they’re likely to live a long time.
Otos are the only fish that are truly suitable for a ghost shrimp tank. They won’t attack the adults. They won’t eat the fry. They are entirely peaceful and will get along with your shrimp.
Now, you may have trouble keeping them alive once they’ve cleaned your fish tank, because they are very particular about what they will eat.
Because of this (and because they need good water parameters), I would only put them in an established tank, especially one that is well planted and has some brown algae (diatoms).
Still, if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, the otocinclus catfish is the perfect addition to a ghost shrimp tank.
Bamboo shrimp are an interesting type of shrimp. They’re filter feeders, so they have hands like baseball mitts that they use to grab food out of the water column.
Because of this, you’ll want to get a micro food that will stay suspended in the water column long enough for them to eat it. The same foods you use for feeding baby fish and shrimp should work, as should powdered flake food.
They’ll also want at least a light flow of water that they can stand in front of and grab food particles out of.
If you notice them feeding off the ground, you’re not giving them enough food.
Vampire shrimp are similar to bamboo shrimp in that they’re filter feeders and have the same food requirements.
They are different most notably in their coloration. They come in a few different colors, but most notable is the bright blue that you’ll often see them in.
Hatchet fish are another interesting species of fish that are safe to keep with ghost shrimp.
They’re a species that would possibly eat baby shrimp if they could figure out how, but they’re so dependent on feeding from the surface of the water that it’ll likely never be a problem. They can starve if you don’t feed them enough food that floats long enough for them to eat it – even if there is plenty further down in the tank.
They’re a really striking looking fish because of their body shape, and if you have a large enough aquarium (they need 20 gallon tanks and up), you should consider getting a few.
Chili rasbora – also known as the mosquito rasbora – are a super small (and colorful) species of rasbora.
Because of their size, they’ll make a perfect addition to a shrimp tank and won’t likely cause any problems for all but the smallest of shrimp fry.
Like most rasboras, they’re pretty hardy if you can get their feeding right. They need food that will stay in the middle of the water column long enough for them to eat it and is small enough to fit in their mouths.
If you can feed them well, they’ll make a colorful addition to even small shrimp tanks.
Nerite snails are completely peaceful and don’t pose a danger to anything else in your aquarium – except algae.
These guys are probably the hardest working algae eaters in the hobby – especially out of the snails – and will eat types of algae most other fish won’t touch, including hair algae and black beard algae.
They do come with a few downsides, however. They will leave infertile eggs (that look like sesame seeds) all over everything. These eggs will never hatch, and they’ll stay there until you scrape them off.
Also, if they don’t like water conditions in your tank, they’ll leave. They’ll drive up and out of the top of your tank, and you’ll find them on the floor later. Because of this, you’ll want a tight fitting lid without any holes large enough for their shell to get through.
The good news is that they’re good with any tank large enough to fit shrimp as long as you have food for them.
Mystery snails are another option if you want snails for your shrimp tank. Honestly, they’re my favorite species of snail – potentially next to the pond/bladder snails that often come as hitchhikers on plants.
Mystery snails come in whites, blues, browns, and potentially other colors and look pretty good as far as snails go.
They don’t lay eggs on things (though they will lay clusters of eggs above the water line – sometimes that will hatch into baby snails. These are easy to clean off, however.
They won’t do as much for algae as nerites will, but they still make an excellent addition to your cleanup crew.
Betta (With Caution)
When it comes to adding betta fish to your shrimp tank, it really depends on the personality of the individual betta.
If you have a separate tank to move them if they become aggressive, you can give it a try. Just know that some betta will ignore the shrimp, and others will decide, “they crawled across the bottom of my tank, and I took that personally.”
I would overall not recommend this pairing, but I’ve seen it done successfully.
Zebra Loaches (With Caution)
Another one that I say can work – but use caution – is the zebra loach.
Loaches have a reputation of being pretty aggressive towards shrimp and snails and will generally kill and eat them pretty quickly.
Zebra loaches are a bit different, and there have been quite a few people that have kept shrimp successfully in a fish tank with zebra loaches.
I would recommend starting slowly with a few shrimp first to make sure it works out – and only if there are no other types of loach in the tank.
Guppies are another species of fish that are peaceful and will work well with shrimp.
Because of how small they are, they aren’t likely to be able to cause much of a problem for all but the smallest shrimp fry even if they wanted to.
They will also don’t need a huge tank size as long as you’re not breeding them (meaning you have all males). Adult shrimp will likely be close to the same size as adult guppies, so they’ll work well together.
An added benefit of guppies is that they’ll add the color to the tank that your ghost shrimp lack. They come in such a wide variety of looks that you’re going to be able to find whatever you’re looking for.
Celestial Pearl Danios
Celestial pearl danios (aka galaxy rasboras) are a pleasant looking species of fish that falls into the “won’t bug adult shrimp but may eat baby shrimp” category.
They are another species that feeds mid-column, which means that you’ll need to get food that floats in the middle of your water column for long enough that they are able to eat it.
They generally have a good temperament and will work with most other species that also work with ghost shrimp.
Ember tetras, also known as fire or dwarf red tetras, are a nice red or orange tetra that are peaceful and will work well with shrimp.
They may not be quite as well known as neon tetras, but they definitely deserve consideration in your aquarium.
They only get about half as big as neon tetras, at .6-.8″ long fully grown, but they are full of energy and can bring life to an aquarium.
Unfortunately, they’re a bit difficult to find in local stores, but you should be able to get a hold of them easily online. They like being in groups, so you’ll want to get at least 6 at a time.
The clown pleco is a great type of pleco that have a brown and gold pattern that looks like the shadows of rippling water. (Like the pattern you see in the bottom of swimming pools.)
They are a very shy species and will spend a great deal of time hiding – especially when you first get them into your tank. (You may go weeks without seeing them.)
As they get used to the environment, you’ll start to see them more often.
One thing they absolutely need(!) is to have driftwood in their aquarium. They rasp on it, and it helps their digestion. Not having wood available to them could seriously hurt their longevity in your aquarium.
The clown pleco stays small, so you can put one of them in any aquarium that is at least 25+ gallons. (Unlike common plecos, which require a huge tank.)
Bristlenose plecos are another type of pleco that will work in a ghost shrimp tank. They are unlikely to attack a ghost shrimp, but they will snack on any dead shrimp they can find already in the aquarium.
Bristlenose plecos are great as an algae eater and come in a number of different colors (brown, super red, gold, albino, etc). They also stay small, so you can put them in any 25+ gallon tank.
Like the clown pleco, bristlenose plecos benefit from having driftwood in the tank. Also, even though they eat any algae in the aquarium, you still want to feed them algae wafers.
Other than that, they are a hardy fish that will work in a range of water parameters.
Endlers are a small livebearer that can live in even the smallest tanks that are large enough to support shrimp populations of any size.
They also are pretty colorful, so they will look great in your aquarium.
Endlers are pretty easy to take care of and are peaceful fish, so they are unlikely to cause any problems for your shrimp.
One thing that you will need to note, however, is that they will reproduce like crazy in your aquarium, meaning that they will overrun your tank if you’re not careful. Most fish stores will accept donations of fish, so you will likely end up needing to take some of them in from time to time to keep the population in check.