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Grading Yellow Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. "Yellow")

So, you're looking for a shrimp that can be kept in small tanks, can handle a wide range of water values, is easy to breed, won't mind a few beginner mistakes and brightens up your aquarium with its coloration.

Sounds like an impossible task, right? Not for Neocaridina davidi var. "Yellow", also conveniently referred to as the yellow shrimp. This yellow "sibling" of the more common red cherry shrimp is the perfect choice for everyone looking for that combo of easy care and great color.


Note: this article is about yellow shrimp grading and doesn't cover what you need to know about caring for these dwarf shrimp. If you need some more info, have a look at the full yellow shrimp caresheet instead!


Grading yellow shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. "Yellow")

If you've looked into buying a colony of yellow shrimp you'll most likely have noticed that not all of them are the same. Some are almost translucent with a hint of yellow, while others are entirely opaque with perfect lemon coloration. Why?

Dwarf Neocaridina shrimp like yellow shrimp are selectively bred from brown-greyish wild shrimp into the variety of colors that's available today. With constant selection, a completely opaque color can be achieved. This is considered very desirable. Thus, more translucent yellow shrimp will fetch less money than opaque specimens. Opaque yellows aren't necessarily better or healthier; shrimp keepers just consider them nicer to look at. You don't have to buy high grade shrimp. Even if you're low on funds, you could always be patient and invest time to selectively breed your colony for less transparency yourself.

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yellow neocaridina

How to determine yellow shrimp grade

So, we know that more opaque shrimp are more desirable than translucent ones. But how do you actually go about grading them? The guidelines and yellow shrimp grading chart should help you figure things out.

  • There are no definitions. Not really, anyway. Unlike the extremely popular red cherry shrimp, which has at least five different grades with respective names and guidelines (that you can find here), the grading system for yellow shrimp is still a little vague. The grades don't really have names yet, so we just divide shrimp in three different categories that we refer to as "high", "medium" and "low".
  • Opaqueness determines grade. A high grade yellow shrimp is entirely yellow without any transparent splotches. Even its legs won't show signs of white. A medium grade yellow shrimp is still nice and brightly colored, but there are a few translucent spots. Notably, the "underbelly" will be less intensely colored or splotchy and the legs might be more of a candy-cane pattern with yellow and white than 100% yellow. Lastly, low grade yellows are often more translucent than they are yellow. While there is still color, most of the shrimp is see-through, including the legs.
  • Hue can vary. If you've done some research you might have noticed that no two yellow shrimp colonies are exactly equal in color. This doesn't matter; grade is determined by opaqueness and not by hue. Some yellows are more neon, while others show hints of green or orange.
  • Back stripe. Neocaridina shrimp can be selectively bred to have a light-colored stripe run along the back (and some shrimp show it at random). Like hue, whether you find this desirable or not has more to do with personal preference than grade. These "golden backs" still adhere to normal grading rules.
  • Sex matters. As you likely know, female dwarf shrimp are larger and often more opaque in color than males (if you're not familiar with sex differences in shrimp this chart might be helpful). In high grades, both males and females are usually opaque in color, though this is not always the case. It's possible for a female to fall into a higher category than the less intensely colored male.
yellow shrimp QUIZ TIME: Based on what you just learned, what is the grade of this yellow shrimp? You can find the answer at the bottom of this post.

Buying yellow shrimp?

Looking to start your own colony of yellow shrimp? With the help of this article you should be able to find your desired grade in the local aquarium store or online. The Shrimp Farm sells yellow shrimp and ships them right to your doorstep - you can get your starter colony of 10 shrimp here.

Quiz answer: the shrimp in the photo is a medium grade yellow shrimp. Note the "candy-cane" legs that feature both yellow and translucent patches as well as the see-through spots on the body.

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