What Do Shrimp Eat: 4 Essential Feeding Habits & Tips!

Curious about the tiny wonders of the ocean? Shrimp, those pint-sized ocean explorers, have captured our fascination for years. But have you ever wondered, “What do shrimp eat?”

Whether you’re a marine enthusiast, a seafood lover, or just someone with an insatiable curiosity, delving into the dietary habits of these underwater marvels can unveil a world of intrigue.

The shrimp’s menu might surprise you, from the tiniest plankton to decaying organic matter.

Ghost shrimp male vs female

In this article, we’ll dive beneath the waves to uncover the answer to the age-old question: What does a shrimp eat? Prepare to be amazed by the intricate web of life that sustains these small yet essential ocean dwellers.

Understanding Shrimp Diets: An Overview

Shrimp, being omnivores, possess a versatile palate that includes both plant and animal matter. They play the role of scavengers in their natural habitats, contributing to the cleaning of the environment by consuming various forms of organic matter, decay, and even dead fish.

What Do Shrimp Eat?

Shrimp are omnivorous creatures that will eat various foods, both plant and animal. In the wild, they typically eat algae, plankton, small fish, and other crustaceans.

In an aquarium, You can feed shrimp various commercial shrimp foods, vegetables, fruits, and even live food. They will also gather dead fish and even dead shrimp that they come across.

Does Shrimp Eat Fish Poop

Here is a list of some of the things that shrimp eat:

  • Algae
  • Plankton
  • Small fish
  • Other crustaceans
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Live food (such as blood worms, brine shrimp, and daphnia)

If you are keeping shrimp in an aquarium, providing them with a varied diet to meet their nutritional needs is essential. A good rule of thumb is to feed them a 70% plant- and 30% animal-based diet. You can also supplement their diet with live food on occasion.

By providing your shrimp with a healthy diet, you can help them to thrive and live long healthy lives.

It’s important to note that the specific diet of shrimp can vary depending on their species, habitat, and availability of food sources. Some shrimp species are more specialized in feeding habits, while others have a broader diet.

4 Shrimp Feeding Habits and Tips

  1. Feeding Frequency and Quantity: You must provide your shrimp with food in small quantities multiple times daily. This mimics their natural feeding behavior and prevents overfeeding.
  2. Avoid Overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to uneaten food and compromised water quality. Ensure that your shrimp consume all the food within a few hours.
  3. Variety is Key: To ensure a balanced diet, offer different types of foods to your shrimp, including algae-based, protein-rich, and plant-based options.
  4. Observation and Adjustments: Regularly observe your shrimp while feeding to ensure they actively consume the provided food. Adjust the feeding routine based on their preferences.

The Variety of Shrimp Foods

  1. Natural Diet and Biofilm: Shrimp’s natural diet revolves around biofilm, a slimy layer composed of microscopic organisms that develop on underwater surfaces. This is a primary food source for many shrimp species, particularly freshwater shrimp.
  2. Plant Matter and Algae: Shrimp have a penchant for algae, which offers them sustenance and helps maintain a well-balanced aquarium by reducing excess algae growth. They also consume plant matter and blanched vegetables.
  3. Pellets and Commercial Foods: Specialized shrimp pellets and commercial foods enriched with essential nutrients are readily available for your aquatic companions. These foods come in various sizes and formulas, catering to different shrimp species.
  4. Plankton and Small Organisms: Plankton and other tiny organisms in the water column are another shrimp diet component. These microscopic organisms provide an excellent source of protein and nutrients.
  5. Supplemental Foods: To enhance the health and vitality of your shrimp, additional foods like algae wafers, brine shrimp, and fish food can be introduced to their diet.

Shrimp Species and Their Unique Preferences

  1. Cherry Shrimp: These delightful freshwater shrimp are fond of algae, detritus, and biofilm. A well-maintained tank with live plants provides them with an ideal environment.
  2. Ghost Shrimp: Ghost shrimp are efficient scavengers, consuming leftover food and cleaning up the aquarium substrate. They also enjoy munching on decaying plant matter.
  3. Amano Shrimp: Amano shrimp have a strong appetite for algae and are often used as natural algae controllers in aquariums.
  4. Pacific Cleaner Shrimp: Found in saltwater environments, these shrimp have a symbiotic relationship with fish. They clean parasites and dead tissue, benefiting from the debris they consume.
  5. Bamboo Shrimp: Bamboo shrimp use their specialized fan-like appendages to filter plankton and organic matter from the water, making them unique filter feeders.

How Do Shrimp Forage For Food?

The way shrimp forage for food varies from species to species. Some shrimp, such as brine shrimp, are filter feeders that pull tiny food particles from the water.

Others, such as cleaner shrimp, are scavengers that remove dead skin and other organic matter from the bodies of larger animals. Still, others, such as ocean shrimp, are predators that hunt for live prey.

Do Shrimp Need a Heater

On coral reefs, shrimp often form symbiotic relationships with other organisms. For example, cleaner shrimp will remove parasites and dead skin from the bodies of fish, while algae-eating shrimp help to keep coral reefs healthy by grazing on algae.

Shrimp are often fed various foods in fish tanks, including brine shrimp, algae wafers, and flakes. Some shrimp species, such as dwarf and ghost shrimp, are susceptible to water quality and may require special diets.

Here are some specific examples of how different types of shrimp forage for food:

  • Brine shrimp: Brine shrimp are filter feeders that strain tiny food particles from the water. They do this by beating their feathery antennae, which creates a current that draws moisture into their mouths.
  • Cleaner shrimp: Cleaner shrimp are scavengers that remove dead skin and other organic matter from the bodies of larger animals. They often live among coral reefs, where they attach themselves to fish and different marine life.
  • Ocean shrimp: Ocean shrimp are predators that hunt for live prey. They typically have long, slender bodies and sharp claws that they use to capture their food.
  • Dwarf shrimp: Dwarf shrimp are omnivorous scavengers that will eat various foods, including algae, detritus, and small invertebrates. They are often kept in aquariums as pets.
  • Ghost shrimp: Ghost shrimp are filter feeders that strain tiny food particles from the water. They are also scavengers and will eat dead plant and animal matter.
  • Cherry shrimp: Red cherry shrimp are omnivores that aquarium shrimp eat a variety of foods, including algae, brine shrimp, and flakes. They are a common choice for aquariums because they are relatively easy to care for.

What Animals Eat Shrimp?

 Many animals eat shrimp as part of their diet. Some fish species, such as catfish, tilapia, and pufferfish, eat shrimp as a natural food source. Shrimp eaters also include certain marine mammals like seals and sea otters.

In saltwater environments, various birds, including herons and pelicans, often prey upon shrimp. Additionally, shrimp may also be consumed by more giant crustaceans like crabs and lobsters.

In the aquarium hobby, feeder fish like goldfish and guppies are often fed shrimp as a source of protein. Finally, even other species of shrimp, like the cherry shrimp, will eat smaller shrimp if given the opportunity.

What Do Shrimp Eat in Freshwater?

What does a freshwater shrimp eat? Freshwater shrimp are omnivorous creatures that have a varied diet. Shrimp eat a wide range of organisms and particles found in their freshwater habitat. They primarily consume algae, which provides them with essential nutrients.

Additionally, decay and organic matter are important food sources for freshwater shrimp. They are known to scavenge for dead plants, fallen leaves, and other decaying material.

These shrimp also act as cleaners in their ecosystem, feeding on any waste or detritus present. Their ability to munch and break down organic matter helps maintain their environment’s overall balance and health.

In short, the freshwater shrimp diet consists of algae, decay, and organic matter, making them an essential component of the aquatic ecosystem. 

What Do Shrimp Eat in Coral Reefs?

Shrimp in the coral reef has a varied diet that includes algae, plankton, and detritus. These tiny crustaceans play an essential role in maintaining the health of the reef ecosystem.

Shrimp eat the algae that would otherwise overgrow and suffocate the coral, helping to balance the reef ecosystem. They also consume plankton, which are microscopic organisms floating in the water.

Moreover, shrimp also act as cleaners, picking parasites and dead skin off larger fish that visit cleaning stations in the coral reef. This symbiotic relationship benefits both the shrimp and the fish, as the shrimp get a meal, and the fish get rid of unwanted hitchhikers.

Thus, shrimp play a crucial role in maintaining the biodiversity and harmony of the coral reef.

Do Shrimp Eat Seaweed?

Shrimp are known to have a diverse diet, and they do eat seaweed. Although they primarily feed on tiny organisms and decaying matter, they have also been observed consuming algae.

Seaweed provides a valuable source of nutrients for these crustaceans, including vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Shrimp are known to scavenge the ocean floor, where they often encounter various seaweed species.

While not all shrimp species are equally fond of eating seaweed, some prefer it. It is important to note that shrimp have a diversified diet and can consume a wide range of food items besides seaweed, but their occasional indulgence in algae highlights its place as a part of their natural diet.

What Does Saltwater Shrimp Eat?

Saltwater shrimps have a varied diet that includes algae and plankton. These tiny creatures are crucial in the food chain as they eat plankton, which serves as food for many larger marine animals.

Shrimp eat algae, plankton, dead skin, and small fish. They have a voracious appetite and are constantly searching for food to sustain themselves. Algae and plankton are significant for the survival of saltwater shrimp as they provide essential nutrients.

Without these food sources, shrimp populations could decline, leading to a ripple effect on the marine ecosystem. Therefore, the abundance of algae and plankton ensures a steady food supply for the shrimp, contributing to a healthy and balanced aquatic environment.

What Do Shrimp Eat in the Ocean vs in a Tank?

Shrimp eat a varied diet depending on whether they live in the ocean or a tank. In the wild, there are several types of shrimp, like ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp, with different preferences regarding their diet.

Shrimp in the ocean typically feed on a combination of small fish, decay, algae, and other tiny organisms. They scavenge for food as they swim along the ocean floor. On the other hand, shrimp in an aquarium has a more controlled diet.

They are usually fed a commercial shrimp diet of algae wafers or pellets that provide the necessary nutrients. In addition to the retail food, blanched vegetables are also offered to mimic the natural shrimp diet.

Blanching involves briefly boiling vegetables and then immediately submerging them in cold water. This softens the vegetables, making it easier for shrimp to consume. Overall, the diet of shrimp in the ocean and a tank differ significantly due to the availability of resources.

How Do Shrimps Find Their Food?

Shrimps have various ways of finding food depending on their species and habitat. For instance, some shrimp species, like those found in coral reefs, are mainly scavengers. They feed on dead organic matter, including dead skin and decaying materials in the reef.

Other shrimp, such as the brine shrimp, are filter feeders. They use specialized ” feathers ” appendages to capture small particles like algae and plankton from the water.

Additionally, cleaner shrimp have a unique role as cleaning agents for other organisms. They tend to larger animals, removing dead skin and parasites from their hosts.

These cleaner shrimp typically reside in symbiotic relationships with fish and take advantage of the food sources available to their hosts. Overall, shrimps display diverse feeding behaviors, contributing to the balance and health of their respective ecosystems.

Commonly Asked Questions about Aquarium Shrimp Diet (FAQs)

Can shrimp eat anything?

Shrimp are omnivores with a versatile diet, consuming both plant and animal matter.

How often should I feed my shrimp?

Feeding your shrimp multiple times a day in small quantities is recommended to mimic their natural feeding behavior.

Can I feed my shrimp-blanched vegetables?

Yes, blanched vegetables are a suitable food source for many shrimp species.

Do shrimp eat algae?

Yes, shrimp are fond of algae and play a role in algae control within the aquarium.

What is the role of shrimp in the aquarium ecosystem?

Shrimp contribute to the ecosystem by cleaning up organic matter, consuming algae, and maintaining a balanced environment.

What do freshwater shrimp eat?

Freshwater shrimp, such as bee shrimp, vampire shrimp, and dwarf shrimp, eat various foods. They are opportunistic feeders and will tuck whatever food you give them.

What do vampire shrimp eat?

Vampire shrimp, also known as the Atya gabonensis, are filter feeders. They use their fans to sift through the water and consume microscopic organisms and detritus.

What do dwarf shrimp eat?

Dwarf shrimp, like the famous red cherry or crystal red shrimp, love to eat algae. They munch on the biofilm that grows on surfaces in the aquarium, including plants and decorations.

Can shrimp eat fish flakes?

Yes, shrimp can eat fish flakes. While they may not be their preferred food, they will eat bits of fish flakes that sink to the bottom of the tank.

What is the best food for shrimp?

The best food for shrimp is a well-balanced diet with all the essential nutrients. This can include commercially available shrimp food, fish meal, live or frozen foods, and even vegetables like blanched spinach or zucchini.

How often should I feed my shrimp?

Shrimp should be fed every two or three days. Overfeeding might lead to water quality issues, so it is crucial to provide them with enough food without overdoing it.

Can shrimp eat the same food as aquarium fish?

Yes, shrimp can eat many of the same foods as aquarium fish. However, ensuring that the food is appropriate for shrimp and meets their nutritional needs is vital.

What do shrimp eat in the wild?

Shrimp tend to be scavengers in the wild and eat whatever they can find. This can include algae, small invertebrates, and organic debris.

Can I add shrimp to my existing fish tank?

Yes, you can add shrimp to your existing fish tank. However, choosing appropriate shrimp species that can coexist with your fish and provide them with suitable hiding places and food sources is essential.

How can I see my shrimp eat?

Shrimp are generally nocturnal creatures, so you may have better luck observing them at night. You can use a dimmer light or a flashlight to spot them near the bottom of the tank, where they tend to forage for food.


So, what do shrimp eat? In conclusion, what shrimp eat has fascinated many curious minds. Shrimp, being small and seemingly delicate creatures, have surprisingly diverse dietary preferences. These fascinating crustaceans are opportunistic omnivores who eat plant and animal matter. From algae and plankton to tiny fish and invertebrates, shrimp have a versatile palate. They play a vital role in balancing aquatic ecosystems by consuming organic debris and acting as a food source for other marine organisms.

So, the next time you gaze upon a shimmering shrimp in its watery habitat, remember that its diet encompasses a wide range of delectable treats. Whether it’s algae or tiny fish, these captivating creatures know how to satisfy their appetites and thrive in their underwater domain.

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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