5 Best Foods for Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp
If you’re not trying to breed champion-quality shrimp, then finding the “best” food to feed freshwater shrimp is not as hard as you may think. Aquarium companies know that ornamental shrimp are very popular right now, so they spend a lot of marketing dollars trying to convince you that shrimp have very specialized needs that only their brand of shrimp food can meet. In reality, dwarf shrimp are last on the food chain, serving as scavengers that eat decaying plants, deceased animals, algae, and biofilm chock-full of microorganisms. Their diet consists of both proteins and vegetable matter, so the key is to provide a wide variety of foods to ensure that they don’t lack in essential nutrients and minerals. Find out which foods are on our top 7 favorites list to feed Caridina and Neocaridina shrimp.
1. Hikari Shrimp Cuisine
Hikari is a long-lived company known for its excellent, delicious fish foods in the aquarium hobby, and their Shrimp Cuisine is no different. These tiny sinking pellets are great for breeding crystal and cherry shrimp because they’re tiny enough to be eaten by both babies and adults. (If you prefer a larger pellet size, Hikari Crab Cuisine is a very similar food for shrimp, snails, crayfish, and crabs.)
Shrimp Cuisine is a comprehensive shrimp diet that contains vegetable matter like seaweed and spirulina algae, as well as natural color enhancers like krill. It also provides calcium and other vitamins to promote healthy molting and growth. Beginner shrimp keepers often fear that the copper in shrimp foods can harm their invertebrates, but many shrimp foods such as Shrimp Cuisine contain trace amounts of copper that are necessary for the shrimp to make blood or hemocyanin.
2. Xtreme Shrimpee Sinking Sticks
While most shrimp foods dissolve quickly into tiny particles to make sure the babies can get a bite, all the excess nutrients floating around in the aquarium can lead to cloudiness and dangerous water quality issues if you’re not careful. If you keep adult shrimp in a community tank and aren’t as focused on breeding for profit, Shrimpee Sinking Sticks might be a better choice for your setup. These 3 mm sticks are made to hold their shape underwater for long periods of time, giving your shrimp plenty of time to graze without their food melting into the cracks between the substrate. This staple shrimp food can be fed every day because it contains quality ingredients, calcium, and high levels of vitamins.
3. Repashy Gel Food
As tiny scavengers with tiny stomachs, shrimp prefer to constantly graze all throughout the day. That’s why Repashy gel food makes it onto our list. Simply mix the powder with hot water to form a nutritious gel food that stays water stable for up to 24 hours and yet is soft enough for shrimp to easily grab a bite. You can even feed the powder directly into the water column for the baby shrimp to eat, since newborns do not swim around a lot and can’t compete with adults during mealtime. Repashy Soilent Green is high in algae and plant matter, such as spirulina, pea protein, alfalfa leaves, and seaweed. Repashy Community Plus is a good omnivore blend made with krill, alfalfa, squid, and seaweed. Read this article to learn how easy it is to make gel food.
4. Zoo Med Nano Banquet Food Blocks
Vacation food blocks are usually thought of as a specialty fish food you only feed if you’re going out of town for a while and don’t want to hire a pet sitter. In order to slowly release food over time without clouding the water, they actually contain large amounts of calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and other essential minerals needed for shrimp molting. If your tap water is very soft and low in minerals, consider dropping in a Nano Banquet Food Block as part of their regular meal rotation. The blocks are also packed with nutritious plankton and spirulina that your shrimp, snails, and fish will enjoy.
Canned or blanched vegetables are a readily available food that helps increase the plant content in your shrimp’s diet. One of their favorites is canned green beans because of the nutritious content, soft texture, and ability to sink immediately. Canned sliced carrots are another popular vegetable to feed because the beta carotene naturally enhances the red-orange coloration in shrimp. You can also try blanching slices of zucchini so that they are soft enough for shrimp to graze on. Just be careful not to overfeed the tank because the uneaten vegetables will fall apart eventually and may cause water quality issues if left to decay in the tank.
Bonus: Catappa Leaves
Also known as Indian almond leaves, these dried botanicals are often used in aquariums because they release brown tannins into the water that have mild antibiotic and antifungal properties. Shrimp breeders love them because the leaves grow a thin layer of biofilm as they break down. This biofilm contains nutritious bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms for baby shrimp to graze on all throughout the day. We recommend adding one leaf per 20 gallons of water and then adding a new leaf once the old leaf starts developing holes. No need to take out the old leaf because it will get completely devoured by your shrimp.
In our experience, most shrimp are not that picky and will eagerly eat any food that you drop into the aquarium. For more information on keeping, feeding, and breeding shrimp, read our Overview of Freshwater Dwarf Shrimp article.