Female American freshwater glass shrimp.


Different shot of the same female above.


American freshwater glass shrimp with red markings on chelae, antennae and uropods (tail). The short rostrum is not typical. The rostrum of this specimen broke off at one point and is growing back.


American glass shrimp hovering in mid-water consuming food.  This is very interesting behavior that can be observed quite frequently.  By hovering in mid-water the shrimp makes sure that other shrimp cannot get to its food. The shrimp can hover in one spot for a very long time.


Common Name:

American freshwater glass shrimp, American freshwater ghost Shrimp, American freshwater grass shrimp

Scientific Name:

Palaemonetes paludosus, possibly several populations or subspecies


around 5cm


will tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but best kept at 70F-78F

Water Parameters:

Needs alkaline water over the long run. Should not be kept in acidic water over the long run.


fish food (flake, pellets etc), hair and string algae, "anything edible"


North America

Larval Development Type:

Abbreviated: Larval planktonic stage only lasts a few days before larvae metamorphose into post-larvae (miniature shrimp) and assume a benthic lifestyle. Freshwater Glasss Shrimp larvae do *not* need brackish water for this process and develop into post-larvae and adult shrimp in complete freshwater.

The American freshwater glass shrimp Palaemonetes paludosus is one of the most interesting, entertaining and least appreciated shrimp species available to the hobby.  They are primarily detritus eaters that do well on flake food and pellets in the aquarium. They are extremely sensitive to smell and will locate pellets or flake food that settled on the ground faster than any other fish or shrimp.  They even swim upside down on the surface to catch flake food pieces.

This species has proven to be extremely peaceful in my tanks.  They neither harm fish (not even the tiniest of fry) nor smaller shrimp.  Even tiny shrimp larvae of algae eating shrimp are left alone.  Others have reported that their "ghost shrimp" have caught fish or at least took pieces out of their fins. I cannot personally confirm these reports. Some of these reports might be due to mistaken identity. Most Macrobrachium sp. look like glass shrimp when really young, but they are much more aggressive.  Also, there might be behavioral differences between different populations of this shrimp. 

This shrimp is not as easy to propagate in the aquarium as most smaller algae eating shrimp of the Caridina or Neocaridina genus, since the Freshwater Glass Shrimp produces free floating larvae that need to be fed micro-food items before they molt into post-larva and assume a benthic (= on the ground) lifestyle. In most aquaria the larvae will not find enough food to develop into their next stage and will starve to death.  However, in some old, established tanks with a lot of detritus and decomposing plant leaves on the ground the larvae might survive since there will be microorganisms in the water column. This shrimp does not require brackish water for larvae development as some of their cousins that hail from brackish water and marine habitats (such as Palaemonetes pugio and Palaemonetes vulgaris).

Although they appear only see-through at first sight, they will display many different patterns and colors over time (see pictures above).  When females are gravid they carry beautiful, green eggs, which give the shrimp some color. Also, there seem to be color differences between different populations. There are individuals with beautiful red markings on their antennae, chelae (claws) and uropods (tail), and individuals that lack these markings. If these differences can to attributed to different populations of the same species or possibly to undescribed subspecies is not known.

This shrimp is extremely tolerant of temperature extremes and can be kept outside in garden ponds all year round as long as you live in a climate, where ponds do not freeze over completely.  In the home aquarium it can be kept all year round at temperatures in the 70s.

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