Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish? (With 5 Prevention Tips)

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As I started my ghost shrimp tank, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they would eat my fish. Should I worry? Will my ghost shrimp devour all of the fish in my tank? As time passed, I learned about the relationship between ghost shrimp and fish and how to grow both creatures in the same tank.

Ghost shrimp do not eat live fish, as they are a peaceful species that spends most of its time scavenging for leftovers. However, ghost shrimp may eat dead fish as they decay. By doing that, ghost shrimp contribute to the water chemistry as they prevent ammonia and nitrite spikes.

As we move forward, I will share five tips to prevent your ghost shrimp from eating fish. More accurately, I will show you how to grow both shrimp and fish in the same tank. Then, I will answer whether ghost shrimp eat baby fish or perhaps dead ones.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish?

Yes and No. It depends on who you ask. Some people think that ghost shrimp can eat fish. Others say otherwise. The fish rearing community is somewhat divided on this issue. These are the arguments and considerations you can expect to encounter:

1. Ghost Shrimp Are Considered Peaceful

As far as the average aquarist is concerned, ghost shrimp are peaceful and essentially harmless. Even when uncomfortable conditions in the water compel them to act aggressively, they may attack their neighbors, but they won’t kill them, let alone eat them.

In fact, ghost shrimp that have to live in poorly maintained tanks are more likely to hide from fish. Hiding gives them a sense of security. It wouldn’t occur to them to respond to the stress by attacking and eating their tankmates. 

2. Ghost Shrimp Don’t Present Predatory Activities

Ghost shrimp are not predators in any sense of the word. Even when you encounter a particularly aggressive group of ghost shrimp, they won’t go out of their way to hunt other creatures. 

Instead, they will forage for dead and dying things at the bottom. This is why amateurs are encouraged to use finely-grained materials for a substrate.

Ghost shrimp use their antennae to scavenge for food at the bottom. They can damage the organs by rubbing them against rough surfaces. This approach doesn’t necessarily paint the picture of a dangerous aquatic creature that can find and kill fish.

3. Ghost Shrimp Usually Ignore Small Fish

Most aquatic creatures are opportunistic eaters. That is to say; they will eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths. This has encouraged newcomers to conclude that large ghost shrimp will eat smaller fish. 

But again, the average experienced aquarist doesn’t believe this. They do not expect ghost shrimp to eat fish of any kind, regardless of their size.

4. Ghost Shrimp Are Scavengers 

Professional aquarists do not doubt that ghost shrimp can eat fish. What they dispute is the idea of ghost shrimp eating living, healthy fish. As scavengers, they expect ghost shrimp to eat dead fish.[1] 

The creatures eat dead and decaying organisms all the time. This is part of the reason why people keep them. Ghost shrimp are decent tank cleaners. Some people expect ghost shrimp to eat fish because they have seen their ghost shrimp eating fish. 

They rarely stop to consider the possibility that the fish in question was already dead before the ghost shrimp started eating its remains.

Why Do Some Argue That Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish?

The relationship between ghost shrimp and fish, specifically whether or not ghost shrimp can eat fish, causes a lot of confusion because many people claim that they have seen their ghost shrimp eating live fish.

There is no end to the number of stories online that depict ghost shrimp as predators that can stalk and eat, not just small fish but their larger counterparts, including aggressive species like angelfish.

Based on these stories, the ghost shrimp’s most potent weapon is the fact that it is nocturnal. It will attack and nibble on fish while they sleep. The people who tell these stories tend to dismiss the idea that the fish in question was already dead before the ghost shrimp attacked it.

They argue that ghost shrimp that eat dead fish start with the eyes. But if the fish in question was alive when the ghost shrimp attacked it, the injuries on the fish’s remains would concentrate around the neck and abdomen. That proves that it was alive when the ghost shrimp started eating it.

Apparently, fast-moving fish like zebra danios can easily escape a ghost shrimp even after waking up to find the creature already nibbling on them. But slower-paced fish like bettas will die, especially if they are caught unaware.

Fish that escape with their lives have visible signs of their violent encounter with the ghost shrimp, including torn fins. But at this point, the aquarists that tell these stories cannot back their claims with proof.

You cannot conclude that they are lying. However, you have no reason to believe that their anecdotes are true. For all you know, they misinterpreted what they saw. The evidence disputes the idea of ghost shrimp eating fish.

What About Freshwater Prawn?

Most ghost shrimp owners have Palaemonetes Paludosus.[2] However, this is not the only species that people call ‘Ghost Shrimp’. Freshwater prawns are not actual prawns. They are part of the Macrobrachium species.

Yet, people call them ghost or glass shrimp as well.[3] They are problematic because they are larger and more aggressive than ordinary shrimp, hence the comparison with prawns. 

If you’re lucky, you may score a smaller 4-inch Macrobrachium Hendersoni shrimp. But even then, a 4-inch Macrobrachium Hendersoni shrimp is more than capable of attacking and killing fish of the same or smaller size.

If your retailer doesn’t know any better, they may accidentally sell you Macrobrachium shrimp because you asked for ghost shrimp.

How To Keep Ghost Shrimp From Eating Fish?

If your ghost shrimp are eating fish despite everything your fish store retailer told you, there are ways to prevent the creatures from misbehaving:

1. Feed Your Ghost Shrimp Properly

This has to be your first consideration. If the ghost shrimp are eating their neighbors, more than likely, they are hungry. In a fish tank, ghost shrimp can eat the leftovers of the food you give to the fish. They can also survive on algae and detritus.

But if your tank doesn’t get enough food and the ghost shrimp don’t have enough algae, you have to supplement their diet by adding everything from algae wafers to bloodworms and brine shrimp.[4]

I personally use the Aquatic Arts Sinking Pellets (link to Amazon). These are highly nutritious and can be used for both fish and shrimp. The pellets are made of vegetables and spirulina algae and consist of 35 percent protein.

If your ghost shrimp are well fed, they have no reason to terrorize their tankmates. If you don’t have the time to feed them, use an automatic feeder. It will ensure that the shrimp are fed on time and in sufficient amounts.

2. Pick The Right Tank Size

Ghost shrimp are small. They can live comfortably in 10-gallon tanks. But if you have decided to stock fish as well, you need a larger tank that can accommodate the fish and the shrimp without crowding them.

If your tank is overcrowded and you can’t afford to buy a new one, you should consider removing the fish and maintaining a shrimp-only tank. Otherwise, the stress of living in crowded conditions may compel the ghost shrimp to attack their neighbors. That includes fish and other shrimp.

I personally got the Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here. So far, this is absolutely my favorite. It has built-in features such as scratch-resistant glass, an LED hood, and an amazingly quiet filter.

3. Set The Right Water Conditions

In many cases, ghost shrimp will only attack their tank mates if they are stressed. A poorly maintained environment will induce stress in the creatures, making them feel less secure.

I suggest keeping their water temperature (72 to 82 degrees F) and pH (7.0 to 8.0) within the correct range.[5] You should also keep these parameters stable. Wild swings in the pH and temperature can incite violence in an aquarium.

Also, it is essential to keep the nitrites and ammonia at 0 ppm, while nitrates are kept below 20 ppm. To measure the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, I use the API Water Test Kit (link to Amazon). This is the most accurate kit I have found so far. 

Keep the ghost shrimp happy and healthy by maintaining the right conditions in their water. Proper water parameters will also calm your fish, making it less likely for them to attack your ghost shrimp.

4. Introduce Hiding Places

Give smaller fish hiding places. That includes plants and decorations. Hiding places cannot guarantee the safety of your fish, especially if you have Macrobrachium species. But if your fish can stay out of sight while they sleep, the ghost shrimp are less likely to eat them. 

5. Maintain A Clean Environment

I highly suggest performing regular water changes of 30 percent. Also, measure the toxin levels regularly. If the ammonia levels are too high, use water conditioners to neutralize the toxin. A dirty tank with high ammonia levels is going to make your fish sick.

Sick fish are vulnerable to attack. To be fair, a dirty tank with high ammonia levels will also harm the ghost shrimp. But if the ghost shrimp are strong enough, they may take that opportunity to prey on their weaker tankmates.

By carrying out regular water changes and using water conditioners, you will increase your fish’s survival chances. 

Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Baby Fish?

Ghost shrimp are opportunistic eaters that won’t hesitate to eat baby fish since the creatures can fit in their mouths. However, they are more likely to eat dead baby fish than living ones. Ghost shrimp are peaceful creatures that generally do not attack fish, regardless of their size.

But again, it depends on who you ask. Some people will tell you that ghost shrimp eat fish of any kind, regardless of their size. Your only option is to experiment. Place the ghost shrimp in a tank with baby fish and see how they respond.

Can Ghost Shrimp Eat Dead Fish?

Ghost shrimp can eat dead fish. They eat all kinds of dead and decaying things in the tank, preventing ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Dead fish have a greater chance of being eaten by ghost shrimp, as they will probably ignore living ones.

Ghost shrimp also eat dead fish eggs that have gone rotten. As I discussed here, they are very efficient in keeping your tank clean. I also shared some tips in the linked article that will encourage your ghost shrimp to clean your tank.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish Poop?

The consensus is that ghost shrimp do not eat poop. And if they accidentally eat it, they will spit the substance out immediately because it doesn’t have any nutritional value. In some cases, a ghost shrimp will eat a piece of poop that has a chunk of food still on it.

However, some people are confident that ghost shrimp can eat fish poop.[6] This is because the fish poop has undigested nutrients. Yet, in many situations, the shrimp will sift through the poop to find the undigested components. They won’t eat the fish poop as a whole.

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Ghost shrimp tend to ignore fish of all kinds. This means that unless the fish is ill, overstressed, or weak, they are not likely to be attacked. Some sources will tell you that ghost shrimp will eat any fish. That’s not true.

However, ghost shrimp can eat dead fish. That is actually a good thing, as they benefit the stability of the aquarium. Also, ghost shrimp can eat dead baby fish. But they won’t eat fish poop. At most, they will nibble on the food that remains connected to it.