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Shrimp caresheet: Crystal black shrimp (Caridina cf. cantonensis)

Most shrimp keepers know crystal red shrimp, but are you also familiar with their less common cousin? Crystal black shrimp, also known as black bee shrimp, are named after the black bands that cross their white bodies. Like crystal reds they were selectively bred from bee shrimp. Their bright black and white colors are sure to liven up any aquarium and they make a great breeding project that can even yield a little profit!

Keep reading for everything you need to know about crystal black shrimp care and keeping crystal black shrimp in your own aquarium.


Scientific name: Caridina cf. cantonensis

Common names: Crystal black shrimp, bee shrimp, CBS

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Origin: South East Asia


Crystal black shrimp care & info: keeping Caridina dwarf shrimp in your aquarium #aquatic #pets Hover over image to pin to Pinterest

Setting up a crystal black shrimp aquarium

Crystal black shrimp requirements

As with most other freshwater shrimp you don't need a large aquarium to keep crystal blacks. Keep in mind that they are quite sensitive and don't react well to bad water values, which means a larger aquarium is better especially if you're a beginner. An aquarium of at least 10 gallons is easier to keep stable than smaller setups.

Like all aquariums a crystal black shrimp tank should be fully cycled and established before any inhabitants are introduced. You need a filter to cycle the tank; most shrimp breeders prefer sponge filters, as these create a gentle water flow and can't suck up tiny shrimp fry. Although crystal black shrimp can handle room temperatures just fine it's still recommended to use a heater to prevent any temperature fluctuations.

Crystal black shrimp love plenty of hiding places in the aquarium, especially when they're vulnerable during molting time. Shrimp flats and live plants make great hides while also providing a place for nutritious biofilm to grow, so be sure to incorporate a few in your crystal black tank.

Crystal black shrimp water quality

As discussed earlier, crystal black shrimp are a little more sensitive than most common dwarf shrimp. Their ancestor, the bee shrimp, naturally occurs in fast-flowing, clean waters. Selective breeding has made crystal blacks even more sensitive; this especially applies to the higher grades.

All this means you have to keep a close eye on your water values if you want to keep these shrimp alive and happy. The water should be relatively soft and acidic and always free of ammonia and nitrites. Regular aquarium maintenance is a must, as crystal blacks are also quite sensitive to nitrates. Do regular, small water changes to keep the water values where they should be. A liquid test kit allows you to check the water values while a thermometer should be used to make sure the temperature is still correct.

pH: 5.8-7.4

Temperature: 62-76 °F

GH: 4-6

KH: 0-4

Total Dissolved Solids: 100-200

Crystal black shrimp tankmates

Although there are some options out there when it comes to tankmates for your crystal red shrimp, most breeders prefer keeping them in single species setups. This ensures no fry fall prey to hungry fish and the shrimp feel safe at all times.

If you do want to keep your crystal blacks with some tankmates and don't mind the fact that you likely won't get as much offspring, be sure to still choose carefully. Only go for small and very peaceful tankmates like Otocinclus or Pygmy Corydoras or even stick to just inverts. Snails should work well and you can also try other dwarf shrimp species as long as they don't interbreed with your crystal blacks. Shrimp from the Neocaridina genus can co-exist with crystal blacks just fine.

Crystal black shrimp diet

Crystal black shrimp are omnivores that thrive on a varied diet. They naturally feed on biofilm that forms on rocks and plants but in the aquarium their diet should be supplemented. There are many high quality shrimp foods out there that can be used as a staple and the possibilities for added variation are endless. Your crystal blacks will love frozen foods like mosquito larvae, fresh blanched veggies, algae pellets and even strange things like dried nettle leaves. Botanicals like Indian almond leaves and cholla wood are also a welcome source of food.

Because crystal blacks are so sensitive all uneaten foods should be removed after a few hours. Any leftovers can quickly start rotting, which is disastrous for your water quality and can damage the shrimp population.

Breeding crystal black shrimp

Crystal black shrimp make a great breeding project and you shouldn't have too much trouble getting your crystal blacks to reproduce. As long as their requirements are met these shrimp should pretty much constantly produce fry! The females, which are larger and more brightly colored, carry the eggs between their back legs (swimmerettes) for around 30 days before releasing tiny babies that don't need any special care.

Like crystal reds, crystal black shrimp come in various color patterns that vary in rarity and determine their "grade" or "quality". A crystal black shrimp with more white and more opaque coloration falls into a higher grade, which affects the price.

Buying crystal black shrimp

Crystal black shrimp are unfortunately a little less common than their crystal red cousins, which is a shame because they feature the same fascinating patterns and are just as interesting to keep and breed. Because they are less popular they are also a little more difficult to find, which means your local aquarium store might not carry them. Luckily there is always the internet - you can buy crystal black shrimp from fellow hobbyists or at online stores. The Shrimp Farm sells crystal black shrimp and ships them right to your doorstep! Order your crystal blacks here.

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