How often should you feed shrimp?

The frequency of feeding shrimpOpens in a new tab. varies depending on the specific conditions of your tank. Most shrimp keepersOpens in a new tab. feed their colonies between every day and every two or three days. However, providing only enough food that they can consume within 2-3 hours is generally recommended. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, so monitoring your shrimp’s eating habits closely is crucial.

Hello there, fellow shrimp enthusiasts! I’m thrilled to dive into the fascinating world of shrimp keepingOpens in a new tab. with you. Over the years, I’ve nurtured numerous shrimp coloniesOpens in a new tab., and one question that often pops up daily is, “How often should you feed shrimp?” It’s a simple question, but the answer can be quite complex, depending on factors such as the type of shrimp, the size of your tank, and its existing conditions.

I remember when I first started my journey as a shrimp keeper. I had a small tank with a handful of cherry shrimpOpens in a new tab.. I was unsure about their feeding schedule, so I started by feeding them once a day. Over time, I noticed they were leaving food uneaten, which led me to adjust their feeding frequency to every other day. This simple change made a significant difference in their behavior and the overall health of the tank.

This guide explores the ins and outs of feeding shrimpOpens in a new tab., drawing from personal experiences, expert advice, and community discussions. We’ll delve into factors that influence feeding frequency, the risks of overfeeding, and tips for maintaining a healthy shrimp colony. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Dietary Needs of Shrimp

Just like any other pet, shrimp have specific dietary needs that must be met to ensure their health and longevity. Understanding these needs is the first step towards creating an optimal feeding schedule for your shrimp.

Shrimp are omnivores, which means they eat both plantOpens in a new tab. and animal matter. In the wild, their diet consists of a variety of foods, including algaeOpens in a new tab., detritus, microorganisms, and even dead plant and animal matter. They are scavengers by nature, always on the lookout for their next meal.

In a home aquarium, shrimp will continue this scavenging behavior, picking at algae and biofilm that grows on the tank surfaces. However, this may not provide all the nutrients they need, especially in a new or well-maintained tank where algae and biofilm are minimal.

That’s where supplemental feeding comes in. A balanced shrimp diet should include a high-quality shrimp pellet or granule as a staple. These are specially formulated to provide all the essential nutrients that shrimp need, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and mineralsOpens in a new tab..

In addition to the staple diet, it’s beneficial to offer a variety of other foods to mimic the diverse diet they would have in the wild. This can include blanched vegetablesOpens in a new tab. like zucchini, spinach, and peas, as well as protein-rich foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp on occasion.

Remember, the key to a healthy shrimp diet is variety and balance. Offering different types of food not only ensures your shrimp get all the nutrients they need, but it also keeps them interested and engaged, making for a more active and entertaining tank.

My Crystal Red Shrimp Eating
My Crystal Red Shrimp Eating

The Impact of Tank Conditions on Shrimp Feeding

The conditions of your shrimp tank play a significant role in determining how often and how much you should feed your shrimp. Factors such as tank size, population density, the presence of other species, and the availability of natural food sources all influence your shrimp’s dietary needs.

Tank Size and Population Density: The size of your tank and the number of shrimp it houses directly impact the amount of food required. A larger tank with a high shrimp population will naturally require more food than a smaller tank with fewer shrimp. However, it’s crucial to avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to water quality issues. The golden rule is to only feedOpens in a new tab. what your shrimp can consume within 2-3 hours.

Presence of Other Species: If your tank houses other species alongside your shrimp, this can also affect feeding. Some fish and invertebrates may compete with your shrimp for food, necessitating more frequent feeding or the use of feeding dishes to ensure your shrimp get their share.

Availability of Natural Food Sources: Shrimp are scavengers and will happily graze on algae, biofilm, and detritus in your tank. If your tank has plenty of these natural food sources, you may need to feed your shrimp less often. On the other hand, in a new or very clean tank where these resources are scarce, supplemental feeding will be more critical.

Water Quality: Maintaining good water quality is essential for the health of your shrimp, and feeding practices can significantly impact this. Overfeeding can lead to uneaten food decaying in the tank, which can cause a spike in ammonia levels and harm your shrimp. Regular water testing can help you monitor this and adjust your feeding schedule as necessary.

Berried Female Shrimp Feeding
Berried Female Shrimp Feeding

The Risks of Overfeeding Your Shrimp

Overfeeding is a common mistake among both novice and experienced shrimp keepersOpens in a new tab.. While it may seem like providing plenty of food would be beneficial for your shrimp, overdoing it can lead to several problems that can harm the health of your shrimp and the overall balance of your tank.

Water Quality Deterioration: Uneaten food in a shrimp tank can quickly decay, leading to a spike in ammonia levels. High ammonia levels are toxic to shrimp and can lead to health issues or even death. Over time, this decaying matter can also lead to an increase in nitrate levels, which, while less immediately toxic than ammonia, can still harm your shrimp if levels get too high.

Algae Blooms: Excess food can also contribute to nutrient imbalances in your tank, which can lead to unwanted algae blooms. While shrimp do eat some types of algae, they can’t keep up with a significant bloom, and certain types of algae can be harmful to shrimp.

Obesity and Health Issues: Just like in humans, obesity is a health risk for shrimp. Overfed shrimp can become overweight, which can lead to health issues and shorter lifespans. Additionally, a diet that is too high in protein can cause a condition known as “protein poisoning” or “molt death syndrome” in shrimp, where they die during the molting process.

Reduced Foraging Behavior: Shrimp are natural scavengers and spend much of their time foraging for food. If they are constantly provided with more food than they need, they may become less active and spend less time exhibiting their natural foraging behaviors.

To avoid overfeeding, it’s recommended to feed your shrimp only what they can consume within 2-3 hours. Observing your shrimp during feeding times can help you gauge the appropriate amount of food to provide. If you notice a lot of uneaten food after this period, consider reducing the amount you’re feeding. Remember, maintaining a clean tank and healthy shrimp often means feeding less, not more.

Use a feeding dish to stop pollution of your tank
Use a feeding dish to stop pollution of your tank

Feeding Frequency for Different Types of Shrimp

While all shrimp are scavengers and omnivores, different types of shrimp may have slightly different dietary needs and feeding frequencies. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular types of shrimp kept in home aquariums:

Cherry Shrimp: Cherry shrimp are one of the most common types of shrimp kept in home aquariums due to their vibrant color and easy care requirements. They should be fed once per day, providing only enough food that they can consume within 2-3 hours. If your tank has a lot of natural food sources like algae and biofilm, you may be able to feed them less frequently.

Amano Shrimp: Amano shrimp are larger and have a bigger appetite than cherry shrimp. They are excellent algae eaters, so if your tank has a lot of algae, they may not require daily feeding. However, if algae levels are low, a daily feeding with a high-quality shrimp or algae pellet is recommended.

Ghost Shrimp: Ghost shrimp are also excellent scavengers and will spend much of their time foraging for food in the substrate. They should be fed a varied diet of shrimp pellets, blanched vegetables, and occasional protein-rich foods. Depending on the availability of natural food sources in your tank, feeding every other day may be sufficient.

Bamboo Shrimp: Bamboo shrimp are filter feeders, which means they extract food particles from the water column rather than scavenging on the bottom. They require a slightly different feeding approach, including the use of powdered foods or liquid invertebrate diets that can be added to the water. They should be fed once per day, but make sure the food is dispersed in the water column where they can access it.

Bee Shrimp: Bee shrimp, including Crystal and Taiwan Bee shrimp, have more specific dietary needs. They require a diet rich in vegetable matter and should be fed a high-quality shrimp pellet or granule daily. They also benefit from the occasional feeding of blanched vegetables and protein-rich foods.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and the feeding frequency may need to be adjusted based on the specific conditions in your tank. Always observe your shrimp’s behavior and adjust their feeding schedule as necessary to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need without overfeeding.

Crystal Black Shrimp feeding
Crystal Black Shrimp feeding

Monitoring Your Shrimp’s Eating Habits

Keeping a close eye on your shrimp’s eating habits is an essential part of shrimp keeping. Not only does it help you ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need, but it can also provide early warning signs of potential health issues or changes in your tank’s conditions.

Observing Feeding Behavior: One of the easiest ways to monitor your shrimp’s eating habits is to simply watch them during feeding times. Healthy, hungry shrimp will typically swarm to the food soon after it’s added to the tank. If your shrimp are slow to respond to food or seem disinterested, it could be a sign that they’re not hungry—which might mean you’re feeding them too much or too often—or that they’re not feeling well.

Checking for Leftover Food: After feeding, it’s important to check for leftover food. As mentioned earlier, any food that your shrimp don’t eat within 2-3 hours should be removed from the tank to prevent it from decaying and affecting water quality. If you consistently notice a lot of leftover food, it’s a clear sign that you’re feeding too much and should reduce the amount of food you’re offering.

Noting Changes in Behavior or Appearance: Changes in your shrimp’s behavior or appearance can also be indicative of their eating habits. For example, if your shrimp are constantly grazing and seem to be searching for food, it could mean they’re not getting enough to eat. On the other hand, shrimp that are lethargic or have a noticeable change in color or shell quality could be signs of overfeeding or a diet that’s lacking in necessary nutrients.

Keeping a Feeding Log: For those who want to be extra thorough, keeping a feeding log can be a helpful tool. This can be as simple as noting down what you fed, how much, and how your shrimp responded. Over time, this can help you identify patterns and fine-tune your feeding schedule and diet to suit your shrimp’s needs.

Remember, every shrimp colony is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Regular observation and a willingness to adjust your feeding practices as needed are the keys to ensuring your shrimp are happy, healthy, and well-fed.

Shrimp Eating Blanched Green Bean
Shrimp Eating Blanched Green Bean

Tips for Feeding Shrimp in a Community Tank

Feeding shrimp in a community tank—that is, a tank that houses not just shrimp, but also fish or other aquatic creatures—can present its own unique challenges. Here are some tips to ensure your shrimp get their fair share of the food without upsetting the balance of the tank.

Use a Feeding Dish: A feeding dish is a small dish or tray that you can place food on. This helps to contain the food in one area and makes it easier for the shrimp to find. It also makes it easier for you to remove any uneaten food, helping to keep the tank clean.

Provide Hiding Spots: Shrimp are more likely to venture out and eat if they have plenty of hiding spots where they feel safe from fish. Plants, rocks, and specially designed shrimp hides can all provide this cover.

Diversify Food Locations: Instead of always placing the food in the same spot, try to vary the locations where you drop the food. This can help ensure that all shrimp, even those that are less dominant or more timid, get a chance to eat.

Monitor Your Inhabitants: Keep an eye on both your shrimp and your fish during feeding times. If you notice that the fish are eating all the food before the shrimp get a chance, you may need to adjust your feeding strategy. This could include feeding the fish at one end of the tank while simultaneously feeding the shrimp at the other end.

Consider Species Compatibility: Some fish species are more likely to compete with or prey on shrimp. If you’re having trouble feeding your shrimp in a community tank, it may be worth considering whether all the species in your tank are compatible.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that all inhabitants of your tank—shrimp, fish, and any other creatures—are getting the nutrition they need to thrive. With careful observation and a bit of trial and error, you can create a feeding routine that works for everyone.

Shrimp feeding on a walnut leaf
Shrimp feeding on a walnut leaf

Natural Food Sources in a Shrimp Tank

Natural food sources play a crucial role in a shrimp tank, providing a constant supply of nutrients and promoting natural foraging behavior. These sources often include algae, biofilm, and detritus, which shrimp will happily graze on throughout the day.

Algae: Algae are a primary food source for many shrimp species. They are rich in essential nutrients and grow naturally in most tanks, especially those exposed to light. While too much algae can be a sign of an unbalanced tank, a healthy amount of algae can contribute to a well-rounded shrimp diet.

Biofilm: Biofilm is a layer of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and protists, that forms on surfaces in the tank. It’s a shrimp delicacy, rich in protein and other nutrients. Biofilm forms naturally over time, especially on porous surfaces like driftwood, rocks, and sponge filtersOpens in a new tab..

Detritus: Detritus, or decomposing organic matter, is another natural food source for shrimp. This can include dead plant leaves, leftover food, and even dead tank inhabitants. While it’s important to remove excess detritus to maintain water quality, a small amount can provide valuable nutrients.

Aquatic Plants: Live plants can also serve as a food source for shrimp. They eat the dead or decaying parts of the plants and can also benefit from the microorganisms that live on the plant surfaces.

In a well-established and balanced tank, these natural food sources can significantly reduce the need for supplemental feeding. However, they should not be the only source of food for your shrimp. A high-quality shrimp pellet or granule should still be part of their diet to ensure they’re getting a full range of nutrients.

It’s also worth noting that while these natural food sources are beneficial, they should be monitored to ensure they don’t get out of control. Too much algae or detritus can indicate a problem with your tank’s conditions, such as overfeeding or poor water quality. Regular tank maintenance and water testing are crucial to keep everything in balance.


Understanding the feeding habits of your shrimp and tailoring their diet to their specific needs is a crucial aspect of shrimp keeping. Remember, the frequency and amount of food you provide should be based on the type of shrimp, the size and conditions of your tank, and the availability of natural food sources. Regularly monitor your shrimp’s eating habits and adjust their feeding schedule as necessary to ensure they’re getting the nutrition they need without overfeeding.

In a community tank, ensure your shrimp get their fair share of the food without upsetting the balance of the tank. And don’t forget the role of natural food sources in a shrimp tank, which can significantly reduce the need for supplemental feeding while promoting natural foraging behavior.

Shrimp keeping can be a rewarding hobby, and with the right feeding practices, you can ensure your shrimp are happy, healthy, and thriving. If you need any help or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Happy Shrimp Keeping!


Q. Should you feed shrimp every day? A. The frequency of feeding shrimp can vary, but most shrimp keepers feed their colonies between every day and every two or three days. It’s important to provide only enough food that they can consume within 2-3 hours.

Q. How often do you feed shrimp protein? A. Shrimp should receive a balanced diet that includes protein, but it’s not necessary to feed them protein-rich foods every day. Once or twice a week is typically sufficient.

Q. Do shrimp need to be fed? A. Yes, while shrimp can graze on algae and biofilm in the tank, they still require supplemental feeding to ensure they’re getting all the necessary nutrients.

Q. Do I need to feed cherry shrimp? A. Yes, cherry shrimp should be fed once per day, providing only enough food that they can consume within 2-3 hours.

Q. How long can shrimp go without food? A. Shrimp can typically survive for a few days without food, but this can depend on the specific conditions of your tank and the type of shrimp.

Q. Will shrimp stop eating when full? A. Yes, shrimp will typically stop eating when they’re full. However, they’re also opportunistic feeders and may continue to eat if food is available, which can lead to overfeeding.

Q. Do shrimps eat banana? A. Shrimp can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including banana. However, any fruit or vegetable should be blanched and given in moderation.

Q. Can I feed my shrimp cucumber? A. Yes, cucumber is a popular choice for feeding shrimp. It should be blanched and cut into small pieces before being added to the tank.

Q. Can shrimp live off of fish food? A. While shrimp can eat fish food, it should not be their primary food source as it may not provide all the necessary nutrients they need.

Q. How do you know if cherry shrimp are hungry? A. If your cherry shrimp are constantly grazing and seem to be searching for food, it could mean they’re hungry and not getting enough to eat.

Q. Can shrimp survive on algae alone? A. While shrimp can graze on algae, it should not be their only source of food. Supplemental feeding is necessary to ensure they’re getting a balanced diet.

Q. Do shrimp feed at night? A. Yes, shrimp are more active during the night and will often feed during this time.

Q. Do shrimp feed off the bottom? A. Yes, shrimp are bottom feeders and will often scavenge for food on the substrate of the tank.


Mark has been passionate about aquariums for over 40 years.

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