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The Shrimp Farm, Aquariums  Dealers, Bloomington, IL


Coloring Shrimp with Food?

Recently I wrote a blog post called Redder Red Cherry Shrimp . The post focused on what affects the coloring of Red Cherry Shrimp. There was a comment left on that post that included some information that I forgot to mention:

If you want a redder color, I have heard that it can depend on what they eat, to some extent. Wild caught salmon have the red colored meat because they eat crustaceans so a fun experiment might be to try feeding a crustacean based food.

The chemical that cases the wild salmon to have so much more color in them is Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is naturally found in algae and crustaceans (among a few other things).

When a Dwarf Shrimp consumes a food that contains Astaxanthin (found in small amounts in shrimp based foods and in larger amounts in foods intended to deliver a large dose of Astaxanthin) color changes do happen. Red Cherry Shrimp that are not geneticly predisposed to display deep, dark reds will display a bit more color. Some shrimp, such as the yellow shrimp, may even display a totally different color, such as a blue green.

Once this food source is removed and the shrimp no longer eat Astaxanthin the changes will be reversed and the shrimp will revert back to its natural coloring.

I personally have done a few experiments with food heavy in this chemical. I used it with Red Cherry Shrimp, Yellow Shrimp and Crystal Red Shrimp. The results were quite variable, but the overall theme was a slight color change. The Red Cherry Shrimp seemed to get a bit darker, the yellow shrimp seemed to turn blue green, and they Crystal Red Shrimp seemed to have a bit more contrast.

There was no downside to the food that contained this chemical, and in fact it is known to be a great antioxidant. If you want to find a food high in Astaxanthin look for foods that their first ingredient is Krill or foods that advertise Astaxanthin as an ingredient.