The Crystal Red Shrimp is a one of the most popular and coveted shrimp for the hobbyist, due to their bold, unique coloring and the challenge of raising them. Crystal Red Shrimp require very specific water parameters and near perfect water quality. They are ideally kept in a Crystal Red Shrimp-only tank because of their precise care needs. However, they are non-aggressive and active shrimp. These shrimp are not recommended for beginners, particularly because their high price point and difficult care requirements means that there is little room for mistakes. However, with a little experience under your belt these gorgeous shrimp are worth the extra effort.
The Crystal Red Shrimp hails from Japan, where shrimp hobbyist Hisayasu Sukzuki bred them from Bee Shrimp in 1996. Years of inbreeding to achieve the most desirable coloration and patterns explains the fragility of this species. Crystal Red Shrimp exhibit a variety of markings. There is an intricate grading system for these shrimp that encompasses the many different coloration patterns possible. Generally, more opaque white coloration is considered the most desirable. The “SSS” grade shrimp has an opaque white body with red “flower” or “crown” patterns on the head/upper body of the shrimp. The “SS” grade shrimp has more red throughout the body, especially on the back of the shrimp. The SS grade is usually given when there is a “Hinomaru” pattern. The Hinomaru pattern is a red dot in the middle of the shrimp’s white back, symbolizing the Japanese flag. A “no-entry Hinomaru” is where there is a white stripe entering the Hinomaru pattern, similar to a no-entry street sign. There can also be a “Double Hinomaru” pattern, where there is another red dot near the shrimp’s tail. “S” grade Crystal Red Shrimp exhibit redder coloration and must have opacity in both the red and white coloration. In this grade it is typical to see distinct bands of color. The number of bands, such as “Three White Band” or “Four White Band”, distinguishes these patterns. There are other patterns, such as the “V-Band” or “Tiger Tooth” that are considered desirable and can upgrade the shrimp’s grading to “S+”. “A” grade shrimp may appear very similar to “S” grade; they exhibit distinct banding but are downgraded to “A” grading because of transparency in their coloring. “A” grade shrimp are less expensive and therefore more appropriate for beginners to keeping Crystal Red Shrimp. “B” grade shrimp exhibit indistinct patterns of red and white, and are majority red with opacity throughout. “C” grade Crystal Red Shrimp were the first type of these shrimp to appear. They are almost completely red with small white spotting or striping and opacity on the legs and underbelly. Keep in mind that these shrimp are more fragile at higher grades, and can lose opacity when their water conditions change, so it can be a good idea to buy juvenile shrimp so that their color will develop fully once they are used to your tank.
Sexing Crystal Red Shrimp can be somewhat difficult until the shrimp begin to mature. Female shrimp have slightly larger tails and display a “saddle” formation on the upper body, behind the head, where eggs are stored before fertilization. When female shrimp are “berried”, or have eggs ready for fertilization, the saddle shape will appear more prominent. Once the shrimp are fully-grown the males will be smaller than the females.
Crystal Red Shrimp need very specific water parameters and extremely clean water. These shrimp prefer soft, acidic water conditions. Their ideal temperature range is 70°-78° F. Their water should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 6.2-7.2. Ammonia and nitrite levels must be at 0ppm, and nitrate levels as close to 0ppm as possible (no more that 20ppm). There are many products on the market designed to help buffer your water to maintain healthy parameters for your Crystal Red Shrimp. Water should be changed at least 30% each week, and make sure to dechlorinate the water before adding to the aquarium. These shrimp are very sensitive to water changes, so frequent low-volume changes are preferable to infrequent high-volume changes. Especially at higher grades, these shrimp are extremely sensitive and should be treated with careful attention.
Crystal Red Shrimp are omnivores and require a well-balanced diet. Specialized Crystal Red Shrimp food will help keep their coloring vibrant. Other options for food are algae flakes, blanched vegetables, and bloodworm. Feeding once per day or even every other day should be enough, especially if you have a mature planted tank with lots of plant waste, algae and biofilm for the shrimp to clean up. Be sure to remove any excess food that is left after feeding, as this can increase ammonia and nitrite levels. Excess food means that the shrimp are being overfed, which can damage their health and even kill them. When your shrimp molt out of their shell, make sure to leave the shells in the tank. They provide the necessary calcium in the shrimp’s diet.
Crystal Red Shrimp are easy breeders given the proper water parameters. Crystal Red Shrimp fry need places to hide in the tank, and any potential predators can prevent these shrimp from breeding at all. The baby shrimp will hatch as mini-versions of their parents, ready to snack on algae and any other food sources. But, you won’t be able to grade them until they grow larger. Because breeding is selective, it is possible to breed two lower grade shrimp to produce some high grade. Successfully breeding high grade Crystal Red Shrimp can be a lucrative hobby, as these creatures are highly valued in the shrimp hobby.
Crystal Red Shrimp make an impressive addition to an experienced shrimp hobbyist’s aquarium. If you are looking for more of a challenge than Red Cherry shrimp varieties, Crystal Red Shrimp are a great place to start. Although these shrimp require more care and attention, keeping these stunning and active shrimp can be extremely rewarding.
- 24-48 hours slow drip acclimating shrimp to quarantine tank.
- 2+ days equalize water temp by floating bag. Try not to pour bag water into aquarium, drain over net externally and drop shrimp into quarantine tank.