Vampire Shrimp Care Guide: Essential Tips For Success

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If you are intrigued by vampire shrimp and their mesmerizing looks, learn how to make an ideal setup for them in your own aquarium. These captivating freshwater invertebrates possess remarkable characteristics and behaviors which will enhance the beauty of your tank! Uncover this mysterious world with all its peculiarities today.

Key Takeaways

  • Vampire Shrimp are captivating freshwater shrimp species with fan-like setae, color changing abilities, and peaceful nature.
  • With proper care they can live up to 5 years in size
  • Choose tank mates carefully for a thriving aquarium ecosystem.
  • Vampire Shrimp range from $12-$25 and are widely available online or at pet stores.

Species Overview

Scientific NameAtya gabonensis
Common NamesVampire Shrimp, African Filter Shrimp, Gabon Shrimp, Giant African Fan Shrimp, Giant African Filter Shrimp, Cameroon Shrimp, Rhino Shrimp
OriginWestern Africa and South America
DietOmnivore – Filter Feeder
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan3 to 6 years
Tank LevelBottom
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Temperature Range74-84 F (23-29 C)
Water Hardness5-15 dKH
pH Range6.5 – 7.8
Filtration/Water FlowHigh
Water TypeFreshwater
BreedingEgg Layer
Difficulty to BreedVery difficult
CompatibilityCommunity Tanks
OK, for Planted Tanks?Yes


Atya gabonensis, commonly known as Vampire Shrimp or African Fan Shrimp and also referred to as Gabon Shrimp, Viper shrimp, and African Filter Shrimp, are freshwater crustaceans of West Africa and South America. These beautiful creatures can vary in color depending on the environment they inhabit, diet consumed, or the substrate where they are living. In the wild, these species can reach up to 6 inches long, but are usually maintained between 3-4 1/2 inches when captive, with a lifespan that lasts from three to six years in captivity, which is longer than most other shrimp species out there!

Because of their gentle demeanor, the vampire shrimps have become very popular among fish hobbyists because, thanks to its fan-like setae, they filter food matter particles away from the water column. These invertebrates serve an important role for many ecosystems, and their largest size makes them one of the rare aquarium shrimp other than bamboo shrimp that are compatible with Betta Fish.

Origin And Distribution

Vampire Shrimp live in the wild in South America and West Africa, where they thrive in fast-moving, oxygenated coastal waters. They may be found taking refuge amid mangrove roots or dense foliage during the day as well as underneath rocks and logs..

Their natural environment helps to keep them healthy by providing a wide range of water conditions for filter feeding. It’s vital that any tank setup endeavors to replicate this native habitat if you want your vampire shrimps to stay strong and healthy.

Physical Characteristics

Vampire Shrimp With Blue Velvet Shrimp

The extraordinary vampire shrimp has many distinct features – their stocky bodies, pointy bumps on the legs and fan feeders called chela used for filter feeding. These chela, when not out, look like fangs in front of the shrimp, which is how it got its name vampire shrimp.

Not only that, but these creatures go through color changes over time as they age, tending towards darkening shades like black or sometimes even getting lighter blues or even purples after molting when the exoskeleton is shed.


Vampire Shrimp lifespan is quite long when compared to other species. In captivity, these shrimp have been known to survive up to six years, much longer than many other freshwater shrimp varieties in the hobby.

Correct care and suitable habitat are essential for the upkeep of your vampire shrimp so that it can enjoy a healthy life filled with vibrancy. Providing vampire shrimp care in accordance with their needs will guarantee longevity. Proper tankmate selection will also keep the shrimp in a stress free environment.

Average Size

The vampire shrimp can reach up to a remarkable 6 inches in size when they reside in their natural habitat. However, for those kept as pets, typical vampire shrimp size is 3.5 and 4.5 inches due to the variance of food sources and other conditions presented by a controlled aquarium environment compared with its wild counterpart. This is why considerable growth differences occur for these creatures depending on where they are living or thriving from day to day.

Comparing Vampire Shrimp And Bamboo Shrimp

Bamboo Shrimp on Driftwood

Vampire Shrimp and Bamboo Shrimp bear strong resemblances in terms of size and look, yet their origins, habits, and life spans are much different. Lifespan is one main contrast: while the former’s lifespan stretches to 3-6 years usually found in southeastern Asia. That of the latter averages 1-2 years only. Bamboo shrimp are also brown in color, allowing them to blend into the background of the aquarium. Vampire Shrimp are generally white until they get older where they can get blue or purple hues.

Care requirements also vary considerably between them, with vampire shrimps requiring a bit more attention compared to their bamboo shrimp counterpart. Nonetheless, both species have similar interesting ways of filter feeding behavior, which makes these pets ideal tankmates for each other if a compatible environment is provided.

Creating The Ideal Habitat

For a successful home for your vampire shrimps, it’s important to create an atmosphere that is similar to their natural living conditions. Maintaining the right water parameters and providing them with adequate tank decor as well as hideouts, are paramount in keeping these nocturnal creatures healthy.

By crafting an environment suited just for your shrimp, you can guarantee they will have plenty of stimulation and live a long life, showcasing their remarkable habits such as filter feeding. As long as all requirements are met according to each individual species needs, you’ll be sure to observe its fascinating behavior too!

These shrimp are based in at least a 30 gallon aquarium with a 40 gallon breeder being recommended.

Aqueon 40 Gallon Breeder

Your standard 40 gallon breeder tank. Great dimensions, easy to find, and well priced

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Water Conditions And Parameters

To ensure the optimal health of vampire shrimp, maintaining stable water parameters is key. Water temperature should be between 75-84° F (24-29° C) and pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 with KH levels at 3 to 10 are all needed for them to flourish in their environment. It’s also imperative that regular maintenance such as monthly filter maintenance and water changes happen regularly. As with all shrimp species, acclimation during introduction must occur correctly for minimal stress on your new pet! Any shrimp purchased locally should be drop accumulated to ensure a smooth transition into their new homes.

Tank Decor And Hiding Places

For your vampire shrimp to be healthy and safe, it is necessary that their water parameters are kept stable as well as providing suitable tank decorations. Sand substrate should be used for its digestion benefits, which emulate the natural environment of these creatures. There ought to exist a variety of hideouts. Live plants, rock/wood shelters or upturned logs provide shelter allowing them privacy throughout day and night when they scavenge around in search of food.

Great For Bottom Feeders
Fine Natural Sand

Natural sand is excellent for bottom feeder fish to forage around in.

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Another thing to note is due to their filter feeding habits, they prefer a stronger water current. They have large legs, which allow them to tolerate stronger currents. Just make sure you have plants anchored and have plants that can tolerate the higher water flow.

Feeding And Diet

Filter Feeding Shrimp, commonly referred to as vampire shrimp due to their unique feeding habits, are reliant upon a well-balanced diet. To ensure they obtain the necessary nutrition and retain their vibrant colors, it is important that both natural food sources in the water column be supplemented with additional options.

One of the main foods these shrimp feed off of is copepods. Unfortunately, many freshwater aquarium lack this microfauna. This type of microfauna is typically only going to be introduced via live plants, and that in itself could be rare. The best way to get these animals into your aquarium would be to purchase a microfauna package from a breeder. One such breeder is Phillips Fish Works, who sells a package called bag of bugs. This microfauna culture has the perfect mix or organisms that your Vampire Shrimp would enjoy.

Specialized shrimp foods designed for filter feeders can supply this requirement, but crushed flakes or fish pellets also serve quite nicely when mixed into meals regularly consumed by these critters. Keep a close watch on nitrates when using powdered fish food, as it’s easy to add excessive nutrients to the tank that can harm your shrimp. Lastly, plant matter particles are also ingested by your shrimp, which is why they will do well in planted tank setups.

Filter Feeding Habits

Vampire Shrimp (video source) stand apart from other shrimp due to their filter feeding behaviors. Through the use of fan-like setae on their chela, they can capture and ingest algae particles, detritus, and any tiny nutrients that drift through the water column. This particular method is a major benefit in keeping tanks clean while providing them with the necessary nutrition for sustaining health.

To make sure your Vampire Shrimps feed properly, ensure there’s a powerful current present in your aquarium so they’ll be able to catch food quickly. They should also have access to both natural sources as well as supplements since it’ll help them live healthier lives and display these remarkable feeding habits regularly!

Selecting Suitable Tank Mates

When selecting compatible tank mates for your vampire shrimp, it’s essential to ensure that the species chosen are peaceful and compatible with their particular needs. Good invertebrate or fish companions include dwarf shrimp, snails and small non-aggressive fish which will create a tranquil atmosphere alongside your vampire shrimp. Choosing suitable tankmates guarantees that there will be an effective balance of aquatic creatures in harmony within the aquarium.

Ideal Invertebrate And Fish Companions

Cherry Barb Tank Mates

Creating a healthy tank environment with suitable tank mates is key to keeping your vampire shrimp happy and thriving. Several types of shrimp (even dwarf shrimp) can make compatible companions, including:

There are also several fish species that suite them well including:

By selecting the right friends for their habitat, it’s possible to guarantee a stress free existence filled with joy.

Tank Mates To Avoid

Tiger Oscar Fish

It is essential to provide a safe and harmonious environment for your vampire shrimp. To do so, it’s crucial to be mindful of the tank mates you select. Some species should never be included in their habitat. Such aggressive fish as:

By being wise about selecting suitable companions, such as peaceful fish that can live in harmony with them without causing any harm, we create an ideal place where they can thrive without worries!

Breeding Challenges And Techniques

Breeding Vampire Shrimp can be a complex task, since their young need both brackish and freshwater for proper development. This is different from some other shrimp species (those similar to Amano Shrimp), which do not require this type of care while raising fry in captivity. The young also go through various stages of growth before they become adults.

Despite these difficulties, successful reproduction is still achievable when the right conditions are set up by aquarists. The best way to successfully breed them and raise the young is to follow the same procedure as you would with Amano Shrimps. To provide you with a reference, here is a video by Avatar Aquatics that gives you a step by step. Mirroring the tactics outlined here should work the same with Vampire Shrimp.

Price Range And Availability

If you are looking to purchase vampire shrimp, they usually cost from $12-$15 for one individual and up to around $20 -$25 if bought in a group. You can easily find them at some online stores as well as local aquatic pet shops.

It is important that when making your selection of these shrimps, the buyer should do their research thoroughly by asking questions about how the shrimp was cared for so far and make sure it looks healthy before purchasing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Vampire Shrimp clean the tank?

Vampire shrimp are natural filter feeders, however, they are not as great cleaners as an Amano shrimp would be. Their filter feeding habits are more suited to control microfauna, which is something many aquarists do not have unless they have a heavily planted aquarium. Adequate flow in their environment must exist for them to filter feed efficiently.

What is the temperament of a Vampire Shrimp?

These interesting creatures, known as vampire shrimp, prefer a peaceful environment and are typically shy. They will often retreat to small areas in the aquarium but can also be seen swimming with other filter shrimps or bamboo shrimp alongside them.

Given their mellow nature and simple needs for caretaking, these critters make an excellent choice if you’re looking into bringing some life into your freshwater tank! They display dynamic activity, which adds vibrancy to your aquatic home. They are also large enough where many fish will not try to eat them. They are one of the few shrimp in the hobby that are 100% compatible with Betta Fish.

What size tank for Vampire Shrimp?

A 30 gallon tank is the ideal size for a Vampire shrimp habitat, providing them ample room to roam and delivering required flow of water that facilitates their nourishment. The spacious environment allows these shrimps enough space in which they can both explore and find refuge when needed. It ensures appropriate circulation necessary for feeding purposes too!

Are Vampire Shrimp saltwater or freshwater?

Vampire Shrimp, renowned for their large size and long lifespan of up to 10 years in captivity, can be found living naturally throughout South America as well as the Antilles and West Africa. They are freshwater shrimp and will not tolerate a saltwater environment.

Are Vampire Shrimp saltwater or freshwater?

Vampire Shrimp, renowned for their large size and long lifespan of up to 10 years in captivity, can be found living naturally throughout South America as well as the Antilles and West Africa. They are freshwater shrimp and will not tolerate a saltwater environment.

What is the typical lifespan of Vampire Shrimp in captivity?

Vampire Shrimp usually live between three to six years in captivity. They are one of the longest lived shrimp species in the freshwater aquarium hobby.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of it all, vampire shrimp are exceptionally captivating creatures that can be a unique part of any peaceful freshwater aquarium. By becoming informed on their behaviors and needs, one will have taken an important step in setting up an ideal habitat for them to thrive. With attention and devotion, you can observe these remarkable animals flourishing in your tank day after day.

Have you tried keeping these shrimp in your fish tank? Let us know in the comments below as we love to hear from our readers. Until next time follow shrimp keepers!

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