What Are the Best Fish Species to Introduce to a Shrimp-Only Aquarium?


If you’re delving into the fascinating world of aquatic life, you might, like many others, find yourself drawn to the vibrant and diverse world of shrimp. These small, colorful crustaceans are an excellent choice for those who are new to aquarium care or more experienced aquarists looking to diversify their tank.

While shrimp can certainly thrive in a shrimp-only aquarium, introducing fish species to the mix can bring a new dynamic to your tank. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the fish you introduce will coexist peacefully with the shrimp and won’t disrupt their habitat. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best fish species you can introduce to a shrimp-only aquarium, examining their compatibilities, preferred conditions, and care requirements.

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The Importance of Choosing Compatible Species

Before we delve into the specific species that make great mates for your shrimp, let’s first understand why it’s important to select compatible fish. Shrimp, particularly Cherry Shrimp, are relatively small in size. Their adult size typically ranges between 1 to 1.5 inches, making them an easy target for larger, predatory fish.

Moreover, shrimp require specific water conditions to thrive. They prefer freshwater environments with a pH around 7.0 and temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Introducing fish that prefer significantly different conditions can stress both the shrimp and the fish, potentially leading to health issues and even death.

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Ideal Fish Species for a Shrimp Tank

1. Pygmy Corydoras

The Pygmy Corydoras is a small, sturdy, and peaceful fish species, making it an excellent choice for a shrimp tank. They typically grow to a maximum size of 1 inch and are known for their bottom-dwelling behavior, which means they’re unlikely to disturb your shrimp.

These fish share similar water requirements with shrimp, preferring freshwater environments with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0 and temperatures between 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Being omnivores, their diet consists mostly of small insects, plant matter, and high-quality dry foods, and they are unlikely to eat shrimp.

2. Ember Tetras

The vibrant, fiery coloration of Ember Tetras makes them an attractive addition to any aquarium. They are peaceful and small-sized, growing up to 1 inch, which means they won’t pose a threat to your shrimp.

Ember Tetras prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels (5.5 – 7.0) and temperatures between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, both of which align well with the needs of most shrimp species. Their diet consists mainly of small invertebrates and plant matter, so they’re unlikely to prey on shrimp.

3. Otocinclus Catfish

Noted for their algae-eating habits, Otocinclus Catfish can be a beneficial addition to your shrimp tank. They help keep the tank clean by feeding on algae, which can be a great help in maintaining the water quality.

Otocinclus Catfish are peaceful, small-sized fish that grow up to 2 inches. They thrive in pH levels between 6.0 and 7.5 and temperatures of 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Their diet is composed almost entirely of algae, and they’re not known to eat shrimp.

Caring for Your Shrimp and Fish Aquarium

Once you’ve carefully selected the right species for your shrimp tank, it’s essential to provide the proper care to ensure all tank inhabitants thrive.

Food plays a crucial role in the health of your aquatic pets. For shrimp, a diet of algae, biofilm, and occasional supplementary feedings of high-quality shrimp food will suffice. For your fish, ensure you’re providing a balanced diet that suits their species-specific needs.

Plants can also make a great addition to your shrimp and fish tank. They provide hiding spots, contribute to a healthy water environment by absorbing nitrates, and serve as a food source for some species. Java Moss, Anubias, and Java Fern are all great plant options for a shrimp and fish aquarium.

While caring for an aquarium with both shrimp and fish may require a bit more attention, the vibrant and dynamic environment you’ll create is well worth the effort.

Understanding Shrimp Species and their Compatible Tank Mates

While we’ve just discussed fish species that can coexist well with shrimp, it’s important to understand that not all shrimp species have the same requirements and compatibilities. Some types of shrimp, like the Neocaridina shrimp and Amano shrimp, are particularly well-suited for community tanks.

Neocaridina shrimp, also known as Cherry shrimp, are small and hardy. Their adult size generally ranges between 1 to 1.5 inches, making them a good match with the previously mentioned fish species. They are also non-aggressive and will not bother their tank mates. Because of their small size and peaceful nature, they are less likely to become a target of larger, predatory fish.

The Amano shrimp is larger in size, typically reaching an adult size of up to 2 inches. They are peaceful and hardworking, making them a fantastic addition to any tank. They are particularly good at algae control, which helps maintain the quality of the water and the overall health of the tank.

Both species prefer similar water conditions, with a pH of around 7.0 and temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This aligns well with the requirements of the fish species we’ve discussed.

How to Introduce Fish into a Shrimp Tank

The process of introducing fish into a shrimp tank should be done with great caution to avoid creating an imbalance in the tank environment. This relates to the size of the tank, the specific needs of the species involved, and the order in which they are introduced.

An important factor is the tank size. A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended for introducing fish into a shrimp tank. This size allows for enough space for each species to establish their own territory, which can reduce potential conflicts.

When introducing fish, it’s generally best to add the shrimp first. This way, the shrimp can establish themselves and find hiding spots before the fish are introduced. Once the shrimp are well-adjusted, you can then introduce the fish gradually, observing their behavior to ensure they are not showing signs of stress or aggression.

Remember that the diet of your new fish should not radically change the feeding conditions in the tank. While some fish might be interested in shrimp food, and vice versa, it is crucial to ensure that each species is getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.


Creating a diverse and vibrant shrimp and fish aquarium can bring immense joy and satisfaction. By choosing compatible species like Pygmy Corydoras, Ember Tetras, and Otocinclus Catfish, and adhering to the specific care level of each species, you can create an aquarium where both your shrimp and fish will thrive.

However, it’s essential to remember that introducing fish to a shrimp-only tank is not a decision to be taken lightly. It requires careful planning, patience, and a commitment to maintaining the specific conditions each species needs to thrive.

With the right preparation, you can create a beautiful and harmonious aquatic environment that not only adds aesthetic value to your space but also creates a fulfilling hobby that teaches you about the fascinating world of aquatic life.

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